A reply to an anti-band rant from a venue…


They sadly had a lot of good points overshadowed by ignorance and arrogance:

I sort of blogged on Facebook itself.  First you have to read the original rant, I’d guess. Here’s what I said:

At first I found this amusing, but the more I read, the more the author seemed like an arrogant prick. Sadly, I agree with a bunch of the points on bad band behavior and have had similar rants as the person trying to organize a show or simply having to put up with the antics of another band.

#21. It shouldn’t hurt to ask.

#22. I think you meant “you’re.”

#23. You’re too cool to have a conversation with someone who may just be bored that they’re there with their kid’s band and they’ve heard all the songs 8004 times?

#35. If you use the R-word, you’re an A-hole. If you use the R-word twice, you’re a double A-hole, and you must shit in stereo.

#36. “Load-In Time.” If it’s a local band and they have a 6:30 load-in time, chances are they’re not going to get there on time. Unfortunately a lot of local musicians have day jobs that have a quitting time of 5:00 or later. Getting to the gig by then may be impossible.

To reply to an overall arc of the list… In general I understand clubs need to have people come to shows or they don’t make money or can’t pay the bands. I understand that a band needs to promote its ass off via word of mouth, flyers, classified and event pages in local rags, social media, and any other way it can… but clubs can do some of that too. I can’t get my head around being a draw. I’ve been in a handful of bands over the years that are generally and sometimes wildly well-received when put in front of a crowd… but have found it difficult to predict a draw or to become a steady one. Sometimes I have brought a crowd, sometimes I couldn’t draw if I had a bucket full of crayons and a stack of paper. How does one gain a steady and loyal following, oh great bringers of so much musical knowledge?

I have played many shows with no pay. I have been paid more than what came in the door at shows. I have bought T-shirts and CD’s from bands who were on tour knowing that was probably the only way they’d eat before they get to the next stop.

Things you missed:

  • Setup/Breakdown – Set your drums up before you get on stage. Take them off, then break them down. Don’t take longer to set up your amp and pedal board than it takes to play your terrible set.
  • Tune silently.
  • Watch the other bands, asshat. Also, don’t play first then take your crowd with you. Hang out, buy drinks, catch another act. Don’t hang out in the parking lot while the other bands are playing then swoop in like a rock star when it’s time for you to play.
  • Don’t complain about the monitor mix after every song, or blame equipment for your epic lack of awesome.

Also:

I should have blogged this, but didn’t think I’d rant that long. Ha ha.

Related reading:

Guest Post: How to book your band.


I’ve posted advice for existing and aspiring bands before, and I thought this email from a pro would be useful.  It was sparked when I saw his Facebook status the other day: “Great way to start the day: my favorite venue in the country complimented my email skills in contacting them to booking a date. It’s the highest praise I could hope for.”

The status went on to some comments & basically the author said he’d share the knowledge with those who cared to learn.  I asked if I could post it in a blog, and here we have it.  If you’re in a band on any level, pay heed to the advice below.

As far as background on Bengt, he’s in a band (& been in many), he records bands, he’s booked bands, and he’s generally been in every part of the scene.  He knows what he’s talking about.

Action Camp

Action Camp

On to the advice & the guest part of this guest post:

♪♫♩♬♩♫♪

Alright, so here is what we usually send like 99% of the time. There always a bit of customization but this is the basic format:

1. Greeting, name the booker if you know it (usually listed on indieonthemove.com or their website)

2. Band name (with a link to the website), genre, location.

3. Date(s) requested in bold. They love that, it makes it easier read. If you can swing 3-5 dates that’s best, it gives them room. Do them a favor and check the website for those dates first, they appreciate that a ton. Also make sure to follow their booking procedure to the T. A lot of places have a specific way they like to work (Facebook message, Sonicbids, email format, etc). If you do it right it shows you listened so you’re already at the top of the pile.

Also, if another band that’s played there before suggested it, tell them so. It’s like introducing yourself to anyone else and starting with saying you have a mutual friend. It’s a job reference.

4. Links to music, video, press – let them decide if they want to book you. The more you talk about how awesome you are and why you should be booked, the more they think you probably suck and are trying to gloss over it. It’s like handing someone your demo and saying it’s not your best work.

