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Last Night's Show - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Jan. 24th, 2004

11:41 am - Last Night's Show

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Last night's show was really awesome.

Sista Otis' band is incredible. Acoustic guitar, bass, drums, heavily processed electric guitar, and percussion (congas, doumbeks, midi drum pad, etc). The non-set percussionist might have been the best I've ever seen. At least the coolest to watch and dance to. She was in that trance world all over the place. They even covered All Along the Watchtower with a serious drum breakdown just like my dad always does. No one danced with me, there was so much rhythm waiting to be explored and no one else wanted to explore it. That was sad.

Kate Hathaway played fully electric with her band. I hadn't seen them in their current incarnation yet. They rocked the place. Sista Otis members were seen grooving along. Kate has such a great voice. I like her acoustic guitar styling a lot better, she gets such a good sound, but I know the kids like to rock out on the electrics. So it was fun for all.

But only about 12 people showed up and a few of them left after the opening band. I lost about $160 on this show. Apparently in Detroit they draw 400 person crowds.

What the hell do I have to do? I sent out thousands of emails, I posted to several LJ forums and other relevent websites, I got an article in the centerfold of the Buzz, I got a little picture on the side of the front page of The Paper. Fliers went to a couple high schools. I sent personal emails to various members of the Secret Grrrl Underground Network as well as the related Secret Underground Lesbian Network hoping they'd rally a crowd to come to this awesome high-energy anarcho-feminist uber-indie urban folk show. Add to that the fact that Kate Hathaway usually draws a sizable crowd of her own. I just don't know what happened. I could have put up more posters but it was COLD and in the past over-postering hasn't been the silver bullet either.

One other really cool thing was that they really liked my work as the sound guy and their techie guy on the processed electric guitar asked me if they could pay me to haul the IMC PA up to a 400 person venue and do sound for them in Evanston next week when they play there. Sadly the PA is already reserved for Skeleton Danse. All you Chicago kids had better go to the show and tell the band Zach sent ya. :)

The whole band stayed at my house last night and it was cool to hang with them. Nice folks each and everyone.

Comments:

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From:blutende_narbe
Date:January 24th, 2004 06:03 pm (UTC)
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i promoted like crazy!

that really sucks.
im sorry
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From:zarfmouse
Date:January 24th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
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No problem. Thank you so much for helping to promote. I think maybe with the high schools I've gotta get some mix CDs out there. I book bands that people from around here just don't know about. But I think if people had a chance to listen that they'd really dig it.

It isn't like this isn't the first time a show of mine has bombed. I even kind of predicted this show would bomb but the band was really into doing it. It's cold, the students only just got back, etc.
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From:blutende_narbe
Date:January 24th, 2004 06:07 pm (UTC)
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understandable.


yes cds would be good.
i would help distribute them and what not.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:January 24th, 2004 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Yah this show was really put together at the last minute. My next batch of shows should have a lot more lead time.

Thanks!
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From:arun251
Date:January 28th, 2004 04:44 pm (UTC)
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Sorry to hear. Alas, I was fighting truckers in eastern Ohio at the time. But yeah, flyers aren't the silver bullet, but they really do help raise consciousness of the event. I think flyers should be up for two weeks minimum to do a decent job, and some say even longer, but that might just be more appropriate for larger events. Random people need to hear about things multiple times. Radio helps, too. But it's also true that all the amount of promotion won't bring a crowd to some shows, just because no one knows or no one cares. I'm not saying this is one of those shows, but it's worth remembering that it's not true that if you book any band, a crowd will come, no matter how awesome the band is. If there's no local following of the band, including on radio, it's most likely that the promoter has heard much more of the band than anyone else.

Anyhow, it was their first show here, and Urbana is not Detroit, and an Urbana church is certainly not a Detroit club, so it's a huge difference, but maybe they'll be able to build up a following here if they keep coming back.

And yeah, people are also less willing to do random things in the winter. Did it snow that day, too?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:January 28th, 2004 05:05 pm (UTC)
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Yah, I really need to trust my own assessment more. I told their agent that this show wasn't going to work well but they insisted that they would do a ton of promo and the show would have at least 20 (my declared breakeven point) people. I thought I could do at least that given that they did play Grrrlfest.

It bums me out that Grrrlfest organizers talk so much about how promoters don't book enough girl music but whenever I do promote it, none of them come out to the shows.
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From:arun251
Date:January 28th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Those are both good points. I'd say you should push the agents more towards percentages instead of guarantees if you're feeling really unsure, and even guarantees should be negotiated down because even Urbana on a weekend is not a city on a weekday. Was the agent responsible for the previews in the weeklies? If not, what else did they do... or what else could they do? Personally, I've come to expect very little when agents promise promo. I don't know there's much they can do in this town that we can't do, and we could probably do it better.

I wonder if Grrrlfest organizers were talking about IMC shows because there's no shortage of girl music there.

I also wonder how much people normally pay for Sista Otis shows.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:January 28th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Yah I agree. Like I said, I've gotta trust myself and not get bullied by over-excited agents. (Not _bullied_ really, just blinded...she had the best of intentions and it's her JOB to ask for more).

Anyway, they are interested in coming back and playing free in a fest setting.

I know Grrrlfest folks aren't talking about IMC shows. I just wish folks appreciated how much of the music they complain they don't hear in town we are booking. I know it isn't their fault. I know people are busy and maybe not interested and maybe it's too expensive.

I just can't price a show any lower than $6. I'm positive that it isn't the price keeping people away because I've experimented with making it absolutely clear in my promo that the sliding scale goes down to zero, I've experimented with no mentioning price anywhere in any promo, and I've done a survey asking about price and it came back with $8-$10 as a perfectly reasonable price for my shows. People who come to my shows never complain about the price and often pay the high end of the sliding scale.

And if I charged less, I'd still have the same number of people, maybe a couple more, and I'd lose more money.

I should start having an under 18 price or something though because I know I am pricing out the kids which is lame.

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From:folkyboy
Date:January 25th, 2004 04:05 am (UTC)
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aww that sucks! :(

if i lived near i'd have come!
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