>Right out of the gate, thanks to everyone who came out last night. It was really great to see so many familiar faces. Too many to mention individually and I don’t want to offend anyone by leaving them off the list due to my own sleep-deprived brain, so just a big THANK YOU to all. It was noted, and will not be forgotten. More than anything that means the most to me. Much, much appreciated. It’s awesome to see such a turnout for local music, at such exorbitant prices too (more on that later).
Of course I am talking about the PBR thing that went down last night, and, as expected, we did not bring home the victory. The big winners were Reverend Slanky; I didn’t see their part of the show, as I bolted over to the Wilma to see Clutch immediately after we played (Clutch was awesome, by the way). A couple people before the event predicted Slanky would win. Jimmy even predicted it, as he saw their set. He didn’t like them, but could see that they were crowd pleasers. One thing that puzzles me is that I hear they played all cover songs. That is weird if it is the case. Anyway, I was a little disappointed in the outcome because, everything considered, I still thought we had a shot. I think I would be irked if we’d lost to what most people thought were the favorites, The Good Neighbor Policy. After all the hype around them, I was mightily disappointed. Maybe it was because they played first, I don’ t know, but it was fairly uninspired, by-the-numbers indie rock, which is something I’m not a fan of. I loved the cello, though. Maybe if there wasn’t so much hype around town about them I would have appreciated them more, I don’t know. Maybe it’s that they started late and played a set that easily exceeded 20 minutes. I did get a kick out of iNHUMANS, the hip hop band, though. I also loved Black Velvet Elvis’s Motley Crue cover, “Too Fast for Love.”
It was good to play for people that would normally never see a LAZERWOLFS show. It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones. It’s fun to rock out at The Other Side when a lot of people are there (which doesn’t happen very often). Plus, it’s just fun to play, period. I don’t think we played particularly well at all, but it was a good time. One highlight for me was when some stranger came up to me after the show and said, “I’ve never seen you guys before. All I want to know is what trick you have up your sleeves to let you come out and be 3x louder and sound 5x better than the other bands?” Stuff like that tickles me, because all we really care about when we play is to entertain people, be real powerful and sound good, and have fun. We did that. I’m happy. I don’t think any band was “better” necessarily than anyone else, just different. Some just do what they do real well, and if you have your people in the crowd and judges more sympathetic to your style of music, it’s payday.
I definitely think having the finals the same night as the Clutch show destroyed us. Like I said, I went to Clutch after our set, then came back. I saw at least 10 – 15 people at the Wilma that were at our preliminary round show, easily. Several came up saying, “I thought you guys were playing tonight?” The thing is, originally the dates didn’t clash, but the organizers of the PBR event added a 4th preliminary round to the event, which pushed the finals back to the same night as Clutch. And while all of us rock bands tried to get the organizers to consider changing it, they wouldn’t budge. In fact, I was told that the PBR people felt “it would have more of a negative effect on the Clutch show than our show.” Well, maybe a few indie folks skipped Clutch, but the rock fans didn’t. That doomed us right out of the gate. Look at the winners of the thing, Reverend Slanky. With 8 member (or whatever) votes to our three, we are already 5 votes in the hole before a note was even played. Add in that the bulk of our fan base was at a great show across town, and we really didn’t have much of a shot. I still think we came close, because there were a lot of LAZERWOLFS t-shirts in the audience.
Why did the organizers do this? I think they had so much interest from bands who wanted to play they saw an opportunity to make more money by adding another night to the preliminaries and add two bands to the finals (2 more bands means those bands bringing their friends to the show to pay the cover, drink, etc.). The downside was the finals being on the same night as an already-scheduled event directly conflicting with ours. Even worse was that by adding 2 more bands to the finals, we all got rammed into 20 minute sets, and that flat sucked. I mean, this sucked in a way that no gig has ever sucked for us before. 30 minutes is difficult; 20 is a nightmare. Plus the added rush to get gear on and off made it very difficult on ALL the bands. I was exhausted afterwards — bust ass to help the band ahead get their gear off, throw ours on, rock, throw our gear off, hump it back outside and into the truck, all in a big hurry. Like Jimmy said, after he finished loading he felt like he’d just played a soccer game.
As much fun as we had with these two shows, I admit to feeling guilty. The $6 cover for the preliminary rounds was okay. But they jacked it to $10 for the finals, which is ridiculous. I feel guilty for asking my friends to pay that, all to watch us play for 20 minutes. The messages we received from the organizers urged us to get our friends out, print and post flyers, handbills, etc. That all costs money, not to mention time (which is the most valuable thing). What do the bands get? If you win it all, you get a decent payout ($1000, $1000 in recording time, some PBR posters with your picture on it, and a $200 gift certificate to Haus Frau). But preliminary bands that didn’t advance got $0 (last year every band got at least $50). Bands who made the finals were supposed to get $100; we haven’t seen a dime yet. I’m sure we’ll get it, but tracking it down is going to be a hassle. I’m sure the sponsors (and there were a lot of them) all kicked in money or something. I know what it costs to use that venue; I have an idea of what the sound guy probably costs. The radio station was presenting it, so I’m sure the ad costs there weren’t particularly high (determined entirely by claiming what they would have gotten if they’d run a paid ad in that spot). Running ads in the paper is spendy, but when you run all the numbers it still seems like the bands got totally bent over. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Oh well, I don’t mean to gripe. It was fun, and I’m glad it’s over. I already got Jimmy to agree that we did as well as we can ever hope to with this thing, so we most definitely won’t be participating next year. Not out of sour grapes, but just because we did what we intended to do, and that’s as good as it’s gonna get. Next year we will do something else instead!
By the way, thanks to Sarah Frazer for the pictures!
Tomorrow, Clutch review, where Julia predicts catastrophe and I spend time in conversation with a Will Farrell character. . . .