For the most part everybody likes music, but it’s probably a safe bet to say that musicians like music just a little bit more. They might understand it a little better, or pull inspiration from a show and put the ideas into their next record. We’ve decided to pick the brain of some of the music industries’ finest to find out what their favorite live show moment or fondest (possibly not so fondest) memory is when either they or another band is up on the big stage.
Imagine you’re a musician. Your job is to go on stage and play the music you’ve created to an audience who may or may not care about you whatsoever. It’s a tough gig already. Now imagine that you’ve got an hour set when you didn’t know you had a hour set and all your brain is telling you to do is to count to 20 in Bruce Springsteen’s voice. It’s hard to be put on a spot and Chicago act/our friends, Dastardly know this situation all too well. Gabe Liebowitz shared a story of how his band recently found their inner Iggy Pop and got kicked out of their first venue.
Gabe Liebowitz of Dastardly:
There comes a point in the career of any serious band when you think to yourself: “You know, I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. But what can I do to elevate myself to the next level? How can I garner even more respect from an even wider spectrum of people?” You may think of hiring a booking agent, getting a good publicist, or shopping around for management. Now, these are all fine and good steps for advancing your career, but to really gain respect from your peers and potential new fans, I would highly recommend getting yourself banned from a music venue.
Let me put it this way. Say it’s 1972. I say to you, “Hey, there’s two shows going on tonight. We could catch The Stooges. I hear that last week Iggy Pop got arrested from a venue he was playing at for cutting his exposed naked body with broken glass while defecating on a snare drum. When the police tried apprehending him, he carved the word “PIGS” into his chest and started throwing glass filled feces at their faces, all the while singing ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog.’ Or, we could catch the Inglebert Humperdink show tonight. I hear he wished somebody’s grandmother a happy birthday in the middle of ‘Release Me.’”
You know damn well that we’re going to be throwing on our “Shit On It, Iggy!” t-shirts and hitting the road to Stoogeville.
I mean, look. Your band is good. I can really hear the Pavement influence. Not to say that your sound is totally unoriginal, but let’s face it; a lot of bands in Chicago are doing the same thing. However, once your frontman gains a reputation for throwing three consecutive beer bottles at his elderly mother with a weak heart during the encore, then it will be a heck of a lot easier for local music fans to choose which early Sonic Youth/mid-career Dinosaur Jr. influenced band they’re going to catch that night.
I came to this epiphany while getting accidentally plastered at a gig not too long ago. Now, don’t get me wrong. I used to be a fresh-faced idealist just like you; determined that the quality of our music alone was enough to get people to come out to our shows and buy our CD’s. I thought that we had a unique thing going on. An exciting new blend of traditional Americana sounds and contemporary indie rock that no one had really done before. (Duh…Mumford & Sons? God, I was an idiot!)
So, we were playing a particularly long set at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan; an hour and a half as opposed to our usual forty-five minutes. As we finished triumphantly, winded by the rigorous work out, the booker of the show showed up from behind the curtain at the back of the stage and angrily whispered that our contract stated that we would play for another hour…a stipulation I had idiotically overlooked.
At that moment, I realized not only how under prepared we were, but also how inebriated I was from quickly drinking three and a half complimentary house beers with an 8.2 alcohol percentage. I also realized that the rest of my band mates were in pretty much the same boat. Needless to say, things started getting pretty weird on stage. The memories are a little hazy, but here are a couple things we did to try filling up an hour of time:
- Counting to 20 as Bruce Springsteen
- Telling awkward one-liners very slowly
- Yelling vulgarities for extended periods of time for no real reason
- Turning an old-timey country song into an impromptu rendition of “2112” by Rush
- Slowly taking off layers of clothing
- Making an emotional 7 minute long acceptance speech after indifferent spattering of applause from scattered audience
- Putting layers of clothing back on
- Getting into arguments with each other
- Attempting to play “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with no knowledge of the lyrics or chords
- Ending every song with extended, over the top, American Idol-style vocal runs
- Ending last song by hitting the same note over and over again for five minutes
Sure, compared to the likes of Iggy Pop, G.G. Allin, or Alice Cooper, this was kids stuff.
We didn’t really know what we were doing, it just kind of happened. But at the end of the night, as the red faced booker yelled that we would never be allowed to step foot in Bell’s Brewery again, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment and a new-found sense of motivation.
I mean, let’s face it. There’s hundreds of sitcom stars out there. But the only ones who gross millions of dollars on t-shirt sales, public speaking and Twitter advertising are the ones who get loaded on uppers and beat up their wives in seedy motels across the hall from their children. So, unless that iPod commercial works out for you in the next couple weeks, here’s a kilo of cocaine, a fragile, sympathetic girlfriend and a room key.
See you at the goddamn Allstate Arena.
This was originally published on Dastardly’s tumblr under the title “How to Get Banned From a Music Venue.”