“Think about it, you’re building a city in a day. … You name it, it’s all there.”
Spencer Lavoie is a man of the community, and he’s bringing a three-day festival called the Carniroll to Northampton Massachusetts in April.
We (the Cannamaniacs) will be there, as will Method Man, Redman, Wiz Khalifa, and a number of others, but before the big show we asked Lavoie to break down this truly massive event for us …
What made you take the step and start doing all these cool projects? Throwing three day festivals isn’t something people do.
Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like anyone can do anything. If I was able to pull it off, then anyone can. It’s more of a why, you know what I’m saying? You need to have a reason that overpowers the struggle to get there.
What’s your reason?
I want to open up a music school based on concert technology for young men in the hood. Within three years, I want to buy a building, take all the technology and knowledge I have, and have kids put on massive-scale events. Then have them see the result of their effort. Festivals are cool in the way they can teach you about all the opportunities that you could teach kids to get involved in the music scene in different ways.
You seem like you are really into kids and community, it seems to be a major driving factor in everything you are doing.
It is, the way I look at it is, this is an opportunity to help guide kids in a way that I didn’t have guidance. It will alleviate the 12 years of yellow tape and nonsense I went through to get to where I’m at. Not to mention, the festival scene gives someone the opportunity to realize themselves.
Think about it, you’re building a city in a day. What does a city need? Power distribution, electricity, plumbing, food, water, pressure and engineering, cooking, medical, trash disposal, waste management, sanitation, construction. You name it, it’s all there.
Then you have the design, the art, the marketing, the artistry. … I started to realize that it wasn’t about me with my music and my studio. It was about watching other people get off by exploring their passions and get in the zone. To me that’s what it’s always been about. … It’s just as important being the guy pulling the curtain for the guy on stage as it is to be the guy on stage, and I think as a society we need to look at that across the board.
So what is going on with Carniroll?
I’m throwing a little concert
Wiz Khalifa, Griz, Redman, Method Man, Waka Flocka, and a bunch of other people.
How many days is it?
That’s big. Is this your first year?
We booked Carniroll two years ago, Waka Flocka, and then COVID came. Pushed it back to October of last year, added Redman and Method Man, and COVID kept happening. So we pushed it to now and added some big headliners.
What planted the original seed, how did this start in your head?
I think that there is a huge gap in real events, and I think that you develop a concept that fits. I see Earth Day, cannabis culture, green revolution together, ya know? Like a realization of one’s openness, this coming of tide, the renaissance of the individuality of someone, the identity, all of it. It’s time to celebrate.
To me it’s like, we don’t need to protest on this, let’s just get together and celebrate Earth Day because that’s what it’s about now. It’s not about one element of anything. That’s what the event is about. Yes, people say Earth Day is all about environmental awareness, and it is. Don’t get me wrong. The environment is not just the environment that one inhabits, it’s also one that inhabits the individual. So it’s an opportunity for lots of people of different cultures to get together and come together after COVID and just realize what’s really up. That’s the whole guiding point.
Obviously a lot of folks will take out of the event what they are doing and go in their own direction. Whether it’s cannabis related or electronic music or art, but to me it’s more about how we have my friend’s wrestling league right in the center doing choke slams and hall of fame wrestlers. We have a car show with Bentleys. We have hot air balloons, lasers, lights, visuals. It’s all of us coming together to do some cool stuff.
Everyone was just waking up, picking up the backpack, and carrying it to the finish line without saying a word. It’s bigger than any one thing.
How many vendors do you have?
Thirty to 40 vendors. Plus another 12 or so food trucks
Will there be camping?
No, I want to keep it as early and safe as possible and build a concrete plan as it develops. I think camping is great and I don’t discourage folks to go find great hotels and after parties and things like that because that’s what it’s about. There is plenty of time after to go to the bars and stuff. I hope everyone that has a bar in the community crushes. That’s what it’s about.
Does the community support what you’re doing?
Hell yeah, I’m so blessed with that. We’re doing things like making it free for everyone in the town on Sunday. We gave away 500 tickets to Vet Tix.
You seem super into the community.
That’s what it’s all about. The profit will come. What are you going to do with it? Go on vacation? Or we could give people an experience.
What are some of these experiences you’re giving away?
We have a cool NFT campaign rolling out. Basically auctioning off 50 tokens for crazy experiences; winners will get to do things like sit on a throne on the side of the stage in king and queen outfits. Eating a catered five-course meal on your throne. Pressing the button that starts the firework show. Hitting the day spa in the morning and getting a limo ride to the show.
That’s so extra, but awesome. What made you think so outside the box?
I wanted to have the ultimate event. What’s cool about this auction is we have 50 tokens and each token comes with crazy things like ridiculously huge merch bags, baller VIP status, cabana access, access to areas you wouldn’t have otherwise, we have a full brunch, a full spread you can come in early, bring your crew and come eat before you hit the show, unlimited access to all the rides and games. We have a ton of carnival games to the point it’s getting interesting. I had a friend call me yesterday and ask me if our crowd would like inflatable bull riding laser tag.
Can you tell us about all of the art you have going on?
We have a plethora of artists coming out. Part of the NFT auction is the winners get to take home the murals.
How many artists do you have?
I’d say 50-plus. We are going to have a lot of walls and stuff, but not only that, we are going to have a whole bunch of technology features. Visual art that you wouldn’t normally see. LEDs and LED walls displayed in weird designs and stuff like that. Projection mapped objects and other stuff you wouldn’t normally get to see. Inflatables, structures, hundreds of giant balls, paintings, murals, fire jugglers. We’re giving an opportunity for everyone to do what they want to do.
It sounds like you covered all the bases.
I’m trying to alleviate the need for escapism at events and all of the drugs and whatnot. I think events should be an opportunity to go out and be who you want to be without the influence of drugs. So I think this is a cool way to get all types of cultures involved in one common place.
Let’s talk about music, how many stages are there going to be?
We have 3 stages.
Tell us about the music we will find there.
Rock, hip-hop, jam bands, electronic, reggae. We could go on forever. The fact is, this is every type of music. We’re pushing a whole individuality agenda. We have a lot of female artists and we have a lot of LGBTQ artists. We have a whole cross mix of everybody. And it’s not for the sake of it. It’s because that’s what the earth is.
What is Family Fun Day?
All day Sunday we offer free admission for the entire town of Northampton
What’s the craziest thing you’re willing to tell us that you have as a surprise for the show?
We have one of the brightest lasers in our production on the entire east coast right now. And you could win a hot air balloon experience.
Anything else that you might not normally find at a concert?
Carl Sagan’s grandson Tonio Sagan is doing a live reveal of an audio visual experience. So before the headliner on Saturday we will have a beautiful video that will be played with live music behind it before the headliner. That’s another cool thing I’m excited for.
How many people are you expecting?
Twenty-thousand throughout the weekend definitely. About 10,000 people a night. I’d probably start looking at capping it at 10,000 by the day for sure. We’re going to be breaching those numbers.
Why would you want to cap it?
Because then you are affecting experience. It’s not about the money at a certain point. We’ll be back. Bigger. Better. More exclusive. It’s about the experience and making sure everyone gets home safe and happy, wakes up the next day, has breakfast and comes back. It’s not about maximizing potential, It’s all about experience. I didn’t build it out bigger because I didn’t want it to be a burden on the community the first year. I want the community to enjoy the experience.
Carniroll at Three County Fairgrounds, Northampton. April 15-17. carniroll.com.
Listen to the full interview with Tash and Hawco on Anchor or at youtube.com/c/cannamaniacs, and catch them broadcasting live at Carniroll.