Why Your Local Band Hates You
|Flickr user D2 Photography|
Friends and fans don't buy enough tickets: The catch 22 in the early phase of bandhood is that venues don't want to book bands without audiences, and bands can't accrue audiences without being booked.
The common approach to this conundrum is the pay to play stratagem--booking agents at places such as Chain Reaction and Hogue Barmichael's hand the band a stack of tickets to sell to their friends so they can play a weeknight show in a half-empty room. Of course after coming to a few of these after-birth affairs, friends start looking for excuses like appointments with mobile dog groomers to explain why they can't make it.
People never want to pay for your swag: Bands spend a lot of money producing their own albums, screenprinting their t-shirts and other hand cutting posters. Just because you went to middle school with the singer does not mean that you can expect free merch, so don't ask for it either!
No one recognizes their real talent: The number one enemy of any musician isn't the booking agent, the record label, the producer or the sound guy. Rather it's their own malfunctioning egos. No matter how humble an artist appears during an interview, they can't help but contemplate their own greatness, think J.Lo talking about her humbling upbringing. If they didn't do this, they wouldn't be able to talk about themselves ad nauseum. which as it turns out is one of their favorite pastimes. That, and musicians suffer more than the rest of us: They just can't deal with humanity. That's why they kill themselves and get addicted to drugs.
So offer gushing praise to your favorite singer after a show at your own risk. You may think their spacey, yet moody vocals are epic, but in the singer's eyes, you're stating the obvious. Hunter S. Thompson makes the point in Fear and Loathing about pulling over too quickly for a police officer during a traffic stop. "It arouses contempt in the cop heart." The same goes for the artist. So don't offer praise. Instead, get a large group of friends and start whispering conspiratorially while casting derisive glances in the band's direction.
Everything Is Wrong With the Venue: This is a classic case of misdirected anger on the part of the band. Local groups often run into technical issues in smaller venues: Poor acoustics, excessive feedback, no beer tickets. This can cause a lot of problems, especially if the sound guy or bar manager is a hulking lummox with neck tattoos and a no-nonsense attitude. Being smarter than the average mortal, the musician won't dare confront these grisly types for their piss-poor performance. Instead the band will cleverly disguise its own piss-poor performance by blaming everything on the sound after the show, while publicly taking it out on the folks who bought tickets by throwing up their hands mid-set and refusing to work under such conditions.
Being a local celebrity means nothing when you cross a city line.
Girls won't sleep with them: While it's true rock stars get a lot of action, it's not a perk that comes right out of the gate. Many new bands are dismayed to find out that though they did everything in their power to put on a kick ass show at that downtown Fullerton bar: donned vinyl platform boots and shot confetti into the crowd, they still needed game, which lots of them don't have. In fact, lots of musicians take to the stage because, as mentioned earlier, they don't know how to relate to people. For some reason they think standing in front of throngs of drunks will change this. When it doesn't, it leads to resentment on the part of the band and the audience suffers for it with sub par EPs and demos.