Friday, April 30, 2004

Tourography: Sonogasm live at Priceless Inn 2004-04-30

I have a number of thoughts on this show and the band's experiences in general during this time period, so I'll address those after the tourography entry.  Here was the show:

[YouTube video clip to be added]

Band: Sonogasm
Date: 2004-04-30
Venue: Priceless Inn
Location: Tempe, AZ

Vocals, Bass: Mike Bahr
Guitars: Jeff Mink
Drums: Chuck Prime

Other act(s): Nexus, Zara, Dog Will Hunt, Pinga

1. The Truth Will Set Me Free

2. Blue Instant
3. Christian Woman (Type O Negative)
4. Threads
5. F.H.G. (Tenacious D)
6. After You Fell Asleep
7. 21 Months
8. The Reason (Hoobastank)
9. Schism (Tool)

I held my birthday bash at Priceless Inn, featuring the third Sonogasm club show in as many weeks, and the third of four in less than the span of a month.  This is, I think, a teachable moment for any of you reading this who are erstwhile semi-pro musicians hoping to make it big:

Don't play shows all the time.  

Seriously, don't.

You hear about all these bands who were known for being ironman tourers and just grinding it week in and week out, like King's X, Sister Hazel, and Jimmy Eat World.  And a neophyte band wants to show that they, too, have the discipline and dedication and balls to grind it out like that.  Naturally, I understand that.  Of course you want to do that -- this is your band and you plan to give it your best effort.

But here's the thing -- those bands didn't reach that operational tempo until they had several albums in their catalog and at least a modicum of fan support on a broad regional, national, or international level.  When you're a new band just getting your sea legs, you don't have that.  And that means that your girlfriends and your buddies and even your family are going to get tired of seeing you play 83% the same set every week for months.  No matter how supportive they are, there comes a point where you just can't ask them to come watch you play eight songs that they've already heard.

I consider it a fortunate thing that Sonogasm had enough acquaintances to have friendlies at virtually every show, and thick enough skin not to sweat it too bad when we didn't draw a crowd.  (In fact, we specifically scheduled a few "stealth" shows just to work our chops in front of a crowd of neutrals/hostiles/apathetics.)  But we definitely put our nearest and dearest through a lot by scheduling so many shows close together on 4/14, 4/21, 4/30, and then 5/7.  Way too many shows.  And here's what happened: 4/14 almost nobody made it, 4/21 a few people made it (because we had already publicized the 4/30 birthday party), 4/30 we had a big group because of my birthday, and 5/8 we had like two or three of our peeps.  Counting the chick who ran the camera for us.

Lesson learned.  We did a few mid-May stealth shows, and didn't book another gig we told anyone about until 5/28.  And, lo and behold... a whole bunch of our peeps made it out to see us!  Once a month was good, and three or four times a year would have been better.  Three or four really primo, really well-developed shows where we put some budget into it, pulled out all the stops, played the tightest stuff we had, and had someone dedicated to managing the video -- not just watching the camera run, but directing the action.  When my friend Matt does his huge poker parties at his home, he does it three or four times a year.  I think that's the frequency if you want to create an entertainment experience that is truly "special" that people will not want to miss.

In terms of notes on this particular show, I actually saved our "website news" blurb, and here is what I had to say:

We had a great group of our fans on hand for this one.  Hoobastank went over like a lead balloon.  My own fault.  Tool and Type O were heavy, and better for the sort of crowd we draw.  

The truth is, people go to see cover bands for different reasons than they go to see original bands.  Part of what makes covers special is when an original band plays them, because that makes an instant connection between the music you already know and their original songs that are new to you.  So the lesson I definitely learned is to pick the songs we play more carefully.  Just because I *can* play a given song does not mean we *should*.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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