EDITORIAL: Noise isn’t the point - Rome News-Tribune: Local

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EDITORIAL: Noise isn’t the point

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Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 6:00 am

AS NICE CLIMES return the good-time activities increase, with the big whoop-dee-dos grabbing most of the attention and their attendance counted in the multiple thousands drawn from near and far.

Ta-da! Ta-da! Ta-da! On subsequent weekends to much sounding of publicity trumpets came the Atlanta Steeplechase, the local debut of the CounterPoint Music & Arts Festival, the start of the Broad Street block parties that all seek to woo “guests” — paying, or at least buying — in a basic difference from all the participants, spectators and supporters crowding all the walks and races and water festivals and fund raisers.

Much, much more is on the way as Greater Rome’s overlooked little secret is exposed: This is where the fun for young, old and those between can constantly be found with a great variety of choices. There’s something for everybody — and pretty much every week, and sometimes with too much being held even on the same day. Not many communities, particularly of Greater Rome’s size, can say that.

Heck, Rome couldn’t say that a couple of decades ago when the “big deals” for the entire year were the Fourth of July fireworks, the Coosa Valley Fair and Heritage Holidays.

And with this increase of fun-times happenings typically come complaints, often from the stay-at-homes. That’s par for the course and the growth of such choices. Whether it was the concerts at the then-new bandshell in Ridge Ferry Park or the First Friday music and dancing in the streets on Broad, anything that changes dull, quiet everyday normal in this vicinity bothers somebody or other at the outset.

Too noisy is the usual leading complaint, with “rowdy” young people normally second.

THUS IT COMES as no surprise that CounterPoint, held way, way away from population concentrations at Kingston Downs (where the steeplechase is run) still created an avalanche of complaints, some 78 of them from the Floyd side of the sound tidal wave alone even though, officially, this was entirely held within Bartow County.

This festival features crank-it-up music — well, many younger folks put that label on styles referred to as trap music, dubstep, indie pop and chillwave. It was reported that the bass vibes in particular carried from 5 to 7 miles off the grounds.

And with nothing to be done about it by official circles even if they had desired, although the regional and national visibility provided by this event is considered chamber/community booster gold.

Strangely, just days before it had been revealed that the entire concert venue, long considered property both in Floyd and Bartow with a passel of admittedly confusing documents and legislative acts to prove it, was now being considered as entirely within Bartow, with Floyd “playing nice” about the matter in exchange for an agreement dividing all sales-tax revenues coming off the site to be divided 50/50. Of course, the official festival location address is on Biddy Road, in Rome, Ga.

Bartow has zero by way of a noise ordinance; Floyd has one that, although rather toothless, at least permits complaints to be looked into. Whether neighbors lived in Floyd or Bartow, from which all sounds emanated, this thus became a case of “too bad, so sad ... get ear plugs.”

ACTUALLY, as with all the similar complaints from yesteryears, area residents should expect this to be largely resolved — without a new tax-paid force of noise cops being created — before the next concert. As it almost definitely will be.

With attendance over the three days put at 65,000 — almost triple what the horsey set could pull a week earlier — and admission costs alone somewhere above $100 per day on average, that’s a ton of money with probable bushels of profits.

Not only that — and making the Floyd sales-tax deal look clever in retrospect — the mostly captive audience largely brought no cash, no credit cards but rather paid for food, drink, goodies and everything a city temporarily at least as large as Rome proper could provide with “FestiPay,” a brand-new wristband radio frequency solution allowing payment by waving a wristband.

And at the same time generating records of the tax collected on relevant sales, which was probably most of them. Whatever property taxes Floyd has given up, at least temporarily, by not waging an active war about whose turf this actually is, has probably been made up — and then some — by every dollar flowing through the place for three days being collected as computerized data.

CounterPoint is known mostly for being on the cutting edge of high-tech, and not just as regards the music. Indeed, as few complaining were probably aware, the noise could have been much, much worse.

Not only did the concert team constantly make adjustments as it received complaints but while the four stages had “curfews” for audible sound set for 2 a.m. the music actually continued until 5 a.m. Seriously. A “silent disco” opened at midnight and ran until 5 a.m. with those listening, dancing, etc. provided with wireless headphones to enjoy the broadcast sounds.

THIS IS NOT anything like Woodstock or even Bonaroo, with which nearby property owners might be familiar. Nor is it likely to have caused much “spillover” economic impact on nearby areas and merchants. The whole idea — nonstop music, camping, even free water for bottle refills and restroom facilities nothing like portapotties — is aimed at creating a captive (and happy) audience for three days and capturing every cent they may need or want to spend.

No doubt, by next year, the tech gurus behind this will have figured out ways to entirely defeat, or certainly blunt, all negative vibes created in the surrounding community.

They have every reason to do so. If the goal is to become a Bonnaroo for alternative and up-and-coming musical styles, CounterPoint’s push to feature what in olden days would have been called “new age” sounds has huge potential and rich rewards in doing so.

If CounterPoint in its first Kingston Downs concert (and second overall, the first being in Atlanta) can pull 65,000, it is worth noting that the first Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, in 2002 pulled 70,000 and by 2013 was up to 90,000 and considered by many (including Rolling Stone magazine) to be the top summer music festival.

In other words, the possibility of CounterPoint generating “noise” around the nation and even world that reverberates off Greater Rome is likely far, far louder than what the neighbors heard at its debut. And CounterPoint has every and all reasons for making its host community members happy even if they never hear, or like, the music.

WATCHING THIS sort itself out will be interesting, and a decade from now will be as generally forgotten as when a new downtown resident tried to get the sleep-disturbing Clock Tower chimes silenced.

In the American economy, the loudest noise of all is always made by success.

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