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Queens Chronicle

Despite mistakes, The Lot LIC series has what it needs to be great

Film and music series just misses the mark

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:14 pm, Thu Aug 14, 2014.

The Lot LIC, a privately owned open space, is hosting a poolside music and film series ... sort of.

Beside the venue’s outdoor festivities is a new art installation called “Backyard Pool” by Tamara Johnson.

The piece simulates a kidney-shaped inground pool — with a diving board and stepladder railing — but instead of water, it is filled with grass.

The quirky work made for a fun backdrop for the film and music series’ kickoff on Saturday, when a few dozen people soaked in some rays and enjoyed refreshments from the nearby M. Wells Steakhouse and Coney Island Brewery.

The Lot LIC series, unlike other film or music festivals which honor one art form exclusively, celebrates the two media on separate days to provide attendees with the ultimate dose of independent artists.

Films are played on Thurdays from 6 to 10 p.m. while live music is set for Saturdays from 3 to 9 p.m.

Though it was the first evening of performances, The Lot took a while to find its footing.

Doors opened at 3 p.m. and while refreshments were available and Johnson’s piece — funded by Rockrose Development Corp. in partnership with Socrates Sculpture Park — was intriguing enough to hold an attendee’s attention for a while, there was no music to be heard.

For the first two hours or so, people sat awkwardly as Sudanese-born Sinkane and his band performed a nitpicky sound check.

There is no fault in Sinkane — a brilliant artist who fuses African beats with electro-pop and funk sounds into an unusual yet pleasant listening experience — wanting sound levels to be perfect.

But for the concert organizers to have people sitting and listening to the musician’s latest single, “How We Be,” only to have it abruptly stop in the middle so the drummer’s mic could be turned down, made for an uncomfortable experience.

Sound checks are necessary, but it is sloppy to do them after a venue is open to guests.

It is also unfair to the artist, who no doubt will feel a certain amount of pressure in warming up in front of the audience that will soon be listening to the entire set.

Perhaps it was an unintended hiccup, but it made for a poor first impression, which, when presenting a free concert that uses social media and word of mouth as its main sources of advertising, means everything.

The Lot LIC series, which is also sponsored by Rockrose, has until late September to dust itself off.

If it does, it has the potential to be truly successful and a refreshing and more intimate take on the large festivals taking place citywide this time of year.

Next up, The Lot will host a screening of the 2007 drama “Chop Shop,” which tells the story of a 12-year-old orphan who lives and works in Willets Point — a blighted area slated for a massive development project.

As the screening will be in the same borough the film takes place, there will probably be a respectable turnout and if The Lot pulls off a smooth and enjoyable evening — a much easier feat for a film screening than a live concert — the series will most likely go on to be fairly successful.

On up-coming dates, the Lot LIC’s program boasts a respectable lineup of musicians and DJs, including Fredericks Brown, Widowspeak and DJ Scott Ewalt.

The series’ organizers have all the tools to create a staple summer event in Long Island City, they just need to assemble them on a solid foundation.

The Lot LIC Music and Film Series
When: Saturdays, thru Sept. 20, 3 to 9 p.m.
Where: The Lot LIC, 43-29 Crescent St.
Tickets: Free, thelotlic.com

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