June 2014

How to Not be a Dick at Showcases

  1. Show up on time.  If you are playing another show the same day the promoter should be made aware well in advance.  Don’t expect there to be a clear path for your load in if a band is already playing since you are late. Wait between sets or ask about an alternative load-in entrance.
  2. Don’t expect special treatment. To quote Sophia Amuruso, “You are not a special snowflake”.  Chances are there are hundreds of bands playing from all over the world. Urgent things like trying to sort out their visas, electrical adapters, or lost gear may take priority for the promoter.  You’re all good enough to get offered a spot on this showcase.  Rock it.
  3. Reply to emails in advance but more importantly READ all of them and make sure to communicate that info to the rest of your band. E.g. Set-time, load-in time. Don’t assume everyone knows what’s up unless you have management, in which case, that’s their role to communicate with you the important, non-mundane details.
  4. Don’t expect finding parking to be easy.  Ask about it instead of pissing off promoters.  Sports games (hello, world cup), summer street festivals can all come into play.
  5. Don’t play a 15 minute sound check if there is a no-sound check policy, or 4 other bands that want to do so an hour before doors open.
  6. Don’t ask for more than your allotted guestlist limit, if there is one. If there’s an important media person or photographer you’re expecting to show, the showcase folks probably already have been in touch.
  7. Don’t take over another band’s merch space unless asking. Same goes for touching other bands’ gear.
  8. Don’t say shitty things about the venue space.  There could be special event staff there to help that are not as familiar with the space.  Be patient, not condescending.
  9. Don’t criticize the festival or promoters that have booked you. Their reps are urrrywurrr with social media in their pocket.
  10. Don’t be rude.  Don’t let your band members be rude. Don’t let your management be rude. Don’t let anyone associated with you be a dick. This is a simple one, but damn, there’s horror stories I could tell you.  It reflects badly on the whole team.
  11. Don’t expect free drinks and for that matter, don’t drink too much if you are offered stuff on the house.
  12. Be prepared to play at your exact set-time. Don’t show up late. Don’t play an encore if that’s not allowed.
  13. Don’t try to change your place on the line-up to accommodate late friends.
  14. Set your expectations of being “discovered” aside and just play a damn good show for everyone there, be it 5 people or 5,000.
  15. Say thank you and mean it.

NXNE 2014 Best Bets & Stage Managing Mod Club

I’ve been booking shows for 11 years and this week I’m taking on a new challenge:  stage managing at Toronto’s Mod Club during NXNE, one of Canada’s biggest music festivals.  That means that since early May I’ve been working with the NXNE team to advance artists like Danny Brown, Pissed Jeans, P.S. I Love You, and the Cliqs.  NXNE is hosting more than 700 international, national and local bands for  frenzied but super fun 5-days.

In addition to dealing with bands, management and helping oversea event support staff in the 600 capacity venue, I’m really excited to be able to networking more while there. In all honesty, I’d be at these shows anyways if I wasn’t working them! Plus, I’m stoked to attend conferences with Suroosh Alvi (Vice founder), Chris Kaskie (Pitchfork president), and Paul Rosenberg (Goliath Artists Management).  I learned so much a the conferences at Canadian Music Week so I’m really thrilled to be doing this all over again for a different agency.

What’s cool this time is that the conferences aren’t back to back (as in, I’m not covering all them) so I get to go to rooftop shows, island shows, even what’s being called the Bruise Cruise- a floating venue (a.k.a. boat) show curated by indie darling Mac De Marco in the middle of Lake Ontario.

Last year I bounced around Dundas Square to see The National and a few small venues for some local bands but this time, I’m taking advantage of all that NXNE has to offer YouRockRed.

Here’s some highlights from Mod Club’s line-up and my own personal best bets:

Danny Brown

P.S. I Love You

Suroosh Alvi

Perfect Pussy

Rhye

Spoon

P.s. be sure to check out YouRockRed clients Amos the Transparent, Goodluck Assembly and Kalle Mattson across the city playing NXNE too!

 

10 Reasons Why You Should Have Gone To Field Trip Fest

When it was announced that Field Trip Festival would be returning for a second year at a full 2 days instead of one, I knew I needed to be there. As far as I was concerned as long as the lineup included Broken Social Scene I was happy.  I proclaimed on social media since that festival in 2013 that was so full of smiling kids, dancing and just the best happy-go-lucky-indie-rock vibe was the best I’d attended (and this time they didn’t run out of beer!)

