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SUBCULTURE ABSOLUTE UNDERGROUND DEC 2016

This is the post excerpt.

 Moving on again. Subculture was released from Beatroute and I have been thrown out of another venue. Boom. Boom. It doesn’t matter how much work you put in, or the credibility you build, it could all end suddenly.

I’ve experienced that at the hands of the City, coming to work and having a closure notice plastered on the front door of the Cobes. Apparently, when you share a bar with the ‘strippers’ of the day shift in Y2K, you get to serve a Liquor License suspension for ‘Fellatio’ in front of a Liquor Inspector.

I’ve experienced that at the hands of the slumlords who saw Olympic sized dollar signs in their eyes and evicted me, and now with the lipstick on a pig Developers who fantasize about well heeled yuppsters gracing their soon to be Italian chic DTES pub.

Take any rundown, hole in the wall, dive bar on the verge of getting shut down by the City and cops. Run thousands of punks and metalheads through the doors, double their liquor sales, gain the attention of journalists, students and a social media presence. Hold it together with duct tape, a coat of black paint, and the wonderful capabilities of a volunteer army and presto. All of a sudden in the overlords eyes, this is a desirable, functioning venue worthy of way more money and a supposedly better clientele than us heathens who got it to that point. All the grunt work is done. All the drug dealers and users are chased out courtesy of loud, heavy music and a cover charge.

Just call me the Accidental Venue Gentrifier. Occupy a bar mainstreamers won’t touch. Turn it around. Get thrown out. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a venue hamster wheel.

This is where you learn how to relocate shows quickly. I had asked to keep my fully booked calendar of shows honored through mid December at Funkys, but was told that would only happen if I worked for free. So I decided, FUCK THAT. Why should I continue to make money for people that obviously don’t appreciate the work I put in for years. Thankfully, I have good friends working at other venues and Pats Pub and SBC stepped up for me big time. I even managed to get future booking dates at Lana Lous and Pats Pub. Being of no fixed address means I have less dates to work with, but for the time being that’ll be enough.

When I was looking for venues after the Cobes debacle, I kept getting NO from the powers that be. The reasoning was that there was a moratorium on liquor licenses in the Downtown Eastside. I took the Funkys job for peanuts with the former slumlords, just to keep the shows rolling, and all of a sudden every Tom, Dick and Harry had a fucking craft beer ‘tasting room’, store or eatery in the DTES. I guess my timing was off by a year.

I ended up just staying vision shackled, because about year 2, they actually made the great decision of hiring Rockerchic Sheri as the manager. We meshed really well, were rolling along, and the place got painted black except for the yucky pink bathroom. After the new corporate overlords fucked with her a year ago and she left, it was never the same. They also culled all the staff and regulars from the bar too. It sucked walking into work with tumbleweeds blowing through the place due to poor management decisions. Their prerogative. How to run a bar into the ground 101 going on there. Pickles win.

There’s a certain rebelliousness that overtakes our scene after being disregarded and tossed into the gutter. When Funky’s bar pickles were absconded at a gig after I was terminated, it turned into a giant episode of Picklegate. The overlords of Funkys messaged, threatening to call the cops. The drunk, hungry punks ate the pickles, drank the brine and made a prank pickle terrorist video and ransom note Facebook cover photo. I laughed and replaced the pickle jar and pickles. Total cost of the missing pickles was less than the price to get into a gig. I suggested they remove the new pickles from their spot on the bar for the final punk show. They did. I remember people taking grimy wall tiles out of the men’s can at the Cobes during the final week. Souvenir options for venue memories are weird.

Being sober for 3 years now, I’m not sure I’d want to fire up another bar. Courtesy of the Provincial Government entering the modern age, I may not have to. I could open a ‘Shit for Sale’ store slash Art Gallery and throw shows legally while dispensing the liquor life blood. I’m really stuck on our subculture having a legal space. I couldn’t do the fly by night, illegal venue action. My psyche likes having a home base you can count on. We’ll see how long I can throw shows in different places, but throw them I will. Gig whack-a-mole. I’m sticking around. I appreciate everyone that reached out. My next chapter is upon us.

