Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday News 'N Notes

- Yeah, so about the Silver Spring Zombie Walk... For various reasons which you can read about here, it's not happening this year, though there are a few other zombie-related activities scheduled (thanks to Eric of Personally, I had come to the conclusion that the Zombie Walk had peaked and was struggling with ideas on how to take it to the proverbial next level. Any ideas are welcome, as there's nothing to keep us from reviving it in the future - the Zombie Walk is not dead, it's just undead. Maybe you could put the money you'll save on your costume towards decorating your lawn.

I flirted with the idea of submitting an application to the county to request that zombies be allowed to participate in this year's Thanksgiving parade in Silver Spring, but I never followed through because I am lazy and I wasn't entirely sure they'd approve it. However, if there's interest I may do it next year. 

- I recently unearthed in a stack of papers an old receipt from the now-defunct Silver Spring Borders Books. To its credit, Borders kept it real and never caved to pressure from the geographically correct police, keeping "Silver Springs" atop its receipts to its dying day. Bravo to them.

 - The 6th Annual South Silver Spring Street Fest is this Saturday from 12-6.

- The former Ritz Camera location at the corner of Fenton St. & Roeder Rd. will be soon be occupied by an Hour Eyes store, which, while a tad boring, still beats an empty storefront. Surprisingly, a hair and nail salon didn't move in first. I kind of miss Ritz - it was convenient for when you just needed a small number of prints.That being said, $1.40 print orders aren't going to pay the rent.

Thanks to O.D. for the pic!

- The asking price of the revised-address Homicide House is now down to $429K. The price seems to drop $10K every couple weeks, so it should be free in a year or two.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Live Nation vs. IMP vs. Birchmere, Revisited: The Results

Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the Silver Spring live music survey I posted earlier this week. There have been over 200 responses and counting. Earlier today I decided I had enough responses to get a good read on people's concert-going behavior and music preferences to make the comparisons I wanted to make, so I went ahead and crunched the numbers...

A vast majority of survey responses came from residents of the 20910 and 20901 ZIP codes, followed by Wheaton and some SSINO areas.

On average, respondents reported attending roughly one (.92) event at the Fillmore during its first year of operation. This was higher than the Birchmere (.47), but well below the 9:30 Club (1.53).

40% of respondents reported going to at least one event at the Fillmore, not a whole lot less than the 46% for the 9:30 Club. (It was just 16% for the Birchmere.) The difference is that people who did go to the 9:30 club during this time went there more frequently, for an average of 3.2 shows vs. just 2.2 for Fillmore-goers.

Each respondent was presented with a list of all acts that performed in the last year at the Fillmore, Birchmere and 9:30 Club and asked to select each performer they would be interested in seeing live. (The venue at which any particular act performed was left unspecified.)  Here are the top 25 or so most selected acts:

Rank Performer Percent Selected Venue Played
1 They Might Be Giants 36.7% 9:30 Club
2 Lewis Black 31.1% The Fillmore
3 The Smashing Pumpkins 30.6% 9:30 Club
4 The Roots 26.0% The Fillmore
5 Moby 21.9% The Fillmore
6 The Cranberries 19.9% 9:30 Club
6 Aimee Mann 19.9% The Birchmere
8 Foster the People 19.4% 9:30 Club
8 Gotye 19.4% 9:30 Club
10 The Magnetic Fields 18.9% 9:30 Club
11 Cyndi Lauper & Dr. John 18.4% 9:30 Club
11 George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic 18.4% 9:30 Club
13 Band of Horses 17.3% 9:30 Club
13 Garbage 17.3% 9:30 Club
13 Thievery Corporation 17.3% 9:30 Club
16 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 16.8% 9:30 Club
16 The Ting Tings 16.8% 9:30 Club
18 Ben Harper 16.3% 9:30 Club
18 Matthew Sweet 16.3% 9:30/Birchmere
18 Snow Patrol 16.3% 9:30 Club
18 Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group 16.3% The Birchmere
22 Blondie 15.8% The Fillmore
22 The Psychedelic Furs & Tom Tom Club 15.8% The Fillmore
24 Ziggy Marley 15.3% The Fillmore
24 Drive-By Truckers 15.3% 9:30 Club
24 Jane's Addiction 15.3% 9:30 Club
24 Portlandia The Tour 15.3% 9:30 Club

Who knew They Might Be Giants was so popular? I thought they just did children's music these days. And the Cranberries... clearly a lot of people are nostalgic for 1993.* Interestingly, Levon Helm just missed the cut, and he's deceased.

While 3 of the top 5 acts performed at the Fillmore, overwhelmingly the acts represented on this list were booked at the 9:30 club (70%) , followed by the Fillmore (22%) and the Birchmere (11%). Matthew Sweet performed at both 9:30 and Birchmere, hence the total percent exceeding 100%.

So what, if any, conclusions can we arrive at using this data? Let's just assume for the purposes of discussion that this is at least somewhat representative of the opinions of concert-goers residing in Silver Spring.

The Fillmore pulls from all over the region, so it's not like it's dependent on Silver Springers for business. That said, the results of this survey indicate that locals are significantly more likely to deal with the hassle of going to the 9:30 Club than make the short drive or walk over to the Fillmore, due to the former booking acts that are preferable to the ones performing locally. Perhaps Live Nation could adjust their mix of bookings a little. I would think that many of the bands on the list above that performed at the 9:30 Club aren't outside of the Fillmore's wheelhouse. Of course, if they're doing well with what they have, why would they bother to change? Some of their bigger artists who had sold-out shows weren't near the top of the list, including Guns 'N Roses (#37, just below Fountains of Wayne) and Mary J. Blige (#84).