Field Trip 2014 beat all expectations… and here’s a breakdown why. 

Not Just Indie

It was so cool that it wasn’t the traditional indie rock bands that were soley booked.  Shad, the Polaris-nominated rapper spat out his rhymes- one of my personal favourites being, “The only thing I love more than rapping is napping.”  Napping is on the menu once this blog post is done.

shad

Rapper Shad

 

 

Canadian Celebrities Everywhere

Canadian indie-celebs hanging out everywhere – oh hello Ron Sexsmith, hello Jian Ghomeshi (whom I saw 3 times!), Rich Aucoin, Youtube bloggers and members of Broken Social Scene just wandering around everywhere… (including Brandon Canning who was hilariously in line for BSS autographs)

Feist

Feist’s new band Hydra- the 4 members photographed here are all in BSS. To quote a friend, they make the music you would run through a forest to. Unexpectedly beautiful.

 

 

Reunions = Happy Place

Watching the Constantines with Torquil Campbell of Stars and raising our arms up together in unison to “Crime of Passion.”  When they opened with Draw Us Lines I couldn’t help but to think of an old lover who would always get me to yell out to this primal scream driving around listening to the song Working Full Time (Seriously listen to this song HERE at .18 seconds in).  My friends who weren’t all that familiar with the Constantines were still won over but I had goosebumps for much of their set.  My dearest friends, my favourite Canadian band rocking out beside me, a summer festival and beer in hand- it pretty much didn’t get better than that.

Well again, aside from seeing my CBC boyfriend Jian Ghomeshi walking around casually between the two stages that couldn’t be more polar different at times.  Hip hop vs. Chvrches.  Lord Huron was kind of disappointing and Lowell I was bored at but overall all the music was excellent.  There were bigger crowds than last year but the general comment was what a “chill” festival it was.

The Constatines- again did not bring my Canon D600- just Iphone.

The Constantines- again did not bring my Canon D600- just Iphone.

 

Ottawa REPRESENT

Seeing Ottawa band A Tribe Called Red get thousands of people doing a round dance and of course, dancing uncontrollably.  I was a very proud Ottawan and even though I was tired I couldn’t stop dancing. I usually see them in a small packed club and barely have any room to dance so looking around and seeing people of all ages and backgrounds just losing it to their pow-wow beats was really inspiring.

tribe called red field trip

A Tribe Called Red

 

 

Furry Mascots Rocking the Fuck Out

Having no expectations for Bad Bad Not Good so when their instrumental jazz fusion, or whatever you call it, go rocked out to by a furry lion mascot dancer that proceeded to crowd surf and throw down in the audience as if he was in Wu Tang Clan.

field trip friends

We look tame in this photo but fellow Redheaded friends that rocked out together.

 

Fucked Up Breaking Every Hardcore Punk Band Expectation

Watching Damian Abraham of Fucked Up win over anyone who said they aren’t into punk or hardcore and proceeding to proclaim a vendetta on all CBC Music beach volley balls which he tore into hats with his teeth while sharing the mic.  He also had his son, who may be 3 come sing, Dying on the Inside, on stage with him.  His son held the mic and watched his dad run around the entire field with a big smile on his face.  Damian’s wife held his other baby with huge headphones from the side stage.  And then Gord Downie showed up to sing THIS song with him looking like a cowboy in a Stetson hat.  I mean, the festival couldn’t have been MORE Canadian at that point…

fucked up

Fucked Up

 

 

Broken Social Scene Being Broken Social Scene

Until Broken Social Scene took the stage. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE Broken Social Scene fan.  They are essentially the sound of university.  I was so lucky to be able to attend the Stars/Kevin Drew/Tribe Called Red Google Play Plus launch during Canadian Music Week and that was hands down the best show I saw the whole week because it really felt like an intimate personal show for me alone (ok, and the other 200 people there).  Now they didn’t play Lovers’ Spit or Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl, but they played an awesome mix of old and new stuff. I found the set-list later on Instagram and my friends on the way back to Ottawa proceeded to listen to their entire discography.  In order to prep however, watching This Movie is Broken had to be watched.  I should do another post about how similar that film is to my life too in the future.  Basically, I love putting musicians together and seeing the creativity flourish.  This is a band that I wish played more regularly but if they just reunite for an annual show in Toronto, I’m also ok with that.

