We were excited about this show because The Sets was a newly renovated venue with a high capacity and supposedly strong attendance. It had been built out of the former Pink-E's Pool Hall on Southern and Mill in Tempe, and while the billiards room was packed as always, we discovered to our horror that the music hall was a ghost town. And then we discovered why. They were charging seven bucks a head to get in.
That may not sound like much to anyone reading now (I am typing this in 2010) but back then, our audiences were accustomed to getting into shows for a nominal cover charge or often no charge at all. Covers of two drinks, $3 up front, or even $5 if it was a Saturday night would fly, but $7 was over the threshold. We called our friends and told them to skip it. We used our guest-list slot so that Justin could run the camera. I am not kidding. This show was performed in front of no audience whatsoever.
Well, a band that has that experience can either shrivel up and die or be professional and play anyway. The soundman kept busting in between songs and shortening our set, but we still managed to push eight songs through their PA system before we were cut off. The venue might not have lived up to their end of the bargain, but we damned well delivered ours.
[YouTube video clip to be added]
Venue: The Sets
Location: Tempe, AZ
Vocals, Bass: Mike Bahr
Guitars: Jeff Mink
Drums: Chuck Prime
Other act(s): A whole slew of 'em, just as audience-less as we were
1. After You Fell Asleep
3. The Safety Dance (Grim & Necro version) (Men Without Hats)
4. 21 Months
5. Working Man (Rush)
6. Schism (Tool)
8. Blue Instant
We were sandbagging Working Man until the closing show in August, but with the soundman busting our chops and our general frustration with the situation, we were like "The hell with it, we're playing Rush! Let's make this the best show nobody saw!" Our cameraman, stalwart Justin, was certainly surprised and pleased, being the Rush fanatic he is.
We had planned this as a big breakout show in front of what we were told was going to be a huge crowd. Our original planned setlist had about four more songs on it -- we would have played Truth, Luna, and Crystal, and we were planning to bring back Winter Moon for kicks -- and we would have held off on Working Man. (As circumstances would have it, 100% of the originals we played at this show were written by me.) Instead, we ended up giving Winter Moon its nostalgia slot at our next and final show.
Frustrations ran high after this show. The band was basically done. I knew I had law school on the horizon. Jeff and Chuck weren't getting along and I was tired of being the voice of moderation. We had functional problems. We went in figuring that if things went really well, that would cure a lot of what ailed us. Instead, it was a disaster. And that set the stage for what wound up being Sonogasm's best show , hands down, just five weeks later in downtown Phoenix...