Inside Looking Out
There's something about making plans that's been proving difficult for me lately. First, Low-Fidelity's UM radio show got bumped the day I planned to visit the studio (see last week's column). Then I found out that the December 30 Sleeparounds show at South Shores Tavern in Lake Worth part of the Indie Inside night wasn't going to happen either. But unlike the radio show, which aired a week later, Indie Inside isn't coming back. Of course, there's still plenty of live music to be heard at South Shores' back patio; on the night of the Sleeparounds' nongig, Delray Beach Southern rockers Truckstop Coffee tore it up outside. But for the up-and-coming acts that looked to Indie Inside for exposure (only the more established bands get to play the patio), they'll have to cut their teeth elsewhere. Then again, according to the event's promoter, Karine Albano, exposure wasn't there most of the time anyway. It was the night's biggest problem people just weren't showing up.
"Loudness was an issue," Albano said of her boss' reason for pulling the plug. "But I do believe that had there been a larger turnout, Indie Inside would have continued."
It certainly wasn't a lack of talent that kept people from showing up. Indie Inside was packed with original bands every week, bands like the Fabulous ShuttleLOUNGE, the Burning Idols, Vega, Holding Silence, Chicken for Chico, the Psycho Daisies, Pyrohypnotik, and Robot Swan, to name a few regulars. (Some of these shows, Albano noted, were organized by New Times nightlife columnist Marya Summers, who's also performed there.) But the December 9 show featuring Chronic Underground, Smitty, Tectonic Plague, and Vega was the last. By then, Albano said, the cost of hosting rock bands inside the tavern wasn't worth it for the owner. Albano should know, being a South Shores employee herself. She's worked at the tavern since May '04, three months after moving to Lake Worth from Boston. Albano started booking patio shows in March '05. Thirteen months later on Tax Day 2006 she launched Indie Inside.
"Since I was already booking the bands at South Shores, I thought it made sense for us to try an indie night," Albano said. "I really believed and still do believe it could be successful. South Shores does not charge a cover, it is easy to get to, there's good parking. And the owner and management were supportive. At first, I was only going to book indie pop bands because they wouldn't be so loud. However, I was told that the sound levels were not important if a crowd showed up."
And even when a crowd did show up, oftentimes it suffered from what I call the band friends effect.
"[One] thing that I have noticed here especially during multiple band shows is that unless the audience is friends with all the bands, they will show up for their friends' band and then leave," Albano said, though adding that it was the same way in Boston. "Another factor is that everything down here in South Florida is so spread out. I think this is a large part of why attendance is low sometimes. People don't like to party far from home."
Whether it's because they're trying to avoid drunk driving or are just plain lazy, the result is the same and it's the bands and promoters who lose out. Albano said that while Indie Inside is kaput, that doesn't preclude all live music from happening inside the tavern's doors. Renda Writer's open-mic night takes place every Thursday. And on Saturday, January 20, New York City solo artist Misha is scheduled to perform under the roof. Of course, that's mellow singer/songwriter stuff, many decibels removed from the Ramones-core of the Sleeparounds.
For now, Albano's focused on booking bands for the back patio. "I'm not pushing [the inside shows] right now because I still need to talk more with the owner about what he'd like to see go on," she said.
That's why the Misha show isn't billed under the Indie Inside moniker. And as far as booking loud rock shows, well, that's a challenge anywhere in South Florida.
"I honestly don't know [where the local indie scene is heading]," Albano said. "Where do the indie music lovers go? I would like to know, as would many indie bands."
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I know where this music lover's going...
When I signed on as music editor last May after two years as assistant calendar editor I knew I'd have to put my own musical projects on the back burner. Otherwise, I'd be canceling shows left and right every time something came up that I needed to cover. But more than that, it was an awkward transition, going from being the guy on stage with the mic to the guy in the audience taking notes. So now, eight months later, Fats Pompano is putting down his reporter's pad for good so that I can get back to the way things used to be back when the only questions I asked other bands were "Can I borrow your cord?" and "How come we're going on last?" But before I make my transition back to civilian life, allow me to introduce my replacement, Jonathan Cunningham. He's a Detroit transplant and, as far as I know, not tormented by the same impulse I've been fighting since last May the urge to hijack the stage every time the band sucks.
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