Friday, April 24, 2009
Blog #2: I Never Even "THOUGHT" of it!
"Backstage whispering to management like... Change the order ain't no way that we could rock after them!"
Preamble Disclaimer: It's early...I'm congested...this blog might be all over the place...I usually just speak my mind much better in the morning... It's also gonna be long winded so if you don't like to read...go back on Myspace and read some spam. Now on with the show...
If I'm being honest, from the band's inception...we've have had to detour a lot. There is a band with a similar make-up that has been around since the early 90's that musical laymen compare us too often. Doesn't help that their from the same state and many non-Pennsylvanians think Pittsburgh is down the road from their hometown even though it's 300 miles away. This band is extremely creative and they have had the unique opportunity to actually make more than 2 albums (for those of you that don't know most Hip-Hop groups get dropped after their first or 2nd album).
When Akil Esoon (you'll meet he and I later... I promise) and I first started really discussing the path that we were going to take with our new "project" back in 2006 we decided that pretty much anything that the aforementioned group had done...we had to avoid it. We actually had a check that we did against this group for a while to make sure that we never were looked at like the newest version of this group. The comparison would have killed us before we got started. 3 years later, we rarely hear those comparisons anymore. I think I have only said this band's name one time publicly. I actually try to act like they don't exist (like Formula412 is the first all black Hip-Hop band). It usually works. Today I'm not going to say their name either (that's Jimmy Fallon's job), but I "THOUGHT" of them often yesterday after I got off of a business call that was scolding me for the way that my band had conducted themselves in recent weeks. The quote from above was a lyric that this band's emcee spit on their 3rd album (I believe). Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to detour from this striking similarity. It is what it is. When this dude THOUGHT of the lyric above I bet he was in the exact same position that we're in now.
Renaissance also reminded me last night via satellite from Philly (coincidentally) how we are also walking in the same path as MC Hammer right now (check her out at www.myspace.com/thatchickcanspit). Who would have thought...Formula412 and MC Hammer have something in common???!!!
Just so that you have some foundation... Our plan in a nut shell from the beginning was "Take over Pittsburgh, then Take Over the World". Microcosm then Macrocosm. 9 out of 10 agree...Mission Accomplished on Part 1. By design almost immediately our band was filling venues up pretty well... then we started selling them out, consistently. I believe that the only time we had "opened" for another group before late 08 was our very 1st show.
[Note: I believe the band that we opened for went dormant soon after...then stopped playing altogether after a few failed attempts at revival.]
I never even considered that Formula412 has almost always been the Headliner in Pittsburgh and everywhere else that we play out of town. Something else I never considered is that we almost NEVER have an opener at our shows. With a production and sound the size of ours...6 band members/ 25 instruments...etc...it's hard to sacrifice your sound quality and the work that we put into sound check so that an openers can mess that up. In Pittsburgh people usually have openers to sell tickets because they aren't that good at it or people aren't excited about seeing their group only. We haven't ever had a problem selling tickets or getting people to the show so it's an unnecessary step. I think our supporters love that they don't have to sit thru another act typically too. In my estimation...they'd rather hear a good DJ (Big up to Nate Da Phat, Selecta, and Nugget for holding us down at recent events). The point is... When you don't have an opener and you come out to a cold stage almost every time you play, you have to be hot (insert period here) Our show was developed to last an hour or more and it had to be entertaining and musical throughout. As a headliner without an opener almost every time that you play...you have a marathoners mindset and discipline. So when asked to do a real quick sprint...it's nothing!
Our requests to do "quick sprints" have recently increased. Unfortunately for the people that we open for, we've still been approaching it like a marathon. With training... discipline... planning... mental preparation, etc. We're working on that Macrocosm now. We're not rich. We don't sell a million records. Our name is not household (yet), but when it comes to the stage...ask around. It gets ugly!
In the late 80's a very hot (by industry standards) up-and-coming entertainer was asked to join a major tour to be what he thought was a supporting cast member. He actually was supposed to be an opener. A few shows in, the tour had to rearrange the order because this young man and his over sized 3 ring circus were leaving the crowd spent. By the time the headliners came out the crowd had no more energy and were leaving half-way thru the headliners set. This young man's name was MC Hammer.
Yesterday I had a conversation about with a great new business associate of ours. This guy is really in our corner and is one of the few people that don't pull punches with me about things in this touring world. He is also the person that promoters and managers of the groups that we open for would call to lodge a complaint. Complaints have been lodged. As it turns out...it's not good to take the MC Hammer approach. As an opener you are supposed to play at 70% and even if the promoter gets you on stage late...you are expected to cut your set short. Rocking the crowd and giving them their money's worth is not what you're there for. It's just to make sure the headliner doesn't walk out onto a cold stage. DAH! I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF IT!
This emcee from that band that I was talking about earlier. I don't remember who they were on tour with at the time...but I do know that they had much of the same reputation then. They weren't rich (then)...they weren't millionaires (then)....their name wasn't necessarily household (then)... but on stage...IT GETS UGLY (still). I'd bet he had a guy that the headliner called when they were out on tour with people. I bet that guy got complaints about them every night. How they were "draining the crowd" and "playing too hard for an opener". Hopefully in the next few days I'll come up with a one liner that can address how angry that makes me. Hopefully I'll come up with a line that tells you guys how much harder I'm going to work on my stage game... how much harder my squad is going to go at rehearsals...how much more we are going to prepare musically and mentally to dominate any opportunity that we have to reach Part 2 of our mission.
Until then... the lyric that started this blog means so much more to me than it did when I first heard it in the late 90's. Kardinal Official actually used it for a hook one of his records because he developed the same reputation when he got on top of his game (Big up to T-Dot! K.O. We'll see you at NXNE this year).
Sometimes when you already own a mansion & a yatch you get your ass kicked by cats that are hungry. My band is starving and kicking a lot of ass. Get ya Dukes up if you choose to allow us to open for you. If not...my man will be expecting your managers call.
Post Disclaimer: Typically it's the whinny manager of the artists lodging these complaints. We usually end up being very cool with the artists that we play with. Whatever goes on behind the scenes after that is out of our control.
(Shout out to Busta Rhymes & Spliff by the way for not being shook after we got off stage. That situation could have easily went south for them, but it was dope to see how Real Actual Hip-Hop rises to that occasion...it doesn't make phone calls).
Big-Up to JordanBeckham.com for the image above and Renaissance (remember to check her out) for the guidance!
MT the MC
of the Formula412 ass kickers