I spent 24 solid hours over 3 days compiling a list of bands / acts that I’ve given a stage to since the dawn of Y2K. I was inspired after seeing many musicians sharing the ’30 bands I’ve played with’ post on Facebook. So many people were reminiscing about the wicked bands they’d performed with. Making this list was also something I’ve needed to do in an attempt to recover my memories of my work in music.
This wasn’t an easy list to compile. After several stolen computers and fried hard drives, there were huge gaps in my booking sheet records. I did find an old website of mine from the Columbia and beginning of the Cobes days. I also accessed the archives on Live Music Vancouver dot com to fill in some other gaps not covered by my collection of band list files.
The list ended up with 2,800 plus names on it and counting. It is also missing some band names from overnight rescue style gigs like Distort Fest that never made it to paper. People were helpful with some missing gigs and I need to correct a couple of typos of band name spellings lost in translation. Just looking at that list published as a note on Facebook, made me proud. Some days it’s the most clusterfuck job in the world trying to organize that many people, a bit like herding cats.
When I first started booking I carried around a black sketch book that I rigged a pullout accordion list of band contacts with phone numbers. I have about 4 of those booking book relics filed away on a dusty shelf in my cave. Booking coordinating has changed so much in 16 years. Now I rarely have a phone call gig confirmation. Everything is done by email, text message or Facebook messaging.
My favorite bookings are the baby bands. Especially the metal kids that are 17 and just shredding their guitars. I love when the chaperoning parents are in the bar just beaming with pride and so supportive. That is definitely parenting done right, that these kids aren’t cliche mainstreamers throwing pseudo gang signs while lurking in the Rotten Ronnie’s parking lot. I love that they get to cut their teeth on a stage with killer sound and a true gig atmosphere. I wish I had a real number of how many bands I gave their first show to.
The Cobes was magical in the sense that everyone who hung out in the community had that chance to network and practice their various crafts. Whether it was comedians throwing a variety show or the burlesque ladies and gents honing their acts, a lot of today”s entertainment staples were born over a bottle of $3 Trad Lager in that dingy pub. The Scaryoke night also gave rise to current band vocalists and Karaoke hosts that are thriving in the city. Open Jam was a chance for musicians to get up and show their chops and find people to collaborate with.
I still get people coming up to me, saying how much they miss the Cobes. I miss it too. It was a special place and time in Vancouver’s underground scene. Things aren’t quite the same when I’m stuck working for other people. I’m not in charge of what kind of beer is sold or for how much. I don’t hire the staff you may get pissy with when you’re shittered. I don’t make the decisions or set the rules anymore. Can it be frustrating? Yes. There are a lot of sacrifices that were made just to stay in the game of keeping a place for our underground heavy to be playing. I’m just grateful we still have a dedicated space to rock.