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How's your crowds?

Ross Brown

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I was talking with a club owner last night as we were getting paid for our gig and we were both wondering about why the crowds seem to be getting smaller. Not just his place, I have seen it at others. He said he is having record Wednesdays and Sundays but Friday and Sat band nights are slower.


Any one seeing effect of the slow economy on their crowds?


I was worried that maybe people were just tired of us (we play alot around here) but the other bands seem to be having the same issue... Our crowds are ok, just smaller than about three months ago.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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It's the economy but mostly I think the result of M.A.D.D. and the big crackdown against drunk drivers.

Remember back in the day when bars would charge 50 cent beers and other promotions? Bars would be pretty hopping. Now owners are getting cheap and with the fear of getting hit up for fines and/or law suits I haven't seen any of those specials anymore. Hanging out in a bar can get pretty expensive. Also with the crackdowns people are a bit worried about driving any distance to go see a band for fear of being pulled over and getting popped. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro drunk driving but these are things I've heard from various clientelle

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.


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I'm sure both teh economy and M.A.D.D have something to do with it. I was spoiled in the past, I lived in a few places where I could walk to several good bars, take reliable public transit, or an inexpensive cab ride to go out. UNfortunately, none of those are options where I now live, and I know it affects how often I go out and to which clubs.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet


Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.



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Sure, but Ross's question had to do with the past 3 months. The 21 drinking age, DWI law enforcement, etc. all happened a long time ago. (Oh, yes. To consider the days when the cop would ask who in the car was the most sober, and make that person drive home....and it seemed logical at the time.) But I digress.


Me? Nobody ever came to my shows three months ago either. So I see no change.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Not buying the economy for a moment. History would seem to dictate otherwise. Seems that increasing economic pressures would atually increase drinking and bar attendance.


I would be more apt to blame societal evolution. With the escelation of drunk driving penalties, the resistance in the willingness of the courts to "plead down", the effort to reduce the overall B.A.C. and bar owners becoming targets of litigation of the acts of their patrons, "social drinking" has become severly impacted.


"Hittin' the bars" in the last couple of decades had been looked down upon as a fringe society event and not a mainstream event like it was back when I was "hittin' the bars." Ramifications of binge drinking, the prevelence of communicable diseases, interpretations of "consent" laws, the local constibulary outside in the parking lot have added quite a chilling effect.


Not that I'm AGAINST prosecuting drunk drivers and throwing multiple DUI's in the can ... I'm just sayin'.


I prefer to do my drinking at home.


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn


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I'm in the UK so my experience may be different.


Certainly the pub trade has been hurting for some time now, from a combination of changed habits (people buying cheap alcohol from stores and drinking at home) and supposedly from the nation-wide smoking ban.


Many of the places we play also have problems with noise regulation, with complaining neighbours and trigger-happy local councils. I've played a few gigs recently on very warm evenings where the bar staff have insisted on the doors and windows remaining closed - and this with no aircon.


The bar managers we talk to have all said that numbers have dropped in the last 6-9 months as people worry more about their expenditure. A couple have said that the average spend per person has also dropped.


However, there a few places where we are gradually building a reputation as a good night out for drunk people to dance. So in some cases 'our' crowd is growing, even if the overall bar trade isn't.






www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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Some bars are being replaced with other forms of night life that don't rely as much on booze and smoke. I don't play there any more, but whenever I used to do free shows at a place called the Front Porch that only served coffee, tea, and snacks, the place was always packed with people of all ages and my former band always kept recordings of shows at that venue because the crowd noise was always very appropriate and music-oriented.


If dive bars really are going the way of the dinosaur, they will be replaced by similar venues that will continue to fulfill the needs of musicians. But ultimately, IMO, bars aren't going anywhere. The biggest draw is not the drugs involved but the social scene. Pot could be legalized and the bars would find a way to bring in the stoners. Kava kava is already being used to draw people in. Bars will just slap a new veneer on if need be.

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I've been hearing clubs complaining about the economy for over a year now, but our crowds have not had much impact - in fact, our demand has increased over that time because we generally can still bring in crowds. But usually we are hearing that their business is way down other weekends. We have had a slow night here or there, but usually when we have less control over the crowd we bring. And, kind of timely for this discussion, a couple weeks ago we had a night that started out dead. The bouncer showed up and said there was a sobriety checkpoint down the street checking everyone. About mid-2nd set, a convoy of taxis started showing up. We ended up with a good crowd by the end.


I think a few things:

1) Don't let the economy be an excuse. People still want to go out, you're just facing more competition, so make sure they see YOU. Now is the time to be religious about sending emails, hanging posters, and networking to get folks out to your shows.

2) If a particular bar is having a hard time - check what they are charging at the door and their drink prices. People will go out in a down economy, but they won't pay a $10 cover and pay $4 per beer all night. $5 max cover, beers should be under $3. You don't control that, but you can talk to bar owners/managers about it, especially if you have some feedback from patrons to back it up, or alternate experience at other bars around town.


This is not music related, but one local bar had a good idea. When InBev took over A-B and a lot of people lost their jobs, one bar had a career counseler at the bar to look over resume's. I think they also had drink specials for the ex-A-B guys.



Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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On Saturday I played a big summer festival here in Seattle. I think I've played it the last 10 years in a row... maybe I missed a year in there somewhere. At any rate it was as crowded as I've ever seen it this year. There were easily 2000 people in front of the stage.


Other club gigs have been really good/unchanged for the most part. There have been a few nights scattered that weren't as busy but there was usually a good reason for it.


So in general: nope, business as usual for clubs and public stuff. Now corporate parties have been a little disappointing for the first part of the year. Things are starting to pick up again though. Which is nice.

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