It’s May 26th and I will be playing Buzzcocks records all night and watching a concert video. I was planning to do so anyway, only it won’t be the warm-up for the concert I’d been waiting months for. All the music venues are shut, and tours have been canceled. Artists are in dire straights, those that don’t have a large music catalog and savings, have had to go online to communicate with each other and fans. And many music venues may be shut permanently. Portland the music town is in danger.
The arts are suffering and many governments will not take the entertainment industry seriously. It’s a serious revenue and tax base for local governments, however bailouts won’t happen for small venues, some may not get the SBA Pandemic relief loans either. Venues pay taxes, artists pay taxes. Along with the film industry, music revenues are suffering massive losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down. What is as a whole huge money-driven industry of sound, has come to a grinding halt on the promotion scene live. Everything has gone online broadcast, with some members of bands doing Zoom concerts. Online sales have gone up for digital and vinyl. The industry is adjusting, however, the classic music magazine is struggling, as the print industry was already starting to collapse, and many had shifted to online presence, however, with live shows not playing to physical audiences, the landscape has changed and adapted.
Steve has assured me that they hope to come back, let’s hope there’s a venue for them to play in.
Same thing going on in your town? Check out Change.org and other artist fundraising platforms. Help them pay rent.
On January 18, 2019 Portland was treated to a rare show with the return of Peter Murphy and fellow former band member David J from Bauhaus. The tour, The Peter Murphy 40 Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration featuring David J, was on it’s second US date. I hadn’t seen Bauhaus live itself since 1996, and sadly missed the Coachella performance in 2008 where Peter sang upside down during the length of Bela Lugosi’s Dead.
The house was packed, with a very responsive audience. Unfortunately there were a few in the crowd that were a bit rough to push and shove, however most settled into dancing and sang along with the performance of the debut album by Bauhaus 40 years ago, InThe Flat Field, in it’s entirety. Peter was constantly moving around the stage, still doing a small bit of Nijinsky posing and David J was killing the bass. Having been a Bauhaus fan from back in the day, it would have been great to hear Daniel Ash along with them, sadly he was not on this tour. But the rest of the band whipped up the crowd and most of the audience was singing along and taking over from Peter, at his encouragement, during the second half of the show where classics were played.
Songs from InThe Flat Field: “Double Dare”,”In the Flat Field” ,”A God in an Alcove”,”Dive”,”The Spy in the Cab”,”Small Talk Stinks”,”St. Vitus Dance”,”Stigmata Martyr”,”Nerves”
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” with killer David J bass
“She’s in Parties” long stage dub version
“Kick in the Eye”
“Burning From The Inside”
“The Passion of Lovers”
“Severance” – Dead Can Dance Cover
Other songs have been played on the tour, however not for the Portland set. If you are seeing the tour in the coming weeks, or lucky enough to be in San Francisco where Murphy will be performing in depth at The Chapel over the course of two weeks in March, get your tickets now. Each performance will be a different theme. Check out his Tumbler page for more details. For a set list of possible music at your show:
It’s not a secret. We live in a 1% elitist society. If you don’t actually belong in the 1%, many people want to feel that important, special feeling. You know, the one many of us get when we think celebrity, being within a few feet of someone you idolize. Social Media and that force-feed the need-to-feel-special, above all others, entitled for 5 minutes feeling? Many of us hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck, barely making living wage types seem to wallow in the shallow end. We’re the ones who in our youth went to see the local punk bands, with their anti-establishment songs. Sadly the Gold Circle, Las Vegas seating arrangement has found its way to your favorite band’s venue. That’s right , many artists knowingly or unknowingly are victim to the pricing scheme of the promoters, falling into the media trap of the VIP Pass, VIP Circle, and Pre-Sales vortex. Maybe a handful of long-time fans may actually make it to the show with the remaining 50 tickets left after the battle for a seat.
Back in the day, when my current fan favorite band I will be seeing, had their first tour, they had very small venues and very little pay. When they started out, if the band got $50.00 to play, they were lucky. It used to be, and in some sad cases, many a band was taken advantage of by promoters and record labels. Very often they barely saw any money from touring for months, or even the record sales they helped promote. Indeed, the whole of the late 70s and 80s saw a plethora of bands abused by the music machine in their early years. If they were lucky and started making it big, they got good managers and better contracts. Out of the thousands of bands in the American and UK scenes, they were the one band that made it past a year and somehow, after breaking up several times, maybe reformed. Now some are on their 25, 30, and 40 year anniversary shows. Funny, during all that time, you think they would remember their humble beginnings. Some do. It depends on the bands and how hard up for cash they may be. Or a sense of being paid as an artist, which is important. I would hope that they remember their humble beginnings, and that 99% of the population can barely afford the GA tickets. Because lately some of the promoting done for bands, while not really new concepts, has become downright exclusionary in its exclusiveness.
