Today, an event promoter who seems kind of cool surprised me by posting about his intolerance of the mantra “Support local music.” And while I understood his argument – that bands hide behind this altruistic slogan to guilt people into paying to attend their shows – it felt tremendously off the mark to me, especially a loaded assertion that only shitty bands use this phrase to coerce people to pay door prices that otherwise are not merited.
(Oh god, am I really about to post a blog in response to a Facebook thread? FYI: The thread was one of those rarely seen healthy discussions.) Forgive this bit of soapboxing, but I really love local music.
Local music is worth supporting, and I don’t think people should be shy in saying that. It’s possible that most of the time this specific phrase is used to induce guilt, as if you blowing off one show at Uncle Lou’s is going to detonate the whole local music scene. But I think it’s also used when someone is proud of what they’ve made and wants to entice you to give it a chance, so they make the simplest request: Support local music. Come see my band. I made this music. Will you listen? It’s a dorky thing to say, really, “Support local music,” but for people who don’t go out to shows a lot, who skip the opener, who just aren’t aware, it’s a really easy way to remind them that something exists, really close by, and it might actually interest you to know about it.
Just last night, there was a reunion show for the band Precious, a local band who pretty much only locals would know about. The show was for a cause, so that might account for what sounds like a kickass turnout (I was at a bachelorette party last night, so I missed out), but the whole strength of the event fell on the shoulders of the local music community who may not have said the words, “Support local music” in this specific scenario, but who embodied why that movement is important and not just some cajoling phrase to slap on a Facebook event share. They raised $4,300 for Precious bandleader Steve Garron to put toward his medical bills. And they did it because he needed help, and they gave a damn, but also very likely because they wanted a future where another Precious reunion show was a possibility.
Let’s look at a band who had an awesome recent local show without a cause attached. That most recent Saskatchewan show was certainly a beast, with people swelling into the bar at Will’s Pub during their set. I can’t speak of the money behind it, but if you haven’t seen a crowd freak out to the Delusionaires (who play on Friday at Will's Pub with Shannon and the Clams !!) or Ben Prestage or many of the musical people like Sleazy McQueen who Bao writes about every week in This Little Underground or even sat in Tanqueray’s for an entire night jiving, then I understand why you might think “support local music” is an obsolete, tortured phrase that only translates to “Pay me to play for you every single week.” But I think you are wrong.