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Venues That Seem To Do It All Wrong

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by jive1, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I'm sure we've all dealt with this: dealing with a venue that seems to get it all wrong and wants the band or performer to pull out a miracle and give the place good business in spite of itself.

    Here's some examples:
    - No atmosphere such as art, TVs, sound system, comfortable furniture, etc.
    - Restaurants where they have lousy food, or over priced food. Bars with expensive or watered down drinks.
    - Lousy service and/or unfriendly staff
    - Poor location.
    - No advertising or promotion for the venue or live music

    Let's hear your stories.
  2. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    No website with calender of events.
  3. No band hang / service entrance...i see a lot of this. Loading through a busy bar is not my idea of fun...
  4. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Or no website at all.
  5. pinz


    Jun 14, 2010
    Local Winery was built,very nice too,spent around 8-10 million to complete,huge fancy looking place even with its own man made lake.
    Great we can host weddings and functions here they thought.
    Trouble being the function room is a tiny round shaped building with no stage,limited power points and dreadfully designed for its use.
    Even worse is the fact the bands cant set up untill meals are finished and tables are cleared and moved to create a band space,by this time the punters want music NOW! yet it takes us a good 45mins if we rush to set up !

    Summation = as usual more money than brains,and no one even thought about the entertainment side of the business during planning and construction! not on my fav list.:confused:
  6. fivestringgecko

    fivestringgecko Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2007
    Denver, CO
    I've been playing some musicals lately, and have another more $$$ than brains story...

    A local venue spent $2 million to renovate the theater... They put in all new seating, great lighting, added a mezzanine, and put in a new stage with an orchestra pit. Now I know what you're thinking... Sounds like a pretty sweet new theater, right?

    They hung the speakers from the ceiling, which wasn't a total crime until they put the sound booth in the far back left corner under the mezzanine. The spotlights are on the mezzanine, and can't aim down far enough to hit the front of the stage because of the railing, so the actors disappeared from the knees down if they were too far downstage. And instead of using the pit for, you know, the pit... they use it for storage (despite having plenty of backstage and downstairs space) and the band sits crammed into a super tight space in house right. I was literally sitting in the first row for their production of Hairspray.


  7. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    New winery hires DJs to design sound system for tasting room, since no one else is willing to unless and until room acoustics are addressed. System features large subwoofer, beaucoup power, cheapest possible mixer, no EQ whatsoever for either mains or monitors, two <$100 wedges. Master volume control for FOH and zone mix controls are behind bar, and front and rear main speakers are in opposing polarities.

    The servers are extremely hot though...:cool:
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I've fortunately never played one venue that combined all of the following but here are things I've seen here and there:

    - Absolute lack of any effort to promote the band(s) coming up. We play probably 12-15 bar gigs a year on average and on one or two of those gigs at the most will there ever be any pre-promotion of the band, whether online or on location. Many times my BL has dropped off or mailed posters to the venue in advance and when we get there to play they're still sitting behind the bar or in the manager's office. Just infuriating.

    - No 220 power. The place that gives you all of two wall outlets on the same circuit (after you unplug the beer signs) and expects you to deliver a full P.A. and lighting production.

    - Difficult load-in. We play about 4 or 5 dates a year at a lakeside basement bar where you have two options to load in. 1) roll all your gear down about a 30-degree incline for about 1/8 mile (which yes, means rolling all your gear back UP that incline at the end of the night), or 2) take everything down a narrow flight of steps and then navigate about 3 90-degree turns to get through the kitchen and bar. Needless to say, we charge a premium for playing this particular venue and we try to get two-nighters whenever possible to get more cash out of the effort.

    - Venues that make you flex your show around other activities like dart tournaments, UFC telecasts, whatever. If the band isn't gonna be your main event of the night, then save your money and the band's time.

    - In the same vein, refusing to turn off the TVs while the band is playing. You finish a song, there's a wild cheer, you're feeling great and then you realize the reason they're cheering is cause the Knicks won the game at the buzzer or whatever.

    - Cover charges on anything but Friday or Saturday night. That's just death to attendance, at least in these parts.

    - Crappy P.A. and incompetent sound man that you are required to use, even when you offer to bring in your own production at no extra charge.

