The Sound Of The Sweetlife

For some neighbors of  in Columbia, Md., the May 30-31 Sweetlife Festival made life anything but sweet, and drew complaints about sound coming from the venue to a village board meeting June 11.

Several local residents said sound levels peaked around 10 p.m. May 31, which coincided with EDM star Calvin Harris’s set. Merriweather staff could not confirm he was the culprit, according to the Columbia Flyer.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is part of the Symphony Woods park area of Columbia, a planned community in which residents pay association fees. At least one of the complainants cited those fees, saying, “I’m entitled to live in my house free of the garbage noise. Noise is the greatest offense and has ruined the concept of Columbia,” according to the paper.

Others came to Merriweather’s defense. “We should be so lucky that this problem is our problem,” Dylan Goldberg told the board. “It’s not gunshots that keep you up. It’s not sirens keeping you up. It’s a huge economic generator for the area that’s keeping you up. It’s very limited in how often it happens each time of the year and look what it does for your community.”

The Columbia Flyer editorialized June 18 that noise restrictions already in place are sufficient and, given Merriweather Post Pavilion has been hosting rock concerts since 1967, “if it is essential in your life that you hear the crickets in your yard around sunset on summer weekends in Town Center, maybe Columbia is not your cup of suburbia.”

Sweetlife, billed as a music and food festival, was headlined by Kendrick Lamar and Harris. Others on the bill included PixiesThe WeekndBilly IdolAllen StoneVance JoyBanks, and Marina & The Diamonds, among others.

Perhaps ironically, the recent M3 Rock Fest with Europe, Quiet Riot, WarrantQueensrycheDokkenKrokus and  in the lineup, drew no complaints, according to Merriweather spokeswoman Audrey Schaefer. “I think people have been complaining about the noise at Merriweather since caveman times,” I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz, who operates Merriweather, told Pollstar in an email.

“This is the time of year where it always heats up, after we do a few shows and people say, ‘Oh that’s right we live near an amphitheater.’ Then comes the cycle of town meetings, letters to the editor, etc., whereby the lawmakers say, ‘Yes it’s true, you live near an amphitheater and they are not doing anything wrong.’ And then I have to write stuff like this.”