To fill my extra free time, I’ve undertaken the mammoth task of sifting through 17 years of gig posters I have stored away. I’ve also recovered as much as I can digitally from old computer hard drives and uploading sites. I seem to be stuck post 2004 for digital archives. Everything before that I will unearth in physical copies of old show posters. I might have to get my hands on a giant scanner or photo taking system. See you around Vancity!

 

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE OCT 2016

support_local_music_mbc
 The unsettling, never ending battle rages on between promoters and bands. The finger pointing is real. The reason why turnouts are fading is more complex, and the cumulation of many variables.

A rant was directed towards promoters for a lack of turnout, blamed on not having presale tickets prepared for bands to hustle. In my experience, unless it’s a bigger show with a popular touring act, or you’re a promoter taking on one show at a time, this is just cost prohibitive, organization wise. As someone who books 25+ local bands a month, I can’t imagine chasing around dozens of band members to hustle tickets if I cant even get them to share a Facebook event or invite people to it. In the olden days, I could use the example of getting band members to pick up the gobs of handbills I used to print. The lack of hustle for some has always been real, regardless of the tools of the era that were produced.

Then there’s the plea for band participation from people trying to throw shows. The line was “imagine being a cheerleader on a desert island”. Brilliant. That was coined by local promoter Johnny Matter. That is our experience these days. We do our best. The carnival barker is alive and well, and generally we are left yammering on about a show alone.

It was amazing reading all these comments, pros and cons. People commiserating. We can talk about living in an expensive rental city. How the millenials with entertainment appetites are leaving town. How if you’ve been in a band for over a decade that previously enjoyed bustling shows, that set of fans are now nesting, changing nappies and watching sesame street with toddlers. The generation gap is real. It’s a sad state of affairs when the new generation of potential fans for live music are more interested in cooing about moustache wax at any generic craft beer joint than seeing a live band. Capturing Pokemon, splattered the trendy list, killed a couple people, and died a quick death. How about a dance party reliving when you were in diapers? It seems that a generation raised on technology need to be gripping their devices at all times. If there was a way to consistently offer live music through a phone screen, we might have a chance at survival.

I have no answers. I tried the sponsored Facebook event. I might as well have just lit a 50 dollar bill with a Bic. I tried it with 3 events. The event that had the most ‘engagements’ did the worst at the venues ticket wicket. The threat of venues giving up on live music is real. In Vancouver, there are too many rooms and promoters, all with their fingers in the same pie. There are only so many moneyed live music aficionados to go around.

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this subject. I’ve been making commentary on it for a while now. Yet, every time my column deadline rolls around, there this subject is, marked in the hallowed annuls of the Facebook newsfeed.

So hang in there. That’s about all I can say to both bands or promoters. Try to work together. Some of us may die in battle and others will be quick to take up arms in the perceived glory of being a renowned band or promoter. You need the constitution to fight through the dark times. There are many, especially financially. The dance booking bands isn’t easy. Prepare for disappointment. Prepare for excitement, then a let down if they cancel. No show is ever set in stone. Expect setbacks, like the drummer that severs his finger at his day job, or the tour van broke down.

People that are drinking also have irrational reactions to the rules of a law abiding venue that contradict the rules of their living room parties. They will hold a grudge against a venue if they were tossed out or denied entry. It may morph into keyboard warrior internet trolls and gossip mongers smearing your reputation. The bullshit is real.

Until the virtual venue rules the world, we are here. Try to enjoy!

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE SEPT 2016

I shake my head as I’m wading through the absurdity of Facebook’s new event rules. How the hell are they selling this concept? For 40 bucks I can expose my event to 200 people that I can’t even invite as I’m limited to 50 invites per event. My gig poster has too much text on it and may be disqualified. Isn’t the point of the most basic show poster to have information on it? My news feed is inundated with threats of sample shows I’ve posted, that you’ll only see if you level up to a sponsored post. The math on 10 shows a month gets ugly. I would rather put more posters on the street for that money than expose it to random Facebookers that could give two shits about punk or metal or would just be cyber-attending anyway.