Remember the days when you had to line up at a ticket vendor, stand in the rain, buy tickets when the record shop opened? We all hated it, but it was a fair system in that if you could get there, or your friend did, stood in line, sometimes camping overnight, you had a chance. You still battled it out with ticketing systems that had several outlets and were selling at different places. You still ended up with the worst possible place, the floor. But it was somewhat fair. Now the lines are online, and very fast and furious. A show can sell out in 5 minutes. Unfortunately that usually goes to 3rd party vendors who buy blocks of tickets and then turn around and sell to the public at a 300% markup, because a limit to tickets per person wasn’t in the software. The average fan doesn’t have a chance at the balcony seats.
My recent experience was the that band I wanted to see announced tickets on sale on Twitter and their website. I went to the venue direct, got into the system, waited for the published time. When the time came, I could see the balcony seats getting wiped out, and I could not order. A message about a code kept coming up. I went to the bands site and original notification on Twitter, no code. I kept getting an error. No message as to why, tried contacting the ticket company through the tech line, ended up on a online form. The next day I got an email explaining that the code was for previous ticketing company clients. Basically, if you had purchased from them before or been in their exclusive club, you got advanced perks, like codes fro pre-sales. Luckily the pre-sales did not wipe out the floor tickets, still had a few available the next morning when the system opened up to the general public. I love feeling general. Of course there were plenty of pre-show VIP passes to meet and greet the band for $200.00 available at an additional fee.
Now, in defense of some bands, most bands want to just play for their audience. They want to be able to get from one city and venue to the next, instruments and crew intact. They want to get paid. Touring is expensive business. They have no control over promoters for a venue and don’t want to get into it, don’t want to have to think about it? Some bands tell promoters that they don’t want this system. Some bands and artists are in protest of this elitist profiling, and online exploitation of ticket pricing. They don’t get the money from the inflated tickets either, so they are being victimized as much as the average fan. Maybe they want the real music fan to have a fair chance to be up front. Some artists have taken drastic measures, and made tickets from a 3rd party vendors invalid. This leaves the public scrambling for re-buying tickets. It can get rather ugly.
Other bands have embraced the VIP treatment packages. They make money off them as well, quite a bit in fact. Funny, back in the day, you know punk and post-punk, the very same musicians were running around as poor kids scraping money up to get in to see bands themselves, sadly forgotten by their current selves.
How do you get the message to your favorite band that you can’t see them because you are not part of the elite? Could you stand outside the venue with a protest sign? Write to a music or consumer journalist and hope they may be sympathetic and publish something? I think if you really like a band and have supported them for years, you should write to them and let them know what’s going on with how their band is being perceived by their fans. They may not even have a clue, especially if they have been touring for months. However, chances are if they are doing the soundcheck pre-greet thing, they probably are clued in a bit. Back in the day, it used to be that these things were done in radio contests. It was more sporting I think, but someone wasn’t making money off of it, it was usually sponsored by advertising. The station made some money off of it. Sadly, it seems anyone can make money off of it.
As an individual, I purchased 4 tickets. Two may be available if friends can’t go. I will find someone who wants them and sell for face value, plus the ticketing fees. I am not a scalper, just a poor fan who could barely afford the tickets but really wanted to see a favorite band for maybe the last time, with friends. Just your average fan.
I’ve bunked off from the gaol. It’s been some 6 weeks or so since I have blogged. I have spent the last 5 weeks crawling out of a weird, wet, dank abyss called Recovery From Major Medical. I have survived a surgery that some don’t, I was lucky I was very fit going in. I am forced off work and we don’t have temp disability here. Why, I feel like I did back in the early 1980s, no hope, no future. I’m alive. Appropriately listening to The Specials ‘Ghost Town’, because the Tibetan Tube Throat singing with accordion/box music at the cafe was really grating on my nerves. Now we’re on to The Fall, ‘Totally Wired. I’m waking up. I pay my taxes, and no real help for me in medical. Oh, yeah, I live in America, the corporate health empire of the world. If you are lucky and live in Canada, UK, Ireland,or the continental EU and have social medicine. Fight to keep it. Here you spend your whole recovery period fending off calls from hospitals while the insurance companies duke it out. So now I am listening to Talking Heads ‘Once in A Lifetime’, wondering where this life is going. And now we segway into ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ by The Beat. Yeah, girls, makeup after a medical just doesn’t want to work. Actually not wanting to work for a while now. Argh. So not going there with the Albatros Eyebrows so fashionable lately. Again, unless you can pull off a good Siouxsie brow, just keep it simple.
