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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Snakes on a Bill

posted by on July 18 at 13:00 PM

kaa6.jpgThe science and jockeying involved in putting together a good bill can be intricate and thorny. Ask any booker, promoter, DJ, or musician.

Positioning on that bill is important. Whoís going to open? Whoís going to play last? Is it the dreaded four band bill? Whoís going to deadline? Who gets the money slot?

Sometimes (I mean often) the lineup changes, but the bands and DJís arenít told about the changes.

Multiple contacts for multiple bands, and multiple bookers mean plenty of places for the communication to get lost.

So what do you do when you show up at a club to play, thinking you are playing 2nd or 3rd, but the sound guy tells you you are the opener?

Itís a bigger club, so you donít want to gripe and get on their bad side. But you know you were supposed to play 2nd. The band who was supposed to open showed up before you and somehow switched it. They snaked you. Theyíve already put their stuff on stage, sound checked, and doors are in twenty minutes, so you need to hurry.

The booker is nowhere to be found, the bar manager doesnít have anything to do with it, and the band that snaked your spot has disappeared. The sound guy, as always, seems pissed, and keeps telling you you need to hurry.

What do you do? Try to talk to the impatient soundman? Find the other band? Call the promoter or booker or manager? What are their numbers? You donít have their numbers. The bartender doesnít know anything either.

Doors are in fifteen minutes, the sound guy is pissed.

RSS icon Comments


whenever this happens, it's almost always when their band sucks and yours doesn't.
in this almost worst case scenario, you bite the bullet and play a killer set anyway. remember, there will be other shows and you never have to play with that band again.
another lame-o situation is when you show up knowing you are headlining, dude-who-set-up-the-show's band is also on the bill, he pulls the old "no, we actually had you guys opening, remember?" bit, and gets all passive aggressive about it. another total douchebag move. if you've saved your emails/phone messages, or you have a copy of the contract (and you always should) you can prove the guy wrong in front of everyone and you'll get the "oh wow, man. sorry, yeah, i don't know how that whole mixup happened" bit.

Posted by Eric | July 18, 2007 1:50 PM

My favorite is when they pull out the old: "No, your band is listed at the top of the flyer, that means you are opening."

Posted by Whatevs | July 18, 2007 1:56 PM

Since when does anyone want to "headline" in this town? In my experience they just call it "playing last," and nobody wants it. I usually end up in the kind of situation where everyone's far too polite to actually say when they would prefer to play, "really, whatever's cool with you, although we'd rather not go last . . . or first . . ."

Posted by Levislade | July 18, 2007 2:02 PM

Eric @ 1 is dead on.

I have shown "dude-who-set-up-the-show" the chain of emails after he tried to snake and he said exactly that:

"oh wow, man. sorry, yeah, i don't know how that whole mixup happened."

Trent is right, you want to bitch to someone, but you don't want to piss off the club.

Sometimes you just want to shit in dude-who-set-up-the-show's guitar case, but that's not very nice.

Posted by Plasmatic | July 18, 2007 2:09 PM

Another gem: "Our drummer has to work in the morning, would you mind headlining?"

Listen up fuck snaps, EVERYBODY has to work in the morning.

Posted by Whatevs | July 18, 2007 2:44 PM

#5: I get that one a lot. The Blue Moon is a bit different in that I book AND do the sound and yet still there's the occasional miscommunication. My favorite is when a show has been booked for a couple of months, a band shows up, and then asks if they can switch slots.

Hell, I had a band last week that knew they were playing at 9PM. Most of the band finally showed up at 8:40. "We're playing at 9," they said. I mean, that's late for nine, but at least they showed. Nine rolls around and their keyboard player isn't here. He's at practice with his other band. He finally shows, but gets mad when I cut the band off after about 25 minutes. Thursdays we cut the live music at midnight, so I can't go delaying the whole night because somebody didn't have their act together.

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 18, 2007 2:53 PM

what do you do?
this is what most bands do:
play a lifeless, dull set, then spend the rest of the night in the corner sulking like little babies.

Posted by sam | July 18, 2007 3:00 PM

"Fuck snaps", that is beautiful, Whatevs. Can I use that?

And Jason, they showed up 20 minutes before they were supposed to start, then got pissed when you cut them short. Classic. What fuck snaps.

I like when a band gets added on last minute to bill, then plays the same song for 50 minutes.

Posted by trent moorman | July 18, 2007 3:04 PM

@3 Right on, man. Playing last kind of sucks, specially when venues attempt to cram an insane number of bands on a single bill.

Posted by Hernandez | July 18, 2007 3:11 PM

Fuck snaps is in the common street vernacular of today's youth. Use it any way you like.

I'm not blowing him or anything, but Jason Josephe's Blue Moon music blog is the funniest shit on the internet.

Posted by Whatevs | July 18, 2007 3:40 PM

Yeah, I gotta update that soon. Thanks for the shoutout!

