Controversy over teen concert
June 03, 2009
LANCASTER — A rock concert planned to be held in Centennial Park in Lancaster and organized by local teens has created controversy and may not get off the ground. The event has been billed as Foam Fest and features nine bands playing rock music in the town bandstand with some punk thrown in for good measure. In addition to the music organizers hope to fire up a foam machine on June 20 that will cover the park and concertgoers with foamy white suds and complete the summer festival atmosphere.
The Foam Fest is the brainchild of Whitefield teen Charles "Chip" Cross, who said he planned the event as a way to celebrate and showcase local musical talent. Of the nine bands on the bill, Chevron, One Last Regret and the Tommy Guns are from Whitefield, Operation Orange is from Lisbon, Dudestew is from Claremont and The Wake Up Call is based in Derry, with the remainder of the groups — A Breath Beyond Broken, Between Now and Forever, and Your Favorite Ex — traveling from Massachusetts and Vermont to play. Some of the bands, like the Lowell, Mass.-based A Breath Beyond Broken, has recorded music available commercially on Amazon.com. The ages of the various band members ranges from 15 to 20-something, said Chip Cross.
Whether or not this gig gets off the ground remains to be seen, however. Calls to Lancaster Town Manager Ed Samson and Police Chief John Gardiner revealed concerns that have cropped up since conditional approval of the event was first given. "I'm afraid it's going to become an unsupervised mess," Mr. Samson explained. He said that Mr. Cross was given a "whole list of things to accomplish" in order to hold the event and was also instructed to report his progress in to Chief Gardiner or Mr. Samson. To date the men said they have not been satisfied with the reports and are questioning the level of responsibility of which the teen is capable.
In addition, Mr. Samson noted that Mr. Cross's direct or indirect connection to the posting of "Crossed Films" bumper stickers around town also has him questioning whether this is something the town wants to be liable for. "I don't see that it's in the town's best interest," Mr. Samson said. He added that the town is asking Mr. Cross to secure event insurance for the concert so as to defer the liability from the town.
Mr. Cross's view of his working relationship with the town so far couldn't be more different from Mr. Samson's. "Basically they've been pretty supportive," Mr. Cross said of the town leaders. He said he took down their list of early concerns and has been working on recruiting adult chaperones, renting toilet facilities and working out other details.
He explained that he thought a foam-filled concert would be a fun idea after seeing it on the internet. Mr. Cross said that foam is popular in nightclubs and in the western part of the country as well. "There really isn't much for kids my age to go and do around here," he said. The event is also planned to coincide with the end of school and serve as a further celebration for the graduating class of 2009, of which Mr. Cross is a member.
If it goes off, Foam Fest will feature each band for 30 minute sets, with the music running from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the audience dancing and cavorting in the foamy bubbles throughout. "I wanted it to be kind of a different event," he said.
Buzz has already been generated by this one-of-a-kind event, and Mr. Cross said that while he initially expected around 200 people to file into Centennial Park, there could well be more interest than expected. "I think there'll be plenty of room," he said of the deep lawn that sits in front of the county courthouse and beside the public library.
This is by far the largest event Mr. Cross has organized since he began putting concerts together about a year ago. That endeavor grew from his film hobby since he enjoys filming the live music, but realized that there was no one really promoting the local music scene. Prior to this Mr. Cross has stuck mostly to small concerts at local churches, the most recent of which have been organized to raise money to fund the Foam Fest.
While most of the bands are playing for free, the foam machine itself was a major cost. The machine plus the solution to create the foam came with a price tag of $2,000. Despite that, Mr. Cross said he'd rather keep the event free and hold the small concerts to help with the cost. One such fundraiser, Honey I Punked the Kids, featuring some of the local bands, is scheduled for this Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m. at All Saints Church. Admission is $5.
Check out Foam Fest bands
To get a sneak peek at the music from Foam Fest bands visit their myspace sites:
Between Now and Forever — Bennington, Vt. www.myspace.com/betweennowandforever
A Breath Beyond Broken — Lowell, Mass. www.myspace.com/abreathbeyondbroken
Your Favorite Ex — Boston, Mass. www.myspace.com/yourfavoriteex
The Wake Up Call — Derry www.myspace.com/thewakeupcallrock
Chevron — Whitefield www.myspace.com/chevronjdj
One Last Regret – Whitefield www.myspace.com/onelastregret
The Tommy Guns — Whitefield www.myspace.com/thetommygunsnh
Operation Orange — Lisbon www.myspace.com/agentorangerules
Dudestew — Claremont www.myspace.com/dudestew