If you think of a band’s live show as a painting, then the venue is the frame. Delta Moon has been fortunate to perform in many deluxe frames, but every now and then we find ourselves in one that’s broken or just doesn’t fit. When that happens, there’s no backing out. All you can do is play your show, connect the best you can with the audience, and try to get paid.
Here are a few memorable warning signs:
The poster for the town festival has pig races in the headline spot, with your band’s name in small letters at the bottom. Actually, humility is good for the soul, and this show could be fun. But if it happens too often the band starts getting edgy.
There’s a police station across the street. You could be playing in the nicest room in the world, but if people think they’re going to have a few drinks and wind up in jail, they will seek entertainment elsewhere.
At sound check, the owner says, “Most bands who play here don’t use monitors.” This means the monitors don’t work.
At sound check, the bar staff is too busy yakking with each other to pour you a drink of water. This is a good indication of how they will treat your fans. It means the owner is not around or has quit caring. It’s a good bet this venue will be closing soon. Do not take a check.
The owner starts sentences by saying, “I’m not a racist, but … ” and then follows with the most outrageous statements. As if that weren’t bad enough, it also means he’s dishonest. Do not take a check.
As soon as your show ends, two guys start setting up a wrestling ring for the following night. Now, I’ve enjoyed professional wrestling and believe everything has its place. But if a music venue is resorting to this, unless it’s Madison Square Garden, do not take a check.