Archive for Thursday, March 11, 2010

You guys are really good at what you do! An etiquette guide for local bands in awkward situations

March 11, 2010


If you've ever played in a band, you can spot an awkward encounter from a mile away.

Is the lead singer of the awful opening act making a beeline toward you to get your opinion of his set? Simply feign like you're receiving a text message.

Does the sound guy want your band to take the stage 30 minutes before anyone shows up? Time for a cigarette break!

To aid in the navigation of such sticky scenarios, we asked more than a dozen local bands questions pertaining to band etiquette. The responses we received proved to be both insightful and hilarious. Thanks to all who contributed, and if anyone hassles us for doing this story, rest assured we'll be making a beer run ...

What's the appropriate thing to say to a band that just totally sucked it up onstage and wants to know what you thought of their set?

• "Wow, you guys put out a lot of sound!" (Cameron Hawk, The Dead Girls)

The Noise FM are (from left) Austin Ward, Alex Ward and Oliver Mosier.

The Noise FM are (from left) Austin Ward, Alex Ward and Oliver Mosier.

• "You guys are really good at what you do." (Alex Ward, The Noise FM)

• "Man, the sound was great out front." (Austin Ward, The Noise FM)

• "That was fun!" (Eric Mardis, Split Lip Rayfield)

• "If you don't have anything nice to say, say, 'Rockin' set guys!'" (Hank Osterhout, Deadman Flats)

• "When in doubt, always say 'good set.' That in no way suggests that you personally loved their set, or that you have any interest in sharing the stage with them again. Also, avoid physical contact as much as possible. A handshake shows them you respect them as musicians, whereas a hug seems to say, 'I'll be here for you throughout this horrible, horrible journey.'" (Katlyn Conroy, Another Holiday)

• "I can see some promise in you all. You just need to tighten up a few areas and you could really bring it out." (Sean Hunt, aka Approach)

Adrianne "Dri" Verhoeven

Adrianne "Dri" Verhoeven

• "Your drummer killed it!" (Adrianne Verhoeven, Dri / Extra Classic)

What's out of bounds when it comes to self-promotion?

• "The biggest taboo is promoting your show for another venue in the same town while onstage, and unfortunately, many bands don't know this. It really pisses bars off!" (Osterhout)

• "MySpace comments are so lame. LAME." (Mardis)

• "When people send out the same bulletin every day or in many cases multiple times a day, that is overkill. People need to realize the impact is gone if the person receiving is getting annoyed." (Terry Taylor, Hammerlord / Hunt Industries)

Terry Taylor, of Hammerlord.

Terry Taylor, of Hammerlord.

• "If there are two of the same poster within the same 10-square-foot area, it's OK to take one down." (Hawk)

• "I would consider leaving fliers on cars to be overly aggressive." (Konnor Ervin, The ACBs)

• "One promotion technique that we have recently embraced but are certainly embarrassed about is the mass text-messaging to cell phone friends. It's rough to get the reoccurring 'nice mass text, bud ...' as a reply." (Austin Ward)

What's the etiquette on sharing equipment? What's not acceptable?

• "I've had people I don't know just hop up and get on the turntables. One time this guy did it but he reassured me, 'It's cool dude, I DJ all the time.' I don't care if it was Jazzy Jeff - he better ask if he can use my decks first or he's getting tossed out the front door like in Fresh Prince times. That's just etiquette. Much respect to Jeff!" (Danny Spence, aka Spence)

• "Tell them you are not trying to be a jerk but, this gear is all you have and you are going to guard it with your life. I have lost some major equipment by being nice." (Approach)

Eric Melin, JoJo Longbottom, Nick Colby, and Cameron Hawk are The Dead Girls.

Eric Melin, JoJo Longbottom, Nick Colby, and Cameron Hawk are The Dead Girls.

• "When The Dead Girls played a show with Evan Dando of The Lemonheads in Fort Collins (Colo.) a few years back, JoJo loaned his tuner to Dando, who walked out with it at the end of the night. It can get sketchy." (Hawk)

• "We were playing a show in Springfield, Mo., and the opening act asked to borrow our keyboard. ... Little did we know they were a hardcore screamo band with guitar spins and all. Song three concluded with a guitar spin that smashed into the top of our keyboard, busting off four keys. Nothing helps get over a smashed keyboard like knowing it came from an awful screamo band." (Austin Ward)

• "Just ... try not to do it. Showing up to a venue and giving the old, 'Ah man, I forgot my entire drum set, can I use yours?' is not cool. At all." (Conroy)

Katlyn Conroy and Joshua Landau

Katlyn Conroy and Joshua Landau

• "Asking to use my guitar amp is like asking to kiss my mom. ... The Waco Brothers blew up two of Scroat Belly's amps when we did CMJ in NYC ages ago, and we NEVER forgave them! Freakin' limeys." (Mardis)

Is tipping appropriate at venues that offer free drinks to bands? What kind of drink deal is sufficient?

