I’m writing to you on a beautiful day in Somerville, MA. Despite the tragedy that occurred two days ago during the marathon, there’s a sense of community happening. The two best parts of the day so far is the sense I feel like I’m back home in New Haven, and the guy next to me is reading this month’s Avengers. I took time off from comics a couple of years ago because big boy adult bills needed my money’s attention. He was kind enough to give me an update on what’s going on with my favorite Marvel heroes.
Ok so the point of this post is to just get some ideas out in the internet about how freakin’ hard it is to book gigs in other cities. I remember back in my old ska-punk days we used to play shows in MA, RI, NY and NJ all the time and I mean our music was pretty terrible, and our stage show was even worse. Yet how did we manage to play to so many audiences. I began to ponder.
First off, I realized most shows in the punk scene are put on by show promoters renting out a local VFW hall. Most of the profit went to paying for the space and the rest divided amongst about half a dozen bands who got to drive 60 miles to play a 30 minute rushed set to a bunch of sweaty teenagers who were certain no one felt the pain that they did.
So ok, I won’t be bringing my band into any VFW halls any time soon but I did open my eyes when I thought about how many times my old ska band tried desperately to get a club date and didn’t succeed. We opened for Rise Against in GA agreeing to play for only 15 minutes. Fuckin’ desperate times.
I have been emailing and calling so many venues in the northeast its insane. It seems like everyday I’m either sending a follow-up or a brand new email to a venue. It’s funny how you have to talk yourself up so much, but in the end the club just wants to know if you’ll help them make money. Not being local is not a good thing to admit. The club assumes immediately that you won’t draw and they’d hang up the phone if they knew I couldn’t guarantee a draw back home.
Also, when you are networking a venue in another state you don’t get the chance to sit in with a band or go on a busy/dead night, have a drink and bullshit with the owners. Sometimes its worth the investment to have a couple rounds and get the vibe of the joint before you play there. You never know who you’re talking to. Once I was having a drink at a bar, minding my own business when I started chatting with a woman next to me. I thought she was a cougar on the prowl which at the time I was totally cool with….turned out she was the owner’s wife and put in a good word for me. Needless to say I got some work out of that joint and I’ll let you decide if I saw her again.
So anyway, I’ll quit here before I really start to rant but wish me luck. If you know any club owners in Boston and Providence, I’d appreciate any good words you can throw in.