5. If you played there or in the city before tell them. If you know what you drew and stuff be honest, they love that.

6. Offer to help build the bill, and specifically name bands you know or have contacted already.

7. Thanks in advance, Thanks for your time, etc.

8. ALL of your contact info including phone numbers. It shows you are easy to reach and you have your shit together.

One final thing: DON’T say someone famous produced your record, quote random blog reviews, list facebook or twitter numbers, anything like that. No one cares about that if they know what their doing in the working touring circuit. Steve Albini producing your record won’t make 100 people come out in Dayton on a Monday night, and facebook and twitter followers are ostensibly your imaginary friends that only you can see. Plus, even you have 4,000 people odds are only 10 of them are near the venue you are trying to book.

Here is exactly what I sent to Southgate House:

Hello Morrella,

We are Action Camp, an art rock duo from Pittsburgh, PA.

We’re looking to see if you have Friday February 15th or Saturday the 16th available to book in the Revival Room – both look open on your calendar but I wasn’t sure if you would do a full house those nights. Our music is pretty different from what’s going on those nights so I’m not concerned about audience bleed over. This would be our 4th time to Southgate, 7th time in 3 years in the Cininnati/Newport scene. We know plenty of bands so we’d throw a bill together with 2 or 3 locals to help support.

– You can hear our music at actioncamp.bandcamp.com or at our website below.
– Here is a recent video from our 2012 summer tour
– And some press from our Winter tour just a couple weeks ago.

If these are unavailable I’d love to work something out in the future. Southgate was/is by far our favorite venue on tour, I can only assume the new house is great. Sincerely, I (Bengt) booked a venue in Pittsburgh, and based many of my practices on the way SGH was run by Rick and his crew.

Previous dates:

Parlour 10/1/2010 (Gallery Opening, free show, 100+ attending)
Parlour 1/2/2010 (w/ Duppy a Jamba, 97 paid)
Parlour Summer 2009 (Flux Capacitors last show, well attended, don’t have stats)

Our most recent dates in the area were both in Cincinnati:

12/8/2012 The Comet Cincinnati, OH (100+, free show)
7/5/2012 Sitwells Coffeehouse Cincinnati, OH (smaller acoustic show, last minute add on tour)

Thanks in advance, can’t wait to see the new place,

– Maura + Bengt (Action Camp)
http://www.action-camp.com
actioncamp@gmail.com
###.###.####

So that’s it, pretty simple. Just be honest and to the point. I also should point out that this was 1 of 10 venues we emailed on Christmas, and he got back just a day later with this response:

“Thanks for writing. Those dates aren’t announced yet, but they are spoken for. How about Wed Feb 13, or Sun Feb 17?

“PS – very well done email, especially listing previous show turnouts. You’re way ahead of the curve on that one, and it did persuade me to jump on this, and get you in!”

I always email every venue that would work for us in a city, it’s better to have choices than no show at all.

Hope this all helps,

– Maura + Bengt (Action Camp)
http://www.action-camp.com
actioncamp@gmail.com
###.###.####

♪♫♩♬♩♫♪

So, there you have it.  Got it?  Good.  Doing research in advance before you ask for dates seems like a no-brainer, but apparently it needs to be said.  I guess some bands naturally put more thought into stuff.

I’m not sure how you’d approach this if you had no previous gigs in an area… perhaps we can get Bengt to comment further for new bands, first time tours, etc.?

Check out the Action Camp video here:

Bands vs. Venues: Who promotes? Who makes money? Can everyone “win”?


Rick from the Fallout Shelter brought up a great discussion topic on Facebook, and it inspired me to blog about it.

That’s a private group on Facebook, so here’s what was said in case you’re not a member:

Rick D'Agostino Looking for some feedback from the music community out there. Do you think that the $5 cover charge keeps you or your friends from attending shows at the Fallout Shelter that they might otherwise attend to check out new bands? In other words, are folks only willing to pay a $5 cover to see bands that they already know? And as a band member, would you rather play to a larger crowd with a tip bucket or to just a few people and make some gas money? I am thinking of making some changes. you can reply here or message me if you want. thanks!

Rick D’Agostino is looking for some feedback from the music community out there..

Dig?  So now, you have the gist of it.  My blog may go on its own little tangent, you never really know with these things.  It’s certainly worth talking about.

