Friday, July 26, 2013

12 things tiny unsigned NYC indie bands hate

Hey everyone, my band, The Planes, is playing at Matchless tonight, and I'm spending the afternoon doing laundry, fetching guitars, and nervously thinking of all the things that can go wrong (I know I'm gonna break a string tonight). Anyhow, since I'm sitting here waiting for my laundry to dry, I thought I'd make a quick list for you all to read, and hopefully argue about.

We rocked Ft. Useless into a painting dreamscape/nightmarescape.

12 things tiny unsigned Brooklyn bands hate (in no particular order):

#1. Carrying heavy shit. It's literally 30% of being in a band.

#2. Transporting the above mentioned heavy shit on public transportation. That rickety hand truck with a 40 lb. amp, pedal board, and kick pedal strapped on isn't going to carry itself up to the J train. "I coulda swore this station had an elevator..." Nope, it doesn't.

#3. Getting ditched by everyone while you bring your stuff back to the practice space. "We'll be back in 45 mins, and meet you at the bar/diner/party..." Nope, no one is gonna be there, especially those three cute girls/guys who, "Really dug your set."

#4. Getting paid next to nothing. "Hey good crowd, the bar did really well! Here's a free beer and $80 from the door for the five of you to split." I know the small clubs aren't racking in the dough, BUT, an extra beer, maybe some food if the joint has it... It goes a long way. Also, bands should get paid a percentage of the bar. Wouldn't we all rather have 50 people show up, stay all night and drink all night, then have each band bring 20 people who show up for their friends, have one beer, and go somewhere else?

#5. Big rooms that book small bands. "Yeah, we need you to bring 100... on a weeknight... in February." I ACTUALLY HAD A PLACE SAY THIS TO ME. Like the motherf'ing Planes could bring 100 out on a Saturday during warm weather... even if there was nothing else in NYC going on that night, even if there was free hand jobs and whiskey. If you have a room that holds 200 and you want it full 7 days a week, you need to hire a booker, and you need to be guaranteeing some money to the headliner. Don't book tiny local bands and expect them to work miracles, then get all pissy that the place was only half full.

#6. Not being able to get any real info on the backline. "According to their website, they might have had cymbal stands... in 2007." Seriously, nothing sucks more than being promised equipment that just isn't there. I played a place once that didn't have microphones. MICROPHONES. C'mon people. If you don't have something, that's fine, just be clear about it. Nothing is worse than scrambling to your practice space to try and get random equipment so the show can go on, ending up starting really late, and having everyone cut their sets in half.

#7. Getting shocked by the microphone. Bee sting lips, WTF? Usually an extra surge protecter, or simply plugging your amp into another socket will remedy this problem, but what do clubs do? They pull out this stinky foam popscreen that's full of the herpes and boogers of a thousand hipsters past, and slide it over the mic. OK guys, problem NOT fixed. The short is still there, waiting to kill me.

#8. Nailing that guitar solo/crazy pedal thing in front of a good crowd, only to have your friends tell you that it was all bass/snare/vocals in the room. Seriously sound guy, I don't care that you like pop music, I'm wearing a Dinosaur Jr. t-shirt... How the F do you think we're supposed to sound?

#9. The 10 texts you get in the hour leading up to the show that say, "Sorry, I can't make it." I understand, and may have been guilty of it myself, but all the musician wants to do is have a beer, listen to the band before them, maybe have a smoke or smoke a little pot in the ally behind the club... They don't want a disappointment parade on their cell phone in the hours/minutes before they perform.

#10. Doing the work of a booker. I started HBR in part so people would recognize that I set up shows. As a musician here, over the course of 7 years, I set up a ton of shows, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. "Hey, can my band play this date?" "Yeah, set up the entire night, deal with everything." Advice to musicians: Start a BS blog (it doesn't really even matter if you post on it more than once in a blue moon) and every time a club wants you to book an entire night, do it under the name of said blog. After a couple of "showcases" you'll be surprised the people who come knocking on your door.

#11. That friend who really wants to see you play, but there's a 30% chance of rain, and they do live 3 train stops away, so maybe next time, but probably not then either. A lot of people don't like going to shows. It's fine. Also, I miss a lot of my friends shows too. I understand. I just don't want to hear a BS story about how badly you want to see me perform. It's under $10 and it's within 3 miles of your apartment... If you wanted to be there, you'd be there, or you'll make the next one. If I got sad that certain people never came, I'd be a constantly devastated human being.

#12. Other band's bad etiquette. Set up quickly/breakdown quickly, unless you're the last act. Don't get on stage and start setting up while I'm still breaking down my pedal rig. You can ask if I need help moving an amp, but other than that, leave me alone (a "good set" or handshake is fine, but I can't start a conversation). I'll be as quick as I can, in the meantime, you just have to be patient. It's nice if you can mention the other bands, the club, and the people who set up the show, but if you forget, it's fine, it happens. Don't talk bad about the other bands on stage, you're just going to come off like a dick. And PLEASE, try to get your people out! I know it's not cool, but no one wants to play with bands who don't even try.

Anything to add? Leave it in the comments section below.

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  1. You you you you you you you you you you.

  2. Great list, Steve-o. Really entertaining writing.
    honorable mentions that didn't make this list:
    13 . Crowd Standing Too Far From Stage
    14. Drum riser positioned right under heating vent
    15. Non-adjustable House floor toms / cymbal stands / thrones, held together with duct tape
    15. Songwriters not cool with god-awesome, life-changing drum fills

  3. Your Blog so fabulous. i feel unsigned artist pain and Its Helpful For Growing unsigned artsit and musicians..................

  4. Great musicians are born with music inside of them. Music is one of the parts. Like ribs, kidneys, or heart. Like blood that flows within.

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