    - No proper stage (or at least a dedicated floor space). Done plenty of these jobs where you play where the pool table usually sits and spend all night hitting your head on those stupid overhead lights. No thanks, I don't play those deals anymore.

    - Unannounced "special guests" that the owner puts up on stage during breaks without the main band's previous knowledge or consent.

    - Inability/unwillingness of staff to get people out of the venue PRONTO when the show is done. Seriously, after a 4-hour show the last thing I want is to deal with drunks pestering me for "one more song". Keep those folks out of my face and out of our way please so we can tear down and go home.
  9. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    I once played a big corporate gig in the lobby under the St Louis Gateway Arch. Since it is a Federal Park, we had to deal with homeland security. We, the caterers, the florists, and everyone else who worked this event had to share the sole service entrance, which is at the end of a long ramp at the south end of the Arch. There is basically room for one vehicle to load/unload at a time, and there were a couple dozen trucks delivering tables, chairs, decorations, bartending supplies, food, etc. Our choice was to either wait until they were done, and have 15 minutes to set up, or park at the north end of the arch and wheel our stuff to the entrance on carts. Once we were there, we were frisked and wanded and our equipment searched.
  10. Ticket sales!

    venue in my area books 5-7 bands and requires a minimum of 30 tickets each at 10 bucks a pop. my band refuses to play here but my friends band plays. most recently they sold 38 tickets and got payed 50 dollars.. I dont want to turn this into a pay to play discussion but come on 1/8th of the money is what the pay out? on top of this they do next to no promotion and have a stranglehold on the rather large under 21 clientele in the area. they also have so many bands and fans convinced that all they care about is helping bands out and helping the music scene.

    i've played at the bar where you play where the pool table normally is. that part sucks but the venue always makes sure they give you some kind of pay plus free beer and half price food, in this area that is a godsend.

    basement bars with a non working (or lack there of) service elevator because I enjoy lugging my rig up stairs.

    half mile walk with gear to the pavilion where we're playing a floor show.

    playing in a domed structure. acoustically horrendous

    fact is about half the venues in my area are piecing things together to pull off shows and it can be a headache at times, but with the exception of the first example some of the best times i've had on stage where at these places.
  11. Bradass


    Oct 17, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    A lack of accurate, up-to-date contact info on the website, IF there's a website. Tons of the bars in town, many of which I consider solid venues, are nearly impossible to get a hold of without physically going to the bar to get phone numbers or emails. Really infuriating
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    There was one place that had a bizarre stage setup. There were two "Wings" off to either side and a narrow part between them just big enough for the drum kit. Most of it contained behind brass railings. I always set my bass rig up on one of the wings, and played in front of the railing, not on the stage, standing on the dance floor.

    They also had a Db meter, and the worst (hottest but worst) waitstaff on the planet.

    My all time least favorite place is a successful venue in the heart of downtown. You have to fight with the valet guys in order to back up to the loading dock. There is no parking provided. You have to take a freight elevator up 2 floors and through the kitchen to get to the stage when you load in / out. The same elevator is the one that all of the kitchens / bars in the building use, so there's always a decent wait. The comedy club one floor up complains about bass and drums until the last set at around midnight........... That place pays top dollar though, so we'd keep going back....

    Oh yeah! The house PA was busted so we not only had to drag ours through the kitchens several times, but our sound guy made the arrangements to have it fixed.......
  13. This reminds me of TB every time I hear it:

    I know Mojo Nixon is an acquired taste, but it has kind of a "One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer" kind of groove to it..

    I've been looking for a place to post it...
  14. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    This reminds me of a place we play a few times a year that gets it right. Not only do they have hot waitstaff that comps us beers all night, the same waitstaff also helps the band load in!