Promoters are desperate to get people out to shows these days. From Johnny Matter’s carnival barkering of the four food groups of the apocalypse to Seamus Mcthirteen’s love affair with hash tags. The concept of booking between 10-20 bands on a night and dubbing it a ‘Fest’ is still rolling. At least with 10 bands you already have up to 50 people at your event. Double that with a standard one per band member guest list and you’re at 100. Yet, there isn’t any revenue yet to offset the cost of production, except for booze sales which generally go to the venue. If you have these hundred people, chances are more of the general population will show if it seems the least bit exciting. It becomes a show about the herd rather than the performers.

Humans are always looking for an angle on their ‘see and be seen’ craving or are on the prowl for sexual conquest, even though sexuality based advertising is considered taboo now for our more ‘enlightened’ subculture. The mainstreamers have no problem with the scantily clad vixen image they utilize to sell everything from pop-stars and movies to video games.

We’re reaching here folks. We’re trying anything. I’m still going with the old school city postering and Georgia Straight ad. Add in a Beatroute ad, plus the social media stuff, a weekly mailer, gig listing websites, and a reasonable amount of posts about shows. That’s more promotion than most venues. So that isn’t the issue. Times have changed. It seems more millenials are interested in meat market dance parties or hipster schlock.

Summer was also jam packed with every festival genre you could think of. Every weekend had multiple out of town camping style destinations. It sure seemed like the city was empty at certain points. Hopefully, now that autumn draws near and everyone gets back to business, the show circuit perks up. Reports from across the continent indicate the same dilemma. Is the desire to see new, or killer local underground bands vanishing?

I realize a lot of times these are unknown bands. Every band has to start somewhere. How many can say they saw a band in the beginning. I understand, especially in Vancouver, where show goers are paying half their income just for a dwelling that shit is tight as fuck. Drinking at a bar is pricey even if you’re one of the cheaper booze establishments. We’ll never be the liquor store or have the summer appeal of a simple backyard BBQ or beach excursion with friends. I get that. Maybe I could pop a camera on the bands and cyber-transmit the shows pay per view style since everyone is obsessed with shitty phone footage and absorbed with their tech devices.

I met a dude last night who was bubbling with excitement that he wants to become a promoter. He stated he didn’t care about making money. He’s got that part right. Most of us are treading water. I smiled and told him I appreciated his enthusiasm and to let me know when he was wading into these precarious waters. Bring your life jacket and a day job.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE AUG 2016

As I adjust my proverbial granny panties typing this, I long for the days of simplicity, morals and the sense of community we seem to be lacking. Sociopaths are popular. Calling people out online is a favorite past time that devolves us back into the era of the witch hunts. The fascinating world of the Internet tricks us into believing we actually know the people we interact with. We are roped into taking sides on things knowing only one side of the story. People are tried and convicted within hours, after a couple of rounds of informative post sharing on social media, even if the truth is buried deep in grains of salt.

How much more can our subcultures take? Why would anyone think that posting about their personal relationships to shame their ex is the cool thing to do. Posting screen shots of private conversations, is dreadful enough. But someone then turning around and making that screen shot into a gig sized poster and hanging them around town. What the fuck is this person thinking? This just screams of an attention seeking shit disturber with some self esteem issues. Luckily, a call to Richard the Poster Guy to have his team cover or remove these posters will hopefully erase this cruel deed quickly. I barely know the people involved. A vulgar bullyish display.

It feels like the armchair online world has become a giant version of the National Enquirer. Everything is peddled as the most outrageous, trendy hype machine. This includes rock shows these days.

Promoters are gushing about bands that don’t give a shit enough to even share their gig on social media. I’m actually pleased this week that contrary to the apathetic norm, there are bands with some pride celebrating their creative wares, and urging your attendance at an upcoming show.

