Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The State of the Rock

I have debated whether to post this. What the heck.

You've got friends who are in bands, who put on comedy shows, or who put on a local circus. If you don't, I feel bad for you, son.

Those friends send you even invites every time they perform. You RSVP to some. Sometimes you go. Often you forget, or you RSVP to some and then the night rolls around and you can't do it. I was just there. I had RSVPed to an event Monday night, and by the time I got the kids in bed, the event was half over, and I had to be up at 6:30 for the first day of school, so I flaked. Yep, it happens.

Thing is, those clubs that host the shows? Unless you live in a one-bar town with nowhere else to go, they expect said bands and comedians and performers to bring the audience.

My band, eh, well, we are liked. Many a compliment do we receive, and our CD sells well online, and we can usually book on the strength of our recordings. But our audience? Our turnout? Not so much. We just played at a great venue. The other bands liked us, the patrons liked us, and the bar staff liked us. But we won't get invited back.

We didn't smash a urinal or fight the bar staff. No, all our friends, all 70 that we invited, failed to show. We brought three family members, two of whom got in on the guest list. The bar didn't break even for the night.

We will never play there again. 

We've puzzled three hours, till our puzzler was sore. Perhaps we rely too much on friends. Perhaps we're not reaching the right group of fans. Perhaps we need to pursue different venues.

Or perhaps this situation sucks.

First question out of any bar owner's mouth is not "What does the music sound like?" It's "can you bring a crowd?" Well, bar owner, let me ask you this. When you can watch two hours of live footage from your favorite bands online, when Netflix is calling and you've got millions of songs on Spotify, do you always go support your favorite local bands?

I'm sure you did when you were 19 and life was all about punk shows. Or maybe you're one of those lucky popular folks who never lacks for followers. For the rest of us, it's a real gamble. We've played with one of the biggest bands in the Seattle/Bellingham area, Keaton Collective,and not only did our audience failed to show, theirs did too. They have over one thousand likes on Facebook, they get played on KEXP, and there were maybe three people in the audience that night.

We love what we do. And we want to share it with you. Every show we play is a privilege and a reward and the product of thousands and thousands of hours of hard work. It's NOT for us. We want to play you a kind of music you do not hear everywhere.We busted our brains and hammered out songs and put in week after week of practice in our drummer's basement to make something UNIQUE. Oh, and we sank tons of our money into instruments and recording gear.

That goes for any performance your friends put on. It is the result of more sweat and strain and practice than you know.

If you don't show, the bar owner notices that this band/comedian/fire-eater doesn't bring a crowd, and won't give them another chance, and eventually they stop booking shows, and "eventually I'll see them" turns into "dang, I wish I had seen them when they were still gigging."

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