Qool Shows' Oski Gonzalez on Festivals and Inclusiveness; Fort Lauderdale Beach Music Festival This Saturday

Late last week, we posted about the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Beach music festival, which takes place this Saturday at Da Big Kahuna. The intense lineup -- some three stages of music all night -- and the superwide mix of genres represented therein was a head-scratcher for some. But this is par for the course for the Miami-based promoters behind the show, a team known as Qool Shows and made up of DJ/musician Oski Gonzalez and a partner who prefers to go by the pseudonymous "Queen of the Scene."

"I met Queen on Myspace five years ago and found out she had been promoting and reviewing shows for her website Queen of the Scene for ten years for free and anonymously, just for the love of local live music," Gonzalez says. "That impressed me so much, I had to meet her. So after a meet and greet, I asked her to come up with her dream event and I would make it happen and get her paid. She came up with Femme Fest, a show for bands either fronted by women or featuring women who play a major role in the band. Our first FemmeFest had 32 bands and 24 vendors."

Since then, the duo has been putting on similarly large-scale shows in Miami with an unusually democratic musical policy and none of the usual pay-to-play or forced-ticket-sale behind-the-scenes stuff. There are two other things you will never find at a Qool show either: a VIP section or a so-called "main stage." 

"Everybody is a VIP to us," Gonzalez says, "and a stage is a stage. No stage is better than another. Some may be bigger, some may be smaller, but they're still all the same."

So is the event at Da Big Kahuna part of a specific attempt to bring this promotion model north of the Miami-Dade County line? Maybe, says Gonzalez, who most often books events at Tobacco Road in Miami. Qool has, in the recent past, also mounted all-ages shows at Xtreme Indoor Karting in Fort Lauderdale, as well as two festivals -- a northern Femme Fest and another rock festival -- in Boca Raton.

"We are hoping this festival at Da Big Kahuna is the beginning of a long-lasting relationship. If this goes well, we will do another, then another, then another," he says. "Maybe Da Big Kahuna can be our Tobacco Road of Fort Lauderdale. Some of the coolest bands are from Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches."

In his ongoing spirit of inclusiveness, Gonzalez also welcomes the opportunity to work with more venues and bands in both Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Venues interested in putting on live, original local music can call Gonzalez at 305-303-3976. Bands are further invited to submit materials for booking consideration to Queen of the Scene at q_o_t_s@yahoo.com. Include a bio, a high-res photo with no logos, all email and phone contacts, website links, and, most important, MP3s of the music.

If you're interested in seeing this kind of show in action, then head to Da Big Kahuna this weekend for the festival.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Music Festival. 9 p.m. Saturday, February 25, at Da Big Kahuna, 17 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Ste. 308, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $10; age 21 and up. Click here.

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