First, it’s clear that I’ve never been in a band where making money is the ultimate goal.  I’m amazed over & over that venue owners let me come in, set up, and play in front of people.  Sometimes we get money from the door, sometimes we get money from tickets sold, sometimes we give it all to the touring band, sometimes it’s a charity gig, sometimes no one shows up to pay anyone, sometimes we get some gas money or a couple of bucks to dump back into merch or something.

This is how it’s worked nearly everywhere and every time I have played:  Most of the time, the cover is $3 to $5, unless we’re opening for a national act & it’s through a booker where we’re asked to sell tickets.  Some call the latter “pay to play“, and rail wholly against it.  Some people have no problem selling tickets.  Some bands like mine do, but we try anyway.  At bar gigs, the cover charge is usually $5.  Sometimes it all goes to the bands, especially if it’s a bar & if you provide your own door person.  Sometimes it pays for a sound guy (if there is one) & a cut goes to the bar, then the bands get paid.  Sometimes locals defer and let the out-of-town bands take the cash (if there is one).  Sometimes you can play for free at open stages, sometimes you pay to get in at open stages.  Sometimes no one comes out to see you, and no one gets paid.  Sometimes the band gets free or discounted drinks.  It’s generally a no pay or break even situation.  You hope to sell merchandise and/or CD‘s if you have them, and the bar hopes to sell drinks & food.  The bands should promote and the venues should promote.  Some venues think the bands should do it all, some bands think the venue should do it all.  Generally 3 or sometimes 4 bands are all on the same gig.  Sometimes, it all works out, sometimes… it doesn’t.  This is how bands who largely play their own music are forced to operate.

That’s only 1 way.  There are many other “scenes” here overlapping in the ‘Burgh.

Cover bands… or human jukebox bands, can generally charge a fee for playing a certain style, genre, or “songs that people know”.  This is to provide entertainment to drunken Yinzer patrons who want to yell out requests.  You probably usually play 3 sets, maybe 4… and you’re the only entertainment all night.  You’re probably playing pop country, classic rock, or a little mix of everything.  Professional singers/songwriters operate pretty much the same way as described above, but can get away with putting in more of their own material.

High-class…  I know a band that plays funk, and can get $5000 a gig at the least.  They put their twist on a bunch of songs, dress up, bring lights, and put on one hell of a show.  I’m pretty sure I could never command that much cash for what I do… but how is one less relevant or entertaining?  They do weddings, corporate parties, and “events”.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there that I’m not even aware of.  I can’t really speak for any other parts of the scene than the one I’m in.

I’ve heard the argument that charging only $5 is devaluing our craft.  Bands should demand more to be heard live.  It worked for Yuengling.  They raised the price on their beer in the late 90s/early 00s and they took off ahead of the other “microbrews”.  Should we then put a higher value on ourselves & our art?  If we raise the price do we raise our expectations?  Do we raise our worth?  Do we raise the value of our music & entertainment?

I also see that a cover charge can make or break a show.  Times are changing.  People aren’t spending money on entertainment.  Music is seen like it’s all supposed to be free.  Why would someone pay for a live show?  To me, if you don’t have $5 on you for a show, maybe you shouldn’t be going to a bar in the 1st place.  $5 might get you 2 beers if you’re a butthole & don’t tip the bartender.  Then again, we hardly ever walk away with any money anyway (the Fallout Shelter is an exception here, we get paid well there, regardless of turnout), so why not let people in for free?

The tip bucket.  I’d play for one.  I have no doubt that we’re entertaining.  Why not, right?  Do all bands split the tip bucket?  Or go per performance?  That if the 1st band up gets all the cash & the “cleanup” band gets nothing simply because the patrons ran out of cash?  Are we nothing more than indoor buskers if we play for a tip jar?  Is it a better measurement of our entertainment value to work for tips?  Does it devalue our art to basically beg for donations to support the rock n’ roll cause?

I certainly don’t want to see my favorite venues close because they can’t afford to operate.  I like to play them, I like to see other bands in them… I want them to do well.  I want them to continue to host my band & other bands.  I even want them to make a buck so it’s all worth their while, and so they can do it to make a living.

