In This Town, Music’s Best Gems Play Good Stuff On Weeknights
Does the local scene have a phobia for weeknights?
Last week, I ended my column with an item spotlighting the Spokane’s best no-show shows.
In it I mentioned shows by bands like Buffalo’s Lollipop, Berkeley’s Saturn’s Flea Collar and and Tokyo’s Melt Banana. These were among the best shows that came to the Lilac City in ‘96, yet nobody felt they were important enough to spend a $3 cover.
What I forgot to add is that the majority of the listed shows fell on weeknights. And in Spokane, weeknights - Sunday through Thursday - are off-nights.
Weeknights in other parts of the Northwest like Seattle or Portland draw smaller numbers than weekends. But the clubs still post bigger numbers than Spokane. Though the population is much higher in these cities comparatively, there are also dozens more clubs competing for the same audience.
Week after week, month after month, legions of out-of-town bands visited the Spokane area to play to tens of people.
For this critic, the greatest and worst show of the the year occurred when San Francisco’s Rhythm Pigs played Ichabod’s North in May.
It was the best because this longtime indie rock trio played with unparalleled versatility, donning styles (Latin, punk and country) like they were part of their wardrobe. It was the worst because only 15 people turned out on a Tuesday night.
So what is it with weeknights in this town?
Some might say day jobs interfere.
But seriously, do that many people really work 9-to-5 shifts?
How do I know? I asked. To rule out “the work” excuse, I conducted an informal survey at two clubs over the last couple of weeks. The questions were: What days of the week do you work? What time do you start?
Remarkably, most of the respondents don’t have 9-5 jobs. Many of them work late mornings, afternoons and nights.
The third question was: Do you go out on weeknights?
Those who stayed home - 60 percent of the respondents - didn’t have a definitive explanation for why they don’t go out. Not surprising.
What’s ironic is that there’s no shortage of complaints from local scenesters who say there’s nothing to do in Spokane. Or they whine about the fact no good bands ever play Spokane.
Most of these people were riveted to the theme song of “Friends” while Minneapolis’ Guzzard enthralled 20 people on a Thursday night in August.
That’s why traveling bands start skipping Spokane on their cross-country jaunts. How many bands have you seen in the last three of years, who tour incessantly and who have never been back?
The logical solution might be that promoters start booking touring bands on weekends. But that’s not possible because these groups reserve weekend shows for the cities where their draw is strongest. Once they build a following in Spokane, then they’ll play weekend nights.
Believe it or not, original music does have a following in Spokane. Mother Load can reunite for the second show in almost two years and still pack the house. The Makers fill Ichabod’s. Mama’s Dogma draws capacity crowds regularly. The Fumes garner droves of fans, as well.
So as we start a new year, let’s all make a resolution. Let’s attend local shows even if they’re on weeknights. If it means sacrificing a couple of hours of sleep once or twice a month, so be it.
I hate to resort to slippery-slope tactics but if we don’t support shows, this scene will become vacant like the closed-down building on the corner of Second and Washington, the Big Dipper, or the brick structure at 230 W. Riverside once known as Mother’s Pub.
Mother Load and the Flies both reunited for one show Saturday at Ichabod’s North.
For the Flies, it was their last performance together.
For Mother Load, Saturday was the third time they have reunited. So who knows if it’s their last.
But it was one of the more memorable club concerts of the year.
The Flies disintegrated in October after performing at the North-by-Northwest music conference in Portland, and they never bid the scene a proper farewell.
Saturday was closure.
The trio ran through a rambunctious set in somewhat chronological order, starting with songs from their first demo tape (“Let’s Kill Kenneth” and “Green Flares”), segueing into tunes from their CD (“Austrian” and “Mimi”) and ending with numbers from their final 7-inch (“Plaster of Paris”).
It was obvious from the Flies’ effort Saturday that the band has plenty of mileage left. Anyone who’s monitored the the band’s progress would know it demonstrated steady growth throughout its four-year stint.
The only thing that marred their set was when they stopped mid-way through to chastise this reporter for not having written a feature story about them.
Local bands to watch for in 1997
Fistful of Norwegians
Thee Elephant Men
Not much is known about these elusive mystery bands. However, sources say they’ll be whooping it up in the local clubs this year.