A tale of two cities (and their overambitious musicfests this evening)

If you book it they will come, right?

Wrong.  In the city of Toronto, home to hundreds–if not thousands–of artists and dozens of events every evening, putting on a gig is no guarantee of attracting any audience whatsoever.

Let’s face it, if nobody has ever heard of your band, and you haven’t booked a “hot bar” for live music (which often requires that at least a few people have indeed heard of your band), chances are the only people who will show up are your friends and supporters.  So, what’s the worst thing you could do?  Booking an all-day music festival out in the suburbs would be right up there, in my books.

Been there, done that. I speak from experience when I say that an all-day festival of local stoner rock bands is not a very good idea.  There are only a couple stoner/doom bands in this city with a sizable following–Quest For Fire (Tee Pee Records) and Blood Ceremony (Rise Above)–and neither had a label or an album out in ’08, when my buddy Rob and I made the ill-fated decision to book both floors of the El Mocambo on 4/20.  Turns out that not too many people wanted to pay 15 bucks for a buncha bands they’d never heard.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d say that nine outta the 10 bands on the bill played to their biggest crowd of the summer, but it wasn’t enough for us to turn a profit, seeing as we booked both floors of the place.  Lesson learned.

So, when On The Verge approached me about their idea for an all-day stonerfest, to be held at the D.C. Music Theatre, of all places, I remained noncommittal.  Wait and see if they get any good bands was my approach.  But OTV had other ideas.  They were looking for a festival they could headline, which is a problem, since their stoner caravan only runs 10 deep.  While there are a few bands I like on this evening’s lineup, there are just as many, if not more that I’ve never even heard of.  And if I haven’t heard of ’em, your average hop-head hasn’t, either.  That’s why there’s been no buzz about this gig amongst anybody I know, and I’m doubtful about there being much of a turnout tonite–unless they’ve flyered the fuck outta Etobicoke like I suggested.

If booking a gig with 10 obscure local bands is a bad idea (and it definitely is in Toronto), booking 40 local bands for an all-day gig is, well, *insert hyperbole here*.  But don’t tell the organizers of the Doomsday Festival.  If there’s one thing going for them and their colossal fest, it’s that the gig’s not in Toronto, but in Windsor, a city of 216 thousand people and a just handful of venues for live rock music.  The logic being that if you book every metal band in Windsor, every metal head in the city will show up–along with a few underclassmen from Detroit-area universities.  If you do the math, four band members for every group makes 160 people in the building, and if they each bring out a dozen fans, you’ll have close to 600 people–that is, if they all stick around.  Chances are, a fair share of those in attendance will only watch their friends play and move on with their nite, possibly to the Coach and Horses, where a handful of bands from the festival are playing an evening gig.  Or at least they would, if they were Torontonians.  Never been to Windsor, so I can’t comment on their scene, although there are a few decent bands down there.  (I’ve only heard a couple of the names on that poster before, though…)

Alas, while I wish those starry-eyed, stoned promoters the best of luck, I won’t be attending either of their gigs.  Instead, I’ll be at the Rancho Relaxo (for the second nite in a row, incidentally) to catch my fellow Calgarians in Mares of Thrace.  I was never a big Kilbourne fan, but their new project seems a little more up my alley.  If an all-girl sludge duo is your kinda thing, they’ll be up yours, too…

Speaking of girl bands from out west, it’s worth noting that Portland power trio Purple Rhinestone Eagle are playing the Bovine this Thursday–the lone Canadian date on their North American tour–with some solid local support in Reverse Mount Rushmore and Hamilton’s own Monster Truck.  The folks who flock to QFF and BC gigs should really be digging this band, cept they probably haven’t heard of them.  Well, now you’ve been forewarned!

Looking for something to do tonite?  Here are the details for the gigs I’ve mentioned:

DC Music Presents Sensi-Fest with On The Verge and 9 other bands @ DC Music Theatre, 360 Munster Ave (near Kipling Station).  Doors @ 4:20, $15

Sinnastar Presents Doomsday Festival @ The Blind Dog, 671 Ouellette Ave, Windsor.  Doors @ noon, $15.

Mares of Thrice, Drunk Hussy, Spitfirst @ Rancho Relaxo, College just west of Spadina.  (Don’t have doors or prices for this one…)

Monster Truck, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Reverse Mount Rushmore @ Bovine Sex Club, August 19th.  Doors @ 9, $5.



P.S.: Smokin’ Green tonite features a buncha bands you’ve never heard of–and maybe a couple that you have.  Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV, or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.