I just want to play.  I don’t care where, or for how much.  I have fun doing it.  I think this is an important discussion to have, though.  What is the value of live rock n’ roll?

So…

  • Would you play for less of a cover charge?
  • Should we charge more for shows?
  • Should bands play for tips?
  • How should the tips be split?
  • How does the venue make money?
  • Who pays the sound guy?

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

Related Articles

You ought to come see some of these shows.


I’m sure you know I’m one of the Berts in Ernie and the Berts.  I’m sure you know we play shows.  I’m sure you’d have fun at one (or two or three or four).  Come rock out with us some time…

Tue. 06/05/2012 @ Altar Bar - Real McKenzies, Goddamn Gallows, Bloody Seamen, Ernie and the Berts

✟ The Real McKenzies ✟ The Goddamn Gallows ✟ The Bloody Seamen ✟ Ernie and the Berts ✟

Tuesday June 5th, 2012 at the Altar Bar (Also, win Ernie’s Pants!)

Fri. 06/22 @ Ozzie's - Nervous Aggression, Don't Wake the Dead, Ernie and the Berts

☠ Nervous Aggression ☠ Don’t Wake the Dead ☠ Ernie and the Berts ☠

Friday June 22nd, 2012 at Ozzie’s Bar & Grill

Fri. 06/23/2012 @ The Fallout Shelter: Ernie and the Berts, Johnnie Lee Jordan, Alex Payne, Joey Molinaro

☢ Ernie and the Berts ☢ Johnnie Lee Jordan ☢ Alex Payne ☢ Joey Molinaro ☢

Saturday June 23rd, 2012 at the Fallout Shelter

Fri. 07/20/2012 @ The Fallout Shelter: OTiS, Scratch n' Sniffs, Ernie and the Berts

☢ OTiS ☢ Scratch n’ Sniffs ☢ Ernie and the Berts ☢

Friday July 20th, 2012 at the Fallout Shelter

As you can see we have a bunch of stuff coming up.  We generally try to be all kinds of fun.  We’re playing with some exciting bands & artists.  We’re playing some new venues & some old favorites.  We’re playing with bands we love & bands we’ve never met.  Each show is an adventure.  Join us!

Gig Checklists


Jim Dunlop Tortex Fin PicksInspired by a post called Gig Preparation, I thought I’d make some checklists.  I think we’ll need one (and a half) for our stuff, one for setting up the gig, and one for doing stuff at the gig.  The lists would change depending on who’s working the gig or who set it up, but you should be able to help with the flow of things even if you’re not the organizer.  This is also from the point of view of a guitar player, because that’s all I’ve ever been.  I’m guessing it would be the same for a bass player & quite similar for a drummer.

Gig Checklists…

-·♠·-

Before the gig:

☐ Get all the details in order:

☐ The bands
☐ The place
☐ The time
☐ The price
☐ All ages or 21+
☐ Is it a benefit?
☐ Any specials if it’s a bar?
☐ Selling tickets?

.
Promote!

☐ …using social media – Link the crap out of details/event pages.
Flyers – Hang ’em up, pass ’em out.
☐ Word of mouth

.
☐ Communicate with the other bands…

☐ Sharing equipment? – Cut down on changeovers between bands.
☐ Playing order?

.
☐ Do you need your own door person?

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Stuff to take:

☐ Guitar – In a case or gig bag, I actually saw a guy use a bath-towel once.
☐ Backup guitar(s) – Don’t kill the show when you break a string.
☐ Amp head & cab (or combo)
☐ The merch box(es)
☐ Your gig backpack or briefcase. (“What’s that.” you ask? Keep reading!)

.

|·| |·| |·| |·| | |:|  |  | · |   | · |   | · |  | · |   |   |

.

An acoustic guitar string. 0.044-inch (1.117 m...I make sure to have my backpack full o’ stuff with me at every gig.  Over the years, every item in it has proved useful and one time or another.

