Merch Table For A King

Life got a lot more interesting when shows became a regular occurrence.

My fascination with music started early. Music added something else into my life to obsess over. I wanted to be able to play all those songs I loved on guitar. I wished I could sing. I wanted to be in a band. I couldn’t play any instruments, I’m unable to carry a note and had no one to start a band with. Or so I thought.

The summer before high school I started to go to shows. Catching bands at CB’s or Wetlands inspired to me play, but seeing my friends who were slightly older playing in bands made it seem possible. And It happened but much later, I’m happy it happened at all. I had two bands in the early 2000s, The Saw Is Family and Hope She Dies, which in reality was pretty much the same band with a few members swapped out. For all the time spent jamming, writing and rearranging the output was only a handful of tunes on a cassette or two somewhere. An important condition of me being in a band was to be in one with my friends. A full fledged band was achieved at the end of the decade.

I wasn’t going to name the band, but that response was coming from some negative place and I’m not giving in to that. I take full responsibility for the implosion of that band. Vincent Price Is Right existed between 2010 and 2017. While I can’t listen to it I do believe we made some quality tunes. I’m not there yet but maybe one day I’ll write about the experience.

Being in a band for me was about the creative outlet and though playing shows were fun, sometimes, and they are necessary it was never about that for me. I don’t particularly enjoy standing in front of a crowd. Public speaking was never my thing and I think the courage came from the notion that it wasn’t just me up there, it was all of us on stage owning what we made together, for better or worse.

One of the most judgmental types of people on this awful planet just may be the music lover.

I am guilty. I will dislike a band without ever listening to them because of their name.

I enjoy interviews, whether reading them in print or a blog, or watching a video on YouTube. Interviews with some bands are always a tad peculiar to me especially when certain musicians go off on their troubled adolescence and how they were picked on as nerdy teens, how the jocks in their school were elitist dicks and they were judged and didn’t fit in. Sucks, but it happens. Some of these people behave the same exact way. Snobby music aficionados will dismiss someone because of a band t-shirt. My hand is raised.

I’ve met some amazing people being in a band and playing shows but I also encountered assholes who were too cool for school. The metal-hardcore-punk rock community is very much a diverse community but that is not to say there are not a bunch of Dylan Mckays from West Beverly High School within it. If you’re not in the club you won’t get the show or the press, sure with hard work like anything else you can be successful, whatever your idea of success might be, but you can be blacklisted and snubbed just as easy.

I’ve met people who have toured the globe and played giant festivals with more humility than a guy in a Youth of Today rip off band that never played anything other than a dive bar. Don’t get me wrong shows at dive bars can be epic but check yourself, Q.

Anyone who has played in a band has been let down at some point. Never meet your heroes, the adage applies.

Fun Fact: My friend David Mercado, drummer of the now defunct Primal Embrace from Pennsylvania were looking to book a show in New York City potentially with VPIR. The show never happened but the question was how are they? The response was they are dicks but they draw. I found that hilarious but it is not necessarily untrue. David’s latest musical endeavor, Forced Hand is dropping some heaviness very soon.

Ask anyone who is in a band or was in a band if they had negative experiences, and I am certain they had unpleasant encounters and disappointing dealings in all aspects of band life at some point.

We got hooked up. It was a friend of a friend sort of thing. We were opening for a national act, a prominent band. No pay to play bullshit.

I’d be lying if I said I we all weren’t excited about this opportunity. I am a person who is all in. So either I don’t care at all or I care too much, and its difficult for me to hide my fan boy excitement when I am around someone I actually respect or admire or appreciate. One member was in another band that my cousin put me on to when I was younger and I loved one record of theirs in particular. So it was a bonus for me.

We were prompt for load in. I went into the green room and I introduced myself to the headliner. I wanted to say hello and thank them for putting us on the bill. The response was less than desirable. Two members mumbled hello back and the others didn’t acknowledge my presence. Ok, these rock stars are not friendly. Instead of continuing to talk to myself I walked out. Alright, guys. Thumbs up.

It wasn’t a ‘do these guys know who I am’ thing, it is never that with me and I had no delusions about our band. I don’t think I’m special and I have enough self doubt and just the right amount of low self esteem to basically hate anything I’m doing artistically. It was about decency. Human courtesy. Respect. Part of me wanted to set it on them, but at that point in my life that was how most people I know sorted things. I said, fuck it. Who cares?

Our merch was lugged around in one large box and one medium box. The larger one was filled with shirts. We had one design, the band logo on shirts in a variety of colors, part of a deal with the manufacturer that utilized leftover shirts from other band’s orders. The medium box was filled with CDs of our first release, Hessian, in hand sewn booklets we printed ourselves, DIY af, and hundreds of stickers of our logo.

The venue supplied a long table for merch. We commandeered a small section at the end of the table and set up . Neatly folded shirts according to size and Cds and stickers perfectly placed. Prices written in graffiti on strips of paper. A small banner hung from its grommets behind us.

A member of their camp complained to the staff. We were not to have our merch next to theirs and the band wanted the table completely for themselves. The staff member who told us about the headliner’s gripe felt a little silly about it and found a small table for us to use. We broke down and set up again in the corner. Personally, I would never be annoyed by something like that and the offense was laughable. Rock stars will be rock stars. We played after all and it was fine but our view of the headliner definitely soured, though I still watched their set. I don’t think opening for them benefitted our career for lack of a better word.

We never made money and if we did it went back into the band. It was a hobby. it was for fun. If we were dicks it was most likely because we didn’t sweat those people who sweated themselves.

Merch is the bread and butter for most bands, and there are companies out there making some quality products so if you want to support your favorite band go and cop some merch.

One response to “Merch Table For A King”

  1. Amazingly, when I met my “music heroes”, they didn’t disappoint, at all! Weird, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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