Friday, December 26, 2008

With the highs, come the lows

As many of you may have read on Herald reporter Tu Uyen Tran's blog, Suite 49 has closed. Still Fighting It laments this loss as it was the venue of our first show on June 18, 2005. Moreso, it is a loss of a current, valued place to play. There is a more ominous undercurrent to this, though.

In about October of 2007, I was blogging weekly about all the live music one could hear and it got to be too much for me to keep track of it all. That got me wondering if the conucopia of live music I'd been seeing was excessive - too much, too fast, too much of a short-term promotional stunt in a world that obviously needs long-term stability and growth. Could owners sustain the specials that were enticing crowds? Could bands keep it fresh while playing in a town of 50,000 3-4 times per month? Would the nationwide slowdown and impending economic crash affect the booming local economy? Would Canadian tourists continue to line the pockets of local merchangts? These were all musings of mine during that time - call it cautious optimism.

Well, the excess of 2007 is certainly gone, and in its wake are owners struggling to keep the doors open. I have noticed that, unless I'm missing something, bookings have fallen by about 50%. Unfortunately, this trend is spreading at an alarming rate, both locally, and nationally, according to musicians I've spoken to.

So, who is to blame? That's a tough one and we could pontificate on this for a while: the economy, gas prices last year, bad venue management, bad bands, indifferent crowds, market saturation, bad overall music climate in the world, rise of the iPod, home entertainment systems... What is it that causes a music scene to fail so spectacularly? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter: Have you heard any good live music lately? Have you noticed a drop-off in live bookings? What do you think about it or do you have enough to think about already?

As for Still Fighting It, well, we're still fighting it - we're a band mostly made up of guys that love music and aren't leaving Grand Forks any time soon. We'll still play, maybe not quite as frequently for now, but we look at this as more available time to rehearse, learn new material, maybe even record some stuff.

That said, come check us out with our horn section on New Year's Eve at Sanders! The show starts at 10:00 and we'll be playing all your favorite soul and rock hits.


Brothergrimm said...

I would have to defend bad bands only in that they are no more dangerous than bands that play classic rock (not a shot to either one, it's just that the classic rock scene is pretty saturated).
Could be a good combo of all those factors working against the music scene.
I guess your band name takes on more significant meaning these days, huh?

MattFacingSouth said...

It does, but we've got such a variety of music that we're marketable pretty much anywhere. We just did a soul/dance music gig last night and it went really well. Maybe more of that is in the cards.

Elucidarian said...

Music appreciation is a strange beast, up here. We do get a variety of acts coming through, especially during the school year. the summers get a little quieter, unfortunately. We have the eclectic crowd, largely out of UND, but there is still a solid classic rock audience that likes the cover songs and the jam band aesthetic.

I'm attracted more to the folk pop/indie rock set, for which we have a deficiency of local talent, but any well performed live music is a boon to the community, and I try to support it. As bands are unable or unwilling to travel as far or often as in past years, maybe we'll see a period of more local bands blossoming and holding the scene together. With luck.

Brothergrimm said...

I personally would like to see more Rockabilly bands coming through. Though it's currently also on the wan, the metal scene in GF pleasantly surprised me.