It's hard to imagine a better day—the Fourth of July!—to plan a bass-driven, reggae concert for a lush, green city park that just so happens to be plopped near a residential neighborhood.
Yes, neighbors might have endure amplified electric music. But what's the big deal when they'll already be enduring the way-more-terrible music playing from their own insipid iPod "party!" playlists. And the drunken hoots of their meat-grilling neighbors. Oh, and the war-zone-like clatter of dozens of amateur fireworks displays. All effing night long.
Of course, neighbors in Arlington Heights, near Washington Park, don't see it that way.
That's because the Hempstead World Music Festival is headed to their sprawling neighborhood park on that most patriotic of days (the show starts at 4:20; get it?), bringing in a modest collection of marijuana-friendly acts headlined by the iconic Toots & the Maytals. And because Hempstead will be just a bit louder than the light orchestral shows that usually set up shop in the park, neighbors are asking the Portland City Council to step in.
In a rare hearing set for tomorrow, they'll ask the council to take the unprecedented step of overruling the city's noise control board (which unanimously awarded a noise exemption to the festival) and shut the show down.
From the appeal filed by neighbor Eric Nagle:
According to the head of event permitting at Parks & Rec, there has never been a concert this long at the amphitheater. Because it will begin three hours earlier than is typical for evening concerts at the Amphitheater, it will substantially interfere with daytime users of the park. Unlike the Summer Concert Series, the Hempstead Festival will be heavily promoted through advertising, and will draw a larger crowd. Alcohol will be sold at the event, which will result in additional noise as loud, intoxicated persons walk through the neighborhood when returning to their cars.
But will the council bite?
Let's think about this.
Big concerts used to be a mainstay at the park back in the late 1990s. It's not like the Fourth is going to be calm and quiet. And it's hard to imagine the council might discount a unanimous call by the noise board.
As part of its ruling, the noise board ordered Hempstead promoters to monitor noise during the show, to provide those readings to the city afterward, and to set up a hotline so neighbors can ring up with any complaints. As the board notes:
The number of attendees at the largest of the past commercial and gated concerts was reported to have exceeded 3,000. This concert is anticipated to be on par with the largest of the concerts of the past. In the past, well known performers, such as David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, played the Rose Garden Amphitheater.
Given all that (David Byrne got a pass? Really?), I"m thinking this has as much to do with hippies/stoners/etc. as it does with noise.
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