Promoters have become like carnival barkers. You can just start labeling all gigs with a sample of any of the 4 food groups. A trend to make everything seem more exciting perhaps. People also like drugs. How about Meth Fest, Cocaine Chaos or a Heroin Hootenany? Maybe I’m just resistant to the trendy times. Does everything need exaggeration and embellishment? Is a simple local show now seen as extinct as the dinosaur? When I post a complicated relationship with my cat or the word ‘bacon’ as an update on Facebook, that receives more hype than local gigs. Yeah, I think I’m worried about my livelihood imploding. I need to find a way for local music to survive this apathy without the absurdity.

Rod Rooker out of DV8 Edmonton is resorting to collecting peoples recyclables to try to keep his live music venue going. I can’t wait to hear all the lamentations on Facebook when more of your favorite subculture spots die a lonely, under-attended death.

Not sure how much longer many venues across Canada, experiencing these same epidemic, low turnout conditions can survive. Has the abundance of entertainment available to people on their couch deemed this sector of the music business obsolete?

Sadly, this is not restricted to live music venues. Our record stores are closing. Scrape had so much hubbub surrounding its impending doom online, yet all the declarations to save it never moved past peoples couches. Horses records is done soon and now, Hits and Misses at 2629 East Hastings made their announcement. Your newest subculture record store will be packing it in mid September. Get in there while you can to help Pete out with some sales so he at least breaks even, if that’s even possible anymore with the exorbitant costs of living and doing business in the city. No, I’m not breaking up with Vancouver, I feel like breaking up with apathetic people. Like my relationship with my cat the Houdster, it’s complicated.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE JULY 2016

So the theme of this months Beatroute is Pride. Just the other day I was conscious of potentially being insensitive to people. The horror of the Orlando shootings was fresh as I was looking to make myself a sarcastic meme about my sunny vs surly disposition. So instead of rainbows and kittens adorning the speech bubble of my caricature Facebook profile picture, I opted for sunshine and lollipops. I’m changing the way I think about expressing myself consciously. I find myself editing text and rethinking poster layouts for gigs. Something as simple as a personal meme stopped me in my tracks about how my sarcasm with an image of rainbows might upset people in the LGBTQ community after that horrific tragedy. Maybe I’m just sick of being trolled by outraged people who have misunderstood my online activity. Welcome to conscious thinking, sanity preserving, damage control expert, wendy13.

I’m sick of the high school style name calling dialogue that is draped like sludge on any internet platform. Have you ever heard the saying “The minute you start name calling in a disagreement, you’ve lost the argument”? There are words I’m tired of seeing used as insults. That Scottish twitter reaction to Trump’s comments on Brexit referendum was refreshing to me. What the fuck is a shitgibbon? North America has an immature, name calling mechanism inbred. All these homophobic and female degradation slurs can fuck right off. I’m trying really hard to remove ‘bitch’ from my vocabulary. I cringe when I hear people use it. I questioned a heavy duty activist I know about referring to a fine group of empowered women in a picture recently as ‘bad bitches’. Her answer was that she was reclaiming the word ‘bitch’. I thought why would you want to do that. That word is mostly used as a derogatory noun for denouncing a woman that isn’t subservient or compliant. According to the dictionary, the use for the word means a female canine, a difficult or unpleasant situation or a complaint. I don’t mind it used as a verb.

It’s hard to believe what we are seeing especially when it comes to Donald Trump being fucking celebrated for being a racist, xenophobic shitgibbon. These fear mongering, right wing Breitbart style embellished articles people are sharing these days make me think twice about that acquaintance. This Trump movement seems to be the bigot’s dangerous last stand. In 2016, people still think it’s okay to shun others because of skin color, sexual orientation or religion. Unbelievable. With North America’s educational opportunities you’d think you’d see our first world mentality step the fuck up. Instead, we seem to have had our brains blown out by archaic religious reasoning and brainwashing from glorified violence and general shitty attitudes in our entertainment media. Where the fuck has the pride in being a moral, compassionate, decent person gone?

