Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Blend Finish Last

By the time you realize Minneapolis isn’t big enough, hopefully it’s not too late. You tour Chicago, Wisconsin, Iowa, Sioux Falls- all of a sudden it’s been awhile... and the promise of fiscal stability is more weary than ever, your gamble of hotel/gas/food money is up in the air higher than Cirque Du Soleil, and people keep asking you when you’re going to “make it”.

I’ve watched groups get “Picked to Cick” via CityPages, make the cover, get big buzz from press… and then disappear. You would’ve never thought they existed or made a sound, even. It’s not even a “laugh now, cry later” situation. When a group disappears from your attention, they vanish. You might hear of’em again, but it’s not the same. Unless they happen to conjure an orchestration of sound & song that shakes you to tears, euphoria, bad dancing, and/or emotion, consider’em donezo. More of a “sad, but true” sort-of-thing.

What we’re working with at the moment is something to last the apocalyptic and inevitable fate most artists fall to. We’re working with the construction of an empire… a liminal space where artists can catapult there work, voices, efforts, their everything. It’s difficult, but worth it. In constructing this “empire”, there’s a good amount of steps prologued to now, however, even more ahead. Nonetheless, the most important step is the one right in front of us… Friday, Jan. 21st. Sure, there’s enough steps ahead to choreograph two musicals, but for now (and in the name of patience), the most important lies on Friday.

Selling out the Varsity twice was… easy. Kinda. Ok, it was a bit tough, but the plan applied to it, made for an efficient process. Getting to the point, the next step, Friday, Jan. 21st, has been tough as f----ng nails. I wanted to work with a venue bigger than the varsity, but smaller than 1st Ave. I have no place trying to sell out 1st Ave… for now;) But the best candidate was, and is, The Cabooze. I wanted to put together a bill of artists that the Twin Cities have only encountered at summer festivals.

Saw her on the cover of the City Pages several times. The youth group I worked for over the summer had a Star Tribune article, about her, taped to the wall to inspire the kids. This woman was as good as tall tale, rumor, truth, and myth to me… might as well find out what the ruckus is all about. The quest to book Maria Isa began. Emailed back and forth with her manager for about a month, and finally nailed down the date. Next up, I went after my favorite rapper… Cecil Otter. Booking Cecil was quick as 1, 2, done. The folks at Doomtree, Kyle’s label, reply with a yes or no fairly fast.

I hate it when someone telling a story pivots with “when all of a sudden”, meh, f it. Things were going smoothly with the show, when all of a sudden… two problems reared an ugly truth. Perhaps I was in denial the entire time, but when I stopped by the Cabooze to drop off promo, I froze in my stance similar to Ryu standing on the cliff just before the last level of Ninja-Gaiden. Wind blowing, skyscraping castle in the distance, dark clouds sparked with frequent lightning… scary. My gaze widened and went into trance. There I stood, staring at the empty room, empty stage, spotlights darkened, bar stretching from one end to the other, and could only think “Sweet Jesus of Nazareth… this place is FUCKING HUGE”. The room stared back… and there we stood. If I didn’t know any better, I could’ve swore the room whispered “Yeah, I am fucking huge, and I will make your concert look like a cheap-neighborhood-night-out carnival unless you do your fucking job and fill me with people.” Needless to say, I was intimidated by the spaciousness of the Cabooze.

Here’s the deal with the deceptive shape of the Cabooze.

100 people looks like 20.
300 looks like it’s packed.
700 looks like Jimi Hendrix raised from the grave and decided to tweet everyone “Was up here playin’ cards. Jesus lost. I get one more solo before 2012… at The Cabooze;)”

However, what we’re aiming for is above the Hendrix Reincarnation status. We’re aiming for sold out. In efforts towards this goal (Problem #2) I bit off a lot (say “that’s what she said” here). Called Botzy from Culture Cry, Mike Dreams, the bull-headed/stubborn Ryan K, and pieced it like Voltron. Krysta jumped on last minute after she devastated the Varsity, upstaged nearly everyone after her, and had ladies talking about her performance for the next month. I was also curious what she’d sound like with her live band from Madison. Fresh out of UW-Madison, I’m sure she made a killing out there… but like all good things in Wisconsin, they must leave. Everyone I know that still lives in Madison is just a shadow of the glory days. Gotta go at some point, and why not get to Minneapolis where you can actually garner 3 different crowds over the course of three different shows.

Going over the line up, it hit me- If Maria, per request, goes on at midnight... then there’s absolutely no means of fitting the entire line up before her. Shit… shit, shit, shitty, shit, shit! What do I do now? Call a group, “Sorry, about that show I booked you for- Yeah, it’s still happening, but you won’t be playing it. By the way, want to buy an advanced ticket?” Gotta honor the agreement I gave everyone from the start. I hate when promoters change-up the show at the last minute. Fuckin’ makes me furious. I will drag a promoter into an alley and make certain they know where they went wrong, and why it’s not going to happen again. Sleezy bastards- ahem, but I digress. I don’t want to be that guy… and came to an understanding that only one move could be played. The Blend would have to finish the show. Lazlo Supreme, The Blend, and myself would have to take the rough edge of the night.

In the plot and scheme of booking a show, most groups prefer to go on in the middle. When discussing the show with Botzy from Culture Cry Wolf, the only stipulation he gave me was, “Yeah, we’ll do the concert- we just can’t go on in the beginning or at the end.” 11pm to 1am is usually the sweet spot in Minneapolis, but after touring the country a few times, seeing shit hit the fan, wall, and floor, you get used to the short end of the stick. Matter of fact, I prefer it. Going on last is humbling, challenging, and a damn good fit. After calling all the opening acts and asking if they wanted to take the late slot, and receiving a unanimous “no thanks”, I figured it’s the only way it could go down. The Blend hasn’t been billed for a Minneapolis show for several months… maybe a year even. The comeback is only suited for a 1am entrance on stage. Here's to the next step…

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