WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 — If 2020 has offered up one semi-positive thing, it’s swiftly turned many of us into online streaming aficionados. Whether it’s for company meetings or just watching your favorite musician perform a set from their living room, it’s allowed us all to stay connected.
This is scenario is also true for local record label GTG Records. Its annual festival, now in its 13th year, has been a staple in the Lansing music scene—and this year you can view it from home on Saturday.
Tommy McCord, the label’s co-founder (and member of The Plurals), chatted with City Pulse about 2020’s GTG Fest. Here’s what he had to say.
Lineup wise, how is this different from previous years?
For GTG Fest standards, it’s much more pared down with 12 acts performing instead of the usual 25-30 over two-or-three days—but it feels great to be doing something.
Aside from the festival, how has it been running a record label and bands during COVID?
Very slow. Over the last decade and a half, the industry really swiveled to being built around live shows and we are a show promotion collective, as well as a record distribution network. So, everything is slow, kind of boring and anarchy without shows and touring. The spring and summer releases basically were delayed or happened in a much lower key fashion than planned, but there’s still plenty in the works.
Looking back, what inspired you, and the GTG Records team, to start this festival?
Essentially, it’s just supposed to be a celebration of the music the label releases and a spotlight for some friends from out of town. It’s an excuse to get a bunch of people together in a positive, progressive and artistic environment. Obviously, the “getting a lot of people together” part is a no-go in 2020, but we can still hit the other points.
Over the years, where have you hosted GTG Fest?
The original venue was my parent’s property out in the country by Ionia. After three years of hosting it there it started getting too big and harder to control, so we held it as a lower key event in DIY spaces in Lansing. Since 2013, the hub of the fest has been The Avenue Café. On various years, The Record Lounge, GTG House, Mystery Garage and Mac’s Bar have held additional performances.
Hosting an all-digital event is a first for you—when did you start planning?
We had been discussing doing something since the spring, but it didn’t come into focus until just a couple weeks ago. Since this is our first attempt at a virtual fest, we’re keeping it on the simple side and sticking largely with fest veterans: The Plurals, The Stick Arounds, Honah Lee, Erotic Novels, Narc Out the Reds, The Soods, Raymond Strife, Hunky Newcomers, Jeremy Porter and Drinking Mercury.
But we do have a few fest debuts. Marsha, a new local heavy shoegaze band, will be playing their first public set via the fest. My latest project, the folky Wild Honey Collective, will kick things off. Invisible Cartoons from Chicago, a great dancey indie rock band, will stream in a set as well. I want to have more events like this in the near future because there are tons of people I would like to have asked but didn’t out of trying to keep this manageable.
Where are the bands from?
The livestream angle has the advantage of allowing people to stream in from anywhere, so it’s half musicians from Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit and the others are playing out of the east coast and Chicago. As our catalog reflects, we’ve got a strong punk, indie rock, and power-pop presence, but there’s also some hip-hop, metal, folk and country in the mix.
We’ll start streaming at 4 p.m. sharp at both the GTG Records Facebook and GTGRecordsTV YouTube page. We’ll have constant music until 10 p.m. So, people can watch anywhere. We’re looking forward to interacting with everyone, even if it can’t be in person.
Anything else people should know?
Vote! Our lives depend on it.
GTG Fest 2020 Lineup:
The Stick Arounds
Narc Out the Reds
The Hunky Newcomers
The Wild Honey Collective