Have you ever been to a show that you were hopped up about and no one else even showed up? It doesn’t happen often. I saw Ash at the Foundry a few years back, and about 100 people were there. Ash just tore it up that night, playing all of the classic 1977 album and then the best tracks from the rest of their catalog. On that night, Ash was the best live band in the world, and only about 100 people witnessed it. Such is life, but it’s unusual to have that experience.
At the Boot recently, I was pretty psyched to see Pittsburgh’s indie rock savants, The Gotobeds. It took me a while to get around to grabbing tickets, and I was a bit worried about getting shut out. Well, that concern was ill-founded. We got to the Boot only to find that about 20 people were going to see this show. And twenty might be about 5 people generous. Hoo boy.
I learned of the Gotobeds from the Sound Opinions guys. I downloaded their first CD and really enjoyed it. Indie garage rock stylists with an attitude, sort of like the Fleshtones with less humor. Yeah, that’s in the BRP catalog for loved musical genres. Seeing that they were going to be playing the Boot was excellent – nothing like a hot summer’s evening full of guitar driven sloppiness.
Well, we got there and the joint was EMPTY. Even the cowboys and cowgirls who frequent the front bar were somewhere else, probably sleeping on the floor of someone’s dad’s house in Avalon. We hung out with the guy who runs the door for the club (who has dreds down to the back of his knees), and had a nice chat about the Boot, its sister venue Union Transfer, the overcapacity of clubs in Philly that can hold about 4 – 500 people, the trouble with Underground Arts as a venue but the respect for the bands that it routinely brings in, how crappy the Electric Factory nee Franklin Music Hall is, and other such world-bending issues. Very enjoyable pre-show banter. But our boy also was honest that not many people had bought tickets, and the walk up crowd was unlikely to materialize. Worse yet, the opening act, who was local and thus would probably bring along 15 or so friends and hangers-on, had cancelled, so it was just going to be the Gotobeds.
After waiting around for a long time, the band finally decided to go on stage. They were good-natured about the whole thing. One of them said that this was how they were spending their vacation. When I tried to clarify by saying “wait, so you’re on vacation?”, the answer I got was “Dude, this ain’t work.” That’s the damn truth. Anyway, they got up there, said that they were the Gotobeds and that tonight they were opening for the Gotobeds, and then they got down to business.
I don’t know whether they decided to treat the night as a live rehearsal or if they are just consummate professionals, but the boys didn’t skimp on the show. Well, they only played about 50 minutes, but what I mean is that they went after the songs, played them with motivation, jumped around and engaged in some silly stage hijinks (like jumping off the amps), and otherwise gave it their all. They played with urgency and desire.
Yes, they played the songs I wanted them to play. Yes, they were fun. No, they shouldn’t give up the day jobs (assuming they have them – if not, they should consider whether to get them). And yes, they reminded me how tough it is to make it in the music business. This, after all, is a band with a record deal and enough PR clout to get noticed by some prominent rock podcasters with influence. Yet, they could only get about 20 (ok, 15) people out to see them play for $10 on a summer’s evening in the nation’s 6th largest city? A city that cares about rock and has a passion for live music? That’s trouble, man.
I had a good time. I ate a bitchin’ cheesesteak before the show at a place I never would have thought would be up to it. And because of the limited nature of the evening’s performance, I was home early and not dragging a dog-tired body through The Man’s workhouse of horrors the next day. I could complain, but that would be extravagant, and I’m not extravagant. In fact, I’m a common dude, a man of the people. I love live music, and enjoyed the sensation of being in someone’s basement while a talented group of people played some interesting tunes at high decibel levels. It could have been worse.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.