Local openers die!
I have really come to hate the local bands who open for touring packages. I mentioned this in my last update, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Like I said, there was a time (about 20 years ago) when it was exciting to see local metal bands. Texas was one of many American hotbeds for the upstarts who got to open for the big names, and a lot of those bands went on to become bigger themselves in the process. For fans, it was all part of the underground continuum, and we looked forward to seeing our local favorites stand tall with the touring bands. They represented our local scenes, and they added a regional flavor to what an already great lineup.
Things aren’t that way anymore, and they haven’t been for a long time. The reason I’m noticing it now is because it’s clear that this miserable trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. With very few exceptions, all the local opening acts on the Rotting Christ tour were horrible. They also came in three flavors – shitty death metal, shitty metalcore, and shitty black metal. Death metal is the oldest of the three styles, and shitty death metal bands have been around in droves since the beginning, so no real surprise there. The shitty metalcore was laughable, mainly because it’s a new style that has already flared out, and basically the only kids who still play it are hicks who loiter at malls. I was, however, surprised at the number of immensely shitty black metal bands that popped up on the bills. American kids are still trying to do that? Christ.
Anyway, the short version is that these bands were nothing but trouble and detracted from the shows without exception. Some readers of this blog are younger and more impressionable, and so here’s a few pointers for how to make your band something other than the bane of the headliner’s evening.
Show up early.
You’re going on first, fuckers, so make a point of getting there a minimum of an hour before doors open. Make sure your jerkoff keyboardist has the day off from work, that everyone’s car runs, and that your guitarist knows that the show is TODAY.
Be aware of your set time and honor it.
If you’re late to the gig or take to long to set up, that’s too goddamn bad. The clock doesn’t start ticking when you finally start playing, it starts based on the posted schedule. If you’re supposed to be on at 6:30 – 7:00, and you start at 6:45, then enjoy a 15 minute set. Also, make a point of preparing a set that matches your time slot! One way you can help yourself is to:
Play shorter songs.
Local black metal bands in particular really love songs that contain a hero sandwich’s worth of riffs and at least three false endings. If you’re trying to give potential fans a proper sampling of your work, how does being long-winded benefit you. It’s true that some bands have long songs in general, so just learn to write ones that are actually good and it will all come out in the wash.
Put your paint on after you load in.
It’s hard to refrain from picking on the horrible black metal bands (I admit to having a personal stake in it), but there’s so much grist for the mill. So you took my advice and showed up early… in full corpse paint. Why? There’s nothing you have going on with your look that you couldn’t attempt after you loaded your gear on stage. Most of you guys are doing the standard “panda bear” move anyway. Are you trying to prove a point? Do you feel like it’s not black metal to show up in your street clothes? It’s actually the other way around, kiddos. The only time you should be wearing paint and spikes in on stage. And don’t leave it on for the rest of the night while you watch the headlining bands, either! Find some self-respect.
Forget about Cradle of Filth.
If you’re in a US black metal band that has been around for less than a decade, chances are that Cradle of Filth is a prominent part of your musical lexicon. Considering the band effectively peaked in 1998, I don’t know why this happens. The inevitable result is that your band is not only influenced by CoF, a band long regarded as non grata in the black metal community, but you’re influenced by their unbearable post-millennium output. That’s some pretty heavy double jeopardy, and your band is all but dead in the water if Dani Filth is still your hero. Get heavy into Slayer instead; you won’t be better liked, but you might be less hated.
Don’t have a problematic gimmick.
If you want to wear masks or corpse paint or faux fur (yep, seen it) on stage, go right ahead if it doesn’t mess with your set time. If it involves projectiles, liquids, explosions, or anything else that might break stage gear or shut the show down outright, then forget it. You’re not Watain, and you won’t get to be anything like them if you sabotage an entire concert with your moronic shenanigans. Some douchelord openers in Rochester had a dead octopus as a prop, and nobody dug it. Apparently, they’re now banned from that venue. Come to think of it, maybe all opening bands should do retarded shit at shows and get banned as a result – it would solve a lot of problems!
…with anyone, about anything! Shut the fuck up! You are the local band, and you don’t have a say, period! The touring package that comes on after you just got done sucking the air out of the room is into this endeavor for hundreds of thousands of dollars. That probably never occurred to you. Do you have any idea what it costs to fund a tour bus? Trust me, nobody besides your skank of a girlfriend gives a flying fuck about whether or not you feel like you’ve been treated fairly. Take your $30 payout and go bitch about it at the Denny’s across the street.
Get your shit out of the way.
Once you’ve blundered through your time slot, the real bands will be ready to play, so get your shit off the stage. Don’t try to take the cymbals off the stands one by one – yank them off to the side and put them away later. Get everyone in your band handing stuff off like a bucket line from an old-timey fire brigade. We don’t care how your gear leaves the stage, as long as it’s this instant!
There are plenty more pointers where these came from (in point of fact, similar lists are floating around, but whatever), but these were the things I saw and dealt with every night with Rotting Christ and Melechesh. It was sometimes embarrassing to try to explain to two European act what was wrong with all our regional bands. After a fashion, I simply couldn’t. If you’re in a local band and don’t do any of the things above, then congratulations and see you on the tour circuit. If not, you’re probably not aware of it, so re-read this list until it sinks in. Either way, get the fuck off the stage!