Michael Deeds: New Curb A’Faire crashes Hyde Park Street Fair’s party

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comSeptember 8, 2013 

The, um, explosive live band Diarrhea Planet is fronted by singer-guitarist Jordan Smith. He’s the one who looks like he’s having a good time. (OK, OK, he’s standing in the middle.)

Waltzing up and standing obnoxiously close to someone is not a good way to make new friends.

But that’s what the Hyde Park Curb A’Faire (Sept. 14-15) will do to the Hyde Park Street Fair (Sept. 13-15) in Boise’s North End.

Presented by the newly formed Hyde Park Merchants Alliance, the Curb A’Faire will piggyback off crowds drawn to the 34th annual Street Fair, which is held a stone’s throw away at Camel’s Back Park.

The board of the North End Neighborhood Association, which presents the Hyde Park Street Fair, is “livid,” says longtime Street Fair event coordinator Jim Teeter: “They are not happy at all.”

Can you blame ’em? The Curb A’Faire is like the Street Fair’s annoying, unwanted little brother, with advertising that includes this jab: “Where the Hyde Park Street Fair began.”

The press release contains the headline: “Local businesses on 13th Street return street fair event to its roots.”

Borrowing from Boise events both alive and dead, the Curb A’Faire actually DOES look fun. It promises indie acts on a stage at 13th and Eastman streets, fashion, chalk art and street performers, making it feel like an amalgam of Treefort Music Fest, Raw Artists, the Idaho Statesman’s Chalk Art Festival and the now-defunct Curb Cup.

Curb A’Faire acknowledges the Hyde Park Street Fair in its press release, noting that “due to close proximity, neighbors and patrons can easily walk between the two events, enjoying what both have to offer.

“Music is offered by Duck Club Presents (the group that brings you Treefort Music Festival),” it continues. “The event is also sponsored by Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Jim Beam, Hornitos, Knob Creek, and Malibu Rum.”

Hornitos tequila! That could give Curb A’Faire a different feel than the Street Fair.

But here’s the thing: The Curb A’Faire really did not have to occur simultaneously with the Street Fair.

“Any other weekend, I would support it,” Teeter says. “But the reason we moved the Hyde Park Street Fair to the park was because of the impact to the neighborhood, safety and being able to manage the crowd.”

“I think anytime you add something like (Curb A’Faire) and close off streets,” Teeter says, “what you’re doing is just re-creating the same problem we already solved.”

Hyde Park Merchants Alliance founder Mike Morrison, who owns 13th Street Pub and Grill, says discussions already are underway about possibly moving the Curb A’Faire to a different date next year.

“We never intended to step on anybody’s toes and cause any problems,” Morrison says. “We really didn’t.”

Getting through the permitting process was a “nightmare” this year, Morrison says, and “obviously, it brought up some ill will feelings from NENA (North End Neighborhood Association) in the course of all this.”

Curb A’Faire was created, Morrison says, after Hyde Park merchants agreed that the current Street Fair did not feel like a “true representation” of Hyde Park.

Says Teeter: “I think that they think they would like a little bigger piece of the pie.”

The Street Fair was launched in 1979 to help promote languishing Hyde Park businesses. Since relocating to Camel’s Back Park in 1997, it has grown exponentially, with estimates of 35,000 to 40,000 festivalgoers over three days.

But if the idea of Curb A’Faire is to promote Hyde Park businesses exclusively — and throw a killer street party in the process — choosing a different date is the way to go in the future.

In the meantime, let’s order one of those Curb A’Faire margaritas and all get along for a weekend — OK, North Enders?

AWFUL NAME, GREAT LIVE BAND

As if it isn’t torturous enough that his band is called Diarrhea Planet, singer-guitarist Jordan Smith also gets hurt on stage all the time.

His much-hyped Nashville six-piece will headline Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., on Sept. 12.

“I’ve done stuff ... where I’ve ripped off all the skin on my knuckles when I was throwing a guitar up into a ceiling fan — to play the guitar with the ceiling fan,” Smith, 24, explains nonchalantly, “and somehow I ended up cutting the skin completely off one of my knuckles. That was pretty painful.”

A few weeks ago in Los Angeles, Smith was on his knees soloing when he gashed open his scalp after headbanging into a bandmate’s bass. Other band-member injuries have ranged from chipped teeth and busted lips to callouses torn off fretting-hand fingers.

This is what happens when you have four electric guitarists — yes, FOUR guitarists — who consider bar countertops as part of their stages each night.

Diarrhea Planet formed in 2009 as a wall-of-guitars experiment, playing locally and inviting friends to bring their guitars and join in.

“We just wanted it to be like the most absurd rock ‘n’ roll thing that anyone had ever seen,” Smith says. “Like have six or seven dudes diving off bars with guitars, just like shredding.”

After settling on a lineup, Diarrhea Planet eventually emerged from this year’s South By Southwest music festival as one of the most buzzed-about acts, based purely on the strength of its multiple-ax-soloing, anthem-shouting, crowd-surfing live explosion.

“If you measure a live show’s success by how happy to be alive it makes you, then Nashville's Diarrhea Planet have the greatest live show on Earth,” wrote Pitchfork.

Gushed MTV Hive: “Decades from now, when those of us who attended SXSW 2013 are on our deathbeds, we’ll whisper but two words to our loved ones, and those words will be ‘Diarrhea Planet.’ They won’t understand, but we will.”

Smith says the group is grateful and flattered by the compliments — but not necessarily all that surprised.

“We’ve always played very, very high energy,” he says. “Walked across bars playing solos, all that stuff. But it just happened that people started paying attention to it at South By Southwest.”

The young musicians work hard to perfect their live show, he says, which in addition to original songs, often includes a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Despite the fact that Diarrhea Planet occasionally goes wild with four guitarists soloing simultaneously, band members have learned roles and restraint, he says. Two of the guitarists focus heavily on harmonized leads.

“We practice a lot,” Smith says. “Everybody is pushing each other so much that we’re surprisingly tight for as many people as there are in the band.”

But ... the name. What. About. The. Band. Name.

Smith says he helped come up with it while hanging out in a college dorm room.

“We just thought it was the funniest band name ever,” he says. “We wanted to come up with the most obnoxious band name ever.”

And even though it might be a next-level career roadblock, it has a strange benefit.

“Being a band called Diarrhea Planet, people don’t expect much,” Smith says. “That is kind of a funny way that the name helps us out. It sets the bar pretty easy to jump over.”

• 7 p.m. Thursday, $5 advance/$7 door. Opening: The So So Glos, RevoltRevolt.

EVETT DIRECTS VIDEO

Boise singer-guitarist Ned Evett is best known for his fretless electric guitar talents.

But Evett, whose latest album, “Treehouse,” was released earlier this year, has another skill.

He recently wrote, directed and animated an official music video for guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani.

It’s a trip. Check it out — and read more about Evett — on my “Words & Deeds” blog.

NO ‘OTHER STUDIO’

My radio show “The Other Studio,” which normally would have aired tonight on 94.9 FM The River, is taking the week off.

I’ll return with co-host Tim Johnstone at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.

IN SCENE ON FRIDAY

• BBQ! We sample three barbecue stands that have popped up around Boise.

• Singer Neko Case talks about her multi-faceted career.

Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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