This ties in with an earlier blog post. I’m just trying to figure out how to reach people. When people who have never heard of us catch us play, we generally have people coming up to say they dig it. It’s a good feeling. I’d like it to happen more often because I think the band is doing a fun thing, and I’d like more people to share in the fun.
Getting people to come out in the first place is one struggle. Getting yourself in front of an audience that’s already there is another struggle. Getting people to watch you once they’re there seems to be an entirely different struggle.
Lately I’ve seen a trend of bands telling people saying “hey we’re 1st, come early” or “hey we’re last, come late” then their fans show up for just them & don’t bother to check anyone else out. I generally tell people to come for the whole show & check out the other bands. We try to book shows with bands we dig, just for this reason.
I hate to come of as a whiner, and I know I will to some readers. I’m just trying to express my frustrations, and this blog is a forum for just that. In fact, it’s my forum for just that. I’m trying to work it out for myself & to possibly get some insight from other local (and some not so local) musicians.
In fact, I think I have ranted about this very topic online before, maybe just a similar one… but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.
I also don’t want to dismiss the people that come see us at just about every show. Your presence is incredibly important to us, and we value it. We just want some more people there to watch with you, and we don’t want things to get stale where you’re seeing the same show over & over. Even if you’ve only caught us once, or if you’ve bought a T-shirt, or told us you liked a video online… you are awesome and we truly appreciate your support & attendance.
I recently saw the worst case ever of this crazy only-watch-the-band-with-a-guy-I-know-in-it thing going on. We played a show where people watched the band they came to see, then just absolutely bailed. Not even the bands stuck around to check out the other acts, one of which was a touring act & the reason we were all playing the show. It’s disrespectful. I get that stuff comes up, & sometimes you need to go. It happens. Sometimes there’s burnout. Sometimes there’s arrogance. Sometimes there are good reasons. Sometimes you’re just being ignorant.
I know personally that a bunch of people from my wife’s family came out to a show at a bar once where my wife & I absolutely love the wings. We had told everyone how cool the place was, they all decided to come to the ‘Burgh to eat some legendary wings & watch my band play… killing 2 birds with one stone. They sat through one band that everyone liked, then through a 2nd band that was just absolutely awful… one member was so drunk and/or high that he would strum the guitar and look down at it dazed for a minute or so while apparently hearing stuff that none of the rest of us could. This was all endured just to see us play. The place was packed all night, the bands & their fans watched each other, and everyone had a good time.
Not to judge a book by its cover, but I all kinds of judged books by their covers the other night and I hit the nail on the proverbial head. A quick scan of the room revealed some crazy demographics. More specifically a bunch of old people trying to look cool and standing on tippy-toes watching their kid play with no general comprehension of what was going on up on the stage or around them. If I’m calling them old, you know they were old. We knew these were parents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors… and they were going to split as soon as their kid’s bands was done. Boy, did they ever. If it was a cartoon, there would have been a cloud of dust & a cartoon noise. Whoop!
It must be happening everywhere because the touring band had it written into their contract that they weren’t to be slated to play last on any of their shows. You can’t blame them. You tour to build support for your album, and if no one sees you play, no one’s going to buy your album or you merch or come see you the next time you roll through town. We took the cleanup/closer spot because none of the other bands would.
We didn’t help their cause because we apparently weren’t a draw either. We watched the touring band, & they watched us. The handful of people that came to see us were there for all of the sets that night… and the show started an hour or so later than it was supposed to. It was awesome that the touring band actually stuck around to see us play. I’m sure on the road they’ve seen crappy band upon crappy band night after night… but it was an unparalleled show of respect for us, and assured us that the sound guy & doorman had to stick around until we were done. Ha ha.
Well, there were more people there to watch us… since it was a rare all-ages gig for us, we had an under-ager and her mom eager to see us… we were told we’d be rocking about 8:00pm. We eventually went on much much later, way past the under-ager’s bed time. So, two people who bought tickets & came out expressly to see us had to leave early and were unable to see us because of all the ridiculousness and shuffling. Then the dozens of people who came out to see the other bands watched them then left. Immediately.
It would be nice to say that whoever sold the most tickets had to go last… but then again, they did sell a lot of tickets, so that has a certain amount of pull as far as when you want to go on.
Before you say that my band sucks (you’re certainly entitled to your opinion), I’ll say that no one who left early would know, because they didn’t even give us a chance. I’d rather clear the room myself than have it cleared for me. How do you expose people to your live show, if the people in the place don’t even stick around for one song?
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