Being in an X band, playing shows with crappy Y bands

Jankowske

Senior Member
In my case, being in a metal band and always playing shows with terrible, terrible hardcore bands. I'm in a good metal band that I can't think of any fitting trendy pre- or suffixes for, besides maybe "heavy". We have some more melodic songs, some faster songs, some heavier songs. One song has one beakdown. There's a solo in every song and some nice harmonies going on almost all the time. Blah blah blah...I like our music. I'd say in the last 3 years, 60% or more of the other bands we've played with have been some form of nu-grind-thug-smash-whiney-garbage-apple-core. If anyone's interested, I can easily give about 20 little examples of what I hope you never have to witness.

It's really awful having to experience some of this stuff, but it's also ineresting to play to a little crowd of 2HxCx4u fans and band members. Instead of moshing or two-stepping, they stare mouths agape at what is probably the most structured and melodic thing they've ever payed attention to (which isn't saying much). They usually end up headbanging a bit and giving us loud applause after each song and compliments after our set.

So (metal elitist that I am) I hate these bands and their music, and I pity their fans, but ironically they make up the majority of the people who have heard our music. And if these bands didn't exist, we would probably somehow have less shows to play. And besides their (otherwise?) awful tastes, they usually seem to genuinely enjoy our music. Also there's definitely billions of people out there to which my own band's music definitely would not appeal to, so what does it all matter, anyways?

I got to thinking that, with whatever music it is that you play, there's probably some other stuff you get lumped together with that you just can't stand. I would guess that metalheads would be the worst about this...maybe second to KISS cover bands. I really don't know. What do YOU get to put up with, either occasionally or on a regular basis?
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
The scurge of the unsigned music scene, promoters who put together line ups of non complimentary bands.

At least you are in the same ball park though. I've seen these kind of nights flick between folk to metal to indie.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
We did a gig about twelve months ago in Manchester.

We're a fairly melodic punk band...most akin to something like the Undertones. In the sense that we want to play fairly fast and loud but we actually want the singer's lyrics heard.

On the remaining bill there was some kind of metal band. They may have even been a punk band as I'm seeing a massive merging of the two genres these days. Hardcore punk bands seem to be more thrash or death metal to me. Even the UK Subs...one of THE punk bands of their generation play music which 50% sounds like metal.

So, these metal guys produced a cacophony of the most vile sounding garbage I have ever heard in my life. Seriously, it was absolutely f'ing awful. Tuneless. Toneless. They seemed to be playing completely different songs. And the singers is just screaming nonsense down the microphone. Song ends. "that was Baby's Face Smashed By a Mace....good night and thanks you".

Baby's Face Smashed By a Mace...seriously !!

So these clowns had already cleared half the audience off. The remaining half were looking perplexed and occasionally glancing at each other and smiling. Everyone in that room knew...it was just sh1t.

Then, we joked about the next band (last one before us) "can't be that bad". "At least we'll have an audience" etc. etc.

Au-contraire. The next band (and I'm avoiding mentioning names to avoid a potential black eye) were classed as, get this, Anarcho Punk Poetry....Hmmm. A singer, full mohican and all that. His wife on a bass guitar and holding a tambourine. A keyboard player. And a guitarist. They didn't so much play music as ground out sounds from instruments akin to the kind of thing you'd get if you shoved a bunch of 2 year olds in a music room.

At one point, the woman on bass is whacking the bass strings with her tambourine. The guitarist seemed to be going for some kind of dischord world record. The keyboardist is just swinging his hands up and down the keyboard like some kind of crackpot Les Dawson parody. Meantime the singer is on his knees bashing the floor with a hammer and shouting "David Cameron is a TWAT"

I mean....I've just read the above back and it looks like crazy talk....but honestly I couldn't possibly make it up. It was absolutely AWFUL. Not a single person wanted to be there. WTF are people thinking? The entire room was cleared by the time we played. Fortunately many of them heard us and came back in. We must have sounded like bloody Thin Lizzy by comparison.

Seriously, all joking apart, there are some truly shocking bands around at the moment up my neck of the woods (Manchester, UK). If I felt for one second the lads and I were so awful I'd pack up, sell my drums, and live a life of shame for the rest of my days :)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Yea, I know the feeling. We once had a cracking crowd reduced to one drunk guy at the bar and one drunk girl (who kept dancing even when between songs) by a dude who got up with his I-banez and I-Phone. Not kidding. He went for an hour shredding over tracks from his I-Phone. He even took more than a minute searching for each track.

