Well, gosh. I just don’t know where to start.
I guess I’ll start with the positives. I had a fantastic time at the TV.com NOW Awards. The single biggest reason I had for attending was to see Spoon, my favorite band, perform live — but I had a great time seeing The Soft Pack and V.V. Brown perform, and it was super-cool to see stars like Rob Lowe, the whole cast of The Big Bang Theory, and LL Cool J up on stage. The event was definitely a bargain, considering the tickets were free.
So what could’ve been bad about it? Considering the apparently high production cost of the show, the whole event was possibly one of the most poorly-planned gigs I’ve ever seen.
Hey, we came out to perform for all… 85 of you!
How can you have acts like Spoon and V.V. Brown on stage, appearances by stars like L.L. Cool J., and hosting by John Oliver (of Daily Show fame), but fail to fill up the audience?
The lack of attendance was apparent upon arrival; the line outside Petco Park was short and sparse. The event staffers outside the venue seemed confused about which wristbands meant what and what they were supposed to do with the tickets upon entry. When disappointingly low attendance seemed imminent, the staffers hit the streets — but as I listened in on their explanations of the event, they could hardly articulate that the event was a free awards show featuring several live music performances. Attendance was so dismal that those of us “public” attendees (non-VIP and unaffiliated with sponsorship) were allowed up close to the stage, originally intended as VIP space for special attendees.
I’ve personally gotten more people to attend an event on a far smaller budget with fewer incentives and higher ticket price. How the promoters and planners of this event did not get even half of the 700-800 expected people into this event totally blows my mind. Somebody definitely dropped the ball here; I had this feeling when, via Google Search, I could not find any mentions of the show dated earlier than July 20. Although TV.com bragged about its high Facebook and Twitter support during the show, why was it so difficult to find information online?
Furthermore, I heard from those who picked up the tickets at Comic-Con that the people working the booth were offering tickets to attendees but not doing a very good job of advertising who was playing. According to a friend, “They went up to people, said ‘Want free tickets?’ and wasn’t telling anyone that the show included Spoon or John Oliver.”
We’re going to enforce the rules, but only for you… and you… but wait, not you
When I left my house to go to the show, I meticulously checked the fine print. No photography or video? Okay. But did the rules state that cameras would be confiscated? Not at all. I figured I would take my camera — there’s plenty to film during Comic-Con, especially the costumed attendees — but be wary about taking any footage. Aren’t a lot of Comic-Con attendees going to have electronics on them in the first place? If the print is that small and ambiguous, would they really confiscate a camera? I thought I’d be fine. However, when we tried to get through security, two of us were told we couldn’t be let in with the cameras and we couldn’t leave them anywhere. “Leave them outside or something,” the supervisor of security said to us. Luckily, my friend was able to put our stuff in the car.
No later than a few acts in, we found that plenty of people brought recording devices. In fact, at least three people around me had point-and-shoot cameras out in plain site as soon as the bands started playing. Why didn’t security yell at them for having cameras? Hey, I know we’re attending a free event, but why only apply this rule to a few people?
I ended up taking photos on my iPhone anyway.
It can’t be good when your own host turns on you
John Oliver is a brilliant comedian. The guy just kills it up there. But whoever was doing the writing for the program had some serious issues figuring out what was actually appropriate and funny. In our spot, the teleprompter was easily visible; although Oliver didn’t use all of the material, some of it seemed pretty questionable. Some of the jokes included declaring Americans as a society that deems books useless (okay, we could debate this one), portraying viewers of To Catch a Predator as sympathetic for the culprit (really?), and as seen on the teleprompter (but avoided by Oliver), “Americans are idiots.”
It had to have sounded better in the writer’s head than it looked on the teleprompter.
Oliver also picked up on the lack of attendees and made some very harsh jokes about how empty the place was. Justified? Totally. Is he going to be invited back to a TV.com event again? Probably not. But his jokes about a scarce audience were just that funny because it was just that true.
Whatever… it was still a good time
While it looked like a pretty decent failure, I’m sure it’s not the only thing out-of-whack for TV.com. I just checked their site to see if anything from today has been posted, and instead of holding off until production was complete, there’s a whole lot of empty going on:
[Update: I checked back today, several hours later, and there's at least something filling it up until the end product comes out.]
Despite the steep lack of attendance, discordance with venue staffing, and content issues, the show was a blast. V.V. Brown was way better than I anticipated, The Soft Pack totally killed it, and Spoon was just as great as I knew they’d be. In fact, I had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Britt Daniel after the show (pic soon!). I’ve always appreciated when popular musicians take a little bit of time out for their fans. And I snagged my first concert setlist! How cool is that?
Could the awards show have been any worse? There’s almost always a worse scenario. But could it have been better? Oh, yes, it could’ve been far better. Another thing that bugged be slightly was that they bragged about Twitter and Facebook exposure and asked us to tweet about the event, but seemingly little idea of how to tie social media into the event (hashtag? Twitter name?). It seems like the event was hastily planned.
Will we see another event like this by TV.com? Who knows, because if I was in charge of setting the TV.com advertising budget, I would not have deemed this event worth the cash they probably spent on it.
[Update: pics! Thanks Derric!]