Saturday, July 24, 2010

BulletBoys firing blanks?

Just when I thought I had written my last blog about the Bulletboys (this one) I find myself writing about flamboyant Marq Torien again.

That's because my previous BulletBoys blog entry was the benefactor of a comment. (I need to blog about the BulletBoys more often, that's the only topic that seems to generate traffic to this otherwise anonymous/unknown blog.)

As I noted about a 2009 BulletBoys blog comment, I have no idea if a comment is legitimate, but I assume it is. Who's going to search out a blog with almost zero web traffic and then post a fake comment on it, especially when the topic is the BulletBoys? As I have said before, even I am not that bored.

The comment I received this past week was a report about the recent BulletBoys concert here in the Twin Cities. I have no idea how the writer found my blog, but nonetheless s/he did, and here's her/his comment:

I went to the show in Burnsville this last week. Unfortunately, there were only about 25 people there. Based on his comments, Marq seemed annoyed at the low turnout (understandably). This was confirmed when they called it a night after I think only 5 songs.

Shortest concert of my life, but still a good show. Given that they were playing to essentially nobody (Primetime is a huge room for only 25 people), I give them an A for energy and showmanship.

- Seastorm

When I saw the BulletBoys in early 2009 it was on a Friday night, and it was winter. If there's a blizzard that night, nobody is going to drive five miles to see the show. There was no blizzard that night, and my crowd estimate was about 200.

It's summer, so weather is not a problem, but a weeknight show might be, especially for those who have any sort of normal job. If you're a band in huge demand and/or appeal to a young demographic, you will draw a crowd. The 2010 Bulletboys on a Wednesday night, likely not a hot ticket in any city.

I have no idea how well the Burnsville show was promoted. I assume there was an ad in the weekly alternative publication, that's where all the bars offering live music advertise. Beyond that there was probably little more that the bar could do. The local rock station barely acknowledges 80s rock acts that aren't Motley Crue or Metallica, so there wasn't going to be any radio station promotion for the show.

Ad or no ad, the bar certainly didn't seem to be trying very hard to promote the show online. The bar has a website, but it did little as far as promotion for a national act. (I have no idea what was being charged to get in, and the website wasn't helping me.) If I was some 20-something dude who stumbled across the website one night and saw the list of live shows, I'd look at it and say "who the hell are the BulletBoys?" There was nothing to tell you the band hails from the 80s, or that its lead singer had a few videos on MTV back in the day.

According to Seastorm, there was a crowd of 25. I'm not surprised.

I've wondered, how much do 80s bands get paid to play in Minneapolis? Specifically those who are playing to a few hundred hardcore fans who aren't paying much to see the show.

As I've noted in the past, an 80s band with a minor fan base will draw a few hundred in the Twin Cities, and I'll usually pay $10 to $15 at the door. That's what I would have paid to see these bands playing at a club in the early 1990s, and probably more. In the hair band heyday, bands would sell out a club, probably at $20 a ticket.

The fraudulent Bret Michaels is getting $30 a ticket for most of his 59-minute solo shows these days, but people think he's a hot commodity, for reasons unbeknown to me. He's the exception to the rule, his ticket prices are actually going up in the 21st century, and it has nothing to do with the quality of his shows or material.

I e-mailed the alternative weekly newspaper a year or two ago, suggesting a story about how bands such as L.A. Guns, BulletBoys, Firehouse and Faster Pussycat make money when they come to Minneapolis. (I'm sure those details are closely guarded industry secrets, even if 99.5 percent of the Twin Cities couldn't care less about one detail.) Such bands will draw a few hundred fans under the right circumstances, but the venue isn't charging much for a ticket, and I can guarantee venues are providing several comps during those shows. I can't help but wonder who is making money, and how much.

Do the bands get a flat rate, leaving it up to the venue to fill the bar in order to make money? Do the bands get paid strictly by a cut of the door?

If it's the latter, then it would make sense why the BulletBoys would be pissed that the bar was nearly empty and opt not to play for 60 minutes, although they'd risk alienating what fans they have left.

Nobody wants to play for an empty house, even if their paycheck is guaranteed. When it comes to national acts, that's what I have always assumed, they get a guaranteed paycheck. If that was the case Wednesday then it makes no sense why Marq and his faux BulletBoys would quit after five songs if they had a guaranteed paycheck, as I'd expect there's some clause in the contract promising a minimum number of minutes on stage.

Regardless of the financial arrangement, if I had paid even $10 to see the band, and they quit after five songs, I'd be pissed. I have thrown away a lot more than $10 in my lifetime, but if I'm making a conscious decision to show up and spend money to see a show, and that's all I get, there's no chance you'll get another dime out of me ever again. All the showmanship and energy in the world is worth nothing to me if a band plays only five songs at a club concert they're headlining.

I had already determined I wasn't going to pay to see the BulletBoys again. But if somebody had wanted to provide me a free "ticket" to the show last week, I would have went, by myself, purchased a couple of drinks and given Marq a shot at redeeming himself for the last show I went to. Had I driven 25 minutes to see a five-song performance for free, I'd have been pissed. Even if you would have offered me free drinks and free admission, yet all I got was five songs, I'd have been pissed.

If Seastorm's report is true, then it's unquestionably time to hang it up, Marq.


Anonymous said...

"how bands such as L.A. Guns, BulletBoys, Firehouse and Faster Pussycat make money when they come to Minneapolis"

Typically, with bands of this level of drawing power, the bands are getting a guaranteed payment. The producer/promoter of the show (sometimes the venue itself, sometimes an individual person) is taking on the risk of loss if the show sells poorly.

I suspect that Firehouse in particular makes a decent living touring the Midwest. A few years ago, I looked at their upcoming touring calendar and they were playing something like 9 shows in MN and WI in the course of 4 months (none of them overlapping markets; they were hitting the big cities plus a bunch of smaller ones).

- SeaStorm

Arthur Fonzarelli said...

I was told that Firehouse's lead singer is married to a woman from Wisconsin, or something like that, and now lives there, making it easier for the band to book shows in Minnesota and Wisconsin. No idea if that's true, but it would explain why Firehouse is available to play county fairs and other festivals almost any time of the year in the midwest.