One piece of advice to bar owners and managers

Right so I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, so here's a rant!

My advice to bar managers!

Let the bands who are performing at a gig in your bar to pick the music played on the sound system throughout the evening. This means half an hour before the first band performs, in-between acts, and for 15 minutes minimum at the end. Either that, or let them organise someone to DJ.

Why? It gives an evening out at a bar some kind of completeness and cohesiveness.

I've been thinking about this for awhile, after watching bar staff blunder their way through an evening putting on drastically uncomplimentary music, and ruining any sense of atmosphere the bands have tried to create.

The first example I recall was when I performed at the Dux de Lux in Queenstown about six months ago. For three hours before the gig, the bar staff rotated three NZ barbecue reggae albums, right until we played our first song. After we finished, the same three records were put on rotate. Not only was this torture for me personally, it was frustrating to see the bar use such poor judgement. Let me explain.

There are many, many bars in Queenstown, offering a wide variety of nightlife options. Gigs in Queenstown are usually free, and usually frequented by tourists who have never heard any NZ bands before. By playing this brain numbing music on repeat for hours on end, the crowd in the bar is likely to get somewhat disorientated when a band which sounds completely different takes to the stage live. The background music is also likely to drive off tourists sifting around looking for somewhere to drink who really don't like barbecue reggae (but might have liked something more interesting).

The second example of a similar stuff-up happened a couple of Wednesdays ago in Auckland. We were playing a midnight set at Hitch bar in Britomart. This establishment is trying to soak up some of the spill from the massively popular indie-dance club night which goes on next door at Flight Lounge, called "Teenage Kicks." It's so popular that the lane gets blocked, and punters can ending up cueing for quite awhile.

So it makes sense that Hitch bar hires indie bands to perform a shortish set around midnight, in order to try and pinch some of the punters from Flight Lounge. What doesn't make sense is that before we played bar staff were playing a weird mix of early 2000's backpacker hip-hop (think Jurassic 5 etc) and the Foo Fighters. Needless to say no-one was there when we started performing. Even worse after we played, back went on the Foo Fighters, driving off the twenty or so punters who came in to dance to us.

Does that make sense?


  1. backpacker hip-hop! bwaahahahah

    but yes agreeing with your advice there.


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