Now let’s talk about band pride. This is my motivational rant for bands to dispel your lazy entitlement fantasies as an expectation that someone else is in charge of your hype. I message the booked acts. “Hey whatever band, here is an event and poster for the upcoming live gig. Can you please invite your minions”. Well I shit you not, I can go to that event over the next few days and am led to believe that not one person in any of the 3 or 4 bands I’ve asked to participate in this promotional endeavor has any friends. No one has been invited. Not even their moms are coming. If, as a band you don’t seem interested in having anyone know about your performance, why do you think others will give a shit? What good is me handing you internet ready blurbs that require a couple of clicks of the mouse, if you’re pissing it away. I only have so much reach. Get it together. A little effort brings recognition and results.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE JUNE 2016

As a person that has no desire to consort with hordes of people, I will improvise with information to write a column on Beatroute’s desired subject matter for this issue. Music Festivals. I can barely remember the last time I was at one, because I am always ball and chained to running local shows on weekends with my job. I suppose the last music festival I was at was Naughty Camp II in the early 2000’s. That was the time LeBlanc, Dave May and I rented a RV camper as travel and sleeping quarters after the cowpie tent fiasco the year before. That’s a whole other story. I’ll just say this. If you rent an RV, don’t let anyone use the fucking bathroom in it to take a shit. That had to be the worst commute from Pemberton back to the city ever. Between the grueling hangover after 2 days and the putrid odor emanating from the bathroom, vomit wasn’t far from projecting.

From the ancient ashes of NorthWest Metal Fest, there are some killer people undertaking metal festivals these days in B.C. and Alberta, which is stellar. I remember making a meme last year which demonstrated how cleanly metalheads camping skills were compared to mainstreamers. I think that is a really cool element of how metalheads are perceived by society as heathens, when they actually are more environmentally friendly than the general public that attends the trendy pop events.

In my eyes a music festival is one that requires camping in the wilderness, not a multi-venue city event. Here are some of the main metal music festivals this summer.

Armstrong Metal Fest VIII – Jesse from Odinfist is one of the co-founders. 30+ bands. July 15- 17, Armstrong B.C. Info – armstrongmetalfest dot ca.

Metallion Festival 3 – the boys from Deveined are involved with this. 25+ bands. August 12 – 14, west of Prince George, B.C. at Brookside. Free camping! Search on Facebook.

Loud as Hell Metal Festival – 30+ bands. Aug 29 – Sept 1, Drumheller, AB. Info – loudashell dot com

I get that festivals are the most bang for your buck for seeing plenty of bands. That only happens if everything isn’t crossbooked to shit, especially in the city style ‘Festival’ atmosphere. So without further ado here are some city events for Vancouver.

Covenant festival II. Cvlt as fuck. June 16 – 18. Hindenburg. Only the grimmest shit and a killer headliner. Wear black or be mocked with crossed arms and death stares. No apparent website so search on Facebook.

If punk is your thing check out ‘Have a Good Laugh’ that is being thrown by the crustier folks in Vancity. Various venues with lots of roadpopping, studded vests and obscure punk patches. June 9 – 12. Info – thoughtdecay dot com

Music Waste 2016 – June 2 – 5. A far cry from the vision Brian Salmi had back in the day. If you’re indie trendy enough, don your sweater vest or mom jeans and have a peep through your over-sized glasses. Various Vancity venues. Info – musicwaste dot ca.

Tacofest II. – 20 bands. Tacos. Lots of rock. Swangard stadium. Sat July 16. Info apocalypsesunrise dot com.

Burgerfest VI – 18 bands. Burgers. Heavy. Sat Aug 13. Waldorf. Johnny has stepped aside on this one so contact the folks at Art Signified for more info or search on Facebook.

Overused word of the decade – Festival.
Finally, a word on Facebook etiquette. I wouldn’t think about posting my shows at Funky’s to the Rickshaw’s Facebook page. I don’t understand why newbie promoters or band guys would do that to my pages. So I’ll just continue to delete them. The point of a venue having a page or group is to advertise their shows. Sure, some of those same bands have played here before but advertise your show on the appropriate venue’s page. I didn’t create these designated spaces so you can laze your way as a promoter.

