The concert industry has so far bucked the recession, according to year-end data from trade magazine Pollstar, but promoters are bracing for a bumpy 2009.
Box-office receipts from North American concerts through December were $4.2 billion, up 7.8% from 2007. But the total number of tickets sold for the 100 top-grossing shows fell 3%, to 35.6 million, the second consecutive year of declines. The growth in revenue was the result of rising ticket prices. The average ticket to one of the 100 top-grossing shows cost $66.90, up $4.83, or 8%, from 2007 and more than double the average price in 1998.
That could spell trouble in 2009.
"At some point, this rampant unemployment is going to hit the concert industry," said Randy Phillips, chief executive of Anschutz Corp.'s AEG Live, the world's second-largest concert promoter by revenue, behind Live Nation Inc.
$66.90 to see the lady in the funny car? What a country.
The 2009 Sound Off! semi-finalists have been announced. (Sound Off! is the EMP's annual underage battle of the bands—alumni includes Mon Frere, the Lonely Forest, New Faces, Schoolyard Heroes, Idiot Pilot, and so many more.)
This year's twelve semi-finalists will be spread out over three shows in February—four bands playing each Saturday night. They'll be judged by a panel of judges (and cheered on by their friends and families) and the three finalists from each night will compete for the grand prize Saturday, March 7th at the EMP Sky Church.
Here's how it breaks down (with links so you can check out the bands yourself, genres provided by EMP):
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 2:43 PM
Couldn’t fit this in the paper, but it should be noted that London drum & bass producer/DJ Bailey will be performing tonight at Contour in Pioneer Square (organized by Kaos Theory). Bailey is a highly respected veteran of the UK's hyper-competitive d&b scene and has affiliations with Goldie’s Metalheadz and Rufige imprints and Roni Size’s Full Cycle label. Check out a portion of the BBC Radio 1Extra host's set below.
I have ceased listening to pop punk long enough to revisit Fiestas + Fiascos and it's proven to be a problem. I haven't listened to the record for at least six months. Maybe more. And every minute or two, during every song, I'm forced to stop what I'm doing, skip back a few seconds, and re-listen to the line Craig Finn just delivered because it's just so good that I have to hear it again. And again. It's impossible to listen to this record while attempting to do anything but bask in the genius of his smart, witty, cocky, visual, and overall fantastic lyrics that tell the story about Nightclub Dwight and his club called the Nice Nice.
"And all these Chesterfield chicks, they hate the Camel Lights girls/With their filthy mouths and their long strings of pearls."
"She was bombed on the bass and a Bombay gin."
"I like you Dwight, but I don't like the pipe. Or the things that you put in your pipe, like your life..."
"And then I asked her, 'Do you like lighting fires? Do you like lighting fires? I've been looking for a firelighter for hire...'"
"These English majors wanna be some super genius novelists/They end up music journalists, chicks ain't that into it."
"That's the funny thing. It ain't just the money thing, it's a question of community—the liberty, the ecstasy, the love, the drugs, the unity."
"Love is like a battle of the bands. Crank up your amps, man."
"I'm nailed to the nightlife like Christ on the cross/Gotta terrible cough/My skin is like see through/Been tryin' to meet you, dyin' to reach you/it's too late for liquor be we could get some three two."
And the list goes on and on and... Please, Craig Finn. Just write a fucking book already.
Saw a message from Seattle's Astronautalis this morning, begging folks to download his latest record. Legitimately, anyway. It's up at Amazon's MP3 download service for $3.99 right now, a decent discount from the default $10, but that's not what interested me. More like this:
the best part of the whole deal...i get paid the full sale (which is normally like $9.99 or something)...amazon is taking a loss on this [to] try and get some market share from itunes. They are pushing deals like this...artists take no loss and people get music turbo cheap. totally rad.
I flipped through Amazon's MP3 album best-seller list (Astro's at #71 thanks to the discount, it seems), and sure enough, tons of the top-sellers are down to $5 a pop—Fleet Foxes are near the top of the discount list.
There's no way artists are agreeing to reduced prices across the board, so Astro's story may check out. I suppose the company's holiday super-success can afford them such a luxury. Musicians don't typically get the total cash for MP3 portal sales, anyway, so perhaps Amazon's giving up their usual % as a last-ditch shot at the online music market. Might as well.
And, yeah, I checked. He's not part of the promotion.
I love 'em, but when they're done, they're done. I'm ready for 2009.
I hit this wall every year. As a self-proclaimed Christmas whore, I spend the entire month of December submersing myself in everything Christmas and I get bogged down with holiday music and pretty music and emotional music and as much as I love it then, it's the last thing I want to hear by December 31st. By the time January comes around I need something fast and happy and loud... I need some goddamn pop punk.
Pop punk is the laxitive of the music world. It refreshes. It cleans you out with very few side-effects. You don't get emotionally involved with the songs—they're only meant to stick around just long enough to make you dance, make you feel good and right now Jersey band Yo Man, Go is clearing my head and washing away all the heaviness the holidays can bring.