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In The Gig Backpack or Briefcase:

☐ Tuner (Get a pedal one, so no one can hear you tune.)
Wireless system (Certainly not a necessity, but fun.)
9V battery (Are the lithium ones OK for pedals?)
☐ Guitar cables (1 more than you need)
☐ Speaker cables (1 more than you need)
Strings (At least a full set, …any leftovers you’ve got should be in there.)
☐ Extra power cord
Power Strip (w/ Circuit Breaker)
3-Prong to 2-Prong adapter (or 2)
Duct Tape or Gaff Tape (or both… Gaff doesn’t leave a mess.)
☐ Tablet (Setlists, Merch Prices, Boredom)
☐ A sharpie or 2 (Setlists, Rock Star Autographs)
☐ A Leatherman-type tool. (Crazy or not-so crazy.)
☐ Guitar picks (I use Jim Dunlop Fins.)
☐ An Extra Strap
☐ Flashlight (A really bright one helps)
☐ Extension Cord

[::( )::]

Stuff that I don’t have, but might be a good idea…

☐ Pedal(s) – Wah, Distortion, Foot Switch, Etc.
Mic clip(s)
String Winder
☐ Pick strip or holder
Slide / eBow / Capo
☐ Strap locks
Trem poker
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Nail clippers
☐ acetaminophen / ibuprofen / aspirin
☐ Band-aids
☐ Cloth or towel

.

\m/_(-_-)_\m/

At the gig:

☐ Set stuff on the stage for the 1st band & any bands sharing
Backline the “main” act if there is one & set up in front of them.
☐ Tune (Silently! – No one likes the tuning song! – Tune your backup guitar too.)
Let the Sound Technician do their job.
☐ Set up a Merch Table/Corner/Counter/Box.
☐ Put your door person at the door.
☐ Using a setlist? Reach into that backpack & get one made!
☐ Have a drink? Water, Beer, or something harder.
☐ Tune Again (Silently! – No one likes the tuning song!)
☐ Unless you’re awesome & have a tech, get a string-wingman.

.

웃웃웃웃웃웃웃웃웃

Danelectro Vintage Power Source A cool looking...

I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting, but I think this is a pretty decent start.  What do you think I’m missing from the list?  Do you have an emergency gig kit?  What’s in it?

D'Andrea Gmk1 Guitar Cleaner Maintenance Kit

Attn Bands :: Where and how do you promote shows?


So, bands… where & how do you advertise shows these days?  There is of course your own website (if you even bother to have one), social media, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Do you still print physical show fliers?  Where do put them?  Do you pass out handbills?  How many friends, family members, classmates, co-workers, and casual acquaintances do you annoy with news of your shows & how often?

Is it flyers or fliers?

Is it flyers or fliers?

What social media do you use?  FacebookReverb NationTwitterMySpaceGoogle+Google CalendarAnything else?  I know there’s a bunch out there like the ancient Pure Volume (is anyone still over there?).

Then there are sites like Bandcamp, SoundCloud, & even YouTube… they help promote the band, but do they help promote shows?

Busker Bin

A gig is a gig, right?

Which ones do you use & which ones do you find effective?  I know bands helped animated gifs with glittering text kill MySpace.  At what point of posting about your band / shows / music / merchandise does it become over-saturation?

Do you hit the local papers or their websites with classified ads or event listings?  Do you post on local radio websites?

Do you post on the venue’s (and/or promoter’s) website/Facebook/Twitter/etc.?

Do you have an email list?

If you hang flyers, where do you hang them?  If you pass them out, where do you pass them out?

Here are some local sites where I’ve listed (or tried to list) our stuff…  Not sure if it’s drawing anyone out.

Where do you post?

Help me make a checklist of sorts to make sure we’re getting the word out to as many people as possible as efficiently as possible.

 

The Clarks; “Producing ire” or “to admire”?


Nothing can polarize a random group of yinzers like discussing the Clarks.  A lot of people love them, a lot of people hate them.  There’s probably even more people that could really care less about the whole issue.  The reason I’m blogging about this is, well, it blew up when I mentioned my distaste for them on Facebook.  Everybody & their mother (literally in my case) has an opinion about the Clarks:

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

That Clarks commercial makes my butthole pucker...

English: Gary Busey in Almaty, Kazakhstan in O...

"Wahooooo!"

Have you seen the Clarks’ Toyota commercial, or any of the Gary Busey Kia commercials?  Gary Busey is bat-shit-nuts, and I’d rather buy an inferior car endorsed by him.  OK, I’d really rather buy neither… but the Gary Busey commercials don’t make me want to change the channel, and they don’t make my butthole pucker.