As always. Lots of shit to do here in Vancity. Carry on.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE MAY 2016

Every month, like clockwork, I procrastinate this column until the 11th hour. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have people reading something extra stale dated which cancels out writing it earlier.

I’ve received praise from random people of every ilk for my writing which feels pretty fucking good. I was amazed by the cross section of peeps that actually read my blurb. I kind of wish, through Beatroute, I could answer a feedback mailbag. That would make coming up with themes pretty easy. I’ve been penning this column for over 4 1/2 years now. I’m sure I’ve rehashed the same subjects multiple times because shit always seems to come back around. How many more, “do this, don’t do that” blogs pop up every month. This month I saw a rash of ‘evil’ promoter posts. It’s a thankless job sometimes, even if you’re doing it right.

I have severe writers block this month. Here’s some unsolicited advice blurbs for shits and giggles. I will reach 600 words this month with this convoluted method.

Dear bands. Please practice a set up and tear down, live show situation with your gear. Aim for 15 minutes on a timer. Promoters and other bands will be stoked to share a bill with you if you get your shit together on this. Accolades from your adoring fans can wait.

Dear newer bands. How to get paid at a show. In my case, I have a very poor memory from years of boozing and endless faces, so it’s a good idea to check in before the show starts. Send one guy, generally the online contact or responsible member so I know your face. After midnight’s door cash out, I do a few laps around the bar looking for you. Keep in mind I also have poor eyesight. If you’re not around you get added to the list. I have an extensive list in my float wallet of uncollected band dough. Look me up if you think you may be on this list. It goes back at least 5 years. I wonder how many bands have assumed they didn’t get paid by me. I may be on an evil promoter list.

Dear live music fans. Expand your musical horizons. Check out a local or touring band you’ve never seen at least once a month. Live a little.

Dear live music fans. Enough cover charge balking over 10 bucks. Every time you spill your coffee that’s 5 bucks. I see your Instagram pictures of expensive beers at trendy joints around town. Decide instead to see at least 15-20 musicians performing live music for you. Ten dollars is a pittance.

Dear bar patrons. If you’re too drunk, there is likely a scenario where the door guy will refuse you entry to the pub. You are not more important than the risk of a hefty fine and possible enforcement closure of the business. See you tomorrow. Call it a day.

Dear everyone. I can not help you get into the bar without ID. It’s not my call. I just book the bands there and collect my paycheque like any other working stiff. Get to know Phill. He may just vouch for you. Better yet, haul your carcass down to the DMV and get your shit together.

Dear other promoters. Attempt to be conscientious of what else is going on in this city. I’ve made plenty of sacrifices for the sake of not killing someone elses show. Your turn.

Dear Internet. Try matching the shit that comes out of your typing fingers with what you’d really do and say in reality. The personality trait of a gutless keyboard warrior is getting really stale. Like it or not, the law is catching up with this trend of irrational bullshit. Get it together.

Phew, there it is. See you around.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE APR 2016

Another live music venue closed its doors. The Railway Club was a longtime supporter of live music. It’s a tough business. Any given night is a crap shoot regardless of the talent on your stage. These property owners are really out of touch with the exorbitant rents they want for these bar spaces. Seventeen thousand a month just isn’t possible. No one in Vancouver has that type of disposable income to spend on boozing anymore. We’ve already lost the Electric Owl because of this. Now the Railway packed it in and the Columbia sits vacant because anyone with any business sense is not jumping into that pricey rent pit of serpents and fire.

I know they tried to sell the Railway but who can afford another 5K a month on top of that rent for their ‘sweat equity’ known as the business. The smart yuppsters just lurk or just rub their greasy palms together with the greedy slumlords. Some deep pockets will now gentrify up that space. Free sweat equity up for grabs.

I’ve driven by the Hindenburg on a Friday night to see it shuttered. Unless you have an event with enough people in finicky Vancouver showing up, it’s cheaper to remain closed, or in my case throw in a karaoke night. It whittles down the expenditures, and a possible toilet paper party cleanup is saved for the next day. Venue expenses never stop.

