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Revolution of Independents : Pop music: Two promoters will try to build a reputation with one daylong concert featuring 75 up-and-coming bands.

October 22, 1994|MIKE BOEHM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Not even the legendary 76 trombones are a match for 75 rock bands.

In a concert that shapes up as possibly the biggest parade of grass-roots talent the Orange County music scene has ever witnessed, 75 bands, most of them new or emerging local acts, are scheduled to blare today from six stages on the grounds of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. The 12-hour marathon, which gets underway at 12:30 p.m., is dubbed Independent's Day '94.

At least two bands, and sometimes three, will be playing simultaneously throughout the festival. The lineup includes no major headliners, but it offers ample opportunity to sample a broad assortment of local punk, ska and alternative-rock bands that are unsigned or that record for small, independent labels. Each band will play about 25 minutes.

The sprawling show will be staged not inside the 15,000-capacity amphitheater, but mainly on its grassy outer concourse, which has room for about 5,000 people.

The marathon concert represents a big financial risk and an even bigger logistic challenge for its organizers, two 25-year-old concert promoters who hope a successful Independent's Day will give them instant cachet in the booming modern/alternative rock market.

Tony Cardullo and Jaime Munoz, who call their Fountain Valley-based company Taurus Enterprises, see the show as a chance to establish lasting relationships with bands. They also hope to notch an impressive credential for themselves as grass-roots promoters who can pull off an event on a scale that no promoter on the local-band scene has attempted.

"It is a big audition for us," Cardullo said Wednesday. "It's a make-or-break situation. We'd be happy to break even. Even if we lose a little money, but pull off a flawless show, we would all be happy."

The Taurus partners, who run a Monday night concert series at Music City in Fountain Valley, say that their overhead costs will run $45,000 to $50,000, most of it to rent the venue and pay for security and stage crews.

All the bands have agreed to play for free. Munoz said that only one band the promoters approached refused to perform without pay. The rest, who normally ply the local circuit's round of small clubs, leaped at a chance to play for a crowd that promoters hope will exceed 3,500--the number they say they need to draw to break even.

"It's the exposure," Cardullo said. "(For the bands) it's all about getting seen by people, winning over new fans. I'd say (the chance to play at) Irvine Meadows has something to do with it. It's going to be a big party, getting to play with all their friends. Most of these bands don't get paid more than $100 or $200 a show, so they're more than willing to play for the exposure."

In fact, Cardullo said, he had to turn away about 50 bands that couldn't be fit on the bill. "I told them I'd consider them for next year's show," said the promoter, who aims to stage a second Independent's Day in May.

The Taurus partners had planned to stage Independent's Day on July 3 at a site in Silverado Canyon but were balked by an unforeseen permitting problem. The Irvine Meadows lineup is more than twice as large as that original festival. Contrary to what has been implied in some of the advertising for Independent's Day, the show is a for-profit venture. The promoters have promised to donate 15% of any profits to a youth-oriented local charity.

Most of the action will take place on four stages set up at the center of the concession concourse, each one facing in a different compass direction.

Two other stages will be set up along the walkway leading from the amphitheater's parking lot to the concourse. One will feature ska music; the other will be devoted to bands made up of high-school students.

Cardullo said he added the extra stage for very young bands after one teen-ager complained that it wasn't fair that high schoolers weren't being considered. Cardullo said he was impressed when the young rocker vowed that his band would play anywhere the promoters could find room for them.

To avoid set-change delays, each stage will have a communal drum kit and amplifier setup. Having consulted with his own hired sound company, and with the Irvine Meadows technical crew, Cardullo said he is confident that two bands can play simultaneously on the concourse, as long as they are facing in opposite directions. Fans in front of each stage should be able to hear without interference, he said.

His worry is that musicians may be distracted by sound coming from another band playing directly behind them. The problem will be addressed by limiting the output of stage monitors the bands use to hear themselves play, and by putting up barriers to muffle the sound.

The only comparable recent event featuring local bands was last spring's Beach Fest in Long Beach, a two-day affair that offered about 40 bands playing on five stages.

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