I present to you some video evidence for your review:

Then, I posted a status linking to the first status, asking for help building my list.  It turned into chaos.  Don’t believe Joel below.  He’s a bit mischievous.  Tiffany certainly seems adamant about her love for the Clarks.

Help make a list...

Help make a list...

So, what’s the big deal?  Personally, I find their songs trite, corny, tonally bland, and their vocalist quite annoying.  My general line is that his vocals are the aural equivalent to taking a cheese-grater to my eardrum.  When I hear them on the radio I involuntarily sigh or roll my eyes.  Yet, I know some of their songs because (thanks to local radio) I have heard them ad nauseam.

The Clarks (album)

There's a penny on the floor from our last album sale residuals...

I understand that music preferences are an opinion, and that others are entitled to theirs.  I’m just stating mine.  There’s no need to get your panties in a bunch just because I don’t like the Clarks and you do.  I’ll try hard not to consider you hopelessly tonally-challenged if you happen to like the Clarks.

I get a feeling that a lot of people like the Clarks simply because they’re from the area and mention Fayette County in their songs.  Yinzers seem to like them because they’re on the radio, or because they’ve been in a bar when they played.  They appear to appeal to the lowest common denominator,  I don’t know how many people like the Clarks because they actually like the Clarks’ music.  When I ask someone why they like the Clarks, I get answers like “I saw them at so & so’s bar” or “They’re from here” or something about allegiance to IUP.  It’s never “I really like [name of song here]” or “I really like their song writing/guitar playing/etc.”. Again, this is my opinion.

Also my opinion…  This car has more musical ability than the Clarks:

It’s been told to me repeatedly that people in bands around Pittsburgh simply don’t like the Clarks out of jealousy of their success.  I don’t believe I’m jealous of the Clarks for myself, but I guess I am a hater on certain levels.  I hate that they’re representative of Pittsburgh music.  I hate that people with no grasp of the local music scene ask me if I know/like them when they find out I’m in a band.  I hate that so many other bands around here that deserve wider recognition go unnoticed and go without radio play.  At the same time, a lot of musicians that I know just don’t like the Clarks because they write & perform bad songs.  This undoubtedly fuels the ire.  Perhaps it’s “bandwagon” to hate on the Clarks?  Maybe it’s the “cool” thing to do?  Maybe we’re all just not tone deaf.

A box grater with multiple grating surfaces.

Scott Blasey

So, please, I’d like a discussion on the comments below, not on the Facebook post about this blog.  You can comment using your name/e-mail address/url, your Facebook login, your Twitter login, or your WordPress login.

If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.  If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.  Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.  We’re (mostly) all adults here.

Perhaps I’ll make another blog post soon trying to make a list of Pittsburgh local bands that deserve more attention & a wider audience.

Again…

  • If you like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t like the Clarks, please tell me why.
  • If you don’t care about the Clarks, you can let us know that too.
  • Let’s not resort to name-calling or devaluing anyone’s opinions.

The 12 O’Clock Rule.


Bright

Solid advice.  Dave is my personal guitar Guru, most likely to his chagrin.  Read & learn, fellow axe-slingers:

Dig?

From now on, let’s call this “The 12 O’Clock Rule” so you can remember  it easily.  Next time you’re at a show, running sound, or setting up with your band… a friendly “Dude, ’12 O’Clock Rule'” should suffice to any knob tweaker getting out of hand.

Orange Knobs

I think the bass & treble cranked with the mids to zero was a Metallica thing, wasn’t it?  I seem to remember that being in a Guitar World or Guitar for the Practicing Musician article in the mid 90’s.  Everyone must have read that one.

On turning the gain back and still rocking hard, I give you Warp Riders by the Sword.  Case closed.  You just found the droids you didn’t know you were looking for.  Move along.

Epic Metal :: It’s not too late to join the quest!


So, the warriors of Dethlehem have dropped a second album, aptly named The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 2: Of Magick and Tyranny(This would be a follow-up to their 2009 disc, The Ghorusalem Codex Vol 1: Enthroned Upon A Spire.)  If you’re a fan of metal, or a fan of chaos involving things like trolls and dragons and wizards… you need this album.