Vancouver is a cultural hub even if the supportive public is vanishing. I see all these ‘Dear John’ style blogs and letters to the editor popping up everywhere now. How could anyone possibly be bored here? Local shows are a measly ten bucks. That’s 2 cups of coffee. Those same people griping about cover at your door are pulling hundreds out of their ass for trendy arena shows and merch.

Millenials are the new live music participants. Mailing it in is not limited to Radim Vrbata. The days of gigs with no gear to hump and 20 minute sets are here. It’s mind blowing how many times I’m asked if I’m supplying the stage gear lately. One band recently told me they don’t own any gear. These twenty somethings are the people with disposable income. We all know how scenes run in cliques. People grow up and out of things like live, local punk and metal with the arrival of children, marriage, or career opportunities. Sobriety is also a factor. Most live gigs happen in an alcohol immersed environment. I know it’s hard for me to be around the booze especially late into the night when the triple told stories thrive or the rails roll out.

The Railway closing isn’t a big deal for me as it wasn’t a place I frequented very often but it meant a lot to others. Every time I’m out of my cave I run into someone reminiscing about the Cobes. It’s kind of a blessing for all the other live venues hanging by a thread as it’s one less local show per night. That won’t last long because something else always springs up. Possibly, another fly by night place that doesn’t have the legal demands of being a legitimate business. I’m envious of people that that have no qualms about raking in the dough without having to pay the piper.

I guess the Wiccan tenet of ‘Do what you will but harm none’ is weighing heavily on me these days. The ruthless attitude to be a cutthroat or semi-conscious promoter evades me. I recently folded a big show I had booked into a festival because it was what’s best for the band. I worry about a show I’ve had booked for months with two touring bands that a new promoter just postered over with a slew of local bands of the same ilk. It’s exasperating. Life never allows the luxury of heeding your plan, you just have to adapt and as always, hope for the best.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE MARCH 2016

I just finished binge watching two years worth of The Walking Dead over the last three nights while procrastinating this column. The parallels are immense. Loss. Appreciation of what once was. Making do with what you have. Starting from scratch. Doing your best. Surviving. Fuck. This sounds like one of my dad’s lectures from 35 years ago.

Yes. I miss the Cobes. Those were special times. I know where I am now has obviously pissed off some people. It has given opportunity to many people and it sucks that some people are gone. Shit changes. We are still here. John the Soundguy, Cheese, Evil Bastard, Phill and I, are the remnants of the corporate cull. Some new, cool allies have arrived. I’ve put in six long years trying to make a go of this place. It’s tough to feel like you’re on borrowed time against the swell of gentrification or hipsters usurping what you’ve built yet again. Bullshit resistance from your own scene for whatever reason fucking sucks.

If it’s something I did, I wish people would be adult enough to discuss it. This seems to be a world that’s morphing into gutless, gossiping keyboard warriors. The irrational rumor mongering and petty innuendo are affecting people’s lives. Sad to see how entitled and irresponsible society has become. Got an issue? Own it. I’ve pulled my weight, endured endless bullshit from scumbags and sacrificed more than I needed to in an effort to see live music continue. Grudgingly, I was thrust into a position of being an authority figure to boozers. To exist legally means there are rules. Anarchy isn’t possible. I had to be hard on people who could crumble the scene structure with their hijinx.

If it’s because the bar has a weird stage, I’ll just laugh. I remember when the city rolled into the Asbalt and ordered the stage removed because it was deemed illegal. I came into work for a show and the $700 worth of wood we had used for our side stage was gone. Later, during a shitwater episode we looked up to the roof and there was the flooring of the bright red stage up in the rafters. I listened to bands gripe about having to play on the floor. Now it seems that is all the trendy rage. I prefer a stage for bands. Deduct my punk points if you must. At least the audience can see the performers and the singers aren’t losing chicklets when a mic gets smashed into their mouth from an exuberant music fan.

