Hey, Promoters, Stop Doing This Bullshit

46942
95
Share:

Bands, stop letting them get away with it.

The local music festival. A chance for a bunch of small time bands to get together and play a multi-stage show with a few real bands. In theory, it sounds nice. In practice, not so much. It’s a logistical nightmare for the organizers and the bands participating. Often times, the bands are either asked or required to sell tickets. Sometimes, set placement and set times are determined by how many tickets are sold/bought by the bands and their parents.

I once had the displeasure of going to one of these things because I wanted to see Dog Fashion Disco. Of course, the thing ran way over time because there’s no way you can run multiple stages without a small army of people to help break down, set up, run sound, and fix problems. By the time DFD went on, there was maybe 20 people. That’s fucked for the band and for anyone that wanted to see them.

Apparently, this type of thing isn’t done in every scene, but having lived in multiple places. I know it is not limited to just my city, but man, does this stuff happen a lot. I’ve skipped seeing bands I wanted to see because of this stuff. Sorry, Suffocation. Maybe next time.

 

 

It’s stuff like this that makes me constantly say “Let the scene die,” because it’s really helping no one. It’s exploitative of local, struggling bands. It’s unfair to the local bands who can’t (or won’t) force tickets on their friends, family, or in many cases, their high school. It doesn’t help the headliners who play to a thinned-out, burned-out audience. Cramming on as many bands as you can onto a show, calling it a fest, and jacking up the ticket prices to help offset the cost of booking the headliners is an underhanded tactic. Sadly, the trend continues this week. Take a look at this:

 

Where to start? With something this packed with information, you have to take a step back and really look at it piece by piece. Well, the headliner is Unearth. They’re a well-established band from the next state over. They actually play this area pretty often, whether it’s opening for Killswitch Engage, opening for Soilwork, or opening for Killswitch Engage again. Nothing against the band, it’s just how can we miss you if you never leave? Are they worthy of a $25 or $30 ticket? Ehhhhh, that’s up to you. At least direct support act Through The Eyes Of The Dead have been gone a long time so maybe they’ll bring in a few people that still remember them.

No worries, though! The Big Kahuna 3 has Crossing Rubicon on the Lounge Stage! That’s the band Jeanne Wawrzyniak (formerly Sagan) joined after leaving All That Remains. Phil Labonte was so difficult to deal with that she left that shitshow for this. Don’t worry, though. This isn’t their first Big Kahuna rodeo. None of those bands your cup of Monster Energy Drink? You still have a butt ton of local bands to choose from.

All together, this fest has 27 bands. Wait, that’s just according to the flyer. The event page on Facebook lists 31. 31 fucking bands! That’s more than a single day of New England Metal and Hardcore Fest. At least NEMHF had a whole bunch of established bands on it. Even at 25 minutes per set time (lol) you know this is going to massively run over time. Bands will play too long, set up and break down will take forever, there will be sound problems, etc. If they’re lucky, Unearth will take the stage at 11:45pm.

Doors are at noon. At least this thing is on a Saturday. I’ve actually seen some of these “fests” happen on Fridays which is just mind boggling. Do you want to be at a show at noon on your day off? Not unless you’re playing at noon or you’re at some can’t-miss event like Wacken. I guess we should cut this fest some slack. We all know “Doors @ whatever time” just means people can enter. It’s not like a band is going to be playing…

12:10? 12:10?! For fuck’s sake! Those guys don’t even have the benefit of playing to the other bands and those bands’ girlfriends. That’s downright cruel. The other stages aren’t much better with 12:30 and 12:50 start times. For those few people that are there at noon, do you think they’re sticking around to watch 25 more bands? Hell no. I hope those bands play their set, pack up, and never book another show with this promoter again.

Bands, you don’t have to put up with this. Saying “I opened for Unearth” doesn’t have much sway beyond impressing your friends that you pressured into buying tickets. Labels don’t care. Other venues don’t care. A promoter with half a brain won’t care. This is worse than playing for “exposure” because you’re not even being exposed to new fans.

To be clear, I don’t know if bands are required to sell tickets, but the are not shy about letting people know that they have tickets for sale. Maybe they’re all just really enthusiastic about people showing up for their 25 minute set.

If this fest doesn’t get a thousand people, will the blame be put on the bands? Will they get the tried-and-true “Sorry guys, you gotta be willing to promote” speech? Maybe a “It’s not my fault you don’t have a draw.” Or my new favorite one “You didn’t share it enough times on Facebook!”

