Monday, November 09, 2009

End of an era...

The economic downturn (10.2% unemployment, the only statistic that really matters, in the U.S.) has clobbered California, in particular, with businesses leaving the state in droves, a huge real estate slump (even only a mile from the beach), a collapsing educational system (believe me, I’m on the front lines), a farcical governor, a “do nothing” state legislature that taxes the Hell out of the citizenry, and a broken electoral system that does nothing but put forth referenda that can never be paid for (high speed rail, my ass). In Los Angeles, the economic realities are businesses shutting down, and empty buildings beginning to appear. Pretty soon, whole swaths of L.A. are going to look like the bombed out ruins of “The Warriors”.

The poor economy has hit the metal concert scene pretty hard, although, plenty of acts are still booking in the near future (the upcoming concert schedule is pretty full, at least for now). Attendance is noticeably down at shows, and I’ve had to cut back my own concert going for various reasons. For example, at the recent Kult Ov Azazel show at The Black Castle, attendance was near SINGLE digits. Another example that comes to mind was the nearly deserted HOB Sunset Strip (according to Etan) for the Absu tour last spring. Yes, a number of acts, Glorior Belli being one, dropped off that tour before it even began, which certainly didn’t help, but the economic pinch undoubtedly has something to do with it. Hell, even the mallrats couldn’t afford to come out and sell out this year’s incarnation of Summer Slaughter.

Although I’ve chided the Knitting Factory about the poor state of the bathrooms during shows, the Knit has been a great place to see concerts with a good location and a good facility. A number of bands that may have had trouble getting booked into the larger, glitzier venues on the Strip were able to play at the Knit, and the local booking agency, Church of the 8th Day (COT8D), kept up a full schedule of great shows to see, both in and out of metal.

I urge you to read a detailed interview with Daniel Dismal, CEO of COT8D here, before reading my post any further.

The Knit was in a rather strange mall, sharing the space with a L.A. Fitness gym (plenty of pretty people preening and hoping to be seen), a hip clothing store, a grocery, and a drug store. Metalheads lining up for shows were always given strange looks by other patrons of the mall, particularly by the pretty people, even though we fit right in on Hollywood Boulevard. One time, I was walking up to the entrance of the Knit and two girls out trawling for a Hollywood club experience asked me what kind of music was featured at this club. I said, “Death Metal”, and they were astonished. I got the obligatory, “DEATH… metal?!”, and looks of incredulity.

Although the Knit is now gone, as Daniel mentions, The Ultraviolet Social Club is already booked with upcoming shows, including imminent performances from Eyehategod and the Heathenfest extravaganza. I always did enjoy the shows at the Knit, though, and I’m disheartened to see it gone...

The Black Castle is also closing down. Although I’ve only been there once, The Black Castle was generating plenty of interest, being able to book some obscure acts such as Archgoat, Horna, and Bahimiron, acts that you would expect to hardly ever play outside of their immediate area, or only in Europe.

Read The Black Castle owner’s statement here. Although attendance was light, the KoA show was well done in a comfortable setting, and I was looking forward to going to more shows at The Black Castle. Maybe The Iron Room will fill the void…


Invisible Oranges said...

Yeah, the Knitting Factory was definitely a decent place for shows. I rather enjoyed its location. It was in a safe part of town, at least.

Hopefully promoters will find an upside in the downturn and discover venues that are cheap to rent.

As with all areas of life, the downturn may also weed out weaker factions (bands, labels, etc.) for some welcome pruning.

ZeroFlowne said...

L'Amour (L'Amour's?) was a pretty great concert venue in Brooklyn that is no more. They had a few great shows there that I've seen (and likely many more that I haven't!)

Incidentally, Claudia Friedlander directed me to your blog - I'm her student who sings metal. Would you say that certain cities are better suited than others for a metal singer to find a band, play shows and start touring? I'm currently based in NY, is that a good place, or should I move?


dschalek said...


The Knit was at least a safe neighborhood, that's for sure. Unlike some of the venues where you almost feel as if you're an extra in "Escape From New York".


New York has a thriving scene with nearly all sub-genres of metal being represented. Cut some demo tapes and shop them around via MySpace, or with your local music magazines in record shops. Scour the more obscure shops as opposed to the major chains as a means of finding local artists. Cosmo from the "Invisible Oranges" blog might be able to point you in the right direction as he's lived in NYC.

Say hello to Claudia for me.

Invisible Oranges said...

Actually, there are literally no major chain record stores left in New York City. Tower Records and Virgin Megastore have both folded. Independent record stores are also increasingly scarce in NYC.

Any promotion in the vein of what Dave suggests is best done online or in person at shows.