Hey, Promoters, Stop Doing This Bullshit
Bands, stop letting them get away with it.
The local music festival. A chance for a bunch of small time bands to get together and play a multi-stage show with a few real bands. In theory, it sounds nice. In practice, not so much. It’s a logistical nightmare for the organizers and the bands participating. Often times, the bands are either asked or required to sell tickets. Sometimes, set placement and set times are determined by how many tickets are sold/bought by the bands and their parents.
I once had the displeasure of going to one of these things because I wanted to see Dog Fashion Disco. Of course, the thing ran way over time because there’s no way you can run multiple stages without a small army of people to help break down, set up, run sound, and fix problems. By the time DFD went on, there was maybe 20 people. That’s fucked for the band and for anyone that wanted to see them.
Apparently, this type of thing isn’t done in every scene, but having lived in multiple places. I know it is not limited to just my city, but man, does this stuff happen a lot. I’ve skipped seeing bands I wanted to see because of this stuff. Sorry, Suffocation. Maybe next time.
It’s stuff like this that makes me constantly say “Let the scene die,” because it’s really helping no one. It’s exploitative of local, struggling bands. It’s unfair to the local bands who can’t (or won’t) force tickets on their friends, family, or in many cases, their high school. It doesn’t help the headliners who play to a thinned-out, burned-out audience. Cramming on as many bands as you can onto a show, calling it a fest, and jacking up the ticket prices to help offset the cost of booking the headliners is an underhanded tactic. Sadly, the trend continues this week. Take a look at this:
Where to start? With something this packed with information, you have to take a step back and really look at it piece by piece. Well, the headliner is Unearth. They’re a well-established band from the next state over. They actually play this area pretty often, whether it’s opening for Killswitch Engage, opening for Soilwork, or opening for Killswitch Engage again. Nothing against the band, it’s just how can we miss you if you never leave? Are they worthy of a $25 or $30 ticket? Ehhhhh, that’s up to you. At least direct support act Through The Eyes Of The Dead have been gone a long time so maybe they’ll bring in a few people that still remember them.
No worries, though! The Big Kahuna 3 has Crossing Rubicon on the Lounge Stage! That’s the band Jeanne Wawrzyniak (formerly Sagan) joined after leaving All That Remains. Phil Labonte was so difficult to deal with that she left that shitshow for this. Don’t worry, though. This isn’t their first Big Kahuna rodeo. None of those bands your cup of Monster Energy Drink? You still have a butt ton of local bands to choose from.
All together, this fest has 27 bands. Wait, that’s just according to the flyer. The event page on Facebook lists 31. 31 fucking bands! That’s more than a single day of New England Metal and Hardcore Fest. At least NEMHF had a whole bunch of established bands on it. Even at 25 minutes per set time (lol) you know this is going to massively run over time. Bands will play too long, set up and break down will take forever, there will be sound problems, etc. If they’re lucky, Unearth will take the stage at 11:45pm.
Doors are at noon. At least this thing is on a Saturday. I’ve actually seen some of these “fests” happen on Fridays which is just mind boggling. Do you want to be at a show at noon on your day off? Not unless you’re playing at noon or you’re at some can’t-miss event like Wacken. I guess we should cut this fest some slack. We all know “Doors @ whatever time” just means people can enter. It’s not like a band is going to be playing…
12:10? 12:10?! For fuck’s sake! Those guys don’t even have the benefit of playing to the other bands and those bands’ girlfriends. That’s downright cruel. The other stages aren’t much better with 12:30 and 12:50 start times. For those few people that are there at noon, do you think they’re sticking around to watch 25 more bands? Hell no. I hope those bands play their set, pack up, and never book another show with this promoter again.
Bands, you don’t have to put up with this. Saying “I opened for Unearth” doesn’t have much sway beyond impressing your friends that you pressured into buying tickets. Labels don’t care. Other venues don’t care. A promoter with half a brain won’t care. This is worse than playing for “exposure” because you’re not even being exposed to new fans.
To be clear, I don’t know if bands are required to sell tickets, but the are not shy about letting people know that they have tickets for sale. Maybe they’re all just really enthusiastic about people showing up for their 25 minute set.
If this fest doesn’t get a thousand people, will the blame be put on the bands? Will they get the tried-and-true “Sorry guys, you gotta be willing to promote” speech? Maybe a “It’s not my fault you don’t have a draw.” Or my new favorite one “You didn’t share it enough times on Facebook!”
Even beyond all the bands and multiple stages, we also get a wrecking ball (I assume it’s more than just looking at construction equipment, but I could be wrong) a dunk tank, and mechanical bull. People are paying for that. They could go to any two-bit county fair to get that stuff. Eh, no big deal, right? It’s not like they’re paying for this st…
Damn it. Fingers-crossed that “rented” was auto-corrected from “got it for free”. Here’s the thing with these dollar-store carnival attractions: If people are doing this, they’re not watching the THREE FUCKING STAGES OF BANDS YOU HAVE GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME. It’s hard enough to play in front of a tiny crowd. It’s even harder when that tiny crowd is busy eating cotton candy and trying to knock over some milk bottles for a stuffed animal.
Promoters, don’t do this bullshit. You’re overextending the venue’s staff and yourself. It’s too many bands in too many places. Playing in front of no one is demoralizing. If you’re having bands sell tickets for your shows to help defray the costs of booking a headliner, don’t book that headliner. Bands, don’t play these shows. You don’t have to. It’s not worth your time and effort. There are other promoters, other venues, and other opportunities. If this is your scene, let it die, because it is not going to stop. Together we can make the world a better place.