    And THIS reminds me of a venue I played on a sub gig once. It was a ballroom on the top floor of a 10-story downtown hotel, which has about 250 guest rooms and three elevators for the entire facility (no service elevator). The band I subbed with was an 11-piece horn band and we were providing our own P.A. So between the hotel staff, catering, the band's gear and P.A., the number of guests, the number of event attendees, the number of floors and the number of elevators... well, you can do the math. Load in and load out each ran over 2 hours that night and the majority of that time was spent waiting for elevators.
  15. You run into places where the owner hasn't a clue what they need to do to make their place a success. Most of the time they are more worried about the $ signs and forget about how important the customer is in the success. NJ there used to be a great venue for live music and at first they were all about the bands and giving their customer the best entertainment in NJ. But they started to screw the bands and soon the bands cut them off you know where they are now closed! If any place was going to last I thought this one would! Large stage, big dance floor, great FOH system perfect location plenty of parking the had it all, till they screwed up.
  16. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The root of this issue is club owners who refuse to spread the wealth when their business takes off. Seriously, if a band has packed your place out 4 or 5 times would it kill you to bump their pay a couple hundred bucks the next time out? These yahoos don't think twice about forking out more money year after year to their alcohol distributors, utility companies, etc... yet when a band who's repeatedly done well for them wants a little more of the action they play hardball. End result? The quality of bands slowly but surely starts to deteriorate (cause the good bands have moved on to better paying opportunities), people start to notice, attendance and sales go into decline and the downward spiral begins.
  17. carpcutter


    Dec 6, 2010
    Played twice at a once happening/now mostly dead venue in NoVA that I will avoid from here out. Bad sound (despite drool-worthy equipment), bands have to do all the promotions and advance ticket sales (a debatable practice - mostly venue owners on one side and performers on the other), and a general PIA to get to, and chronically grumpy management. Oh, and I had to pay for a cup of water on a 90+ day.
  18. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    My town is home to a guy who comes from a lot of money. Over the course of many years, he has opened a club, run it into the ground, gone to Vegas, lost whatever money he had left, returned to get more money from the family trust fund, and reopened the club. It's spacious and has a great sound system, but a lot of bands around here won't play there because:

    1. He won't pay more than $50 a band member, even if the door makes a lot of money. He is also quite fond of telling bands that they really need to play at his club "for exposure" (free).

    2. He advertises only through FB and his low-wattage radio station, and expects bands to do the rest. If they don't bring in the huge crowds he wants, he gripes at the bands, then gets on FB and berates the community for not supporting local music. The bands and community respond by staying away.

    3. He is heavily involved in multi-level marketing (i.e., pyramid schemes) and continually attempts to recruit bands and audience members into selling herbal remedies.

    4. He and one of his friends take turns running sound. The stage mix is always mud and the FOH has the bass frequencies cranked high enough to make my chest cavity rattle. I have left that place feeling queasy on several occasions.

    After a year of the club being open this time around, the owner is down to hiring originals metalcore bands because they will play for free. Occasionally a touring band will come through and he'll put together a multi-band show with the non-local group headlining. I have seen several good acts from neighboring states at these events.
    Most of the cover bands that played there once or twice are now boycotting because the owner has ticked them off. Both of my bands are part of that group.

    What's sad is that there is no other venue in my region that's as big and well-equipped as this place. I think the club would be a great success if the owner did a few things:

    1. Hire a manager with better people and negotiation skills to deal with the bands.
    2. Hire a good sound man.
    3. Stay behind the scenes. I have lived here for 10 years and have yet to met a single person who actually likes him. People tend to say the same thing: "Yeah, it would be great place to play at, but I can't stand the guy."

    But I doubt any of the above will happen.
  19. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Ultimately it all comes down to people. The best facility, in the best location in town, with the best P.A. and the best marketing, will still fail if the people in charge of vendor relations and the customer experience (owner/manager, sound guy, security, waitstaff) are disagreeable, incompetent or both. The people set the vibe of the venue, and if the vibe is off, they're gonna have a real tough time making a long-term go of things especially in this economy.
  20. Tom_RCJ


    Jan 4, 2010
    Cardinal, Ontario, Canada
    Band is sponsored by Trinity Amps and Sennheiser.
    Played this one place that used to be a medium sized warehouse. They converted it into a pool hall. Did a decent job of it too. Nice big murals painted onto the walls, dozens of pool tables, good food, full stage and PA system. But the place is so cavernous that you need 200-300 people before it stops looking empty. The whole stage - dance floor - bar area is only about 50% of the room and the rest is pool tables. Did I mention the ceiling was 30 feet high? The 3 foot tall banisters did very little to give the room any semblance of separation, so it was just one big cubic room with stuff laid out in sections. It looked... weird. Ribs were delicious though.

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