Even beyond all the bands and multiple stages, we also get a wrecking ball (I assume it’s more than just looking at construction equipment, but I could be wrong) a dunk tank, and mechanical bull. People are paying for that. They could go to any two-bit county fair to get that stuff. Eh, no big deal, right? It’s not like they’re paying for this st…

Damn it. Fingers-crossed that “rented” was auto-corrected from “got it for free”. Here’s the thing with these dollar-store carnival attractions: If people are doing this, they’re not watching the THREE FUCKING STAGES OF BANDS YOU HAVE GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME. It’s hard enough to play in front of a tiny crowd. It’s even harder when that tiny crowd is busy eating cotton candy and trying to knock over some milk bottles for a stuffed animal.

Promoters, don’t do this bullshit. You’re overextending the venue’s staff and yourself. It’s too many bands in too many places. Playing in front of no one is demoralizing. If you’re having bands sell tickets for your shows to help defray the costs of booking a headliner, don’t book that headliner. Bands, don’t play these shows. You don’t have to. It’s not worth your time and effort. There are other promoters, other venues, and other opportunities. If this is your scene, let it die, because it is not going to stop. Together we can make the world a better place.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Slaves BC

    Yep.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I hate that my local venue always has 5 bands on all the concerts. We don’t need 3 shitty local openers and 2 good bands.

    • Howard Dean

      This is why people shouldn’t start bands or follow their dreams.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Dreams are for people who can’t cope with reality. Dumb fuckers.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        The local bands in my area are almost all FFDP ripoffs. My cousins band is one of the only local metal bands i tolerate.

      • Sir Ukkometso The Based

        All music is shit, why would anyone make music.

      • Dubby Fresh

        Stages of late capitalism.

    • GoatForest

      At least you still have a local venue.

  • this is all we need: more specific times and tightly-scheduled sets for live bands. it’s bad enough when a friend asks, “what time does [band x] go on stage?” because he/she doesn’t care about opening acts. these more precisely quantified time slots are only going to propagate the “hurry up i’m impatient” mentality, which creates a snowball effect back onto the promoters. “i’ll get to the club at 3:04PM in time for Burt’s Shenanigans and Killjoy Exclusive, and be at home by 6:28 so i can make it to the multiplex for The Emoji Movie”. goodbye human race.

    • Howard Dean

      For real. The two shows I’ve been to within the last 4 years were totally fucked re: scheduling. They would’ve been better off not listing any set times: The doors opened ~1 hour after they were supposed to, the first band didn’t start playing until an hour after they were supposed to be finished, and the fucking headliner went on at 11:35pm (when they were supposed to play at 10pm).

      Better just to say “music will probably start around 9-ish and will probably go until 1:00am.”

      • OhSoRight

        They can say that, but I’ll stay home.

  • my band got invited to play one of these out of state. drove 3 hours, got there at the load in time we were told only to be informed that because we didn’t sell tickets (out of state, fuck us right?) we were now the headliner, playing 8 hours later and after 2 nationally touring bands. fuck everything about these shows and the promoters that throw em

    • Stockhausen

      Guhhhhhhh that sounds like a nightmare.

    • Jason T. Corpse

      Dude that is so fucked!

  • Guppusmaximus

    I didn’t think festivals were needed in Metal anymore. Aren’t bands just paid for their music outright regardless of the quality of said output and whether or not anyone knows who the fuck they are?!

  • Jeff Manteiga

    Some of my friends are in one of the bands for this Big Kahuna show…they never seem really bummed out about selling tickets and such. I hadn’t really considered this viewpoint before, hadn’t realized it was a big problem. Then again, I rarely go to fests, just cuz I’m an oldmin and my feet get tired of all the standing.

  • What if you do the inverse and book only locals? I didn’t do that and none of you should come (please come) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1c64c3ee9eda3d27689bd9ba94413a376806f9e12a2d7b379dae649358e12489.png

    • Guppusmaximus

      Yea, maybe that would be called an “All Ages” show and not a festival??

    • Hordes of Nebula

      I play bass in All Hell and this one seems to be through legit promoters. We don’t fuck with those sleazy ones like in the article haha. Busy month for us, we’re leaving for a tour in a few hours and playing Shadow Woods fest in Maryland in the process.

