Bring on the Bright Lights, the collective brainchild of Rob Abelow and Eric Howarth, is founded on a concept that shouldn’t be too hard for our readers to understand – the building of a community’s music scene. San Diego, despite being a sprawling metropolis, gets largely looked over by touring acts.
Its northern neighbor Los Angeles takes the majority of the winnings, and it’s common for bands on North American tours to begin and/or end their their trips by flying in or out of LAX, never leaving much time for San Diego. After a show in L.A., that’s usually it for Southern California. The bands either head home, or they begin their journey -opting to travel west to Las Vegas or Phoenix, or head north up the coast to hit music meccas San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. South isn’t really a direction that fits in with most itineraries, and thus San Diego is overlooked.
The dream of the two men behind Bring on the Bright Lights is to make that hour-and-a-half trip south of L.A. worth the slight deviation in the travel plans of touring bands. Fortunate for us, their music taste falls directly in line with ours, and they know (and believe in) what they’re doing. By creating a monthly event, Howarth and Abelow hope to provide both a unique experience for San Diego music enthusiasts, and a constant opportunity for bands to make a stop in their city.
Based on the knowledge of the co-creators of the series and the logic behind their dream, Consequence of Sound has decided to sponsor their inaugural event, which kicks off October 14th with Cut Copy and Washed Out at 4th & B. Last week, Senior Staff Writer Winston Robbins had the opportunity to pick the brains of both the aforementioned individuals. The result: a better description of this series than we could have ever come up with on our own. So, without further adieu, hear it all straight from the horse’s mouth(s).
For those of our readers who don’t already know, what would you say, in a nutshell, is Bring On The Bright Lights all about?
Rob Abelow (RA): Essentially, there are a lot of bands that pass up on playing San Diego for a variety of reasons: sometimes the shows dont do as well or because they fly in or out of LA and San Diego becomes out of the way for them. So, we wanted to give a reason to these bands that might pass our market to play here and provide a continuing event that will build larger and larger each time. Itll be a bill with multiple bands on it, a lot of value, a lot of promotion, and hopefully the start of a real music community feel here.
Eric Howarth (EH): Bring On The Bright Lights is a big party, a shindig sort of thing, a show for each month where we bring the best bands from all over the place, all over the world, really, through, and just have a really good time at the shows. Its going to be more than the regular show that the people in San Diego normally experience. We plan on having, typically, four bands on a bill, and a lot of value for the ticket price, where people will be really excited about each of the bands that we have.
And how did this idea for such a cohesive event come about?
RA: Well, weve been talking about how to help the music scene here for a bit, and also how to get some of those bands to the market. The first thing we realized was, that in order to do that, we would need to put a lot of focus on the show. So, not promote a ton of shows, but do one big, awesome event each month or so. Then we were going to have to get some great partners behind it to help us promote it, so the bands could count on having a big turnout and making it worth their while. From there, it became all about finding the right bands a mix of up and coming, likely danceable bands that spanned genres. Fun and entertaining, but at the same time, very artful bands that are doing something really interesting and meaningful.
EH: Rob and I had talked about doing some shows together over the past year, and had been throwing this idea around. Id been doing my own concert promotion stuff in San Diego, as well, just for a regular show basis, and we wanted it to be something that was more than just a regular show, something that really made kind of a big flash in our city. That was the genesis of it. The bottom line is, I think, we really want something that people will really get excited about, and Bring On The Bright Lights sounded like something that would be fun.
Is there a lot of city involvement in what you’re doing?
EH: We’re not involved with the city, at this point, in what we’re doing in terms of, like, government. But, there’s definitely a lot of involvement with partners here, locally, and with other San Diego blogs and radio stations. We definitely want the fans here in San Diego to feel like this is their event.
There was a lot of city pride and general camaraderie with the now defunct San Diego Street Scene. Are you guys going for a similar aesthetic with this series?
RA: I think thats an interesting parallel. Obviously, at this point, its a different thing, seeing as its isolated shows, and not a big festival. But, I think the general idea is definitely there. Street Scene brought a lot of bands to town that may have not come through, and you could get a lot of bang for your buck, see a ton of bands in one weekend. So, I think theres definitely an element of that, and I wouldnt be surprised to see us doing something similar, on a bigger one-weekend-event scale like this.
Without divulging any secrets about your upcoming acts, what should we expect in the coming months from Bring On The Bright Lights?
RA: I think the big thing is that they shouldnt know exactly what to expect. Were trying to change it up a bit each show. Some will be a bunch of smaller bands put together, some will be a big, big headliner. Some stuff will be a little more dance-y, some stuff could even be a little folk. But, we think the common thing between all of them is that its modern, really cool, up and coming stuff thats making an impact now, regardless of genre. And, also, were going to try to, from event to event, put some cool extras on it. For, say, a Halloween show, have some costume contests and interesting things like that, just try and make each show have a different, unique element to it.
EH: Yeah. We haven’t made any announcements yet. We’re still waiting on those, but I think people definitely should expect a similar kind of vibe. I would say that this first show that we’re doing is going to be a sweet spot of what shows will be like. What’s cool about Cut Copy is that they’re a little electronic, a little indie, and I think that’s what every show will be like. Sometimes it may be a little more indie, some may be a little more electronic, but people should just expect when they come to a Bring On The Bright Lights show that it’s just gonna be a really fun event. And, even if they’re not familiar with the bands right off the bat… they should at least know that it’s going to be a super fun show to be at, whether or not they’re familiar with every band.
What’s the process like in rounding up these acts? Are these bands you’re personally familiar with, or do you take suggestions based on what’s popular? What’s the booking process like, essentially?
RA: It can be tough, because you obviously want to put on what you love, but then you have to have whats available, and then also whats gonna sell enough tickets. So, its not easy. The fact that we only have to do about one show a month makes it easier. We dont have to force anything. We can wait for the perfect band, the perfect bill, and then we do it. We start off with bands that we love, that we think are either big enough to fill the venue on their own, or if its something that we really like that we think more people in San Diego should know about, we try to think of a band, and build a show around it Kind of have it be a co-headliner or three bands sharing the headline of a show, so we can have a really great crowd and still maintain the quality types of artists we want. This one worked out perfectly for us. Cut Copy had been our number one band for this series, while we were talking about the idea. They were the sample band we always used. So, the tour was routing through, and we loved the bill, and it just made a lot of sense.
EH: Typically the bands that we’re going after, Rob and I are very familiar with. There will be at least four bands, and we’re looking at putting together some really cool acts with each other. Sometimes we won’t have the capability to completely put together the bill. This week with Cut Copy and their tour just worked out. But, we’re trying to get creative with what we’re doing with other shows, in putting bands together, flying bands in, and, you know, whatever we feel will create a unique experience for people, so that it’s, again, not another show they’d go to anyway, just making it special.
Do you want to attend? Let us know you’re coming by RSVP’ing via Facebook. We’ll choose two lucky winners to win a pair of passes!