So I tried something this weekend that we hadn’t done in a while and we played a couple of “regular” clubs. You know places that we used to play more often. We did the whole set up for a 45 minute set with a house sound guy and heard some bands we don’t know.
As with anything, there was good and bad.
Saturday night we were at Fitzgerald’s in Huntington Beach. 1I swore the place off about 2 years ago when I did a solo show and the owners wouldn’t let me touch any of the knobs on the PA system and I was standing next to the board saying “No, I’m a sound engineer – I don’t have to be the one to touch it but see that knob up at the top that is on zero, just turn it up about halfway and I’m good to go.” I was left on stage with an acoustic and no PA. It was horrible.Jackie books this venue and she’s been a great supporter of not just us but of local music forever. She asked me about playing an Americana night at Fitzgerald’s and she assured me there would be a sound man and all would be good.
We were first on and I’m pretty sure this sound guy brought all his own gear, we had monitors and mains and he was super attentive. He asked how many lead lines we needed, I told him 2 for vocals, the bass has a DI out, I have 2 acoustic DI’s and a foot stomp. He had us dialed up in under 10 minutes. Awesome.
We asked Jackie what our deal was at the bar – does each band member get a drink ticket or discount? Nope, nothing. The bar was charging $10 at the door and not offering the bands any kind of deal at the bar. I was just drinking water but Tracy was going to get something more than water. Shit, we would’ve had to buy a diet coke! But Jackie stepped in and took care of us and put Tracy’s jack and coke on her tab. Not cool Fitzgerald’s.
Our set goes well with great sound, great audience and we got to the end of our set and they wanted one more so we gave them Johnny Cash. We didn’t really do our part to bring folks in, I mean I invited people but I was gun shy of the place because of past experience, thought we’d try it out and see if it’s something we want to do regularly. 2It is not. $10 at the door, and none of that goes to us?
After us was Smalltime. That’s their name. They were country-ish but was mostly just great rock. Hard hitting drummer and cool tunes. Even three part harmony on a song or two. Big rock from Smalltime.
It had literally been a while since I did a show like this in a punk rock-ish type of dive bar and I forgot the aesthetic. I missed it. Made me wish we rocked more tonight but I liked our set just the same.
We forgot to eat before we came and the kitchen was closed and we were pretty hungry and I feel bad about it but we slipped out before the Goat Hill Gamblers played. They were really nice to us and we were shit for skipping out. Sorry guys, catch you next time.
Sunday night was more of an adventure.
There’s a promoter in Long Beach that has hit me up a handful of times to come play a show and the deals never looked very good and the venues….spotty. When I looked up “The Ageing Room” at Cirivellos in Long Beach the pictures looked pretty good. I asked him about the PA and what-not and he said they had stuff and he ran the sound. Was there any pay? No. Really? Nope. Nothing. “But it’s a free show, no pay to play”.
I get what he’s trying to do by not having any pay to play deals but the bands not making anything either – sometimes it really sucks being in a band.
I tell him we’re not going to get anyone there at 10:00 on a Sunday night and he says “No, it’s cool – I’ve been wanting to see what you guys are all about for future shows.” So I tell him I will check with everyone, I tell Matt what it is and he says it looks like it could be a good room to get to know and it’s close to his house so sure. I ask Tracy and she’s like “Sounds crap but ok.”
As we’re driving there Tracy starts reading the reviews on Yelp and they are comically bad. So I make a deal with her – if we get there and it looks as terrible as these reviews, we’ll walk. We then find out that this place was featured on the Bar Rescue tv show. This makes 3 venues that we’ve played that have been on Bar Rescue. Is that a record?
But we get there and it’s a nice room. Big, cavernous room. West, the promoter, is doing sound and appears to be a part time bartender as well. We ask him what the deal is with food/drink and there technically isn’t any deal but he agrees to give us beer and/or one well drink per member. Again, I’m just drinking water. Tracy picks out a bourbon and for it being a bourbon room, it’s terrible. So she gets some diet coke to make it better.
West has got stuff all set up and we decide to stick it out. Rhythm of Rosie is on first and they’re an acoustic Mumford type of duo with a kick drum to hammer it home. They strum their hands clean off with enthusiasm and sound pretty good. Even had a song with a bunch of “Hey’s” in it. We liked them. And then The OK Shack came on and laid down some Long Beach grooves. The drummer had a Sublime shirt on and I definitely got a bit of that vibe from them but what was really holding it together was the bottom end from the female bass player. She had amazing bass tone and kept everyone tight. In a shocking twist – I went to the restroom during their set and as I walked down the hallway to the restroom the sound kept getting better and better. I stood there a minute and I could hear the vocals clearly, the bass and both guitars. It was strange funnel type effect that created the ideal listening spot – down the hallway and to the left.
OK Shack were good but a pretty loud band in this big room. Not excessively loud but certainly louder than the first act and louder than we were going to be. Something I found strange about this club was that they kept the back door open most of the time. Hmmm, wonder if that ever causes problems? 3Pretty sure the police were called during their set and not ours – it just took them a while to respond to the complaint
We set up and get dialed in and the sound isn’t too bad. 4Our 10 pm set time was closer to 10:45 pm Matt brought his new travel drumkit – a Pearl Rhythm Traveler and with new heads on it and the kick mic’d up – it sounded pretty decent. I’m rocking my 12 watt Fender Princeton and I have it on 4. So it sounds great but we’re not, you know – Loud.
I forget what song we are playing but I’m playing acoustic guitar and this other bartender guy comes up and shouts in my ear “YOU GOT TO TURN IT DOWN THE COPS ARE HERE!” I laugh to myself because my acoustic is going through the PA. If they want it quieter the sound guy has to do it. Eh, I keep singing and strumming. It is the quietest song in our set.
“You all know what an “APB” is?” I ask and we play our last song, get everyone singing along and call it a night. As we’re getting our stuff off the stage there’s a bit of a bruhaha with the club and the last band. Turns out they are too drunk/stoned to perform. Half of them have been kicked out of the club and the other half are trying to set their stuff up but are getting yelled at by other band members to get their shit out of there.
It’s actually entertaining. Turns out this is their 2nd show of a tour they are doing. The band members that didn’t get kicked out are still obviously drunk but are holding it together…better than the others. I start to bring some stuff to the car and one of them is literally being held upright by two others in the parking lot.
I don’t see their tour lasting very long.
Ah, to be young and dumb again.
There’s something in playing shows like this that steels your resolve and I do actually miss that aspect of it a bit. You’re on a bill with a few other bands that you don’t know, have never heard and you have to prove yourself. Here’s your 45 minutes – what are you going to do with it?
I’m more a fan of the shows where it’s free to get in and we still get paid – which thankfully is more common for us now.
Notes: [ + ]
|1.||↑||I swore the place off about 2 years ago when I did a solo show and the owners wouldn’t let me touch any of the knobs on the PA system and I was standing next to the board saying “No, I’m a sound engineer – I don’t have to be the one to touch it but see that knob up at the top that is on zero, just turn it up about halfway and I’m good to go.” I was left on stage with an acoustic and no PA. It was horrible.|
|2.||↑||It is not. $10 at the door, and none of that goes to us?|
|3.||↑||Pretty sure the police were called during their set and not ours – it just took them a while to respond to the complaint|
|4.||↑||Our 10 pm set time was closer to 10:45 pm|