Just why do local bands gravitate out of clubs toward The Met?
Ever since Black Happy earned the distinction of becoming the first area band to fill the venue to capacity, the downtown theater has come to symbolize the pinnacle of local success.
It has also fed the myth that The Met is a viable outlet for local music.
Playing The Met has its advantages.
It enables bands to frolic under the spotlight on a roomy stage in a majestic ambience while performing before a large, yet intimate, hometown crowd.
That is, if people show.
As gorgeous as it is, The Met can be a cruel beast. Or rather, a sea of empty seats can be cruel.
Very few local bands have played the venue with total success. The local bills that sold tickets were the ones that were heavily stacked with locally recognized bands.
For example, the 4,000 Holes benefit held last July featured a lineup of Mama’s Dogma, Quitters Inc., Oil Filter, Big Comb and several others. Five hundred people showed up. And, a recent benefit show for the late Robert Two Hawks that featured Jim Boyd, Mama’s Dogma and Mali Doma garnered a sell-out crowd of 750.
Sadly, the majority of the bands draw barely enough to fill three rows.
Three concerts with local lineups were staged in The Met last fall. According to a source who requested anonymity, not one of those shows sold enough seats to fill half the venue.
Looking back, Black Happy was unique. Not only did their music appeal to such a wide audience, but their infectious presence and explosive displays were made for larger venues. Hence, two sell-out concerts at The Met. Since then, no other local band has measured up.
The odds haven’t discouraged many from trying, though.
Staging a Met concert is only a deterrent after the fact, when bands or promoters lose hefty sums of money.
On paper, filling 750 seats doesn’t appear to be a lofty endeavor. But it’s a big building. Even with 400 people in the house, The Met seems vacuous.
So why do bands do it?
It’s a wonderful room to play.
And they want to reach a wider audience. Which is understandable.
Every local band that has set foot on The Met stage has built its initial fan base in the clubs. After toiling in the bars for a couple of years, overzealous bands grow frustrated. They feel entitled to a bigger audience.
Rather than hitting the road and laying a strong foundation for a career, they play The Met.
Just because they draw 300 or 400 people a night, bar bands assume those numbers will translate into a packed house at The Met.
Of course, it doesn’t.
To the dismay of some musicians, listening to music isn’t the only draw at bars - there’s also mingling, people watching, beer drinking and shooting stick.
Unless fans are rabidly fond of a particular group, they aren’t going to wait in line at the box office, shell out $5 or $7 to sit or stand and watch a concert all night. When that same combo is at the Northern Corner, fans can mill around, maybe drink a beer or smoke a cigarette.
Egos blind bands, too.
So does vying for the spotlight, which can delude groupss into overstating their relevance and importance in Spokane.
Bands disregard any previous successes they’ve enjoyed. Somehow it’s all meaningless if they don’t play The Met. Thus, the theater legitimizes their existence.
When, in fact, the very same venue drives some groups into extinction. It’s a humbling and embarrassing blow when only 40 people show.
That’s why a couple of bands have disappeared from the scene after unfruitful bout.
On Saturday, The Met will host another local music concert. Four veteran rockers The Edge, Wiser Sin, Distorted Silence and Mykey’s Outrage are counting on years of paying dues in the club circuit to lure fans.
Hopefully they will.
But ticket sales have been slow.
If a crowd doesn’t materialize, it won’t come as a shock.
Neither will a handful of new local bands planning their first stake at the venue.
Saturday’s concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 advance, $8 at the door, and are available at G&B; outlets.
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