• "Minimum respectable offer is one pitcher per band member. Preferred is unlimited High Life/PBR/wells." (Saladino)

• "Bands should ALWAYS get free drinks, NO MATTER WHAT. It is the band's job to encourage people to buy drinks, so keep the band happy, and they keep the drinkers happy." (Osterhout)

• "I always tip, including when our drinks are cheap or free. Not only is it nice, but it gets you a little goodwill with the bartender so that when you run out of your allotment of free drinks, they might just keep 'em coming." (Charles Calhoun, Cowboy Indian Bear)

• "If you're getting free drinks all night, you had BETTER be tipping the bar unless you are broke and/or out on tour and 'jamming econo,' as Mike Watt would say." (Hawk)

• "We're usually not getting paid much anyway, and they're giving us free Keystone ... no one deserves a tip for that." (Alex Ward)

Can you think of any other potentially awkward situations that require a certain degree of tact or etiquette?

• "I have kids come up to me with their band's CD and hand me a copy and tell me about their band and how much they love my band. Then as I walk away with the CD, they tell me it's $10. ... One of my band dudes had this same thing happen to him, only he was physically going to the bathroom and he got cornered while in mid-stream." (Taylor)

Danny Spence.

Danny Spence.

• "Trading CDs is a nice thought - but what if the band that wants to trade sucks? Some bands actually make CDs to SELL them. ... Nine times out of 10 we make the trade, and I have a large pile at home of CDs still in shrink-wrap from bands that are utterly unremarkable." (Mardis)

• "When there are multiple bands of equal draw on the bill and the venue didn't provide a lineup. Now you have three bands that all want to headline!" (Osterhout)

• "Bands getting frustrated with crowd response. The crowd is going to be as into it as they are, and at least they care enough to stand there and watch you. Don't berate them." (Spence)

• "People try to barter with you on your merch prices. You never want to be rude, but at the same time I don't think people understand the work that goes into being in a band." (Calhoun)

Matt Saladino of The ACBs

Matt Saladino of The ACBs

• "My biggest pet peeve is when a drummer either leaves the stage entirely or starts tearing down his kit onstage." (Austin Ward)

• "Opening up for your band with your side project can be uncouth. Also, wearing the T-shirt of your band onstage to 'promote the shirts.'" (Matt Saladino, The ACBs)

• "ALWAYS know your set time. It's one of those things that people always try to change up on you later, and if you have specific info from someone about set times, it's easier to stand your ground if someone tries to bump you to another slot. If that doesn't work and you know someone is going to try to force you to play earlier to a nearly empty bar, just have one of the band members go somewhere and 'get lost' for a while. 'Yeah, our bass player said he was just running to the liquor store, but he's still not back. Isn't that the darndest thing?'" (Hawk)


alm77 8 years, 1 month ago

Awesome, Richard! I love it!!

iam, it's just a fun interview with some of the best bands/performers in town! Definitely not an advert.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree on the posters. There is a fine line between postering and littering.

nobody1793 8 years, 1 month ago

If someone played a terrible set, and they know they played a terrible set, they're not going to ask anyone what they thought.

If they played a terrible set and they ask me, I'm going to tell them exactly what I thought. They should know why they sucked, so they can stop sucking.

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

what throws me off is when I think that myself, or the band I am playing with, have played a dreadful set but people will enthusiastically tell you that you played your best set ever that the band sounded great. This leaves me wondering if they are drunk, being truthful or just butt kissing cause you as the player knows what went down. You never know if you are being too hard on yourself or if the person telling you sounded good thinks (insert bad band here) is good. A few years back, I heard a quote that said to the effect: The art of being a good musician/performer is not about being mistake free, rather it is to make your mistakes sound intended or how you recover from it. I always get a chill down my spine when a band starts a song, has an epic fail moment on stage then stops the song. They look around, make a bad joke or worse yet call out a player on stage

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

bad very very bad. when a band takes the stage they should be rehearsed enough to not f-up that badly (especially when they going cover to see a band is $3-7 these days)

nobody1793 8 years, 1 month ago

Can I get more somedude20 in my monitor?

EARTHFIRSTER 8 years, 1 month ago

"Can we borrow your guitar?"---No. "Do you mind if I use your drum kit?"---Yes, I mind. "Can we use your keyboard?"--Absolutely not. "Do you mind if we play last, our drummer is not here yet?"--Yes, we mind.
How worried are you that "not being cool" is going to ruin your career? "Can we put some people on your guest list?"--Yes, for 5$ per person. And if the opening band doesn't go on when the soundguy says to, they can have fun with a 5 minute set.

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