The city

The first show I ever went to in Sacramento was a huge drag. I had been in town maybe three weeks and was going to see a noisy indie band that I had been into for years, passing through on its way to “the city” I had just left.

Hardly anybody showed for its first, and last, show in Sacramento. The band ripped through its set like it was an unpleasant chore. I cradled my half-a-beer and joined the other dozen or so fans in wild applause. But no encore.

“Great set,” I lied to the guitarist while the band was packing up. “Never again,” he replied. I was bummed. My new town had been declared a cultural pit stop—maybe even a place to be avoided altogether. On the other hand, I thought, “Screw that. I bought my ticket. Stop whining and start rocking.”

I guess that was my introduction to what Associate Arts Editor Jonathan Kiefer calls Sacramento’s “tertiary-market blues.”

Kiefer’s cover story looks specifically at how the indie-film business cheats indie-film fans living in what distributors think of as “a distant suburb of San Francisco” (see “Art-house blues”). It goes for music and other art forms as well.

Maybe we’ll always get San Francisco’s hand-me-downs. Maybe not. I stopped calling San Francisco “the city” a long, long time ago—as soon as I got a taste of what was actually happening in my new city, the local music and arts scene that you don’t know about when you’re a total newcomer.

And we know that more than 200,000 additional people will make their homes in Sacramento over the next couple of decades. If even a fraction of those newcomers are looking for an alternative to chain theaters and stadium rock—or to the loft-living, valet parking S.F.-lite vision for downtown that’s being pushed by city leaders now—they’ll be in good company. More people means more support for real independent art, music and film—both national and homegrown. So, to hell with “the city.” We can make our own.