I am promoting my first show with an age restriction today. I would say this was a big decision for me, but I believe that decisions should be made in under 5 minutes, so IDK whatever. It is the end to a narrative arc that has been going on since 2010 when I booked my first show. “Always All-Ages.”
The show is She-Devils + Yohuna + True Blue at Baby’s All Right. It is She-Devils’ EP release, and I am heavy into their new song. The show came to me last minute and was already happening at Baby’s, so either I was involved with the show or I wasn’t. I decided to help promote it because it seemed as if the biggest casualty of my rigid all-ages rule would be me, I’m not going to senselessly stick to a rule because it is the backbone of this identity I have found myself in. I have zero interest in brand continuity and all the interest in results that are the most consistent with what I care about.
The world is easier for me to digest when I break it down to things I want and things that I do not want. I want to work with artists I find interesting. I want to do accessible shows. I want to be surrounded by friends. I don’t want to be looking for an artist to hitch my wagon to. I don’t want to have a career tacking my name on shows in sterile bars. I don’t want shows that are inaccessible legally or culturally. I don’t want my living subsidized by alcohol sales.
I might book more shows at a place like Baby’s or Alphaville because there are a lot of artists that I work with that need to play at a place like Baby’s. The Silent Barn (I love it) is a marginal venue. A large chunk of The Silent Barn’s audience are artists, but a growing performer needs to make the jump from playing to other artists to people with day jobs that have money to spend. The Silent Barn is a confusing place. Baby’s is safe, but cool enough to make people feel like they’re going out.
You know who else are normal people with a jobs that don’t like to be made to feel uncool? Booking agents. Mangers. Label representatives. Now, do I think I am cooler than these people because I am in the trenches more than they are? Fucking, of course I do, but that is exemplary of this giant flaw we keep making where ethics and cool have been married in narrative, so we talk about them interchangeably when they are very different things.
Nobody argues against all-ages shows. Often when people talk about all-ages or (uuuuuuuugh…) “DIY” they create this invisible villain that is some jealous square in an oxford shirt who is driven mad by people having fun. That person doesn’t exist. The villain is us. We make compromises like “I play by other people’s rules so I can continue to participate in the thing I care about,” and then forget the corrective action to balance out the give with the take. Making compromises is not what hurts us. What hurts us is conforming to systems we don’t believe in and calling it “compromising.” Deciding you don’t give a shit anymore isn’t a compromise. That is caving in. People who don’t compromise are stranded on an island, and people who cave in abandon their cause.
Here is what I am going to do: pop-up shows in the suburbs & shows in NYC public schools. I have been meeting with high schools and looking at every Elks Lodge, church basement and parks department building I can find. I can promise you that when this actualizes I will make the logistics and finances entirely transparent so you can replicate it, because what is the point if I’m the only one doing this?
Here is what I need from you: Drive my ass around. Seriously tho, I need people who want to work on shows with me, and knowing how to do sound or having access to a car are huge helps! At this stage the biggest hep is sharing information. Know an available space that can fit over 100 people (300 ideally) within an hour’s drive of NYC? Show it to me! Know any cool administrators at a public school? Give me their email! Know a kid in high school in Huntington or in Yonkers or in Paramus with good taste? Have them text me. Nine one four, two six one, three one nine nine. Most of all, I need you to stick with me.
Two years ago I did this homework thing which adults thought was funny, but only 2 kids ever took me up on, and that bummed me out! I was doing it to make the process of going to Bushwick on a weeknight less intimidating to young people. What I have realized is a lot of the all-ages shows I do are still inaccessible to the people they are for, regardless of the nonexistent age regulations. If I want young people to go to shows I need to go to them. So I bought a PA system and I’m dragging it to where the kids are. JMC is for the children, or at least until I get it right.
Anyway, the show on tonight is free. You should come.