It's your typical east coast punk rock—hyper, anthemic, and simple—but it's doin' the trick. Unfortunately (according to their MySpace) they already broke up, so there's no chance I'll be seeing them live anytime soon. But you can download their small discography for free at www.ifyoumakeit.com/albums!
And I suggest that you do. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.
Cheer up and dance, crankypants. It's almost the new year.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 11:04 AM
NadaMucho.com will host a Neil Young tribute at Sunset Tavern Thurs. Jan. 22 (8 pm, $7, 21+; fee includes Sounds from the Seattle Underground CD). Dubbed “The Neil and the Damage Done,” the night will feature nine local artists—including Hazelwood Motel, Herman Jolly, and At the Spine—covering several songs by the rock legend, whose radical, rootsy influence manifests in several Seattle bands.
Multiple reports of problems with Microsoft's 30GB Zune players are flooding tech blogs today (Dec. 31). The issue - which seemed to hit a sizable number of players in the market, all at once, early this morning - seems to be that the Zunes are resetting, loading and then freezing during the load process. There's no indication how many players have been affected. Microsoft's Zune site says the company is attempting to resolve the issue.
Alex Smoke, John Tejada, Dave Pezzner, Michael Manahan vs. Nordic Soul
(Neumos) Wednesday's "Dirty Dancing" bill starts with Seattle stalwarts Nordic Soul and Michael Manahan dueling in a 2x4 DJ set. Their epicurean tech-house selections will transition nicely into Dave Pezzner's live performance. Half of the world-renowned Jacob London (the funniest house-music act in the biz), this local producer has been generating buzz for his punch-drunk tech-house productions. Check the three-part "Almost Here" for proof: It's deep yet playful dance-floor gold. Los Angeles techno legend John Tejada is one of those producers at whom other knob-twiddlers gawk in awe over his technical wizardry—usually done with old-school hardware. He's a master at subtly melodic, rhythmically intricate techno; Tejada's going to blow a lot of minds (but understatedly). His biggest club anthem is a self-fulfilling prophecy: "Sweat (on the Walls)." Last but most, Glasgow's Alex Smoke has been infusing minimal techno with maximal sound-design detailing and orchestral drama over the last few years to growing acclaim. You may wish you had a few extra hands to throw ceilingward while Smoke is onstage. DAVE SEGAL
(El Corazón) For the past eight years, Hell's Belles have reigned as "the premier all-ladies AC/DC tribute." For the past six years, I have dreamed of forming an all-male tribute to Hell's Belles, the premier all-ladies AC/DC tribute. The name of this band will be Hell's Balls. Tonight, Hell's Belles bring their estrogen-laced cock rock to El Corazón. DAVID SCHMADER
Monotonix @ Bumbershoot 2008
Presidents of the United States of America, Monotonix, the Saturday Knights, Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground, Vince Mira and the Roy Kay Trio, People's Republic of Komedy, DJ Cherry Canoe
(Paramount) These are, indeed, the good times, people. And this is, of all the many concerts happening around Seattle tonight, the biggest and the best one at which to ring in the New Year. It's been ages since I've listened to a PUSA record, but they remain the same goofy, game, kicking-out-the-jams motherfuckers they've always been, and they will doubtless provide a fine countdown and kickoff for '09. Further down the bill is even more excitement, though. Monotonix will, as usual, light shit on fire and show you their hairy asses and, time and fire marshal permitting, bang out some skuzzy punk rock (yes, they play music, too). The Saturday Knights will play perfect party hosts, the always affable Tilson and Barfly trading toasts, boasts, and rhymes over DJ Suspence and crew's upbeat grooves. Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground will overwhelm you both in numbers and with their psychedelic orch-pop. Vince Mira will channel the Man in Black with uncanny, otherworldly accuracy. In the bar and lobby, DJ Cherry Canoe and the People's Republic of Komedy will make you respectively dance and laugh your ass off. ERIC GRANDY
Ghostland Observatory @ Sasquatch 2008
(WaMu Theater) I think what bugs me most about Ghostland Observatory—besides the shrill vocal yelping, the mediocre beats and synths, the uninspired and forgettable songs, etc.—is that they're basically dance/electronic music for people who won't move a muscle to music unless there's a totemic rock god onstage to worship (less kindly: people who think dancing is gay). I get it—you like lasers, you like Led Zeppelin, presumably you like Laser Zeppelin, and so, given a crap electro-rock act with some third-rate Robert Plant caterwauling, you're stoked. But this band are terrible, a wincingly middlebrow take on what so many other bands (LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax, the Rapture, on and on and on) have done smarter, better, faster, and stronger before them. The sooner this band are shuffled off into the dollar bin of history, the better. ERIC GRANDY
Buckethead "plays a ballad that builds in intnsity" (sic)
Buckethead, the Portland Cello Project