Adding insult to injury, I guess the drunk guy at the bar didn't like our sound, because he got up so fast he knocked over the bar-stool, yelled "Sonic Youth sucked the first time!" and then literally stormed out stomping his feet.

A few trickled in, but playing in those big places with nobody there is a bit surreal. The sound guy was rocking out in his booth and the bouncer was apparently entertained as well. That's right, we took the staff to rock-ville.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
As far the hard rock/metal scene goes, it's always been this way.

Every since I started going to see metal bands back in 1988, for every one good band, you have to sit through 4-5 bad ones, with some being truly horrid.

And it's the same way today.

And it's never been any different in my years of going to clubs.
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
Instead of spending every gig miserable, why don't you put on your own shows?

Find a few bands, a date, and a venue and get something going. It's really not rocket surgery. In my experience, if I have all of the details and logistics figured out, I can pretty easily proposition a club owner and get a good Friday/Saturday a booked.

If you hate your scene, start your own one. Plus promoting is actually pretty fun and a great way to discover more local talent.

So many bands that I know rely on local promoters to get them booked. I'd rather host the party than wait to get invited to one.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
...
Every since I started going to see metal bands back in 1988, for every one good band, you have to sit through 4-5 bad ones, with some being truly horrid...
Is this a function of loud type music? If you have bands where everybody is trying play at a squillion miles an hour, you get this wall of sound where each player is kind of masking every other, so to the players, and possibly less discerning followers it may sound better than it really is because there is so much going on?

I can imagine that in more pensive music styles, eg, blues, where the spaces are as important as the notes, there is less room to hide so a crappy band is more obviously crappy.

The above should not be read as being dismissive of any genre, it's a genuine question.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I think the problem is that styles such as metal and punk generally gain popularity with teenagers, and if we're truly honest - not all teenagers are necessarily particularly good at their instruments, singing, or songwriting. That's not really a problem, that's just part of growing up playing in a garage band with your mates from school.

The problem is when these people don't mature and they're still playing the same stuff 10 years later - like a band I saw a week ago. They all looked about 30, and the music they were playing reminded me of a high school metal band.

I think even in the real world of signed artists, indie artists, basically anyone who's managed to get a bunch of CDs pressed, you're still going to be looking at 80%+ of them being bad to mediocre, or a carbon copy of the rest of that 80%.

And of course, then there are the people who are bad to mediocre, whose families and friends are like "oh wow, you are so amazing, you should go play at this band night!" and it just escalates from there. I was always thinking that whenever you see those bad American and Australian Idol auditions, and all I can think of is "Someone is going to go home and shout at their family of liars tonight!"
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Is this a function of loud type music? If you have bands where everybody is trying play at a squillion miles an hour, you get this wall of sound where each player is kind of masking every other, so to the players, and possibly less discerning followers it may sound better than it really is because there is so much going on?

I can imagine that in more pensive music styles, eg, blues, where the spaces are as important as the notes, there is less room to hide so a crappy band is more obviously crappy.

The above should not be read as being dismissive of any genre, it's a genuine question.
No. If this were true, then their wouldn't be the good bands that stand out, they would all sound closer to the same.

The general problem is clubs that cater to this music have little to no quality control, often use pay to play structure, and are of the mentality that quantity of bands on a bill trumps quality.

Many of these venues run on: get a good band to headline (often a name touring band, but maybe it's a good local band). Then, for whatever reason, they can't just have 1 or 2 opening acts, they feel the need to shove 4-5 opening acts, and maybe even a "closing act" to go on after the headliner.

These 4-5 additional bands are generally not selected on quality. They are selected based on either a promise they will bring all their friends, perhaps a try out, or said bands actually makes a financial commitment to the club that they will bring x-number of people or buy those spots out of their own money.


Because the club insists on 4,5 or 6 other bands on any given night, there just aren't enough quality bands to fill all those slots every night. There are enough bad bands to fill in the gaps.

A try out band may not be any good, lack experience, or such, thus that's why it's only a try out.

When pay to play is involved, it is simply about the bands ability to finance the tickets, and quality is never taken into account. Anyone willing to pony up the cash can book a gig to open for someone good. I could book my left toe to push buttons on toy kalimba as long as I'm willing to commit to purchase of x-number of tickets. And of course, many of the really good bands just avoid these bookings, leaving the bad bands to fill in the gaps.