      • I can’t wait to stare at Jacob’s biceps again

  • Also, on topic, this goes back to the old pay to play scam bullshit. These bands are convinced these fests are a real thing and a big deal, and they get duped into forcing their friends/family to buy tickets, which supports these bullshit fests and pays the guarantee of the big bands. There are plenty of WONDERFUL fests in the US as it is, don’t support these bs fests

    • Guppusmaximus

      Locobazooka anyone?!

      • But, dude, you get to open up for Reveille!

        • Vault Dweller

          Holy fuck they still exist, that’s amazing!

          Saw them at a local radio fest in like 2002… and they were well down the billing even back then.

          • BobLoblaw

            Had a friend impulse buy one of their records (it was used even in 2002) because of the cover art. He was not able to get a refund or return after listening to a minute of it in the car. 2 stars.

          • more beer

            Sounds like if they are going to use that theme for the name of their band they should change their name to taps.

          • BobLoblaw

            Im sure more people have been put to sleep by their music than otherwise.

        • Guppusmaximus

          Never understood why a band that didn’t seem to have a military / political nature theme would name their band after a wake-up call used in a Gov’t. setting. Go figure…

          • Dubby Fresh

            Maybe they’re named after Texas A&M’s dog???

    • GoatForest

      Pay to play promoters can pay for their medical costs.

    • SURPRISINGLY THIS EXISTS IN SWEDEN AS WELL UNDER THE GUISE OF A BATTLE OF THE BANDS FUN FACT EVERYONE LOSES

      • GoatForest

        According to Dimitri Martin, in a battle of the bands, the loser is the audience.

        • AND THE BAND THAT THOUGHT THEY COULD WIN ANYTHING OTHER THAN EMBARRASSMENT AND DEBT

  • /HOT TAKE

    Don’t be in a band. Just bitch about being in a hypothetical one on the internets. Same result.

    • Sir Ukkometso The Based

      Or start a one man bedroom black metal band.

      • /HOT TAKE

        Leave the bedroom for poon making, not black metal making. Better results that way.

        • Sir Ukkometso The Based

          But I can make spoons in my shed. That’s where the wood is.

          • more beer

            You really need to get out more.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Watcha talkin’ bout son, I was out just a few hours ago.

          • more beer

            Out where? Your front porch doesn’t count.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            I don’t even have a porch.

          • more beer

            Maybe you should build one instead of making spoons.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Why build a porch when you don’t need it. Spoons are always needed.

          • THIS IS TRUE YOU CANNOT EAT YOGURT WITH A PORCH

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Exactly. You can’t eat soup with a porch and neither can you gouge your eyes out with a porch. Porch is a very overrated thing.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        One man bedroom black metal bands have become so commercialized, Be in a half man bathroom band instead

        • Sir Ukkometso The Based

          Hmmmm, I’m not sure if the NSBM community accepts midgets.

        • GoatForest

          Pffff. The only trve path is a tool shed black metal band.
          Edit: just realized I read you post wrong. I bow to your kvltness.

  • Doc Torluv

    Practical reason: Venues are having a harder and harder time selling tix for ANY band, national or not. If said venue management sees they’re going to lose a fuckton of money for guarantees, they’ll start soliciting local acts that have to sell a set amount of their own tickets in order to play. in my youth it was ‘pay to play’, now the bands have to hawk tix to get stage time. Headliners get their guarantee and don’t piss off the fans by canceling, venues get their alcohol/food sales and merch cuts, and the local acts get boned in their collective recti. Hasn’t changed really, just a different means to the same end.

  • HessianHunter

    Jfc, Crossing Rubicon is garbage

    More importantly, pay-to-play shows are bad for everyone involved except the lazy-ass promoters who put them on. I will never play one and I basically only attend if there’s a rare headliner like when Beyond Creation was on Summer Slaughter a few years ago.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      I’ve never heard Crossing Rubicon but decided they were rubbish based solely on the fact that their logo is just their name written in Godsmack font

    • Kieran York

      That’s your fucking opinion. Can you play music? No, then shut the fuck up

      • Mosh Hoff

        Oh, Kieran.

        • Lacertilian

          Wonder which of the above bands Kieran does backing vocals/bass in?
          Money is on DAMSELS or Awaken The Madness.

