Last Saturday I went to see one of my favourite Aussie bands, Miami Horror, play the Mod Club here in Toronto. Despite delays (the band was late…which is fine since their previous show was in New York) and in the end I attended by myself (emo pony tear), the show was phenomenal. I felt like I was in a throwback to the 80s, but the good 80s…the new wave 80s…the intelligent but still fun 80s.
Oh…something else…the place was packed. Like, shoulder to shoulder…people dancing through the whole show…singing along.
You’ve known Miami Horror for years right? o/~Sometimes when all that’s lost remains, drink from the fountain of youth and never age again o/~ …right?
Of course you haven’t! You may have heard about them through Triple J, or maybe a friend, or a random Google Search, but they are an Aussie neo new wave band…unless you’re an Aussie you’re more than forgiven for never having heard them. You had no reason to know they existed!
This got me thinking about my last year in shows. I have eclectic tastes and only got back into show-going last year:
- Tunng at the Rivoli
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at the Phoenix
- The Middle East at the Horseshoe (I wrote about after the show)
- Mumford and Sons at the Sound Academy
That last show was big, of course. The must-have ticket for music lovers in 2010. Keep in mind, though…had you heard of them in March of 2010? The buzz was built through summer, and by November they were massive.
All these shows had one thing in common…they were packed. With fans. Shoulder to shoulder. But…why??
Radio? Not even Mumford and Sons had much radio play except on The Edge here in Toronto, and the other three had NO radio play aside from college. I would love to hear Tunng’s ‘Hustle’ played on the radio when I wake up in the morn, but that’s pretty unlikely. So radio didn’t draw people.
Videos? Miami Horror has awesome videos, and Tunng’s Bullets is one of the best videos I’ve ever seen. But I don’t think they had much broadcast time here in Canada…and I’d be surprised if they had any in the States. All YouTube…but how did people know to look for them?
CD Sales? I don’t think Tunng, Middle East or Miami Horror had their CDs for sale here, and regardless most people teefed ’em from the net …so record sales didn’t drive the band to the city, and the fans to the show.
…Tunng? The Middle East? Filling bars in Toronto? *I* never filled a bar in Toronto!!
There’s only one thing left, then. One last thing these shows had in common…good music! The songs written by these artists are amazing. Their live performances are honed and skilled. There was nothing really fancy going on aside from some lights and smoke. It was the music that drew people.
So…you want to get people to your show? I have three easy steps:
- Write good music
- Make the music available to people in such a way that it can spread and friends can pass songs on to their friends
- Play a lot of live shows so you get your chops…so you won’t disappoint fans when you play live
Oh…also, make sure the word gets out through your networks. I found out about these shows in a variety of different ways:
- Middle East: I’m a fan, they mentioned tour dates on their blog, which I found through their Facebook…there were no Toronto dates set so I contacted them and begged them to hit T. Dot¹…within a week, I had a Facebook reply mentioning their Horseshoe date had been added
- Tunng: A friend…a friend noticed they were playing, knew I was a fan because I introduced him, and he let me know
- Edward Sharpe & Mumford and Sons: Friends again…this time they bought me tix…luv my friends!
- Miami Horror: Songkick.com, a site that lets you build a list of your favourite bands, and notifies you when they play in your city. …literally, on Wednesday I discovered Songkick, found out they were playing in town Saturday, bought tickets Thursday, and showed up Saturday night!
So in the end it’s all about the music…it always has been. The rest is icing, helps get the word out, but you don’t need it. You just need a good song, a decent guitar, and a bar.
¹ T Dot…as in Toronto (dot) Ontario…short for T.O., or ‘Tee Oh.’ It replaces the usual way of referring to the city, ‘Chiranah’ which is the proper pronunciation of ‘Toronto.’ T Dot is a way to make all of us in Toronto feel cool, as though we have a distinct culture…which we really don’t. It also makes us feel big, not that having a giant erection downtown doesn’t do that already.
Ignore Me! TWKH8FW3S6KP