Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of “Backstage” columns by various contributors. This author is Spencer Kilpatrick, who plays with the Reno band Failure Machine.
Reno needs more hype.
The importance of building Reno up as a music destination isn’t just about shedding the Biggest Little City’s stigma, it’s about harvesting a scene that both creates and buys into its own hype.
Hype is important. Hype is what brings bands to your city and allows your hometown heroes to get some buzz of their own elsewhere.
A lot of folks around town understand that our arts community is overflowing with talent. Sadly though, no one outside of Reno is going to give a shit until the majority of people IN Reno do. Here are four ways to give a shit as a local besides just going to shows.
Simple, I know, but talk a lot. Form opinions. Pick favorites. Word of mouth is an incredibly efficient way to create some buzz about a band, an album, or even an entire culture that’s caught your attention.
This doesn’t mean you have to gush about every local group you hear. Think critically. If you think somebody’s last record was garbage, talk about it, open up a dialogue or a drunken yelling match, whatever works for you. If you think the lead singer of, say, Failure Machine is an ass, then go ahead and tell people (I agree with you, by the way). The point is that it doesn’t entirely matter what you say, just having a band’s name on your lips is an integral part of building momentum and creating a society where the local scene is a conversation in itself.
BUY MERCH (AND ACTUALLY USE IT)
Selling merch is how touring bands put gas-station food on the table. The money you spend goes directly to the necessities but while it’s kind to buy their stuff, that’s not where the merch’s value ends. It doesn’t do a group any good to have their shirt acting as moth bait in the back of your closet or to have their CD sitting unopened in your glovebox. The real value of a band’s T-shirt comes from being worn to a hungover brunch the next day and telling your friends about what an awesome night you think you had. An up and coming group’s merchandise gives you an endless opportunity to help by being their billboard. Be the billboard.
SEE THE OPENING ACTS
The opening acts are opening for a reason. Maybe they’re a newer local group just getting started or maybe it’s a touring band that clawed its way onto the bill when another show fell through last minute. No matter what the situation, give them a shot. You’re already planning on going out, just go out a little earlier. Also, going to see the whole show will keep you from texting “when do u guyz go on??” to your friend in the band.
Reasons not to ask your friend what time they go on:
- They’re busy with sound check/ load in/ wondering where the drummer is.
- They don’t really know. If they respond, it’s just a guess.
- You’re trying to miss the opening group. Stop it.
Be the guy at the party who doesn’t shut up about his favorite band’s last album. Post shitty videos of yourself covering their songs. Drag your friends to shows they don’t want to go to (lie to them, if you have to). And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to fanboy out because, let’s face it, a few fanboys might just be what it takes to catch the attention of the ambivalent hipsters in the crowd.
There is some serious talent in this town, don’t hesitate to get a little too excited about it.
Hype is good.