DETHLEHEM | The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2: Of Magick & Tyranny

DETHLEHEM | The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2: Of Magick & Tyranny

Listen to this and try to tell me I’m wrong:  Dethlehem “Hypergates of Infinitude”  It’s one of my favorite tracks off of the album.

I’m big a fan of their first album, but this one blows it away in terms of recording, production, and overall album cohesiveness.  The interludes in between songs have become a much better over-all narrative to help guide you along the quest.  (The full story is coming soon to their website.)

Bovice and Hildor are the six-string men-at-arms, and the musicianship here makes me sick.  The guitars are ridiculous, it’s almost too over the top… but with what Dethlehem has going on, it needs to be ridiculous.  I’m talking shredding, sweeps, blazing riffs, and all manner of fretboard insanity.  If I didn’t know these guys, I’d hate them… they make a punk rock power chord chump like me almost too embarrassed to pick up a guitar.  Luckily for the Ernie and the Berts fan(s), I have no shame.

A slight lineup change on this album, Davidicus the Black replaces Galagore… not sure what the official story is, if Gallagore was eaten by a dragon or transformed into a toad by an evil witch or what.  Davidicus is a wizard, and adds a dynamic both in story & in playing style.  You can hear less doubling of guitar parts by the bass, more restraint where called-for musically, and stomping all over the place where appropriate.

Overlord Brom bangs on the drums like nobody’s business, and even my untrained ear can tell there’s all manner of math going on here with time-signature changes.  This is not 4/4 rock n’ roll.  Plus, when he plays live… he starts out with a bucket-like Helmet on his head where it must be impossible to see anything.  (By the way, funniest character voice ever in the narratives.)

Lord Bonecrush has developed what I can only call a battle-hardened confidence in his vocals.  While they were strong on Vol. 1, on Vol. 2 they’ve progressed to a point where any shred of vocal uncertainty is gone.  The vocals are honed sharp like any good weapon should be before going into battle… yet there’s a double-edge… clean for slicing backed up with growling with a ferocity akin to aurally ripping you asunder.  The backing vocals also stand out a little clearer on their own on this one… not sure who’s where… but it’s all done sparingly, tastefully, and appropriately.

While not a technical review by any means, I hope to have conveyed the overall feel of the album, and to have piqued your curiosity.

These guys put on an incredible live show… I suggest you buy the album to learn their songs, and then go see them when they come to plunder and pillage a venue near you.  I’m not sure if you can fully appreciate the epic-ness through just a recording or video.  They’re on tour now if you can catch them!

(In the interest of full disclosure, this may not be a completely objective review… I do know the guys, and they awesomely thanked me in the liner-notes of this disc…  But I’d like to think that those who know me know I wouldn’t push crappy music on anyone.)

Envisage Your Ideal Concert


Okay.  You just found out that you’re secretly related to Oprah, and since she knows you’re a huge music fan… she’s letting you put together the concert of all concerts to celebrate.  Since you have Oprah money, you pretty much have no limit there, but you are limited to bands that are alive and actively together, or that you believe could be reasonably brought back together with a little grea$ing of the wheels.  Example… you’re probably not going to get Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite or (even the Illusions tour) lineup to get on stage together… but you probably could get Steven Tyler & Joe Perry in the same room.

Put together the whole thing…

  • The Venue: A small club?  A stadium or amphitheater?  Your living room?
  • The Run: Is it a one-night-only deal, or is this a 3-day festival?
  • The Name: Every killer show has to have a killer title.  No “w00t-stock”, please.
  • The Bands: Who’s playing & in what order?  Bonus points for linking to ’em.
  • Added Insanity: Want a 20 minute drum solo with Neil Peart & Lars Ulrich?  Want an unplugged duet with Danzig & Shakira?  Want GWAR to disembowel you on the stage?  A guitar battle between Eric Clapton and Slash?  Want all the bands to do nothing but Black Sabbath covers?  Can’t hurt to throw the idea out there!
  • Micro-Manage: If you really want to get nuts, what do you want to see in each performer’s setlist?  Either highlights or the whole thing.

I’ll think about mine while you post yours in the comments below, and in a few days or so I’ll revisit the whole idea in another blog post.  Links to bands’ websites, videos, and music strongly encouraged!