Apathetic crowds

Support your local music scene, Reno!

Last September, the RN&R ran a cover story titled “The Unheard Music.” At first, I was a bit bewildered by that title—"the unheard” music scene? Unheard? I’m out there all the time hearing this stuff. I talked to my editor, Jimmy Boegle, about it, and he said, “It would be nice to think that we lit a fire under some of the local bands’ asses.”

Well, I’m not sure how much the RN&R had to do with it—I hope a lot—but the local scene has exploded over the past year. There is an explosion of new bands playing around town, with new groups coming out of the rocks every week. New venues (even all-ages venues) seem to be popping up like crowd surfers in the mosh pit. But here is the problem: Where is everybody? My other job as a music photographer keeps me in contact with local, regional and national acts, and I keep hearing: “Where is everybody? Nobody was there last night,” or “Is Reno always this quiet?”

I’ve seen this first-hand. The other night at the Zephyr Lounge, only five people showed up for a performance by an up-and-coming national band, Chainsaws and Children. The group’s members and their crew outnumbered the audience and venue staff. This was a great band, and they rocked! But where was everyone?

People have complained to me over the years that there is never anything going on in Reno. But how can that be when this year alone, there have been more local, regional and national acts playing this town than I can ever remember?

At some of the national shows, the turnout has been dismal to fair—except when it’s a free show or the cost is a nominal “buck and change,” and then the place packed to the rafters. Is it lack of money? Usually the door charge is only a few bucks. I know the economy sucks, but it’s cheaper than seeing the Backdoor Boys for $60-plus a ticket.

Is it lack of interest? Kill your TV and skip on the “Bunnies in Bondage” Web site for a night. Is it a lack of the opposite sex? Not in this town! Is it a lack of talent? No way! There are some kick-ass local and visiting bands playing here. Some of the local band members that I’ve spoken to recently said that they are getting an excellent response at out-of-town gigs. I would really hate to see local talent migrate out of here like tourists after Hot August Nights. Reno is becoming a greater music town than it ever has been. The resources are here, and there is access to some excellent recording studios and producers.

So, Reno, what’s up? When Reno has a crowd, they fucking rule! The crowd is loud and energetic. I’m always worried about getting kicked in the head during a rowdy show by some passing nut job, but that’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby! The summer is young, and with a lot of great shows and festivals coming up, get out there and show some support for the locals, as well as the visiting bands. Let them know that Reno rocks!

There is a chance to see the "next big one" before they go platinum and before they are just a small dot on that big corporate stage. Another thing: Eventually, one of our local bands will put Reno on the map. So before one our local bands goes big, get down there, meet these guys/girls, buy a CD, get autographs, sleep with them if you want to, and maybe one day, you can say, "I heard them here first!"