It’s a small music scene after all
Amb Pirate, a.k.a. Amber Rose
Booking shows is a thankless job—no money, beaucoup hours—but Fire Escape Bar and Grill (7431 Madison Avenue in Citrus Heights) promoter Amber Rose is driven to grow and diversify the local scene. Known in the music circle as Amb Pirate, a name she earned during peak-partying days her 20s, Rose attends at least three shows a week, and her gig-going bridges the Midtown vs. suburbs gap. You’ll see her as often at PowerHouse Pub or The Boardwalk as at The Press Club or The Distillery. She’s promoted for five years, but recently took over the music at Fire Escape, where she’ll have big shows this Thursday through Sunday. Find out more at www.myspace.com/fireescapebar.
You were a SacMusicRocks critic? Being a critic sucks, right?
It was hard for me. … I just picked out the good parts and never wrote anything bad about anyone. … I just thought I could literally make or break someone’s music career just by posting [a story].
You book mostly rock and punk gigs. Any other genres?
Actually, I do hip-hop. I’m doing a show next month … it’s part of the Insane Clown Posse crew.
Are you worried they might burn the place down?
No, not at all. These are just kids. I didn’t even understand how big the following was for ICP. I went to a show at Boardwalk a few weeks ago and said, “Where the heck am I? Why are all these kids wearing makeup?”
Does the Midtown vs. suburbs rift actually exist, outside a few instigators, such as myself?
I don’t really like it. I know that it exists firsthand. … There’s certain bands right now who will not play my venue, and that’s just because of the area. It’s divided. Now, I can’t figure out if it’s … because of the drinking and driving, or just because they’re comfortable [at their respective venues].
So, which “Midtown bands” would you like to bring to Fire Escape?
I’d like to have Musical Charis, and I’d like to have Lite Brite. … And I’d also like to have Breaking Glass; they’re more glam/alterative rock. Let me see. There are some punk-rock bands that I’d like to have out: Bastards of Young, Rat Damage, Puke and Spit—though they’re going to play their final show in a few weeks.
What would you change about the scene?
I would just want more people to be aware that it actually exists. Not just certain scenes or certain cliques. I want all-ages shows. I want hip-hop shows and country shows. I want diversity in the scene.
I think it’s cool you have a pet frog. Tell me more. What is its name?
Fats, or Fatty McFats. OK, the story is I had two frogs. Somebody was giving them away on Craigslist. … I wasn’t ready for a dog or cat … so I picked them up, and we named them Fat and Skinny. And Skinny, I called him a ninja, because he was always trying to escape and in his adventures, he ended up breaking his leg and passing away.
I told the kids that he went away to play with other frogs. … We buried him next to the house in a patch of flowers and even placed a rock there that he used to do flips off of and said a few nice words.
How many bands do you see in a week? A dozen?
Sometimes when I’m really feeling in the mood, I go to five [shows]. I hit PowerHouse on Wednesday, Boardwalk on Thursday and Fire Escape on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Is it hard to be a woman promoter in a male-dominated rock scene?
I’ve had to deal with some egotistical males, but now I have nothing but awesome responses from people.
How can bands better promote their shows?
No. 1: You have to be involved with other bands. You have to support other bands both in your genre and outside your genre. … No. 2: I would say just utilizing social networks, such as ReverbNation, MySpace, Facebook. … And the other thing I would say is magazines and publications. Sac News & Review, SubMerge magazine—anyone who’s willing to write about your shows, I suggest that bands contact.
What’s your biggest live-show pet peeve?
Every so often you come across a band that believes the world is owed to them … and they just have very poor attitudes, whether it’s about the pay or the way the venue’s run. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does happen, it’s pretty ugly.
So, no egos?
The other negative thing is overkill, or bands that book every two weeks and then no one shows up. You have to give your fans something to look forward to.
What music are you hooked on lately?
Honestly, I haven’t stopped listening to Murder City Devils lately, but they’re not local. I would say there’s two bands: the Left Hand and the Hybrid Creeps. … Left Hand is kind of Misfits punk … and Hybrid Creeps are like two-minute hardcore songs that end quickly, and it’s awesome.