Posts tagged ‘Performance’
I had heard the band would be getting back together to perform at Coachella, but I was unaware that they were performing anymore dates than the two scheduled out in Indio for the festival. Apparently they performed last night in Austin as part of a three show Texas warm up for their festival dates here and abroad throughout the summer. It’s really hard to pick a favorite from their masterpiece album Relationship of Command, but I always really loved “Invalid Litter Dept.”. It’s not as aggressive as most of the rest of the album, but it’s just as heavy and dark as any other song, and definitely foreshadowed the direction The Mars Volta would take after the split up of At The Drive-In. It was definitely the missing link between the more punk driven sound of ATDI and the more progressive, Pink Floyd influenced sound singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez hoped to achieve with The Mars Volta. You can read and watch a synopsis of last night’s show here, courtesy of Consequence Of Sound.
So, I’ve been absent for about two weeks now, and I really feel like I need to share this really well done collaboration that happened last Saturday night out in San Rafael, CA. The following concert was held at TRI Studios. TRI Studios is a state-of-the-art performance studio for broadcasting live HD video and audio streams directly to the Internet. The Bridge Session was presented by HeadCount. HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy in the United States. It is best known for registering voters at concerts.
In between sets of the musical performance, political figures and activists weighed in on topics such as getting money out of politics, protecting the First Amendment and the 2012 Presidential election. Panelists included independent Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, No Labels cofounder Mark McKinnon (a former media advisor to George W. Bush, John McCain, Bono and Lance Armstrong), climate change activist Jessy Tolkan, and Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cofounder John Perry Barlow.
More importantly to me is how the concert aimed to bridge the gap between Jam music and Indie Rock. Bob Weir was backed by an ensemble that included The National’s Scott and Bryan Devendorf and their bandmate Aaron Dessner, along with many longtime friends from Brooklyn’s vibrant independent music scene: Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett and Kyle Resnick, both frequent collaborators of The National, Walt Martin of The Walkmen, Conrad Doucette of Takka Takka, and Sam Cohen and Josh Kaufman of the Yellowbirds. Kaufman was also the event’s musical director.
So, to pick up where we left off on Monday here is one of my favorite bands of the last 5 years covering one of my favorite bands of all time and doing a pretty bad job of it! Where Yeasayer offered an impeccable version of Seal’s “Crazy”, MGMT struggle in this early performance to even offer a decent mock up of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” off their 1983 masterpiece Speaking in Tongues. Nonetheless, I still love it.
Just to close out this week’s theme, is a disco-punk staple from the UK juggernaut Friendly Fires. They are a prime example of how much cooler dance music is when performed by an actual band. Having seen them live, they also prove that live music trumps a polished studio cut just about every time. With a little time and space to breathe the band offers some extended breaks in choice songs to give the effect of a DJ spinning in a packed dance club where the crowd is truly entranced by the beats being served. Watch the video for “Skeleton Boy” below, and try to tell me you’re not ready for the floor now.
I received an email a few weeks back from Joe Torcicollo, guitarist of the band Sister Anne. He posed some questions that many musicians, including myself, have been trying to answer for years. The topic centers around getting fans/friends out to your shows, and building a steady fan base from that.
I believe the most important thing for any unsigned band is to not over saturate your local market. The rule of thumb we have lived by is to suggest bands/performers do not play anymore than once a month in their local city. If you decide that you would like to play more frequently, I would suggest your 2nd show of the month be a free show, a party, an open mic, an open jam session or a bar that pays and/or does not expect you to really bring out a crowd due to an already loyal base of patrons. Playing anymore than that becomes counter productive. The old adage of “we want to play out as much as possible” or “we’re trying to gain as much exposure as we can” does not really work in the Internet age. The reason that Indie acts are able to gain national followings by Internet buzz, is also the same reason which can make getting off the ground seem like a slow, drawn out process. Patience is as much of a virtue as productivity.
Look at it from the perspective of your friends. It is highly likely that you’re not their only musician friend, they may be musicians themselves. On any given night, there may be two, three or more other shows happening that your band is competing with. If they come support your band one night, and pay the cover/ticket, they are not going to come out and see you again next week. Even if you’re really good, they will probably opt to see their other friend’s band, or do one of numerous other activities. It works just like the first principle of economics. If you’re band is in low supply, you will be in higher demand. When my band, Buy The Sky started we would only perform once every 3 months, and now only perform once every 6-8 weeks in NYC. That is the first reason why we can consistently draw 75-80 fans/friends out to our shows.
This brings me to the second most important piece in this puzzle. After you have committed to separating your shows by reasonable amounts of time, you must make sure that each show is unique in order to ensure your friends/fans will come to the next one and encourage their friends to join. Make sure you make a point to incorporate a new cover song into each set list. Something you can do to encourage fan interaction is collect a short list of cover song options and post them on your web pages, asking your friends/fans to vote on which cover they would like to hear in the next show. That way you know they’ll enjoy what you play and will be more likely to actually attend your show. You should also rearrange your set list for each show. Playing the same set list, especially in the same order will automatically bore even your best friends and the members of your band. Try some different versions of songs out to switch it up and make it more interesting. I would suggest doing that with songs that did not really receive much regard or praise from your friends/fans. Don’t change the songs they really love! The last thing in this category would be to try and introduce a new original each show. It is something that aid in keeping you productive in the long stretches between shows, and is something you can use as a promotional point. You could post a rough demo of the track and push it as the new single, letting your friends/fans know you’ll be debuting live at the next show.
So now that you’ve lowered the supply of your band, and have gotten into the routine of offering a unique, entertaining show each time out, there are a few other things you need to do to expand and maximize your fan base. If you have a demo, EP or even an album, the best thing to do in the first few years is give those away for free to your fans/friends and any other people who may be in attendance at the shows. To keep that cost effective for the band, print up Dropcards instead of pressing CDs. You will save a lot of money, time and they are much easier to carry and distribute. Downloading directly from the site is something many more people are likely to do, rather than carry a CD around all night and then rip it to their hard drive and move into their music library. Especially if you’re a guy and don’t carry a man purse, carrying a Dropcard is much more practical since it fits in your pocket/wallet. You can use a FREE EP giveaway to entice your friends out to the next show. At the show, do not forget to have a close friend of the band go around during the set and have people sign up for your mailing list. Maybe a FREE sticker, patch or T-shirt is a good way to get people to sign up. Have someone in the band take a picture of the crowd from the stage and then post it to Facebook and let all your friends ‘Tag’ themselves. It’s another nice way to make your friends/fans feel like they’re a part of the whole experience. The other thing to do is socialize and network with the other bands on the bill, their fans/friends, the sound engineer, the manager of the venue and the promoter. Building actual relationships with these people will help you expand your fan base and support system.
That’s it for now. Keep reading the blog in case I think of any other helpful tips to make it in the industry.