Last time we played out of town Heather (Ben’s girlfriend) sliced her leg open with a paring knife while trying to cut herself a slice of cheese at 3am in the backseat – forgetting her flesh doesn’t work quite as well as a cutting board, from sheer exhaustion. This trip, we made it home with much less blood and much higher spirits.
We played at Double Wide (white trash themed bar/venue with a signature alcoholic Yoohoo drink) in Dallas last night, which turned out to be a really fun show. Since Van Halen (The Invincible Czars‘ van that we normally use) is in the shop, we took SkyAcre‘s big fancy Mercedes van to Dallas, stayed with our friends Joy & Alec (WHO HAVE A POOL AND LOTS OF WHISKEY), AND actually got paid for the gig, which made for an awesome Saturday.
I’m compelled to explain why this experience was so great (besides the lack of blood) compared to other shows, because it seems that so many people are shocked when they find out that we don’t make money playing shows. I am admittedly pretty new to this scene – this is only the third band I’ve been in that plays real shows. And I wouldn’t say I was particularly surprised when I found out I wasn’t going to make several hundred dollars per show, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the $20 and $0 gigs (to split between three people). Free week and SXSW are one thing – because you are prepared and expect to make nothing. But when you own your own studio, or wait tables, etc – you are actively losing money when you take off work to play a show. You end up spending money to:
- load a bunch of heavy equipment into a van
- unload the heavy equipment at a venue
- scramble to get it on stage quickly
- HAVE THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE FOR 30-45 MINUTES
- scramble to get it off stage quickly
- wait until 2am to get paid
- load it all back into your van
- drive home, and unload it all back into your practice space (or if you’re on the road, drive to your hotel and leave one person sleeping in the van so all your gear doesn’t get stolen)
Keep your fingers crossed that you don’t have car trouble, that traffic doesn’t suck, that there’s a place to pull over and load in, and a place to park.
The cool thing about playing out of town shows (besides widening your fan base) is that etiquette is to give a bigger cut of the money to travelers, so they can pay for gas. Last night after we played a really fun show we were given more than we needed for gas, had a secure place to park our van, and a comfortable place to sleep (did I mention the pool and the whiskey?).
Some nights, you end up in the emergency room from slicing your leg open in the backseat of a van. Some nights, a sexist club owner yells at you to leave the green room because BAND MEMBERS ONLY, NO GIRLFRIENDS ALLOWED! Other nights, you get a flat tire and the venue doesn’t give you any drink tickets. But occasionally, you find yourself a unicorn of a night where you get to do what you REALLY love to do, and all the lifting and carrying and waiting is totally fine and worth it because you can afford to eat some tacos, drive home the next day, and a couple of people seemed to give a shit about your music.