I am writing to you tonight, from my hermetically sealed hovel of despair, my one bedroom third floor walkup of loathing, my dark chamber of filth-encrusted, bewinged curse words, with a slight irritation. My slight irritation is that I should be at PCMH seeing Eliot Sumner, Sting’s daughter, play a kickass rock show right now. But I am not, because her management team fucking canceled it. The official word was that she was offered an opening slot on a major tour and had to bail, but that doesn’t hold much water to me because this date was the night before the Governor’s Ball in NYC and nobody is going to bail on that gig, and the rest of her tour dates aren’t canceled.
Lame. Someone is lying to us.
I sort of have a rule with myself - I don’t write about touring artists because fucking PR agents tell me to (that rule doesn’t apply to you guys, Portlandiers - you keep sending me your shit, I will always write about you). I will try to check out anything compelling though, and ES’s shit seemed interesting, so I gave it a listen and it was, in fact interesting. My irritation is certainly inflated because the music is good and I broke my rule only to be brutally rebuffed.
So look, we can probably all assume that they canceled PCMH because ticket sales were low. I can’t make any claims on knowing what kind of guarantee she had or what the compensation was contingent upon, but I DO KNOW that if you want to develop a market, as a touring artist of any kind, you have to play a few empty rooms.
Scratch that: you have to play A LOT of empty rooms. And it irritates the EVER LIVING FUCK out of me that their management team wrote us off as a market not worth developing. It just feels like some elitist shit.
I mean, I run the books for a business full time, that’s my fucking job, managing the dollars. I totally get cost cutting. But canceling the day before, at that point you’re probably losing your hotel room deposits and you have to pay the crew to sit around anyway, so how much are you really saving?
I’m not in the mood to write a takedown on capitalism right now because I have to sleep at some point, but this lack of investment in building relationships, in putting energy into new markets that don’t immediately return money, is rampant in all kinds of business but the music business especially, and it destroys artists’ abilities to build a long-term career.
Have you read the Tipping Point? Your mileage may vary on it since it comes from the generally insufferable Malcolm Gladwell, but his idea that a maven having enthusiasm for something very specific, combined with influence over a particular community, can propel a formerly obscure or uninteresting or even dangerous thing to #trending status very quickly - that idea holds water, I think. But it’s never given a chance to launch when festival culture chokes the life out of little plays in little markets like these. All it would have taken is one maven with lots of social influence to have seen her show at PCMH to increase her draw here for a future play, or increase her spotify revenues from this market, or increase her whatever the fuck she is selling to make money, but we weren’t given the chance. Because the Governor’s ball is a sure thing. It’s a bunch of elite New Yorkers who can afford the outlandish ticket price of close to $400 and who - real talk - rarely go to their local music clubs. And what will happen is that after this album release cycle and maybe one follow up tour/album cycle, Eliot Sumner will effectively disappear. Because nobody will really give a shit where she is because nobody had the chance to bond with her catalog, and one assumes that if Sting is your father, there’s a trust fund somewhere from whence you can draw your daily bread and just sit around making music forevermore whether people listen to it or not. Lucky gal, I suppose.
And look, I kind of lose respect for artists who can’t tough out an empty room like a champ. IT SUCKS, but if you do it right, the 10 people watching you will love your band forever and tell everyone they know. That’s a real rock and roll thing.
Uh, your band has to be good tho. Don’t forget about being good. All of the above theories are moot if your band sucks balls.
These kinds of decisions take the joy out of the music industry for me. It just bums me out, particularly because Portland is such an amazing music town. Plus I spent energy trying to help her bitchy PR lady promote the thing, and Aimsel Ponti took the time to interview Eliot for the show, write it up, and publish it. And now PCMH has an empty room on what should be a first run night. Like, a lot of us put in work. Get the fuck out of here and don’t come back if you don’t respect us enough to follow through when conditions aren’t perfect.
Hang on though, hang on. All is not lost. YOU GUYS, WE HAVE EACH OTHER AND WE DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE. I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray. I wanna touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes. I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. Your body is a wonderland.
I can’t fight this feeling anymore.
Yep, I’m done now. Let’s do this, Portland Maine!
FRIDAY JUNE 3
It’s First Friday, so, you know, the streets of Portland will run red with the blood of crowds and tourists and things you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Go see the Art in Exodus show at SPACE gallery tho.
Big Meat Hammer, Portland’s oldest punk band with the highest gristle to muscle ratio, is hosting Meatstock 2 at Mathew’s with NH’s Bushpusher (omg - side note, I once worked with a dude whose band name was Clam Hammer. I feel like we’re in the same realm here) and Meatsaw. These are three bands whose names are all euphemisms for dicks.
Geno’s is having a Dr. Who themed party called Bad Wolf with Pink Sock, The English Muffins, Ray's Occult, and the Gamma Goochies. I’ll say it again, indoor kids: A Dr. Who themed party.
When Particles Collide are releasing their new record at PHOME with Jargon Party and Rigor Samsa. Dylan Verner is moving away from us so go see Rigor Samsa while you can before they are no more.
Ben Kilcollins is at RiRa early, and then Eden Refugee are there later. I hate the band name Eden Refugee. So, what… that makes you like, Adam? Is your name Adam? Do you feel you are the first man and that all women have been made from your rib? Yeah, I’ve read the bible, skanks, get out of here. Anyway, they play covers so I guess they’re not a Christian band, but I’ve got my side eye placed firmly upon you and it’s ready to roll at any moment, Eden Refugee.
Sorry if someone in that band is, like, your brother or some shit.
A Band Beyond Description (another band name I despise with a white hot rage) is at Portland Lobster Company early, at 6:30pm. Dead covers. BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ENOUGH BANDS PLAYING DEAD COVERS, YOU SEE.
Dope: Bach and Beer at Rising Tide. Cellist Stueart Pincombe will be playing Bach pieces paired with a Rising Tide beer. Get at it, you cultured pieces of shit! Also, this event reminds me of the song Sports and Wine by BFF:
Roots, Rhythm and Dub are at Slab. Flask has LOVE. Empire has their First Friday popup dance. Salvage has Pete Witham and the Cozmic Zombies. Blue has Zapion, Darlin’ Corey and The Evan King Group. Dogfish has a malfunctioning event calendar right now so I’m not sure what they have.
It’s Plague’s 10 year anniversary - go check it out.
Saturday June 4
Vaughn is at Empire with Beggars and Holiday Music. Vaughn is another band from which a member is getting the eff out of Portland and relocating. I think this is your last chance to see Vaughn. Nicholas Rier has a killer voice and writes good songs, go see this.
Part 2 of Plague’s 10 year anniversary: outdoor goth dance party? Sure.
Very cool: go see 10 different performing artist groups from our local immigrant communities perform at King Middle School for World Refugee Day today from 3 to 7.
Sean Mencher heads up a Rockabilly showcase and cruise-in at Live at 212, for you classic-car-and-pompadour-having types.
Myles Bullen and some local pals are doing a benefit for the yoga nonprofit One Posture at a Time at B. Good.
Geno’s has Battery Steele and Mainers Mirth, They Called Me Legion and Model T and the Shivs.
Sunday June 5
Don’t miss the Heads Talk event at SPACE Gallery - meet and talk with the Grateful Dead’s long time manager Richard Loren, and Jesse Jarnow, author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America.