The music industry – and its fans – have changed. Guest writer, Freddie Mack of Liquid Meat fame, takes to Cat on the Wall to explain his views on the industry, the people, the music and more…
The more local bands I follow on social media, the more insight I get on things that really piss me off. It isn’t even big things, but they tend to get under my skin… kind of the blue car effect. Do you know what I am talking about? You think about never seeing a blue car driving around, and all of a sudden in your everyday life, all you start noticing are blue cars – all of a sudden, they’re everywhere!
That’s how it is for me and those shitty banners hanging behind a band on stage. You know the ones, 99% of the time, they’re made of black PVC, have the band name featured on them, usually in white, and… that’s that. I get it, you see your favourite bands on a huge stage, blasting out your favourite tunes, standing in front of a massive banner the size of a Viking ship’s sails – bad ass! Right? Sure… whatever floats your boat. I’m a huge believer in bringing stadium show elements to the local scene, but the banner your band got from the same shop that Leslie’s Pool Supplies use for their annual autumn Sale banners? That’s not the way.
Look: I understand you want to look professional. I understand you don’t have wads of cash, and probably have multiple people in the band who don’t really want to invest more than their time to the band, but the compromise isn’t to settle.
Never settle! Anything worth doing is worth doing right!
You’ll have heard that many times, probably from people you have contempt for, the authority figures that drove you to the devil’s music in the first place. Those people might be fascist assholes, but the classic saying should not be negated. Basically, to me, your shitty stage banner is like the minuscule Stonehenge in Spinal Tap. It was hilarious to see in the movie. Naturally, it was an embarrassment on stage. It’s something that draws my eye away from the band on stage in front of me, every time. They wanted the overpowering effect of an enormous Stonehenge monument, but we all know how that turned out for the Tap boys; and you’re doing this subconsciously to yourselves!
The question is, what’s the need of the banner anyways? Why do you need it on stage? From my discussions with fellow musicians, there are two reasons.
- They want to look professional
- They want the audience to remember the band’s name.
We’ve already covered that reason number one isn’t going to happen with a cheap, shitty banner hanging behind your band. I mean, lots of places don’t even have a place to hang them. So what do you do? Annoy the sound guy until he gets you some duct tape, so you can hang it on the wall behind the drummer. Then it slowly peels off from one side during your show.
Or! You were so cheap with your decision, you didn’t even go for the banner with the metal eyelets, so even if a venue is equipped to hang banners, you can’t hang it in a professional manner. So not only does your banner look shitty, the display is shitty!
Reason two, you want people to know who you are! In my experience, if the audience likes your music, they’ll remember who you are when you tell them over the microphone. The only time a person in the audience needs the banner is to text someone your band name, to tell them how ridiculously bad you are…!
If they were impressed with your music, and even if they didn’t catch your band’s name, chances are they can find out from someone else there, or you personally, while you’re either breaking down your equipment or stood behind the merch table. In short, does your piece of crap banner really do anything for you?
Just because white on black band sticker gives someone something to look at it while they’re urinating at their favourite watering hole, it doesn’t mean you should just send the same vector graphic to the banner printers and call it a day. Sure, it may be the only vector graphic you have. Maybe you can’t afford another, or, more likely, you’re just not original enough to come up with anything better.
Things that look good small, don’t usually look good when they’re huge. So, unless you plan to have a giant in attendance at your show, who needs to look at something while he is urinating on you, maybe you should get another design. Just take a deep breath, wait until you can execute it correctly, or don’t do it at all! There’s a reason I’ve not mentioned any well executed background banners….
I’m yet to see any.
I opted for one of those pull out band signs with a stand. I thought:
“Hey, this is easy to transport, I can set it up easily, and I even got someone to design it to match my last album design!”
I used it once, because I saw photos after the show.
Even though it looks kickass, the impact’s lost on stage. I now have it in my bedroom, where it looks great, and keeps my mind on the band at all times. You live and learn. Just stay objective. Really, that’s a good analogy. Even if an idea sounds cool on a demo, or in the rehearsal room, if it sucks on stage and no one’s into it: you should probably think of cutting it out of the song.