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 18, 2007 4:26 PM

another great topic Trent, thanks.

I agree with #1. Click "print" and bring it with, email the booker confirming the details if you have to, and don't wait until day of the show.

Posted by Abe | July 18, 2007 5:53 PM

Traditional listing order, top to bottom, is last band to first. Who doesn't know that?

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 18, 2007 9:50 PM

Yes, yes, yes. The snakes. They will snake. How many times I wished I had a print out of the way the show was oringinally set up.

Another element to add to this mix:

The manager.

The manager can be the bad guy and go deal with the snakes and deuches and dick head ass hole sound guys.

But it is best to have a nice manager. True, you don't want to piss off the club.

Anyone know where to find good managers?

Posted by Retha | July 18, 2007 11:17 PM

Easy: play first, kick ass, take a long time breaking down.

I've usually had it the other way, when I'm supposed to be in the opening act but the other act sucks ass and they know everybody's there to see us so they pull the switch and try to play first. Kind of annoying for the "early in the morning" fans, but by now people know that schedules are basically made up on the spot.

The one that kills me is when a band that wasn't on the bill somehow pulls strings to get added at the last minute, sets up to play first, takes forever to get on stage, sucks, ignores the soundguy's requests to get off, and ends up cutting your set short, and then doesn't even stick around for your set. You have no recourse.

Amen to #3--it's not headlining, it's playing last. Unless you actually have a lot of fans and are playing a decent venue on a good night.

Posted by MattyDread | July 19, 2007 9:40 AM

We are Americans. The band, the manager, the supervisor, doesn't matter who but the first thing to do when things go wrong is find blame. Fix blame. Fix blame fast. Who caused Katrina? Sadam?Bomb Iraq.
In this the age of immediate communication, it seems each band would confirm line up with all parties and whene confirmd line up. Send confirmed line out to this blog. it gets snaked, which it will, set up fast while handing out the confirmed line up jst to make yiourself feel better when breaking your back to double time set up. Send confirmed list to this blog. Count the number of Seattle snakes, keep it posted. Send Jason a copy tooooo don't we love the Blue Moon Bloggers.

Posted by Tante | July 19, 2007 9:46 AM

My favorite 70s band in Seattle has perfected the art of the eternal set up, play a long set, and then dissappear right afterward while their gear remains on stage.

Tick tock kids, the ironic 70s kitch is wearing thin. better trade those american flags for synths.

Posted by You know it | July 19, 2007 11:05 AM

Bands who pull crap like that are never booked again in my bar.

Posted by godsactionfigure | July 19, 2007 11:26 AM

Thumbs up to Jason at Blue Moon for holding bands accountable. That is key.. bands definitely have a responsibility to make sure those kinds of details (including the split of the $$) are agreed upon beforehand; and printing those emails is a good idea. (God, anyone remember doing this before email and myspace were so prevalent?? It's so easy now to be in contact with the bands you're playing with, these fuck ups should be way less common.)

But, someone at the venue has to be running the show and enforcing set times. Usually it's the sound guy b/c the booker is not around. But left to their own ego-driven devices, even the coolest band will sometimes push the set length, pinching another band's time. Places like Sunset and Tractor always post the set times, so when the bands roll in, it's in writing from the venue. Makes the last minute switcheroo less likely.

Plus, just know something about the bands you're playing with.. go see 'em play before you jump on a bill with 'em. Offer to share bass rig and drums; makes everything go faster (and if you went to see them play you know whether the drummer is gonna pull a keith moon on your kit that he's sharing..)

I don't know when everyone got so pansy ass about playing last. Headliners play last. You earn that spot by having a strong draw that's not afraid to stay out late. If your crowd can't hang, then you're not a headliner. Just don't say you're the headliner, but demand middle slot, and run off with the biggest wad of cash at the end of the night. The 3rd band should anchor the bill; the venue wants to sell drinks 'til the end of the night, and the band whose job it is to make that happen should be compensated at least as well as the band with the cush middle slot.

And another thing...!!! See, ya got me all fired up...

Posted by Rick | July 19, 2007 12:22 PM

You guys are so negative!

Hey, if you thought you were playing second, but they tell you you are playing last- don't worry! After they lock the doors, you can do some blow with the sound guy!

Posted by eric w. | July 19, 2007 3:43 PM

I rock my cock out no matter what.

I don't care when I play. Neither does my cock.

Posted by D | July 19, 2007 4:30 PM

I think its pretty rough to play last for anyone. I wish weekday shows started earlier like 7-8 ish and started ON TIME. that would take awau some of sting of opening. so many shows start late. We have always had a very good time playing Blue Moon and Jason is big part of that. so thanks Jason. Jules Maes is always on time, which helps also.

Posted by Andrew C. | July 20, 2007 5:04 PM

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