25 Ways for Bands to Annoy the Clubs
By David Himes |
25 Ways for Bands to Annoy the Clubs
‘The Gig Kahuna’
by David Himes
After more than a decade of experience in talent booking, I’ve noticed many mistakes that most bands (both local and touring) make when dealing with club/venue owners and talent bookers. If you haven’t been asked back to play again at your local venue(s), if you can’t get booked on a weekend night or favorable time slot, or if you can’t get booked at all, this article will hopefully offer some insight as to why.
This is not aimed at cover bands. So before any of you in cover bands call for my head, let me point out that cover and original artists are two completely different games—even though some of you cover musicians might get a few tidbits out of this article as well.
I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, and chances are this article might offend some of you. So without any further ado, here they are—in no particular order of importance: 25 ways to annoy the clubs.
- Bands that claim 20,000 (or more) friends on their social media, but can't get two of them to come to the gig.
- Bands that bring their own “soundman.” After watching and hearing him try to run sound for five minutes, it becomes obvious that this guy has absolutely no business running a P.A. As expected, the band sounds like glass breaking in a mud storm.
- Three red flags that indicate a band will bring no one to the show: 1) When asking for a date, they say: “We're gonna pack your place!” 2) Two weeks before the show, they ask: “What's your capacity?” 3) On the date of the show, they ask: “So how many people do you usually get on a Friday night?”
- Bands that bug the venue mercilessly to open for a national touring band, because they swear they idolize the ground the touring band walks on, are the very reason for their existence, and what an honor it would be. Of course, after the club tells them the date is already filled up, they don't come to the show.
- Bands that leave instruments and equipment behind. It’s amazing how something that is so vital to them gets so carelessly left behind. Then the club gets the urgent calls in the following days, as if they should know where their stuff is. Stencil your gear, keep track of it, and take it with you when you leave!
- Bands that show up wearing “all access” laminates around their neck. Most clubs will only authorize these laminates for the bathrooms and parking lot.
- Bands that cancel a day or two before the show, because even though the club booked them two months prior, it wasn't until a day or two before the show that the bass player decided it was the right time to ask for the night off from his job.
- Bands that give a big speech on stage about how important it is to “support the scene,” but immediately after their set, ask to get paid way before the end of the night, because they can’t hang out.
- Bands that sneak 20 of their friends in the back door, put their girlfriends on the guest list, two people pay to see them, and then say something like: “Look at all the people we brought in. Why did we only get paid $10?”
- Parents of bands. (Can you say annoying?) They stand next to the owner all night, talking his ear off about how great their kid’s 14-year-old band is. They stand next to the soundperson all night, complaining they can’t hear their son’s guitar, and make other stupid suggestions on how to improve the sound of the band. They go to the bar while waiting for their kid’s band to play, drink too much, then stand next to the owner, talking his ear off about how they used to jam in a band, but now their kid’s band is going to be the Next Big Thing any day now.
- Bands that—when you tell them they have one more song left because they're running late—decide to play a 45-minute opus.
- Bands with more “roadies” than band members.
- Bands that hound the sh#t out of the club to book them for another show after bringing a negative amount of people to their first one, and can't understand why the club hasn’t asked them back. But that’s okay. The bartenders loved watching the band rock out to the wall, and the club doesn’t have bills to pay. Bands in this category need not bother calling back, because the booking guy will “never be there.”
- Bands that drew no one, because they booked themselves at Club X the previous night, and told all their friends to go to that show. Then they ask: “do you think we can play here again?" See above for the answer.
- Bands that cancel 10 days ahead of time because they have to go to a funeral. Then the club finds out they canceled a weekend night for a “lifetime opportunity” to play a bigger, more “prestigious” venue on a Monday. (It usually bombs.)
- Bands with overly-long names like “The World is a Hell Hole and We Don’t Want to Live in it Anymore,” that moan because their full name didn’t show up on the club’s marquis, print ad or web site.
- Amateur promoters (and bands) who claim they'll pack the place and when the turnout is lame, suddenly “need a few weeks to build it up.”
- Amateur promoters who do a disappearing act when the door comes up short.
- Amateur promoters.
- Bands that think getting people to come to the gig is the club’s responsibility.
- Bands that bang on their drums and guitars in an annoying display of lack of talent before the doors open. Usually happens when the manager is trying to change out the registers or give the staff instructions for the night. There’s a better place for this: It’s called your rehearsal space.
- Anyone “working with a band” who says something like “once you see how ‘good’ this band is, you’ll want to book them again.” (These bands usually suck and/or bring no one.)
- Out-of-town bands that beg to play the club, say they’ll even play for free and take the last slot. Then when they show up, they whine and ask if one of the local bands can trade spots.
- Bands that act as if the club owes it to them to book them.
- Bands with members in their 30s or 40s that still want all-age shows.
And here’s a bonus method of annoyance—bands that send an email something along these lines, usually typed like someone with a fourth-grade education (note that this is an actual message): “hey duochbags u need 2 respect usbands we r the ones that mak the seene whatit is & we’re getting sick of get screwby gredy clubs we reherse promot lug r equipment & wood apprecate being treated in a more profesinal maner.”
In conclusion, all of the above has been an effort to show you the common mistakes that clubs see on the part of local and aspiring artists. Are there more? Of course there are, and chances are you can think of more. It might not sound fair, and it might seem harsh, but the above really is what many clubs and venues think.
Does this mean I’m on the side of the clubs and venues? Absolutely not. Club owners and others involved in the scene make their share of mistakes as well—and yes, the old viewpoint of getting “screwed” by the venue does happen. It may come as a consolation to know people in our position also see some very good, professional bands and promoters come through. In fact, there are times when people in positions of power (for lack of a better term) actually like a band and want to help them out. I’ve found myself in that position more than once.
So hopefully, instead of hating on club owners and talent bookers, you will have gained a little knowledge that can go a long way toward getting booked and welcomed back at your local venue(s). Best of luck!
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David Himes is the author of the book Realities for Local Bands: Talent is not Enough. You can find it at Amazon. For a FREE sneak preview, click here. The book is also available in PDF format. Also, David published a local music scene paper for over 16 years and has held over 400 live shows, giving him a unique insight on the scene. Your feedback and comments are welcome.