The results would also seem to show that the Birchmere Silver Spring that never was would likely have been significantly less preferable than what we ended up with.

Would the slate of shows an IMP-run venue be preferable to the one we've gotten at the Fillmore? Tough to say. Would they have kept all their prime bookings for 9:30 and assign their second-tier acts to Silver Spring? It's not like they don't already book shows in the 'burbs, though. IMP booked Metric (who I'd like to see) for a show at the Strathmore tonight, even though Live Nation booked them at three other Fillmores this month. Why not this one?

Anyway, take from this what you will. If there's any interest, I can post the detailed results on Google Docs.

*Admittedly, I checked this box too...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fillmore Just Turned One. Let's Judge It.

From an old post. Just felt like recycling it.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll recall the contentious debate that went on over the future of the former J.C. Penney building, now home to The Fillmore Silver Spring. Originally, the plan was to open a second Birchmere (the favorite of The Community), but that deal ultimately fell through. The county then made a deal with Live Nation to operate a venue in that space. In response, Seth Hurwitz of IMP and the 9:30 Club protested and submitted his own plan for the space, which he claimed would cost the county less money. I met with Live Nation and IMP to get their perspectives on what their plans for a Silver Spring music venue would entail. Of course, in the end the county stuck with Live Nation and we got the Fillmore, which finally opened last September.

Last year around the time of the Fillmore's opening, I performed a in-depth comparative analysis of the acts booked at the Fillmore Silver Spring vs. those at the 9:30 Club, comparing the mix of genres, age of artists, etc. to get a perspective on how the clubs differed. Now that the Fillmore has a year of performances under its belt, I thought it might be a good time to re-evaluate using a different approach. This time around I wanted to see how the two clubs compared with respect to the preferences of Silver Spring residents, at least the ones who read this blog (you).

I've compiled a list of all acts that have performed at either the Fillmore or the 9:30 Club in the twelve months since the Fillmore's grand opening on September 15th of last year. I also included all the acts booked at the Birchmere, as that venue was also in the mix at one point. Using this list, I've created a simple survey that I encourage everyone to take a moment to complete. While there are a lot of artists/events represented, the survey should still only take a few minutes  - just look at the list of performers and check off each one that you would be interested in seeing. For the purposes of this exercise, don't worry about things like ticket price, schedule, etc. - just assume you got free/cheap tickets.

After a week or two, I'll compile the results and and post a comparison of the three venues based on the preferences of respondents. Granted, this isn't a ideal analysis, as there's no way to know who IMP or the Birchmere would actually book at their nonexistent Silver Spring concert venue, but it's the best I can do at this point and the results should still be interesting.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Downtown Silver Spring Becomes Last Place on Earth to get a Dunkin' Donuts

It's rather surprising that a downtown commercial area like Silver Spring has gone without a proper donut shop for so long. For many years there was the Montgomery Donuts on Wayne, but sadly that whole chain went kaput when the roof of its Rockville bakery collapsed about a decade ago. (And I do not consider the Montgomery Donuts sold in Virginia, of all places, to be authentic.) For whatever reason, Krispy Kreme never opened here back when they were expanding like mad, and though we did have the Fractured Prune for like three days, come on, that place was a joke.

Now, finally, Dunkin' Donuts has begun work on a store in the Silver Spring Metro Plaza building located next to the Metro station and across from our lovely unfinished transit center. (Twitter user @TheNuwanda has posted a photo of the recently-installed Dunkin' Donuts signage.) This has been in the works for awhile, Dunkin' Donuts having signed a development deal back in 2008 that would bring a location here to Silver Spring.

So yeah, they may kill you slowly, but hey, donuts!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Four Corners News 'N Notes

Here's a special Four Corners edition of News 'N Notes...

- A sign affixed to the door of the The Corner Pub, the neighborhood bar which closed in July, indicates that the restaurant/bar will soon be re-opening under new ownership and a with new name - "The 4 Corners Pub".

The new establishment already has a Facebook page, which for unexplained reasons features a photo of erstwhile Redskins tight end Chris Cooley.

- Another arrival on the block is the Red Maple Asian restaurant, which has taken over the former Fajita Coast space. There's a new sign up on the building, but I'm afraid that's the extent of my knowledge at this point.

- One reader recently wrote that she's observed some activity in that area that leads her to believe that rather than just being a collection of independent "entrepeneurs", the panhandlers manning the medians at Four Corners' intersections are actually part of an organized panhandling ring:
I've also noticed activity that suggests that these panhandlers operate together: a red van dropping them off at their "posts" in the morning; one relieving the others' shift and using the same sign; "conferences" held on the side of the street between 2 or 3 of the panhandlers; even informal "break" areas where different panhandlers take a rest while another one covers their corner.
This wouldn't surprise me at all. Has anyone else noticed similar behaviors by panhandlers in Four Corners? We could have been rid of the red light panhandler scourge in Montgomery County last year had it had not been shot down at the state level by supporters of firefighters' "Fill the Boot" campaign. I don't see why we can't have a reasonable law that allows exceptions for groups with the appropriate permits.