Poor promotion, cliquish scenes that don't help bands, the top heavy financial template that the music business wallows in, and bars/clubs who work on a pay to play scheme are all fair game to me, but normally the focus is on my local scene....until now.
Here's an update from 'Mongrel', a very promising rock band who operate out of Boston.
A band who are currently embroiled in a campaign to boycott a local venue (Whiskey Alley) who appear to have a very poor working relationship with the bands and artists that they book.
I think this highlights a great deal of the issues that bands face globally.
It's not a new story, and it is one that many people in bands will recognise.
Comments are appreciated and any support that can be given to the guys in the band would be welcome.
As the person who booked a show, and who today dealt with this lack of professionalism first hand, I figured I should chime in with the first hand account.
The show for tonight was booked on May 7th after our first show at the club.
Arthur Ware the booking manager was enthusiastic about having us come back (especially after the faulty sound system issues the first time we played there - and yes, I have the message to prove it). My last contact from Arthur was on July 19th (yes, I have the message to prove that to) and there was no indication of the show being cancelled.
Since that time Jaxx (manager for The REAL Scarecrow Hill) has spoken to Arthur as well - still no indications of anything being cancelled.
Over the last few weeks I've been posting the event info and tagging the Whiskey Alley pages in posts about the show.
TODAY I get word that Whiskey Alley left a comment on a fan's page that the show was cancelled. I try to reach Arthur via text/fb/phone but no response. So I left a voice mail for Nick the owner asking what was going on.
He called me back and begins giving me attitude off the bat. He then tells me that myself and Mucklers Circle were notified by Arthur two weeks ago, and that both myself and Mucklers Circle failed to respond.
When I explain that I never received any such message and ask for a copy of it he became more belligerent saying "it's my fucking club and what I say goes and it doesn't fucking matter" and that we the bands were unprofessional for not replying to this notification (I had spoken to members of MC yesterday and they had no idea either) and that we need to learn to check our messages (this being said to someone who's phone with email/txt/fb/etc is on hand or hip 20 hrs a day) and that perhaps he would be more professional "if the last show there didn't suck so much dick".
At this point I was done listening and hung up - um....if that's the case, why did you enthusiastically re-book us? that makes total sense. *eye roll*
So essentially either A) Arthur did try to notify us and the message never went through - but you'd think you'd get some sort of reply or should at least check on this if you see the band is still promoting the show...or
B) Arthur lied to Nick about letting us know, or
C)there was no notification at any point until today and they figured it appropriate to be belligerent and unprofessional rather than even just saying something to the effect of "sorry, i guess there was a communication lapse, unfortunately we do need to try to reschedule your show, sorry about that".
NEVER in my 11 years booking shows in this region have I EVER had to hang up on a club owner/booker/etc until today.
I certainly encourage other bands in the area not to subject themselves to this sort of treatment.
If the club wants to focus on dance/dj nights and end up going the way of the old Compound with drugs, police, shootings etc being an issue then by all means do so, put the nails in your own coffin, but at least be honest about it.
Even a call 2 weeks ago when we were allegedly notified saying "hey, we need to reschedule, we need the cash flow of a DJ night there for this chick's party, we're really sorry but we need to do this to keep the club open financially" would have been fine
I would have been disappointed, but respected it and re-booked for another night. The way the club handled this whole thing was completely and utterly inappropriate.
Please let other bands and fans know so that maybe through lack of patronage and financial support the club will think twice about how it treats people as this was not fair or respectful of the bands booked who re-arrange their lives to perform or the fans who would be coming to their establishment to spend money and who adjusted their schedules to attend and support the bands and the bar. When bands play at bars it is a business arrangement in which the goal is that both sides benefit at the end of the night. If a bar or other establishment is unprofessional and doesn't honour it's commitments there is no need for bands or their fans to support them. This has been a clear example of why Whiskey Alley does not merit the support from bands or fans.
You can show your support here.
Or contact Mongrel here.
After one event was cancelled by the organizers in solidarity with the bands who had their gig pulled, and a huge groundswell of support from fans and members of other bands 'Whiskey Alley' had this to say.
A Message to every band that thinks that they have a future date playing @ Whiskey Alley Just so there is no confusion your dates have been Cancelled and to all the patrons that have comments about these maters if you have attended one of these bands shows at Whiskey Alley then you would know that they were lucky to average 30 patrons other than band members
There's plenty of accounts of events pulling far more people, the management argueing about amounts of patrons attending in an effort to stiff bands of their door money, underage drinking, poor levels of security and more.
It's very clear to me that this has been a money making venture by individuals who have no interest in nurturing a local scene that would ultimately be to their financial benefit. Greedy and morally bankrupt seems to best describe them.
With any luck the DJ's who are going to be playing the club nights pick up on the lack of respect shown and follow the rock crowd out of the door leaving the venue to either die, or be taken over by others who know how to put a good night on for all concerned.