          • HessianHunter

            This entire song is cringe city, from the weak-ass riff to the weak-ass vocals to the other weak-ass vocals to the weak-ass breakdown to the weak-ass guitar solo

          • Lacertilian

            Which band are they supposed to be parodying here again?
            Feel like it loses all impact when a terrible band satirises other terrible bands.

          • Vault Dweller

            I suspect he’s actually either in Crossing Rubicon or a big fan. There’s a Kieran York Youtube page with just Crossing Rubicon videos on it!

          • Lacertilian

            Both bands are Crossing Rubicon tribute bands that have identical setlists but the members swap instruments and outfits to avoid confusion.

      • HessianHunter is a touring musician in two bands. I’ve seen him in play in a several venues across the country. So, yes, he can play music and I’m inclined to believe him when he says Crossing Rubicon is garbage.

      • Howard Dean

        Of course that’s his opinion. Who else’s opinion would it be? It’s not like he said it was someone else’s opinion.

        Also, I’m pretty sure HessianHunter does play music (quite a bit of it, actually). So if playing music is a requirement for having/stating an opinion about music (which it isn’t, but I digress), then he’s qualified.

        • HessianHunter

          Do you know how to bake a souffle? No? Then don’t you DARE criticize me for serving you this moldy popover at my restaurant!

      • Stockhausen

        Most bands out there wish they had half the work ethic and DIY spirit of HessianHunter and his multiple bands that regularly tour the country. Have a seat, nerd.

      • HessianHunter

        BUT WAT IF I KAN PLAY MUSIC THO

        DO I STILL HAV TO OSHUT THE FUK UP ???

        OR KAN I KEEP TAKLING

        HELP ME UNDERSTAN

        I AM BUT A SIMPLE BABBY IN PUMKIN COSTUME

        A STRANGER IN THIS STRANGE LAND

      • HessianHunter

        All yous guys saying nice tings are mekkin’ me blush <3

  • more beer

    I think it all depends on who is running the local festival. Denver Black Sky runs like clockwork in reality almost too much like clockwork. 2 stages while one band is playing the next band is setting up. There typically isn’t even a few minutes between bands. Which makes it difficult to run out and get blazed or run to the rest room between sets. There are also always a lot of local bands on the bill as well. But it being Denver we also don’t have just your average local bands. Khemmis, Primitive Man and Havok, there are many more pretty well known bands here as well, but they all pack people into shows on their own. Then there are always a couple of big national and international acts as well. I give Sherwood Weber mad props for running a tight ship. Then there are fests in Colorado like Foothills Gutfest, which was always a good time but not a great turnout. Because a lot of people don’t want to travel to Colorado Springs for two days. So even though he had a lot of good bands coming in from all over the place. The bands would basically be playing for the other bands playing the fest. Which is a big reason it ceased to exist this year. In reality there are good things and bad things about every festival. But the only thing that should matter is the music.

    • NDG

      We have a 20 band bill run every year near where I live and it is the same deal…like clockwork. Sometimes if a band on the other stage goes over time, the next band just starts. Anyway, the bands pretty much police it, full backline supplied which saves a lot of fucking around with set up times.

      It has sold out for the last few years, this year within one week. Bam!

      • more beer

        That is exactly how it should work. I have seen the sound guy just end a bands set as well for going over at Denver Black Sky.. That is awesome that it is selling out every year.

        • NDG

          We don’t really have the whole “promoter” deal here in Australia so the people who run these things are just music fans.

          Makes for a good time. Supersuckers are headlining this year!

          • more beer

            A lot of them here are fans as well. The Supersuckers are one of my favorite non metal bands. Those guys tear it up!

  • Jake Maki

    Appreciate you promoting my band on this ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • <3

      • Jake Maki

        I agree to some extent but not all the time do shows like this fail…sometimes they are successful it all just really depends on the promotion at the end of the day. If they put in enough hard work setting up their show and doing more than just Facebook promotion then they turn out pretty good

  • I’ve had the displeasure of playing one of this guys’ “fests”. We were never told there was a minimum of tickets to sell so when we had left overs to turn in, we were asked to pay the difference out of our own pockets! If that wasn’t bad enough, we got the glorious time slot of 12:30 on the indoor stage. Such a total fucking waste.

    • Stockhausen

      That sucks, and is exactly what I’d expect out of situations like these. I’ve been there a few times myself and it’s dumb that it’s such a common thing for bands to have to go through.

