Well-Read & Half-Dead #3: Benny Fatigue (and maybe a cure)

I know. Benefit Fatigue. You’re sick of hearing about New Orleans. Every time you check e-mail, somebody else is begging for your scarce dollars and your scarcer playtime, asking you to come to a show for the benefit of displaced people, or pets, or pianos, or something else that sank when it should have floated. And if it’s not the hurricanes, it’s some other disaster, somebody else who’s worse off than you in some guilt-inducing way. You have sympathy. You’re a good person. But enough is enough. You just want to go to a rock show where the music is loud and the crowd is hot, where the vibe is about sex and booze and noise, where it’s fun.

OK, I hear ya. But this is DC, people. We should be able to have it both ways, and I’ll tell you why: Three good reasons.

1. The Straight Edge Tradition. DC is the very crib of music that’s pissed off and loud and about something. You don’t have to have an X on your hand to groove on authentic anger. And that’s an energy we can use.

2. Righteous Peeps. Some folks rag on the DC scene because it’s not as big as New York’s. Well, it’s no small town either. I say we have just the right number of people here: We all know each other, or just about, but we have the critical mass to make some good shit happen. DC rockers and club owners, from Arlington to U Street to Silver Spring and points all around, are all past masters at supporting each other and putting together DIY projects. The whole fucking town feels like the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show, but with punks. You won’t find that vibe anyplace else, and it rocks.

3. Non-Profit Heaven. DC is the world capital of non-profit groups. Every charity and cause going has an office here -- a lot of you work for them. That’s something no other town on the planet can boast. Sure, it means some pretty square clothes at happy hour, but so what. We’re not about the look, people.

What does this add up to? I’ll tell you. EVERY SHOW IN TOWN SHOULD BE FOR A CAUSE. That’s right. Every show. Why not? We’ve got the energy, the compassion, and a couple bucks even -- we just want the rock as well. Most of us already end up spending $10 for cover and $5 for a beer. An extra $5 a night is not gonna break the bank. If raising that cover to $15 is too scary, let’s just tack an extra buck onto each drink and put that in the kitty. So here are your assignments:

NON-PROFIT GROUPS: Get off your duff and sponsor a show. It doesn’t cost you anything cash-wise. Your part is to lend your name to an event and promote the shit out of it. You’re already spamming the world with as many appeals as you can crank out. Offer your contacts something they can use: a night out, with great music. Any kind of music -- the stuff you actually like. And if you know any tax angles, by all means share them with your new showbiz partners. Deductions are there to be used.

MUSICIANS: You guys have been busting your humps playing charity gigs for no pay, and we all owe you. It shouldn't all fall on you. So when every gig is for a cause, you get paid for every gig. A bigger gate, a bigger bar total, a fair split -- it can all be worked out.

CLUBS AND VENUES: Listen when the non-profits call. Done right, these events mean more people at the show and a bigger gate. Work with the people involved -- the cause should be doing promo for you, and there should be enough pie at the end of the night: some for the cause, some for the musicians, some for you. Everybody wins.

FANS: When it’s taken for granted that any show you go to has a reason, you don’t have to feel bad about your choices. Hear the music you want -- somebody will benefit. And you can deal with the extra buck per beer. You’re not 16 any more, scraping up nickels to get wasted on Natty Bo. If a decent drink is worth $5, it’s worth $6.

So that’s my theory. It’s a vision that only DC could make real: Every show should be a benefit, and everyone involved should benefit, every time.

Make it so.


Castor OiL said…
And finally a spark of energy on the old MMS board.

Gracias mi amigo.
wharman said…
a refreshingly positive post.