The purpose of this blog post is to hopefully explain and give insight on why I don’t play live any more.
The last time that I technically played live was in late 2006 or in 2007 with the band I played bass with at the time, called “Black Gun Barrels”. That band ended up splitting up sometime in 2007. Before then, I had played live with a few other bands. But in late 2005 I had started my solo music project, which was called “Mechanized Warfare” at the time, as I did not rename myself to “The Evil Dark” until late 2019. I started Mechanized Warfare as a solo side-project since I was in a few bands at the time, but it later became my focus after those bands broke up. Also, looking for bands that needed a bass player around DC was getting me nowhere, I learned the hard way that bass players are not needed in the DC area therefore I was not needed. Mechanized Warfare lasted until 2016, and the one & only time my music project had played a live show was in spring of 2006 at a new age shop which hosted live music shows at night. At the time, Mechanized Warfare was me playing a distorted octave-down effect bass along with a drum machine, so it was possible for me to play live.
The thing was there was a falling out between myself and one of the promoters of their events, and I was no longer welcome to play with them again. The way it worked at these DIY venues (which were technically not venues through a legal loophole), is that they would reserve a time slot with whoever the promoter was, and the promoter would do the rest of the work to get the show together. Of course I only knew the one promoter who basically black-balled me from playing there, and I never found out who else was booking shows at that location, otherwise I would have tried to arrange something through them instead. At these places, bands can also reserve time as well if they don’t mind doing the work of the promoters themselves, at least if you know who to contact at the venue.
There was a reason I had a falling out with that particular promoter. I did not hold anything against them on a personal level, but I had an issue with their professionalism (or lack thereof). My main issue was that the headlining band had never played live before and they had only previously practiced together a handful of times at most. I was bumped to the slot of opening the show simply because I was “one person” and supposedly easier to set up and clean up after. This is what I was being told even though as a musician, this far from being my first time playing live and opening slots are usually given to those with less experience than the other performers. The band after me also did not understand why the headlining band was who it was either, both me and the band after me had years of experience playing live and we did not know why a band who was barely a month old was headlining a live show. The new band should have been opening, not headlining. There was obviously some favoritism with that arrangement because some of the members of this new band were friends and relatives of the people who owned the place as well as the promoter.
I have never before heard of a band headlining their very first live show until that night. And before people start saying, “it just sounds like a hurt ego”, its not that at all. If you go to a live show, the headlining band is always the biggest name with the most experience. Headliners are what typically attracts people to come to watch the live show. It doesn’t matter what genre the show is, it doesn’t even matter what location it is at, the headliner is always the biggest name with the most experience. Now some people might say I have an attitude about what happened because I was not headlining. This is also not true, for Mechanized Warfare this was the first show, so I was expecting to play after the new band opened and then the more experienced band who played after me would have headlined. This is how it should have happened, but it did not.
There was also a big issue with booking through the promoter. The live show was moved back from it’s original date, which means all those people that were set to watch the performance on the original date would now be no-shows due to their own schedule conflicts, as many were not able to arrive on the new date. It was supposed to be a 5 band show, but it ended up being 3 because one band backed out beforehand and the other band cancelled at the last minute because the promoter did not want them playing. I’m not even sure how the promoter fumbled with that band that had to cancel at the last moment, but my theory is that because the new band was so favorited and the promoter already set their mind for the new band to headline the show, that the band got angry with the promoter for not considering having a bigger band take the spotlight for a headliner and therefore cancelled. After this gig was over I ended up telling off the promoter in an email, therefore burning bridges with them and getting black-balled from their “gig promotion” services. But not surprisingly they only continued booking for that location for a few months after this before themselves quitting from it. After this, I didn’t have luck finding gigs under the current format Mechanized Warfare was using.
After Mechanized Warfare changed it’s sound over the years, it was still impossible to find gigs. A lot of this was due to electronic music promoters at the time considering anything related to industrial music as “not part of electronic music” and I did not have any metal promoter contacts either. It also did not help that within the industrial community that there were many people who actually said “if it has guitar, it’s not industrial”, these are the people I call “industrial puritans” and others would also call them “gatekeepers”. They are the ones that would argue with fans of industrial metal and industrial rock, telling them that bands in these genres should not even use the word “industrial” in their genre name. This was a bigger problem in the early 2010’s than it is in 2020, but it still made it impossible to find a gig due to the fact that nobody understood the genre I was playing. The only time Mechanized Warfare’s music got a review was done by an online metal magazine in 2014. Since they specialized in metal genres they did not fully understand the music, but I still thanked them for the review since they took the time to do so.
Since renaming my music project to The Evil Dark and changing my sound to a different genre, I have gotten a few offers for playing a live show. The only reason I’m currently turning them down is an issue with equipment, I would need a keyboard of some sort in order to play live and I don’t own one. I’m a computer-based music producer, and I don’t use any external inputs (such as midi for example). If that wasn’t an issue, I could still only play locally since I rely on using the public transportation system based around DC. While asking for a ride may not seem like a big deal to most, it is a big deal when you no longer know anyone in the area so you have nobody to ask. Also, if touring was in my future, I would need to co-tour with someone that could give me rides to the gig locations.