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    My band, The Beast of Nod, has played two shows with this promoter (we’re on the pic of Tattoo Fest) And we have learned our lesson. It’s easy to get sucked into the “festival” mindset but it’s losing situation for the bands. I enjoy playing a large stage at the Fete, but overall we’ve learned unless we make the situation work for us, it isn’t worth it.

  • I watched Behold! The Monolith at 3:00am at Psycho Las Vegas last year. There were more than 20 people in that room, too.

    Granted, Psycho is no $30 ticket fest.

  • Max

    “If this fest doesn’t get a thousand people, will the blame be put on the bands?”

    I’ve never played a festival but I’ve certainly played some heavily-billed shows, and my understanding of the way this stuff works is: The bands themselves ARE the “thousand” people. (Or however many the venue is supposed to hold.)

    Essentially, the promoters are banking on the fact that while most local bands have neither a “following” nor any idea how to cultivate one, what they do have is four or five members who all drink beer. 5 bands + 1 or 2 friends x n.band members = a couple dozen beer drinkers; x by (say) 4 beers per drinker over several hours = plenty of beer sold. Thus the promoters don’t have to give a fuck if there’s no real crowd beyond the other bands waiting for whichever of them is playing to get off stage so the next one can set up and kick out the jams to an appreciative audience of one member’s girlfriend doing the white-girl dance down in front.

    It does tend to backfire, though, on those “all day fest”-type arrangements from noon ’til midnight; because the bands will tend to arrive and leave in shifts. If everybody who attended the “fest” that day were all in the venue at the same time then yes, it’d look packed. In reality, they’re not all gonna hang out for 12 hours.

  • Max

    On a more positive note, in Adelaide we have a yearly punk rock fest called Day of Clarity run by the same enterprising guy who runs a local bricks-and-mortar record store (Clarity Records, natch) that seems to be surviving well.

    This year, I was astonished to see it was completely oversubscribed. The venues were pubs around the city that weren’t even that close to each other by foot (not impossible to go from venue to venue, but not easy). There were no high-profile headliners, either. And yet, people were queuing around the block for a couple of the pubs. One of the pubs actually ran out of beer on tap. It’d take you half-an-hour to get served at the bar. I was like, “This is fucking Adelaide; where did all these people COME from?!?”

    Whether or not it was a positive experience for the bands playing I have no idea.

  • Dental_Damnation

    Just call it The Bernie Madoff Festival and at least people will know they’re getting fucked.

  • Dumpster Lung

    We don’t have a ton of local fests in Nashville, at least not for metal, but the couple we have had seemed to work out pretty well. I went to one called Nameless Fest, and it was great. It was a lot of bands, mostly locals, but some lesser-known touring bands as well. We did have a couple well-known bands cap things off, namely Mutilation Rites (Yautja one night, but they are technically local). The turnout was pretty great. I don’t think there were any dumb shenanigans like pay to play or anything like that. It was like $15 a night or $35 for the weekend to attend (or maybe 10 & 25, I forget – Thur night, Fri night, Sat afternoon, Sat night). It was basically just whole DIY punk/metal scene coming together, and the whole thing went really well.

    I wouldn’t doubt that’s definitely an exception to the norm, though.

    • Stockhausen

      Events like that are solid gold. It shows that it can be done and can be a really good time, but way too many promoters and venues butcher the format and make it terrible.

  • gacharicmeatspin

    I went to an event like this once. Was supposed to start at noon. Started at 5 PM, ran to 7 AM. Of maybe 500 showing up, 90% were gone by midnight, 4 stuck to see the final band, they were their deadbeat friends on vacation. I fucked off at 5 AM and took a 40 minute walk, cuz outdoors and too far from city and too early morning for public transport.

  • Hordes of Nebula

    Nothing is worse than seeing the bands trying to sell all these tickets and seeing their profile pics as the flyer for the fest. It is painful for me to see that and I wish they could step back and take a look at just how sleazy of a situation they are in. I’ve tried to point it out to friends who got lured into these things in the past but they are just excited for the chance to play a “big” fest when in reality they almost always end up disappointed. Here in Asheville NC we ran one of these types of promoters out of town a few years back and he hasn’t popped up since. The dude is pretty much exiled from here, East TN, Upstate SC, Western VA, and everywhere he goes he gets run out of town or just plain beat up haha.