Editor’s Note: If you couldn’t figure it out from the title, this column is part of a series on metal etiquette. Vegetarian Metalhead just schooled the web on audience manners; now Jessie and Jeff have some tips for bands….
I’ve been playing in local bands for about ten years and booking shows for my own bands during that time. Here are a few practices I’ve learned through trial and error:
When It’s Your Show
- Never have an out-of-town band open or close. I have to give credit where credit is due, I got that maxim from Chris Thompson (of Battle Stag Records and formerly of Chowda House infamy). Of course there are a few exceptions. If the out-of-town band is the one that people are really there to see, they can close on a weekend show. If you have two out-of-town bands and one hometown one, someone has to open. But in most cases, put those that drove the furthest on in the middle so they play to a decent crowd.
- Make introductions to people who need them. Hosting a show is like having a party at your house with different groups of friends. You introduce people who don’t know each other so that everyone feels comfortable. Greet the bands like the human that you are, even if you have only previously interacted with them on social media. Introduce them to other band members, point out the sound guy…. Introduce the drummer to your drummer who is backlining the kit, in case anything needs to be discussed…. Tell them where they should put their gear if they haven’t figured it out already. A visiting band shouldn’t have to fumble around to get what they need; make them feel at home.
- If they stayed, they get paid. If every single, solitary member of a band has left the show before the end, then…. It’s a grey area. But if someone is still there, make sure they go home with a couple bucks for the band fund.
When You’re Playing Someone Else’s Show
- Say hello. Don’t awkwardly sit at the bar waiting for something to happen. Go find whoever is running things and see what’s up.
- Do what you came there to do. Load your stuff in early. Don’t get too wasted to put on a decent performance. And don’t be a bitch about your set time. (Hopefully the person who booked you is using their best metal manners!)
- Say thank you. Of course you’ve stayed the whole night, but don’t just “ghost” once you get paid. Say thanks to the band that put you on the show! Say goodbye. Say you would love to have them play at your bar, and then actually offer them a show at some point down the road.
- Note: I don’t believe that audience members are “required” to stay at an entire show. You’re a grown-up spending your hard-earned money, you show up when you want to show up and you leave when the fuck you want to leave. There are all these intricacies involved if you are in another local band that’s not playing that night — did you support the scene hard enough?? Long enough??– but we’ll save that debate for the next column series.
When You’re on the Internet
- Be positive. Yes, those “great show thanks everyone for being so great” posts can be tiresome, but they have a purpose. Participate.
- If you can’t be positive, be straightforward. Not everyone uses good metal manners, and one day you may feel the need to point that out on social media. But talk about the situation rather than attacking a person or using vulgarities. I’ll give you a for-instance: one time a dude posted something negative about my old band and I commented that he should “fuck off.” Even though he clearly needed to be told to fuck off, this started a 9,000-comment shit storm that I really didn’t want to bother with. But the times that I’ve taken a “just the facts” approach when commenting on or writing about other people’s bad behavior, The Internet was more likely to discuss a topic than to sling insults. (Then if someone starts trolling you anyways, at least that person looks like the asshole.)
Like Jessie, I’ve been playing in bands for a decade and booking/promoting shows over that time. Metal manners, to me, are just common sense and extend beyond the music scene. The band members that never stay to the end of the show to support all the acts are generally the same people who clock watch at rehearsals and never know when show load-in starts.
All of the ‘manners’ I abide by can be distilled to one simple phrase: don’t be a dick. As a more refined concept, don’t do anything that makes life more difficult for those involved. Be on time for load-in. Be available for sound check and your set time. Wait until the previous band has cleared the stage before flooding it with your gear. Play the allotted set time and break down as quickly as possible. Be available for payment at the end of the night or make arrangements with the promoter ahead of time. Be flexible if an unforeseen circumstance arises and set order/time has to be changed.
Honestly, I think it is that simple.
Most of the bands I’ve worked with have been gracious and helpful. Those that have been an issue seem to have one common trait – lack of a good band ‘leader’ who is able to get the off-stage aspect organized and hold his/her band members accountable.
At the end of the day, don’t be a dick.
If you’ve learned anything from reading this column, it’s that Jeff is the only one around here who knows how to be succinct. What did we leave off this list??