#15 Your Band

There is no doubt in my mind that you’ve heard these words:

“HEY {your name or ‘dude’}, I’m in a band. I play {insert instrument}. We have a show {enter day}. The show starts around 9ish? I’m not sure when we go on. You should really check it out, you’ll love it!*”

This person isn’t a close associate of yours. I know this because close friends already know their buddy is in a band and where they are playing. You will also know if said-friends are any good, and whether you truly enjoy their indie/funk-infused/metal-with-poignant-lyrics “sound.”

In Portland, EVERYONE is in a band. Take five seconds and think of someone you know in a band (coincidentally, you probably can’t remember the current band’s name). Have you ever seen them play? Did you become a fan? Great! Don’t tell ME that you thought their last show at Ash Street Saloon was amazing and I have to go see them tomorrow night at some house party in SE.

Are you in a band? Well, unless you played to a sold out crowd (I will count a packed Tonic), you suck. I can’t tell you how many amazing musicians I’ve seen who are terrible performers. This scenario can also take place vice versa. The band puts on an entertaining show but their music makes you cringe. However, the latter scenario (music good, show bad) is apparently acceptable in the Portland music scene.

Thanks to MySpace, Portland’s once great music scene is being flooded with Shins-wannabes. Most shows that I’ve seen around town usually play in a 3-4 band billing. One band is good (they still haven’t seen an audience of +500), but the others are patchwork-bands that met on Craigslist. Each venue TRIES to target a certain market, but will accept any band that can bring a dozen more thirsty 21-30 year olds to their bar Tuesday night.

I’ve created a simple set of rules for every budding band in Portland to follow:

PRACTICE six months before your first show
IMPLEMENT stage antics for those who came to watch the headliner
SIT and watch the bands to see what makes for a successful show.
SLAM beers during practice, not before a show.

*I would love to add these super lame local band promotional comments.
“Bring all your hot friends”, “We are playing with another band called {insert name that begins with The} and they are really good”, “its hard to describe our sound” and/or my PERSONAL FAVORITE, “We aren’t like anything you’ve ever heard before”

8 thoughts on “#15 Your Band

  1. Yup you NAILED it, I am a musician myself, and I have NEVER SEEN a MORE PATHETIC MUSIC SCENE than Portland. I used to frequent the local bars, because I love local live music, but since moving to Portland, I don’ t bother, I just wait for a band from Seattle, or some National act to do a local show, before I will go out and attend a live show. If you go north[Vancouver/Woodland/Longview], it get WORSE, for NOW you have to deal with the REDNECK WANNABE METAL LOSERS.

  2. I heard you, Crybaby. I used to be in the same situation, with a guy who was effectively in the same band since he was in high school back in 1983. If you’re having fun in a band, and you’re playing purely for kicks and beer money, that’s cool and perfectly understandable. These are the guys who understand that they need to pay the bills because they aren’t going to get multi-million-dollar contracts on the second show, and they know that they need to get along with the folks who’ll be covering for them. It’s the ones in complete denial (you know, the ones who’ve already designed their third and fourth album covers while they’re still sucking off anybody who might give them a contract for their first) that just need to be slapped in the head. Hard.

  3. I have the displeasure of bartending with someone who’s in a band. There’s 3 of us and we would rotate having to work Saturday, and we were happy with this arrangement. Then he gets this band together that can “only practice on Saturday” and went crying to our boss and reworked his schedule so me and the other bartender are stuck working every single weekend. He did this without asking how we felt about it. When I told him I didn’t appreciate this he said no problem, he’ll cover for me whenever I need it. So I ask him to cover for me, and guess what? “I can’t. My band.” What burned me up was this was a Saturday I was supposed to have off before he took it out from under me, and I had a trip planned. I should also point out that he has every Friday night off, his bandmates don’t seem to give a rip about showing up to practice, and you have to practice way more than once a week to be any good. Oh, and he’s in his thirties and seeing someone that old that wants to be a rock star is pathetic. Working weekends is part of bartending, and if he’s going to be a baby about it, he needs to find another line of work, because this Rock Star thing is NOT going to happen, so don’t punish your coworkers.

    • That’s a crappy situation. The douche really needs to learn to put his work first and his low-grade band second. On the other hand, Dire Straits (remember them?) started out with rock musicians in their 30s. It’s all about talent and showmanship. If you don’t got it, no amount of practice is gonna teach you. I agree with you; he needs to find another line of work if he’s gonna focus on music.

  4. I’ve heard Seattle is even moreso like this. Remember Amy Poehler’s SNL Weekend Update joke a couple years back when Seattle adopted that “Metro-natural” slogan? “This replaces the old slogan: ‘Drummer wanted.'”

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