Makh Daniels is a wise man. He is also more than willing to share his wisdom using vivid, colorful language. This is why he is the singer for filthcore outfit Early Graves. I interviewed him here and reviewed their debut here. Early Graves have a new record, Goner, out June 22 on Ironclad/Metal Blade. You can hear the ass-kicking title track and see their upcoming tour dates here. Every so often Makh will drop in here to dispense pearls of wisdom. Today he talks about band etiquette at venues.

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So I work at a relatively popular venue here in SF.

We have bands playing every other night, and in between that we have dance nights and laptop jockeys and other events that usually pack 300-500 people.

Working at a venue is tight.

You get to see bands you like, drink a bit, get paid well, and basically never have to be up before 4pm.

But having worked in a venue for quite some time now, there are definitely things that piss the staff off.

Way too drunk people.
Shitty turnouts.
People not knowing what "Form a single line to the left" means.
People not tipping.
Rich people tryin' to mouth off to you for no reason.

But even out of all of that, ya know what pisses off venues the most?

Strangely enough, the bands.

Bands/DJ's showing up late to shows with shitty attitudes not knowing a damn thing about what the relationship is between the band/DJ's, the promoter, and the venue.

Venues and all their staff can be your best friend who could save your ass on a tour that hasn't been so hot, or can be your worst enemies simply because you were being an idiot and not paying attention.

Here are some tips from the perspective of a venue employee on how to NOT royally fuck yourself over by being a dumb band guy.

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Call the promoter and make sure this person has either got your guarantee, or at least has a better answer than the semi-hopeful bullshit about your "door deal" and soon-to-be "600 person total" show that they didn't promote and instead told you, "Tonight is gonna be so fuckin' crazy man! I got you guys a bag of chips and you guys can sleep in my kitchen where I haven't taken out the garbage for 6 months! Hey! Don't worry about a thing, man!! My cousin's in town and he has a lot of friends, and they're coming down and it's gonna be crazy!".

It's not gonna be crazy at all.

It's gonna be shitty.

His cousin is not coming down, and more than likely the promoter has eaten that bag of Fritos he brought you guys. He has also probably left in the middle of your set taking whatever tiny profits were generated at the door and/or is currently smoking a "fatty" in his pickup truck.

Main thing that you need to realize is that most promoters have good intentions. you may also know, good intentions have never meant "I have a brain that works". Often times they are kids from small towns who just wanna have their new favorite band play and want to do good by you, but they didn't know that "Hey man, we really NEED a $100 to make the next show" means "WE NEED A $100 TO MAKE THE NEXT SHOW OR WE'RE FUCKED".

A lot of the time to them this means "$25 and six packets of Top Ramen".*

(*Disclaimer: These things never happen to bands such as Hoods or Donnybrook. This should be self-explanatory, but just in case you don't know, this is because if they don't get their money that was agreed upon, they would immediately just stomp on the promoter until the equivalent guarantee in quarters jingled out of their ears. Promoters would much rather be late on rent then have people call them "Quasimoto" for the rest of their lives. Also if you are in Dying Fetus, you are probably 10' 8" and throw trucks over buildings just to see what would happen or more than likely, for no reason at all. Most promoters have never met a giant in real life, and probably wouldn't wanna fuck around with that, but yeah, giants are scary as fuck.)

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Ya know when you're waiting around in a packed diner, and there are these 3 drunk assholes who have clearly finished their food an hour ago and are trying to hit on the waitress and throwing sugar packets at each other, and you are hungry as shit and you're just watching them, fuming in your head: "Maaaaaaan!! Who the fuck do these guys think they are? Fuck these assholes!"

Well, this is what promoters/venues think of you when you don't show up on time.

The reason you are made to show up on time is to have everyone in every band accounted for, have ample time to get through a proper soundcheck, possibly get some free food at the bar along with your drink tickets, and then in turn, everyone has plenty of time to relax and chill.

What promoters/venues hate the most is some shitty shit-ass dudes thinkin' they can just show up whenever, do a bunch of blow in the bathroom, and hobble through a terrible soundcheck which pushes the show back by another 30 minutes to an hour.

These people do not get free drink tickets, often forfeit their food buyout, have the bouncers, sound engineer, and everyone in the venue pissed at them, and are usually the same people who did not advance the show in the first place.

There are always extenuating circumstances for why certain bands didn't make it on time, but usually in most cases, someone wanted to hang out at some gas station on the way and talk to the cashier about how "Nietzsche changed my life".

No, he didn't.

You've never read Nietzsche.

Just get to the fucking show, guy.

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Here's the thing. The people at any venue are there to serve an extent. You are the talent and the life's blood of venues around the country. But don't be a dumb person thinkin' these people are doormats.

