Craig chats with Alex Pickert, formerly of Coach and Sons Olde Time Family Booking, and the new talent buyer and booking agent at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA
This article is also accompanied by a full 35-minute conversation between Craig and Alex, so feel free to give this a listen as you read along and check out all of the tunes!
Last year, Alex Pickert (also known as Coach) strung together a one-day DIY concert in his house, formerly known as The Puppy Palace. There were 14 acts on the bill.
The event started in Pickert’s backyard with acoustic acts and a barbecue. The basement featured full bands rocking out, while the upstairs living room had performances from acoustic acts. The action traded off back and forth every 30 minutes.
This was the first Coach Fest. Coach Fest was the epitome of DIY culture—community, everyone supporting the cause, and inclusivity.
“It was super fun,” Pickert said. “But I’ve always wanted to do a festival in a proper venue with drinks and a stage, and sounds, and lights.”
This year, Coach Fest 2 will take place on November 19 in a proper venue—the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge—where 18 acts will share two stages.
Pickert has recently transitioned from exclusively booking DIY house shows and stringing together gigs throughout town, into becoming the new talent buyer and booker for the Middle East in Cambridge. He was offered this new position only a couple months ago, and has already been met with a number of challenges.
“This is really, really, really, really hard,” Pickert said, “it’s easy to book a show here and there, but it’s hard to book a full calendar of shows.”
Pickert went on to explain how he started working as a doorman at the Middle East during college, and gradually the owners of the venue started letting him book occasional shows. He now manages the booking of nearly nine shows per week for all three of the spaces that the Middle East manages.
All of the work doesn’t seem to bother Pickert all that much because booking shows has been an incredibly rewarding aspect of his life for the better part of a decade.
“I just like helping people out,” Pickert said, and when chatting with him, that’s an understatement. Pickert reeks of gratuitous support and love for the people close to him in his community.
Pickert is a self-made booking machine, which can prove pretty tiring. Especially when you factor in that he is also a drummer in a few bands, the primary of which is punk outfit, Animal Flag, which just released “LP” on Connecticut’s Broken World Media. “LP” is a compilation of the band’s first two EPs.
But balancing being a performer with his day job has proven an important challenge.
“That’s something I’m still learning every day,” Pickert said. “I just had a tour with Leaner, which was planned before I took this job, so I was in the front passenger seat of the van sending emails, tethered to my phone with my 3G internet.”
“I used to be the most unorganized person in the world, but now if it isn’t on my calendar, it just doesn’t happen.”
Coach Fest 2 is shaping up to be a gig worth attending for anyone looking to venture into the realm of the various DIY scenes within the New England area.
Take a listen to all of the bands performing this year at Coach Fest 2!
(Note: there is more article after these band listings)
Save Ends (emo/pop punk from Holliston, MA)
Posture & The Grizzly (punk from Willimantic, CT)
Queen Moo (art punk from Central CT)
Lilith (Indie rock from Boston, MA)
Just Friends (ska punk from Pleasanton, CA)
dæphne (grunge rock from Boston, MA)
Kitner (emo alternative from Boston, MA)
halfsour (punk from Boston, MA)
Bat House (punk psychedelic tunes from Boston, MA)
sports. (emo/math rock from Boston, MA)
People Like You (jazzy emo from Boston, MA)
Holy Pinto (emo from Canterbury, England)
NOX (emo from Boston, MA)
Perspective, a lovely hand to hold (emo math rock from Nashua, NH)
The Most (math rock from Southington, CT)
Prince Daddy & The Hyena (punk from New York)
Fall Risk (pop punk from Boston, MA)
Bad Dreams (electronic/experimental tunes from Boston, MA)
“Every band on this lineup, I back 100 percent,” Pickert said. “I just picked bands that I like and wanted to see play a fest with each other.”
The process of announcing the bands has been exhilarating for Pickert, who is ready to face his biggest challenge of putting on a festival at a proper venue, with all the flare of his DIY roots.
“While I’m not as in touch with the DIY scene, it will always be a part of me,” Pickert said, “I am now exclusive to the Middle East, but my DIY background will always be a part of me.”
Ultimately, Pickert has some advice for anyone looking into attending Coach Fest 2, or really any local gig.
“Not every one knows how to act at a show,” Pickert said, explaining how he tries to create a welcoming and inclusive environment at each show he puts on.
“It’s not talking down to people if you are making it a safer space for everyone else,” Pickert said in regard to creating an inclusive space at shows. “I’ve found that I have to remind people that you can’t use racial slurs at shows; it’s not okay to say homophobic things, and it’s not okay to sexually assault people.”
“You would assume that everyone knows that stuff, but they don’t.”
Keep this advice in mind when you head out to the Middle East to check out Coach Fest 2 on Saturday, November 19. The party starts at 3pm, and will run through midnight. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and as an added bonus, you will get a 25 percent off meal voucher if you buy a meal at the Middle East Restaurants.
The fun will not be exclusive to Coach Fest 2 that weekend, because on Friday, November 18, Pickert is collaborating with Allston Pudding by hosting live band Emo and Pop Punk Karaoke at the Middle East. The event starts at 8pm and costs $10 in advance, and $12 at the door. The event is 18-plus, so make sure to bring your ID.