I had a strange experience last night. A Swiss man named Reto Mader played in Toledo OH, about 30 minutes from my home. A few Months ago I was contacted by someone at Ramalama records in Toledo about playing this show. After determining that I was able to do the show, I looked into Mader's work and became really interested. I got excited about the show and was really interested in playing at Ramalama because it is part of a dying breed of independent record stores. However, i was a bit skeptical. In general, I have had bad experiences with the owner of the store and, more generally, I have had bad experiences playing shows set up by people who do not specialize in noise, EAI, or other out sounds. I was willing to give it a shot.
I felt good about my set. I was able to try out some new stuff in a relatively low risk situation and it turned out well.
Reto Mader, aka RM74, was kind, gracious, and enthusiastic. This was the last stop on a brief, 6 day tour in The States. He originally came out here from Switzerland to play the Utech Records Festival put on by the phenomenal Utech Records label. His set was really strong. It was a sophisticated combination of dark drone metal and high brow improvisation using a bass, kalimba, other devices, and loop pedals. There were three basic kinds of pieces that he played each of which resembled songs in their fairly clear use of a beginning, middle, and end. He began with an interesting percussive piece gently pounding out and looping rhythmic passages using a mallet on the body of the bass. He then layered in some drones and bass riffs on top. In the middle there was a mind bending, multi-layered, polyrhythmic, Kalimba piece that was incredible. The rest of the "songs" were looped and layered bass riffs that sometimes included pre-recorded sounds and/or synthesizer drones. These were really atmospheric, somewhat dark, and very powerful. However, after a while, they became a bit repetitive as each one followed much the same format. Overall, I was really pleased with his set and was very thankful to have been able to see it.
We chatted, traded music, and had a good time.
The only problem is that there were roughly 5 people in attendance including myself and my partner, the woman who was touring with him, and two other friends of mine. The person who had set up the show did not even put up a flyer at the record store, nor did he stick around to see the show. In fact, the amp he brought for Mader to use did not work. Reto thought the promoter had gone to get another amp, but several hours later we began to suspect that he had simply gone home. Luckily Gabe Beam, one of the audience members agreed to bring his amp.
I was really frustrated by the lack of respect that the promoter showed for our guest. I explained to the guys at the shop that, theoretically, we are all on the same team. We are all trying to make life in the area less shitty for ourselves and for others. We do ourselves a disservice when we prove to people that their preconceived notions about the Midwest are accurate.
The promoter called to yell at me. It was a lot of silly drama, but I think I realize now that it is rarely a good idea to contact people who are not musicians to set up a show. A friend, Blake Edwards, has been talking about putting a simple primer on how to set up shows properly and I think we need to do it. Here are my brief guidelines.
If you are setting up a show, at MINIMUM, you owe out of town bands the following.
1) A simple meal.
2) A place to stay, even just a spot on your floor.
3) Promotion including online posts and a flyer.
4) Gas money.
5) The consideration to show up and pay attention.
6) Adequate equipment that meets the performer's needs.
Keep this in mind people. Lets all be friends and help each other out.