Back in October, we held a CD release party at the Neighborhood Theatre for the latest edition of the Homebrew compilation series. As part of that event, we had a one-hour panel where a group discussed the state of Charlotte's music scene.
Some of the biggest applause of the night came from a statement basically saying, "Maybe the music scene is bad because we keep telling people it is... Maybe we should tell people it's great!" Applause followed and the panel ended on a high note.
Yeah, it was a good theory, but let's face facts the music scene in Charlotte is in trouble. Earlier this week, the Neighborhood Theatre announced it will likely close in March. Tremont Music Hall is in the process of finalizing a deal to sell it and keep it going. Roger freakin' Daltrey couldn't sell 2,000 tickets to The Fillmore, yet it's not for a lack of population. FREE shows at the Neighborhood Theatre don't fill the place. We held our event for free with seven bands AND gave away CDs and only got 350 people there.
We are living in the largest city in the state, and 18th largest in the country. There are more than 1.7 million people in the metro area. So why doesn't anyone give a shit about live music in this town?
Not too long ago, Hawthorne Heights was packing places around the country, yet a recent planned concert at Tremont Music Hall was canceled. Why? Four tickets were sold. Yep, four. Before you go writing them off, this is the same group that played on the Warped Tour, where 17,000 tickets are regularly sold in Charlotte.
Some people will blame The Fillmore and Live Nation. For your information, there have been very few shows that have sold out at The Fillmore, so they're struggling, too. Again, see the sentence above about Roger Daltrey. The Mars Volta had less than 1,000 people there. Motorhead wasn't sold out either.
For the people who complain about bands skipping Charlotte for other cities, including smaller ones in our state Raleigh, Greensboro, Asheville?!? it's because Charlotte doesn't support it. Why would a musician want to play here if four tickets are going to be sold? Why would a band play in Charlotte if they can sell more tickets in Asheville or Raleigh?
Some people will blame the bad economy. To that, I say, "Bullshit!" There are people willing to pay $10 a head to be in the same club as the morons from "Jersey Shore." There are people who pay $10 to park and another $10 cover just to hang out and listen to the same monotonous shitty club music at the Epicentre... every night.
You want clubs like the Neighborhood Theatre and Tremont Music Hall and all the rest to stick around get off your ass and support them. Go to the free music nights, buy some drinks and show some love (The Mantras are there tonight with Actual Proof). Go to Tremont and see Evan Dando, or Fishbone or Nick Oliveri. Go to the Milestone for Crash Kings or Jucifer or any of the other shows at all of the venues.
Sure, some shows are expensive, but some are only $5. Some are free. You'll pay $5 for a beer, but not $5 to see three bands rock the Evening Muse? You can pay $5 for cigarettes but not $5 for a night at Snug Harbor? You have money to go out to fancy dinner, but not even half of that for a night of great entertainment and good memories? Or, like I said earlier, you'll pay $10 to park and a $10 cover for a DJ playing a CD on a regular basis, but not take one night or two a month to use that $20 for a live band playing original music?
I don't understand it... This doesn't mean you should go to a concert every night or even every week, but when you look at the music scene around Charlotte, it almost looks like most of the 1.7 million people stay home every night.
Nashville has blocks packed with venues that have sold out shows almost every night of the week. The Avett Brothers are selling out concerts all over the country, but can't sell out one night in their hometown?
Charlotte is a B city, if not a C city. Lexington, Kent., is an A city. That means, if a band is looking for a good crowd, they're going to hit Lexington before Charlotte... if they come to Charlotte at all.
Do you think Roger Daltrey will come back to Charlotte? If the Who was planning a tour, do you think they'd come back? Why? If Roger Daltrey can't sell 2,000 tickets, why would the band risk playing in a city that may not show up?
People always say, "If you don't vote, you can't complain." Well, if you don't go to concerts, you can't complain that bands aren't coming to Charlotte or that venues are closing.
Everyone loves music. But you need to prove it. Give local bands a chance. Go see a band that looks promising they may be back next year charging 10 times as much and you can say, "I saw them back when they were in a small club..."
You hate to see Neighborhood Theatre close? There are more than 2,500 people on the Facebook group how many of them go to concerts there? With a capacity around 1,000, I'd say not enough.
So, let me hear it. What's your excuse?