A whirlwind experience cannot even begin to describe my time with The Gathering last week. I had about three days, two clean outfits, and one body full of anxiety to prepare for what was about to be a big and important experience for me. I had never been to a conference before so I was unsure of what to expect but what I received is something more life-changing and memorable than any concert I’ve ever been to.
According to their website, The Gathering is a conference “gathering the best and brightest minds in the music business. Tastemakers, movers and shakers, and key individuals in the music business who define themselves by their instincts and intuition for what their audiences are craving. From major market Alternative Radio Programmers to integral Music Supervisors and key Bloggers, we have curated a list of the people who are responsible year in and year out for breaking new talent and delivering the most significant new music to the marketplace.”
To be in the presence of industry people, where it felt like I was meeting celebrities (hello to the 107.3 staff), gave me anxiety so bad that I could have pooped my pants. I went in on Wednesday knowing not a single soul and walked out on Friday with plenty of hugs and business cards that were being traded like Pokemon cards.
I’ve always been good at making friends wherever I go, but I really lucked out that I just happened to make friends with the first people I met who elected me as their shadow for the week. I got to sit in on interviews with Maddi from idobe who interviewed artists like DEVORA, Palaye Royal, The Unlikely Candidates, Chad Tepper, snarls and The Happy Fits just to name a few. I spent two really late nights photographing interviews and bands, some of whom I’ve already had the pleasure of photographing and some I’ve gotten to know over the past year.
While I had to balance my time between being an attendee as well as doing my homework, I was able to gather a greater appreciation for the city I spend a lot of nights in. We had dinner and a show at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, opened by The Dirty Shirts featuring Remy Rielly followed by one of my favorite sets from snarls, and closing with a killer set from The Unlikely Candidates, (I ended up missing LIT’s set RIP).
When we returned back to the hotel for the night, it wasn’t time to turn in. In fact, it was time to turn up (I’m so sorry for writing that I just had to) with a late-night set from Milky Chance and a very no-nonsense set from Palaye Royal. I saw them back in February when they came to Cleveland with YUNGBLUD so I thought I knew what I was getting into. It didn’t matter that the venue was a hotel ballroom, Palaye Royal still brought a performance you’d expect to see in a stadium.
Rest in pieces to the microphone stand that lost its life. You will be missed.
Day 2 was a two-show day, starting off at Forest City Brewery where I drank a LOT of cream soda. Did I regret it? Hell no. Should I have maybe gone easy knowing the Beachland was going to have root beer for dinner? Probably.
Winners of the Tri-C Rock off Seeing Scarlet started off the day. For a band as young as they are, they do have some room to grow but I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll refine their craft as they get older. We got treated to some power rock from Crocodyle and ended the afternoon with a small acoustic set from Remy Rielly.
After a small break which consisted of a nap and some microeconomics, it was time for the next round of shows at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. This is when my night started to fall apart. As a photographer, you always hope that people will be accommodating and let you do your job. This crowd was not. It made me frustrated and sad, so much so that after Detention performed I gave up trying to get photos altogether. I did however watch the rest of the shows from afar with the standout set being Chad Tepper.
The show was running long, which meant we wouldn’t get back to the hotel until late and I was so exhausted at this point I was on the verge of tears. I powered through one last interview and set from The Happy Fits before I was done for the night.
That aside, the next morning I had a really nice breakfast at Addy’s in Cleveland with my uncle so I got to start my day off on a really good note. After breakfast, we were back at the Rock Hall for a tour, which if you know me doesn’t usually impress me all that much but going with people who found joy in every detail was an experience I’ll treasure. I spent the break in between activities in the hotel lobby with a drink from Dunkin Donuts and making TikToks.
After our break, it was time to go to the House of Blues for our final show of the week. It was a six-artist lineup, with The Sublets starting off the night. Jack Harris, ROUXX, Don’t Believe In Ghosts and Magnolia Park followed. Every set that ended you could feel the electricity in the air, and the anticipation for the show’s headliner COIN. My only gripe with COIN’s set was that they pumped in too much fog so it was really hard to see anything that was going on.
Overall I had a fantastic time meeting new people, hearing new music, and managing to be a full level 10 adult for three days. I can’t wait to go back again next year!