This was a life changing event for me, but I am trying to crawl out of it. Vaughn likened it to having a Scottish Basket Hilt or Japanese Katana Sword run through me and twisting the ribs apart. Now I have to heal from it. I managed to get my Sandman tee shirt on, black skirt, black jacket, boots and thigh high socks on. I look like a Gothic wreck. Good. My red curls got unfurled from the stupid braids of sickness. I drove for the first time, really slow, no maniacal California driving. Was very good and did not play tunes in car, needed to focus. Speed limit, don’t attract trouble. Made it to the cafe.
Ah, ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage. Ooo, baby I feel even better already. I have been listening to a mix of digital and records when I can get to the turntable. Unfortunately the non-working thing has curtailed any record buying. But I am selling things off on eBay hoping I can maybe afford the 40th Anniversary Reissues of the Bauhaus Catalog on colored vinyl starting next month, check out Peter Murphy’s site for details. I’m working on the second cup of decaf coffee. I made it to my cafe I usually write in. I really just wanted to feel somewhat myself.
One of the tests of where I am truly at with the body has been a visit to two local record shops, Music Millennium and Everyday Music. One I actually found a vinyl copy of The Waterboys ‘An Appointment with Mr. Yeats’, which unless you are on the East Coast or L.A. aren’t likely to find. It was nice to hear some Yeats set to music and try to get back to listening to records. At EDM, it was more of an exercise to see how long I could stand up, can I flip record bin dividers, and even better spell Siouxsie right so I could look for the 12 inch? I kid you not, the really bad side effect of being a Ginge and anesthesia, is it may take weeks to get most of your spelling back. It’s scientific. Yeah, so flipping the records in the bin is a great way to tell how you are doing when recovering.
I’m in the Hawthorne. There are two record shops, Exiled and Jackpot. Okay, no money, but the singles bin can be a great find for super cheap. Hmmm. Oooo, playing ‘Generals and Majors’ by XTC now, that’s the marching orders, right. Also, there is a convo going on in the cafe I have been trying to drown out, because I don’t want to know. Time for ‘Sorry for Laughing’ by Josef K right now, turn that volume up.
I’m dying here in Portland. Great music when you get to it, if we can get them to come. Got tickets for PiLand Echo and the Bunnymenin the next months. But really dying for some Alternative Culture. Yeah, you can still be Alternative if you are over 30, get over it.
I lived in San Francisco too long. It’s hard meeting people when they know you’re from another state. Portland may be the Weird Capital, but they can take a while to warm up to you. And finding anyone into my musical tastes near mine has been impossible. I was so desperate I looked on social networking sites. Nada. So, in my insane creativity and having to think about it, I decided I would try an experiment and create a group and see if anyone shows up. Insane, I know. Probably no one will come or be interested, but I have to get into the Phoenix frame of mind, that bird with singed wings is gonna fly. So, I have to craftily word an invitation. What insanity can I brew from this crazy idea, or will it be typical and no one will show?
Sad about this world that we have gotten so distracted we have to meet in pre-fabricated ways like this. It used to be that you met like minds at the record shop. Here if you try to talk to someone about an exciting find they think you should be sent to the looney. Funny thing, you are already there. Isn’t that what it’s about?
The Real McKenzies
If I make it through this week of killer Phisio (yeah actually they have me going to medical Physio), Vaughn has said we will attempt to see a great Canadian/Scots Punk band called The Real McKenzies I have been listening to for the past few years. If I can show that I am doing better. I need to see if I can manage to get through a show, even if it means being taped to the pillar and doing Pathetic Pogo. I may do a chair Skank if I can find one. But my minder is telling me it depends on how I do this week. So bunking off and driving and making it back in one piece will count I hope.
Oh, and for those of you in the US (West Coast), and don’t know yer ancient history, Gaol here refers to jail. It’s how it was spelt in dem olden days.
