Friday, August 04, 2006

There's no way you can really win a rock contest

Ken Veerman (aka SimpleSongs) has "decided to dedicate my first anecdote on Blunderpop to everyone who's ever had the guts to organise a gig, no matter how badly the previous one went. Because it's simply too easy to pick on the guys who are putting together a show, even if they mess up slightly (or not so slighty, but that's not the point)." So he sent us this story about surreal line-ups, veggie poultry and the unfairness of getting free booze.

Having organised a load of gigs myself for the Antwerp underground combo Undercurrent, I've witnessed our own so-called 'experienced' promoter make the most ridiculous mistakes ("Are you telling me you can't even put chicken stock in a vegetarian meal?" "Erm, no". "Shit, you reckon they'll notice?") and all I've learned is that experience is more about 'not panicking when the shit hits the fan' than about erm … 'wiping shit from fans'.

"Is that fan clean?" (picture by Thomas Bartosik)

Rock contests are a popular thing it seems. There's all kinds of reasons (some good, some bad) for this: the audience gets to see five bands in one night, if a band sucks, it's only on stage for about fifteen minutes so it's easy to retreat to the bar for the time being and ignore them, there are no fees to be paid to the bands and every band brings along its own -albeit sometimes tiny- legion of fans.

I remember this rock contest last year which had five bands competing for two awards. First of all, there was the typical 'professional' prize, where a jury of often dubious expertise (any musician who once played in a one-hit wonder and went downhill ever since can be in it) chooses the 'best band of the night'. There was also a public award ('which band was most popular to the crowd on that particular night?') so every visitor received a polling form which they should fill out and hand back to the jury after the last gig.

SimpleSongs @ Kaaiman (picture by Brook Williams)

The following order in which the bands were to play was decided at random. Now, having five bands on one night is a logistic hell, so starting early is wise. There was however quite a stir when it turned out that the first band on was supposed to play at 7.30 pm whereas all the leaflets, posters, press stuff etc clearly mentioned "doors 8 pm". As you can imagine, this took the chances of that first band of winning the public award well into the sub-zero area (and almost beyond the Kelvin scale).

To top it all off, the band who had to play last went to the jury to complain about… (brace) the free drinks that were available in the backstage. Their argumentation being: "we'll be totally drunk by the time we're supposed to go on stage." The band saw this as 'unfair'.

More SimpleSongs here.


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