At this point, if the Trump style “you’re fired” threats became reality, Plan B is I’d just rent 4 walls and a roof and sell off all my venue related equipment and memorabilia. I still have a P.A. in storage and the cash register, ice machine and other goodies. I could throw some boozecan style shows for rent revenue while downsizing my musical hoard. Goodbye Public Storage and finally space for an art studio in my cave. That intrigues me. Starting from scratch again to endure more overlord bullshit does not.

When you have a friend tell you that what you’re doing is for naught because you have a ‘dead’ venue, it stings. Sure, old George was a bastard and the Corporation thinks of me as a minion and doesn’t appreciate my work, but I’m still fighting. These are the cards I’ve been dealt. I’m working with my hands tied behind my back and am becoming an expert in damage control. I’m happy to report the absurd online harassment has subsided as clicking unfollow and blocking have become an amazing tool for ‘Take No Shit 2016’. I will always wonder who the fuck started that swirling shitstorm. There are still good local shows to see here. Buckle up.

SUBCULTURE BEATROUTE FEB 2016

The waiting game. That is the life of an impresario. Don’t forget you’re also dealing with artists which in itself is like attempting to herd cats. Prepare yourself to hear every excuse in the book, but also to find stories of inspiration and dedication to their craft. Some bands hire the well intentioned but unrealistic, band ‘manager’. Some bands claim to rock genres other than their Reverbnation indicates. If you’re a rock band, say you’re a rock band. I’ll file that under a future, need to book other than my usual heaviness, overbooked date down the road if you don’t try to bullshit me. A lot of booking requests I get, I refer to venues that serve those genres.

Most bookings are smooth sailing, unless interfered with by fated acts like snowstorms, broken down vehicles or a band mate’s health issues. Others are tempered with drama. Bands have members quit, or fight like they’re in a dysfunctional divorce before they ever get it together to grace your stage. Some bands leave you feeling like you’ve been ghosted when suddenly after months of an attempted courtship, you see their band name on another marquee. Then there is the muttered “fucking great”, they’re doubling up, playing down the street the next or previous night. So much for exclusivity.

Besides cancellations, outside promoters have different techniques and time lines to coordinate. Just because I have to prepare an entire month of shows on posters or in ads before deadlines doesn’t mean they have their shit locked down. I have to improvise with whatever sketchy details are provided. I’ve made plenty of last minute temporary posters for the monthly four packs I put out. I feel like a collection agent sometimes with my online prodding.

No matter how carefully you plan your calendar, be prepared for anything. The competition on any given night in Vancouver is fierce in a very fluid industry.

You’re sized up by your reputation, and your surroundings. Gig snobbery can be based on peer opinions, rock star attitudes, bogus rumors or someone’s bad boozy experience where your stage dwells. Sometimes expectations for a local show include the delusion of green M&M’s on a fantasy rider which has only ever contained a jug of beer. A local show will only pack out with effort from you, the band on the stage. I can do everything in my power to get the word out but if you don’t lift a finger, what do you really expect?

Tribute bands are especially touchy when they can make gobs of cash touring the oil patch hick towns in Alberta, yet are lucky to scrape out a hundred bucks on a weekend in Vancouver. They say guarantee and I have to say goodbye. I just can’t hold the bag on something as unpredictable as local shows. I understand but this bums me out. Making mad money rarely happens in an entertainment saturated city. The perfect gig storm needs to occur. I hope to hear ‘Rhythm of Love’, played live again, some day. Until then, I resort to getting my fix from my iPod or Youtube.

The local show. Sometimes the vast wasteland where only the diehard music fan, accidental timely boozer, or the band’s supportive friends and proud kin are seen. These shows are not a shallow ‘see or be seen’ popular choice for those hunting club style, pulsating loin action. These shows are the soul fire stoking of the music lover. For those that choose this type of event as a mainstay in their entertainment catalogue, comes the stokage in discovering the raw first show of tomorrow’s popular choice. A unique experience you’ll only see once. Witnessing that love of playing music emanating from their beings. Not for money, just love. I’ll always prefer that.