We’ll leave this on Elvis Costello’s, ‘I Can’t Stand up For Falling Down’. But really, ending on XTC’s ‘Dear God’, because our world is just as bad as it was 40 years back and what have we learned in this time? Share the music, share the lyrics, wether it’s old school or new groups, get the music out there. It’s the only way to save this race. Hope you enjoyed the convoluted playlist.
There seems to be a growing trend in concert goers that THINK they own the show. The experience is their personal right to have the perfect show and evening. The band is playing for them alone. The culture of selfies and preferred venue placement at the front of the stage has ruined many shows. I don’t go to these kind of shows, where you pay extra to be closer to the band. I think a show should be a moving and free thing, where everyone has the chance to get close to the stage. I also don’t think the audience is that entitled. It’s a mutual trust relationship between you and the band, a reciprocation of band and audience. There is respect involved.
What Happened to MY Song?
We have all been going to gigs for years now. You know the ritual. For weeks before the show, you play all the bands albums and 12 inch singles. You remember and practice all the lyrics so that when your song is played, you can belt it, baby.
The concert is going great, the band are mostly playing new stuff you may not know so well. They have been touring for 3 months in the US and Canada, 20 cities. You sadly are on the West Coast and one of the last places the band is playing. Sometimes that means the band is pretty exhausted by the time they get to your town.
The concert is nearly over. They have played a few of their hits, but not really that anthem you have been waiting for. Then it’s over, and they didn’t play it. You leave, people are grumbling about it. “They didn’t play our song.” Then take to Twitter for a shit parade on how bad it was that their song did not get played.
Back when I was a kid and going to punk shows, the audience would start throwing things. And sometimes the band was the one that started throwing things, because the audience was rude. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t enjoy that experience, didn’t at the time. I just wanted to dance. I certainly don’t want it happening now.
Stop whining. The band has had to play 20 cities and sometimes 2 shows per city, maybe 3. That could be 40+ shows. Plus any appearances on TV and in Record shops, and any festival they may have added on to. They have played their whole catalog of whatever music is playable to an audience. What does that mean? Not every song translates well to various venues, or especially outdoor concerts. Sound is always key, and depending on the place it’s being played in and the sound quality of that hall or venue, and equipment, some songs will not translate well. The music may become distorted, if really audible at all. An audience of 20k outdoors is no small feat. Certain songs just won’t do well for an outdoor gig.
After the band has played a few cities, they also need to change up their sets. Some bands will stick to sets and make small changes, the musicians really prefer to keep to a set. Others are notorious for changing the set to fit the venue or area, which can be good for you. In the US that translates to from state to state, East Coast, West Coast, the tastes of the audience are reflective of the place they are in. They are still fans of the band, but it’s a local custom to react differently than say in San Francisco. If the band is traveling through Europe, and you are traveling and lucky enough to catch them there, they may have experience with a German audience and how they like their concerts, and in Spain or France, it’s a whole different thing with their cultures. There is a lot to consider. Just enjoy the show and experience.
Music and Politics
Some bands are flexible, some are not. Irish Punk or hard metal groups will probably not have patience for this: You getting up to the stage and requesting songs, like they are a wedding DJ. I have seen this at shows and just cringe. Some bands are good about how they handle it. You may get a serious confrontation if you get obnoxious about the music you want to hear. Bands still can throw things at audiences just as audiences sometime throw things at bands. There is always someone who tries this, and probably your ridiculous friend. Stop them.
I have seen some interesting ways song requests or political conflicts were handled by bands. Some very well done, diplomatic, and some right back in the persons face. There is also the possibility of band members talking about politics, something they may support as a band, or talking to the crowd about something that happened locally. I have heard some idiot in the crowd get confrontational with them. Bad idea. There have been shows that have been cancelled half way through because someone got into it with the band, and the band members decided to stop the show. And that was really not fair to the band and the other 1000 or more people there besides that one person.
Kindness Does Matter
Please be a responsible fan and an adult. Yes, I was sad I didn’t get to hear my song too, but there was probably a good reason for it, they were just tired of it after 40 shows. You would probably hate doing it that many times if you were playing it. So, play it on the way back home. Send them a responsible Tweet, “Great show, had hoped to hear (blank), but you guys are probably tired of it by now. But I really like your lyrics for that one.” Be good about it. Don’t make the band not want to come back. And don’t bash on Twitter about it. And if you are really, really nice about it, they may Tweet you back.