So you get a lot of bands who quite frankly, don't realize they're lousy. They might have talent, but don't realize the amount of work it takes to get good, because they're getting gigs, so they feel they're doing something right. And The club doesn't care that they are lousy as long as someone is paying for tickets.

All of which does a dis-service to the scene in general, because people don't show up until the band they want to see goes on, and then promptly leave afterward, and don't stay and don't buy more drinks.

And the clubs respond to this by adding even more bands to the bill to trying get more people through the door, reducing quality even more.
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
Instead of spending every gig miserable, why don't you put on your own shows?

Find a few bands, a date, and a venue and get something going. It's really not rocket surgery. In my experience, if I have all of the details and logistics figured out, I can pretty easily proposition a club owner and get a good Friday/Saturday a booked.

If you hate your scene, start your own one. Plus promoting is actually pretty fun and a great way to discover more local talent.

So many bands that I know rely on local promoters to get them booked. I'd rather host the party than wait to get invited to one.
This is the best and also hardest way to do things. UK Promoters and venues at a certain level are never going to change their approach. There are one or two gems of venues in the UK where you can guarantee a crowd whoever you are.

So it takes some work and you have to be careful about saturation, but the old adage of first conquering your own back yard before venturing further afield is a good one. These days you can also get plenty of networking done with similar bands up and down the country and get them to do the same thing.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
We did a gig about twelve months ago in Manchester.

We're a fairly melodic punk band...most akin to something like the Undertones. In the sense that we want to play fairly fast and loud but we actually want the singer's lyrics heard.

On the remaining bill there was some kind of metal band. They may have even been a punk band as I'm seeing a massive merging of the two genres these days. Hardcore punk bands seem to be more thrash or death metal to me. Even the UK Subs...one of THE punk bands of their generation play music which 50% sounds like metal.
To be fair, much as I loved them I'd be the first to acknowledge that even the Sex Pistols were basically a terrible heavy metal band and it's clear that's what Steve Jones wanted to play given his later output.

I loved the description of the bands!
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
No. If this were true, then their wouldn't be the good bands that stand out, they would all sound closer to the same.

The general problem is clubs that cater to this music have little to no quality control, often use pay to play structure, and are of the mentality that quantity of bands on a bill trumps quality.

Many of these venues run on: get a good band to headline (often a name touring band, but maybe it's a good local band). Then, for whatever reason, they can't just have 1 or 2 opening acts, they feel the need to shove 4-5 opening acts, and maybe even a "closing act" to go on after the headliner.

These 4-5 additional bands are generally not selected on quality. They are selected based on either a promise they will bring all their friends, perhaps a try out, or said bands actually makes a financial commitment to the club that they will bring x-number of people or buy those spots out of their own money.


Because the club insists on 4,5 or 6 other bands on any given night, there just aren't enough quality bands to fill all those slots every night. There are enough bad bands to fill in the gaps.

A try out band may not be any good, lack experience, or such, thus that's why it's only a try out.

When pay to play is involved, it is simply about the bands ability to finance the tickets, and quality is never taken into account. Anyone willing to pony up the cash can book a gig to open for someone good. I could book my left toe to push buttons on toy kalimba as long as I'm willing to commit to purchase of x-number of tickets. And of course, many of the really good bands just avoid these bookings, leaving the bad bands to fill in the gaps.

So you get a lot of bands who quite frankly, don't realize they're lousy. They might have talent, but don't realize the amount of work it takes to get good, because they're getting gigs, so they feel they're doing something right. And The club doesn't care that they are lousy as long as someone is paying for tickets.

All of which does a dis-service to the scene in general, because people don't show up until the band they want to see goes on, and then promptly leave afterward, and don't stay and don't buy more drinks.

And the clubs respond to this by adding even more bands to the bill to trying get more people through the door, reducing quality even more.
Venues almost unilaterally are only interested in how many people the bands will bring to watch them....that's how it is in NW England anyway.

The Tivoli in Buckley (a large venue in North Wales) put some absolutely f'ing AWFUL support bands on with the main bands...why? Because they sell 50 tickets. Kerching

And everywhere I know other than the very sizeable venues, are pretty much the same. They're not interested in quality control...just ticket sales.

We got on supporting From the Jam because we were able to guarantee 50-60 ticket sales (we're into one or two local scooter clubs)...not because they thought we were good. Having proven ourselves now, we're fixtures because a) we're reliable, b) decent and c) SELL TICKETS.

Commercial realities I guess.
 
Top