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.