Yes, we have all dealt with shitty staff at bars and venues. But it's a hard fucking job. Who wants to babysit 300-500 stupid drunk people every night who have a heightened sense of entitlement just because they paid to get in?


Go inside and drink some beer, enjoy the show, and don't be tryin' to feel up on women's asses and taking off your shirt and thinkin' you wanna start a fight because you were watching WWE RAW earlier and think that's a cool thing to do. That's stupid as fuck.

There's a reason that bouncers are bouncers. They will literally stuff your stupid ass into a trash can and drop kick it into a bigger trash can.

Most bouncers and bartenders respond extremely well to words of encouragement. Or a nice gesture like giving someone an album or a shirt as a token of your thanks for putting up with your bullshit and humanity's bullshit in general. I have had so many interactions with bartenders and bouncers over the years, and all they want is to work, have some drinks while they're working, enjoy the show, and have some cool people come through. That's it. Nothing crazy at all.

Wanna not get free drinks? Act like a dickhead to the bartender, and try to demand shit that was already given to you in your rider. (This works even better if you don't have a rider.)

Wanna not have a place to stay because no one showed up to offer? Act like a dickhead to the bouncer who was trying to be cool with you by offering you some smokes that you turned down because "it wasn't your brand".

Wanna not get your friends on your already over-saturated guestlist? Tell the cashier person that "she's a bitch" and yell, "Where's your manager?!"

Wanna have some of your expensive gear go missing at the end of the night that you won't even realize was missing 'til you're 300 miles away? Do all of the above.

Just be a decent enough human, and you'll be suprised at the amount of cool people you can get to know, and how hammered you can get while only having $5 in your pocket.

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Okay, you're in the opening band, not a lot of people are there, yet you want to wait until more people get there before you start playing. So you end up making a fuss about "pushing back the show", and for some strange reason your wish is granted. You've gotten your way, and now there are merely 10-15 more people at the show.

You feel vindicated and can't wait to hit the big time and have Chardonnay with Thom Yorke discussing existentialism and hearing the roar of thousands of people chanting your band's name and taking pics with cool celebrities while making a peace sign.

Feels good, right?

Well, actually this makes you a fucking moron.

When you're on a show, and you are the "opener", and there's not a lot of people there yet...well, that's the whole fucking point.


They want to see the headliner. That's why they are called THE HEADLINER. All you're doing is making the staff mad at you because they have to stay later (more on this topic later) because of your misguided vanity. No one gives a fuck about your band except your friends, and if they're really down for you, they'll show up on time.

Also the headliner (if the venue is a well-oiled machine and the headliner's booking agent is involved) probably have a clause in their contract with the venue that they go on at a certain time and before a certain time.

So here are some of the few things that happen when you get the show pushed back:

You screw over the band supporting the headliner because they only have a certain amount of time before the headliner that you stole because you wanted to basically be the guy wearing sunglasses at night sipping on an Adios Motherfucker talking to a group of women about your new condo. Except the band version.

Just start playing when you are told, play the 30 minute set, and get off stage.

It's much easier this way.

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Unbeknownst to you, people at the venue wanna go home to their respective girlfriends/boyfriends, see their kids, or just unwind after probably working their regular jobs and then this job at the venue to supplement their income.

By you going backstage and getting all drunk and wanting to show off to your new buddies that you can do a handstand, this in turn makes the staff furious. "Maaaan! These people are assholes! I just wanna drink, man, ya know? Who gives a shit if it's 2:30am! I'm just gettin started!! I'M GONNA LIVE FOREVER!!"

No, dickhead.

It takes a whole another hour and a half to shut down a medium to large venue. Cleaning up vomit, breaking down the bar, ushering people out, getting the bands paid, restocking alcohol for the next night, etc. It's time for you to get your stupid-ass self out of the venue. It's been a long night, and people just wanna go home.

Also when you're breaking down your gear, don't do it onstage. Take your stuff off the stage, and THEN break down in the back room or on the floor so:

A) You have more room to do it
B) The staff are now free to break down the stage
C) With your stuff just lying out on the floor, this basically becomes a further reminder to get yourself out of there

Usually what happens with bands is that once all their shit is loaded out, if you followed steps 1-4, 8 times out of 10 the staff will invite you back in for some shots or some food, or have you stay at their house or take you to some crazy-ass afterparty. All just because you knew, or looked like you knew what was going on.

It's that easy.

Play shows, have a good time, don't be a dumb guy, and be humble enough to enjoy the fact that you're even playing music, let alone touring.

Leave the dumb shit to Axl Rose.

— Makh Daniels

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