Make some noise
Calling all local bands: Get in the game, already!
I just have one announcement before we begin. All you local punk rockers, I wanna thank you for doing your homework and being on time every day this year. You’ve done great work and are excused from the final exam. Head over to Monstros and enjoy a slice and a Pabst and have a great break!
The rest of you local bands, settle down. We have some work to do.
I never say, “back in my day.” But, back in my day—like, more than a decade ago—Chico bands did things better. Everyone from Vomit Launch to Land of the Wee Beasties stole a dog-eared page from the punkers’ DIY ’zine, rolled up their sleeves, and worked really hard to make connections with great up-and-coming touring bands and then put on and promoted the kind of kick-ass, well-attended shows that made Chico one very exciting place to see original music.
Today, that’s not so much the case. There is still a lot to like in local music, but for years Chico bands on the whole have not reached out to guide the best new bands to town. Most are content to sit back and wait to be asked by bookers and other bands to join over-packed, hit-or-miss bills of random touring no-names, and doing little more to help the cause than just showing up and playing.
There are, of course, exceptions, and it’s worth noting that most every great local show was curated by those passionate few—the Clouds on Strings dudes, Teeph/Cold Blue Mountain/Sad Bastards mad man Sesar Sanchez, the quiet but always networking Fera, and the recently defunct big dogs of La Fin du Monde—who have stuck with the punk ethos of making things happen for themselves and nurturing a healthier, more exciting scene as a result.
As I see it, there are three things local bands can do to plug in and recharge the scene.
First, take control of your own destiny. Seek out touring bands that you think are rad, make friends with them and put together a tight show and pitch it to your friendly neighborhood booker. The booker will wipe the drool from his chin, shake your hand and thank you. If the show goes well, she’ll even remember your name.
Second, promote! Do not depend on any venue, booker, fellow band or rock-and-roll pixies to magically conjure up an audience for you. You may believe it’s the venue’s “job” to promote (and it most definitely is), but there is no way its managers should be more excited about the show than you. And excitement is contagious. Spread it around, and before you know it you’ve created anticipation. This will work out well for you and your dreams of playing music in front of others.
Of course, by all means exploit Facebook. It’s easy and fast. But despite all appearances, life is not lived on social media. We breathe and move and meet up in the analog world. Print a couple dozen fliers and hang them up. Be real. Advocate in person.
And, for the love of all things that are boneheadedly simple, set aside 30 seconds and send an email to your local print-media outlets about your cool show. You may assume that we arts editors and reporters sit at our computer screens monitoring your every rock-and-roll move, but that, my delusional friends, is not the case. We depend on you to help make us look hip. (If you think all venues are sending us show info in a timely manner, I have a magical guitar pick to sell you.)
Last, book three bands per show, no more. Trust me—I know from experience how hard it is to make it happen—but discipline with this one issue is crucial to the overall health of the music scene. Consider this: The five-band bill is something that only the nightlife regulars and the bands will sit through from beginning to end. Scratch that—the first band and a half will play to almost no one, not even regulars (and probably not even the other bands), and the band at the end will grow resentful as its set is pushed into the following day. Having a tight bill that moves smoothly and ends in less than three hours is as crucial as performing a kick-ass set for consistently attracting show-goers outside of the usual suspects.
If you bands are up to this work, the scene will become yours. And Chico will be the better for it.