(Moore) Do you long to ring in 2009 with a man with a bucket on his head, alongside a bunch of other people who also want to ring in the New Year with a man with a bucket on his head? Here is the New Year's Eve show for you. Tonight the man they call Buckethead—the enigmatic guitarist who's collaborated with everyone from Les Claypool to Axl Rose to Viggo Mortensen—brings his experimental shredding to the Moore, with stately support provided by the Portland Cello Project. DAVID SCHMADER
DeVotchKa, Norfolk & Western, DJ Kid Hops
(Showbox at the Market) DeVotchKa are a Colorado outfit, begun as a backing band for burlesque shows, who fuse various strains of world music with good, old-fashioned American indie rock. Their range pretty much runs from a more mild-mannered take on Gogol Bordello—style Gypsy rock or Beirut's postcard pop to a less rewarding take on Arcade Fire's melodramatic, festival-sized operatics (sometimes bordering on sub-U2 mope-rock territory of your Snow Patrols and such). It's pleasant enough dinner-party music, I guess, but it seems like it would make for a really lame New Year's Eve bash, even if they hark back to their early days and bring out some burlesque dancers for a little old-timey risqué titillation. Kid Hops is always a good time, though. ERIC GRANDY
Emerald City Soul Club
Emerald City Soul Club is already three years old, and it's still one of the very best things about this city. The people are spiffed up (both vintage and au courant), the jackasses are scarce (usually), and the soul is rare and hot (one night, a DJ put on a Junior McCants record worth $16,000 for the floor's dancing pleasure). The line will be longer than the Lord, so come early and have a drink. Once you've achieved proper lubrication, get out there and shake a tail feather. (Lo-Fi, 429 Eastlake Ave E, 254-2824. 9 pm, $10, 21+.) BRENDAN KILEY
I think the format has some more life left in it, but it's certainly on a huge decline. I think the format will always exist as a supplement to the mp3—it's a good, dedicated, physical delivery service.
From Pitchfork to Drive Like Jehu to Hot Snakes, Rick Froberg has been the engine for much great and innovative rock music. His latest endeavor—Obits—provides more evidence that the man can do no wrong.
For anyone still bummed out by the breakup of the Hot Snakes, I highly reccomend Obits' not-so-new seven-inch, One Cross Apiece, which I stupidly just got around to hearing. You can also hear some rougher tacks on their Myspace page, along with a bunch of live YouTube footage. The stuff is definitely toned down from Hot Snakes/Jehu distinction, but not for lack of the goods. Froberg's signature guitar interplay—with which he seems to be able to involve anyone he plays alongside—is still intact, even if the guitars aren't quite as loud. Furthermore, Froberg does a lot more actual singing with Obits, and his newly refined yowl is rather nice to listen to, or maybe I'm just getting old. If you're still reading this, you probably already know they've signed to Sub Pop, and that an album, I Blame You, is due out March 23. No live dates in Seattle to speak of yet, but I can't wait; Hot Snakes rivaled Les Savy Fav in terms of live-performance quality.
Here's a teaser:
Obits: "One Cross Apiece"
And here's an interview with Froberg and John Reis, who played in Pitchfork, Jehu, Hot Snakes, ran his own band for a while, now fronts The Night Marchers, and is no slouch himself.
If you haven't taken the time to read Dave Segal's essay in this week's music section about how he lost most of his record collection—and nearly his mind, you really should. If not for the heartbreaking story itself, then for the lively conversation it's inspired in the comments section (it's racked up the most comments of any music piece published in the Stranger), where reader reactions range from supportive:
What a truly fucked up situation. If what goes around comes around those bastards will be paying with several lifetimes of torture. Here's hoping it comes around to rewarding you for your dedication to promoting unusually great music and perseverance in the maw of such a brutal blow.
I went through a similar experience - moved out to Virginia in 1978 working for Peaches and when I moved back to Seattle in 1979 I kept waiting for the moving van to arrive. I found out a month later that the truck burned to the ground in the middle of Utah - my entire record collection of 10,000 pieces, which I started in 1970, had vanished, including everything I had gleaned from hours of rummaging through cut-out racks and several years working at record stores.It included 10 sealed copies of the skull cover Whitelight/Whiteheat,100s of original Psych LPs and sealed copies of every ESP and Limelight Avant-garde series I got at Tower for $1.50 each! It was heartbreaking and eventually very liberating. I thought I would never collect again! Then I found an original clear vinyl, hand silkscreened Albert Ayler Bells Lp in a junk shop in the Udistrict for $1 and took it as a sign.
hi dave, we share your pain. i will be 78 in june and have had many setbacks, but each setback gave me an opportunity to better my life. if i can help with a lawyer monetarily let us know. love always mom and dad
This is federal Department of Transportation jurisdiction. Start there.
Get a hold of the state Attorney General's office in both California and Washington to see what they can do.
I'd have to say the only reason this hasn't been pursued from a legal angle is because (with regret that I must say this), this article is fabricated. No one who lost this much music would wait so long to take legal action of some kind...
to (internets surprise!) anonymously bitchy:
i couldn't finish the article. boring. do you always write about yourself?