BSS

Fuzzy but was still up close for their entire set- Broken Social Scene

 

 

Kevin Drew believing in Arts and Crafts  

Kevin Drew was obviously so excited to be playing with the 20+ members of BSS that were able to join him on stage for closing out Sunday night.  He brought his dad on to thank for encouraging him to continue on.  He was easily spotted in the crowd rocking out but just the day before he released this music video with Feist and Zach Galifanakis that gave me so much hope for what the Canadian government is able to fund.  Feist of course came out to play To the World with him too.  He sang the sexiest songs true, but I also just have so much respect for what he’s been able to do with Arts and Crafts.

 

Full set list

Full set list

 

Kids Everywhere

Glowing hula-hoops, a kid stage with Kevin Drew on acoustic guitar, bouncing castle, crafts and face painting between the fort doors that divided the two stage areas.  Kudos has to go to the organizers. It really is such a well-run festival and having children be admitted for free just makes it so much of a happier safe space.  Plus, some of those kids had more style than me.

have fun

Not difficult to do!

 

 

Canada Rocks

This weekend was a shining beacon of why the Canadian music scene is so amazing.  There were only a handful of international bands but it was the Toronto and Ottawa ones that held their own and proved why we are so awesome.

halfmoonrun field trip

Half Moon Run – from 15 minutes away in Quebec!

 

Moral of the story:  go next year!

Being Big in your hometown- Why your Indie Band should be Buddy-Buddy with Local Press

If you don’t have at least a few bloggers that love you, some print articles of either reviews or interviews, and regular presence on alt. college radio, you’re not ready to:

-          Tour across Canada

-          Find label or management

-          Get industry attention

-          Get awarded grants for future production, recording, touring, etc.

Ok, so maybe you’re thinking, but I’ve got 3,000 Facebook “Likes” and those people Instagram/tweet about us all the time! Rock on, that’s great but if that was the case people in the industry, e.g. fellow journalists would take note. So what are you doing wrong? Just because your buddies pack the club every time you do play your hometown doesn’t mean you have a buzz-worthy following. That means your friends dig getting drunk and dancing to your music.  (See my post about over-playing your hometown HERE.)

There’s a few things that are clear indicators to promoters, industry and fellow artists that demonstrate that your band isn’t quite there yet.  You don’t need to be on the cover of your local alt weekly but they should at least be familiar with your band because you’re doing something interesting like a charity gig or opening for a huge act at a festival or playing the streetcars of Toronto.

Getting press for your band is just as difficult as getting press for any other arts/non-profit that’s why their campaigns are so creative. You’re already an artist if you’re in a band, so USE that creativity.

You need to have proof that your band is popular for people to want to book you outside of your hometown or pay attention

There as in:

-          Ready for cross-canada tour

-          Bankable gigs across said tour

-          Proof that people are into your band

-          Score future grants (there’s usually a big section called “Press” in applications with min. 3 articles)

Obviously there’s some exceptions to the rule as in if you have a video go viral and get international media attention but guess who’s also going to cover?  Yup, local media, and like rooting for the hometown hockey team, they’re going to be your biggest fans.  There’s a sense of ownership, as in, this band is OURS.  That’s why Arcade Fire has so many hometowns…

When you’re on the road away from your hometown and something interesting/noteworthy happens, you should be able to email these folks and let them know. Keeping the local citizens aware of your happenings is a great way to keep them involved/get them to buy tickets to your next show.  E.g. “Drummer rescues baby from burning building in Red Deer Alberta.”- it could happen?!

That said, don’t you dare pester the journalists with constant requests.  You should be able to have a one-on-one first name basis with a handful of them in your city that dig your band. They should be constantly on your guestlist, even if you have to pay for their ticket yourself as they are influencers capable of bringing your band to the next level.

Their articles, photos, live tweets, are what can be put into your next round of grant applications, press releases, or any sort of promotion.  They are incredibly important, hence, what the fuck are you doing if you don’t have them on your side in your hometown?

Get out of your shell. Start reading papers or blogs you’d like to be in and send them a personalized email. If you can’t find their email, call their head office and ask for it (this works!), or tweet at them.

(Note:  all of this is capable without the help of a publicist in your hometown. Now you have no excuse to sit around…)