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Notes From the Underground

Lame Gestures:
Some true tales of promotional intrigue

GET WITH IT, indie promoters! Keep your promises. Be fair. Be honest. Be responsible. Don't be greedy. Otherwise, you detract from the scene you purport to enliven. Having been involved in local music for awhile, I know the prerequisites of a good promoter, and how they screw up. All they need is:

Local promoter rents a hall and uses the manager's office to count the door money. A band member comes in to inquire about payment and finds the promoter at a desk with a mirror covered with lines of cocaine. Promoter says he's sorry, but he didn't make enough to pay the bands

A show appears in a press blurb as benefiting a local charity. I ask the promoter what's up. Oh, we're donating the soda money, he says. The charity director calls me a few days later. She saw the write-up, but says nobody ever called her about a benefit. Guess what? She never sees the soda money either.

A promoter calls up in a bind. He booked a big band for a specific date and place before checking with the management to see if the space was available. He discovers that I had the hall reserved for a tentative show on the same night. My show falls through, so I call him and tell him the hall is available. He fliers the town. The night before the show, I get a panicky message from the management. Turns out the promoter never even called the hall, let alone paid them, secured insurance or did anything else needed.

More Responsibility
A promoter schedules a show at the basement of the Third Street house without ever talking to the people living there. Several out-of-town bands show up with their equipment and are turned away at the door, very, very pissed. The promoter is nowhere to be found.

An up-and-coming punk band comes to town on a $200 guarantee and a promise that no more than three or four bands will be on the bill. There are six. The show loses money and the promoter refuses to pay the headliner. The band corners the promoter and forces him to pay up or suffer bodily injury.

Still More Responsibility
Many local promoters and bookers have been guilty of putting unconfirmed bands on fliers, which is bad, and especially so when the unconfirmed band is a main attraction. Screw 32 was said to have canceled a recent Vet's Hall appearance because their drummer broke his arm. Bullshit, says Screw 32 guitarist Doug Sangalang, who was not happy when he heard the rumor repeated on the radio. "We never confirmed that show," he says, explaining that the band was out of practice due to an injury that happened a while back and was busy recording a new album. The promoter ducked his lack of responsibility by blaming the band for the cancellation. Another bridge burned.


US Bombs play at the Riff Raff house on Wednesday (Aug. 21) with Cupcheck (no alcohol, $3, 8pm, 60 people only). ... Peeeew! Stench reunion at the Capitola Community Center on Friday with Lost Cause, Reliance, The Undecided, Buddy's Riot and the Insults (all ages, $5, 7:30pm). ... Mountain punx Hangover play at Emi's on Sunday (21 plus, 10pm).
Michael Mechanic

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From the August 22-28, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.

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