As long-time readers will know, we like to throw the doors to Thrash Hits open every now and again to let musicians have a bit of a shout and rant about something that’s got on their tits. We’ve had Rich from Xerath on political lyrics, Dale from Malefice discuss metal fans’ distrust of success, and Swanny from Monuments on bourgeois concepts regarding spiritual and social fulfilment. The latest in this line of infamany is Daniel Garrod, formerly the drummer of Bastions, who wants to get something off his chest on the subject of freeloading guestlisters. Take it away, Danny….
So last month saw a big day happen for so many people. If I can remember correctly, tickets went up on sale on the same day for Fleetwood Mac, Fall Out Boy, The Postal Service aaaaaaand… some others I can’t think of, or I may have been wrong, who knows? Who cares, it’s a trigger mechanism, not a memory lesson. We all knew it was going to be a mad rush for Fall Out Boy tickets, and I know so many people were clicking refresh every second in the minutes leading up to the sale time. Most of us have been there, for a band we adore and would kill to see on the big stage.
The time came. The time went. My social network feeds were littered with bitter disappointment and precious little exaltation. Damn. I have to admit, it was a bit depressing seeing so many people so down about not getting tickets. The balance of “YES TICKETS!” to “Fuck, didn’t get tickets” was heavily weighted on the negative. It didn’t bother me persay, I wasn’t chasing tickets for any of the bands but the feeling of disappointment was almost tangible, and it wasn’t really nice to be around. I carried on with my life and that would have been the end of that, were it not for a heavily retweeted comment from Tom from Punktastic appearing in my Twitter feed:
wait til you see the industry guest list take up 2/3 of the room LOL
— Tom Aylott (@aylott) February 8, 2013
Bloody hell, it made me sick knowing how right he was. It made me sick knowing that so many life long fans of these bands wouldn’t get to see their favourite artists because someone was deemed more important than them and, as such, got a ticket first. For free.
Let me make my stance very clear; in my mind, “industry” (and I use that word in its very lowest form) guest-listing is the same as the general public stealing, when it comes to people shitting on artists.
I’m not talking about journalists who go down to review shows, or the photographers who contact bands (or the venue) to work that evening, or even the people who work hand in hand and represent an artist. These people all have a role to play, and provide a good service (if they’re one of the good ones…) Those are the ones down at shows when they would rather be anywhere but; but they have articles to write, magazines to fill and artists to actively represent.
No, I’m talking about the periphery. The + 1s (and the + 4s), the ones that are really psyched to see a show (”can you get me guestlist, bro?”), especially if the artist is a ‘name’. I once played a show where there were no less than eighty people on the guestlist. Who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to lose, in this case, eight hundred pounds from people not paying to walk through the door? Money that could be used to fund further shows, to make sure the band and the supports are paid, and generally put to damn good use. Yes, that’s an extreme example, but even the bands’ girlfriends have to pay to go to a show (even if that’s in the form of having to listen to a guitarist/drummer/whatever talk on and on and on and on and on about their hopes and dreams. Believe me: they pay). Even on a small scale, a promoter loses money every time some asks for and gets guestlist. Why is said guestlister put into such high regard that they shirk a fee? Y’know what? Henry Rollins would buy a record off the band, after paying on the door to support the artist he has come to see and you, sir, are not better than Henry Rollins.
Look! It’s a gig you didn’t get tickets to get into:
Every time I see a guestlister not directly working with the band (and working in the same office as the artists PR/PA does not count), sauntering around a show (and you know as well as I do, they fucking saunter), I want to slap them in the face and go “Congratulations for being a fucking hypocrite.” These people usually work in some capacity within the industry, so I would like to think that they know how hard and tight the money is for bands and promoters alike, yet they are always the first on the phone looking for a hookup. YOU HAVE A JOB. PAY THE DOOR FEE. If they don’t know how tough it is (despite the majority of the freeloaders apparently having their “finger on the pulse of the scene, man”), then they should just fuck off out the industry, period.
Now, as is my way, I was having a mild rant amongst friends about this, someone countered me with the reasonable argument that having people on the guestlist is good for networking and accruing favours. What? Have we become such an insipid collection of wimps that we require validation from someone wearing loafers and the latest branded apparel, to waltz into a show for free? Why the hell do we, as artists, tolerate such limp-wristed, lip-serviced behavior? Is it the same reason we tolerate people downloading a bands’ records off some piss-poor rip hosted on a blogspot somewhere? Are we that pathetic that we won’t stand up and say enough is enough? Or shall we continue to behave like people hawking watches out of a boot of a car, insisting that it’s a ‘real’ Rolex? It’s not enough an artist’s music is being ripped off, but we dare tolerate their performance being ripped off too?
Oh, I’m aware we did this to ourselves. We let it happen. We’re still letting it happen. My question is; when are we going to grow a spine and tell all the hangers on to fuck off?