EDIT 3 Thank you all for the great questions, I hope I did an ok job answering them. I will be checking back in over the next couple of days, so feel free to keep asking questions and I will answer them as I can. I will leave you with a video of my band, the Victims, shot in the 80's. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hqfzqFEUKw

EDIT 2 I am still here 10:10pm Central, hit me with those questions!

EDIT Wow, this is really fun and I'm going to keep answering as long as the questions keep coming.

I’m Steve Harm, the owner/manager of one of the U.S.’s oldest continuously operating all-ages music venues. I’ve got 20+ years of stories and stuff to talk about from running a club for half of my life.

The Warehouse is an all-ages independent no-alcohol venue in La Crosse, WI that has hosted over 8,000 bands and 200,000 music supporters, and has been a proving ground for national bands like Everclear, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Mudvayne, Static-X, Mayday Parade, letlive., Motion City Soundtrack, POS, Mod Sun, Mac Lethal, Volumes, Born of Osiris, and Brand New, among others. It’s also been home to legendary performances by Descendents, Melvins, Meat Puppets, The Dead Milkmen, and letlive.

I wish this visit to Reddit didn’t come along with this bit of news, but unfortunately, the venue is in a bit of trouble, and we’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to try to get us out of this jam. www.savethewarehouse.com

Whatever Reddit wants to know about the behind the scenes of a live music venue, backstage antics, prima donnas, crazy rider requests, who is awesome to work with… I’ve got nearly 25 years of stories waiting to be told. If you want to know how to get good bookings with your favorite acts, how to expand your fan base, how to (and how not to) get invited to play the best venues, I’ll be there to spill.

Here’s my verification, and here are a few links about the place.

Verification posted to our facebook page:

The site for the venue:

An interview with me, here:

In the meantime, I’ve got a few hours on my hands, so bring it on Reddit, ASK ME ANYTHING.

Comments: 201 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

solomute17 karma

There are plenty of places that nobody will remember or care about if they close, and then there's places like The Warehouse that people who've never set foot in the place will donate money to keep open. What is the difference between a venue that people play at because it's got a stage and you can play on it, and a venue that is truly cherished by the musical community?

IamWarehouseSteve14 karma

The commitment of the management and staff to be honest to the artists, and to be a mentor to them to help develop relationships with their fans and make every show an experience that the kids who've sometimes spent the last of their money to see will want to tell their friends about.

Frajer16 karma

Why are you a dry venue?

IamWarehouseSteve20 karma

First: Our city is dense with bars. some would say overly so.
Second: In our city, you have to have a special permit to allow alcohol and minors, and it's only allowed in very specific type establishments like "performing arts centers".
Third: It's so much more pleasant for fans to see a band not surrounded by complete sloppy drunks, and this place has always been about the music experience first.
Fourth: It wasn't my intention to get rich, I didn't know what I was doing, I just wanted a place for bands to play. I didn't have a business plan, much investment capital, or any idea what I was doing. I just did stuff.

dcandap13 karma

Steve, I've played the Warehouse a couple times with Mouse Pocket and eponymously as Dan Collins and a Piano. My question for you is this- what is your biggest regret as the owner in your many years with the Warehouse?

IamWarehouseSteve13 karma

For waiting this long to seriously ask for help getting things in order. I've always been horrible at delegating, and letting people help for the sake of trying to keep it from changing things for The Warehouse.
Not going all-in earlier in the process. I've been more prone to work 22 hour days and not depend on my capable friends and volunteers to help carry some of that load.

BDBN12 karma

Can you think of any times where a band/artist's personality has been a complete contrast to their onstage persona or sound (big tough metal band is filled with quiet, chill dudes or a sweetheart singer/songwriter type is actually a complete dick to be around)?

IamWarehouseSteve10 karma

Vanilla Ice was doing a hardcore thing when we first had him play, and his actual personality is a down-to-earth family guy.

The singer from Gorguts on stage is a big scary metal guy, but off stage he is a very soft-spoken French-Canadian.

There was pretty popular death metal band that sang lots of songs about Satan, but after the show introduced us to the puppy that they had found while they were on the road, and now had on tour with them.

There was a Christian metal band that came through with a charity organization as a sponsor and the singer was extraordinarily unfriendly and a month later was seen on Twitter ripping on the venue and sharing rips on the venue with the guy who ran the charity.

thurman_thomas11 karma

In a few of my old bands it was tough to break out of the cycle of being the opening act. What are some good ways to expand a fanbase?

IamWarehouseSteve15 karma

It's tough to answer unless I know what you were trying to do. But either way it's all about the fans. You have to treat every show like it's your last, and every fan like they're the only one. Take time to talk to the kids that come up when you get off the stage, and listen to them. If they like you, they're probably going to like your music and show up again.

Hustle for the venue: put up your own promo stuff, leverage social media for shows, and work to develop a following. If you want to move back in the order, the number of people that come to see you has to grow with you.

Network, network, network. Stay for the other bands. Help them out, and they'll help you. They come to shows too.

thurman_thomas7 karma

Thanks for the reply. We had a tough time getting fans to show up early enough to catch our set. We didn't know how to approach people that showed up later.

IamWarehouseSteve9 karma

If you're not burning discs or setting up free downloads with services like soundcloud and printing off cards with the URLs to give out, you're just hurting yourself. Nothing says you can't tell someone "aww, sorry you missed us. Check out our youtube video (or soundcloud)" and give them a card.

theoyorke10 karma

Do you have any stories about The Jesus Lizard?

IamWarehouseSteve18 karma

David Yow almost cut his head off?
He was drinking beer out of his boot in the dressing room because we didnt have any cups. Yow was prone to climbing things. During the show, the crowd was so dense, he walked across the top of the people to one of the big ceiling support pillars like some punk god Paul Hogan. He started to scale the pillar, mic in hand, crowd surrounding him, and did not notice the giant (flat black painted) barn fan on the ceiling that he was about to climb into. One of the house guys saw it and literally did a monkey crawl over the top of the crowd and pulled him down just inches before he flayed his own scalp.

DreamingTree999 karma

First off, I'm rooting for you to be able to keep the Warehouse going. As a kid it was a place I found like minded people when they weren't other places to be found.

Let's say this campaign works and you get the financial backing that is needed to recover, what is the future of the Warehouse? how will it evolve to avoid this situation again?

Have you thought to look for support from other out of town venues, perhaps teaming with a Madison and Minneapolis venue to have them send artist your way as they go between?

And as a suggestion, since the digital age of music is upon us and not going anywhere why not look at some sort of online streaming or subscription service to broadcast shows from your venue online for and added revenue stream. Or possibly patching off your soundboard to be able to create digital copies of the band that play there (I understand there may be some legal issues with larger bands, but it'd be great for the start ups to have some live recordings)

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

WHEN it works, our first priorities are to evolve the Warehouse into a 501c3, and that will allow us to reorganize financially and provide us access to grants, loans, discounts on performance royalty costs, tax reliefm pro-bono legal services. It will also give us the ability to expand the operating model to bring in industry people to come and do workshops and talks on everything from self-promotion and distribution to recording and production.

As for the other venues. Venues aren't very well known for being fast friends and promoting eachother. That being said, I haven't reached out to First Avenue, or any of the Milwaukee or Madison places. It would be awesome if we could get each of them to contribute enough to get their name on one of the infamous steps (First Avenue Step, The Rave Step...) But it would also be great to get a working collaboration with the venues that we often compete with. www.savethewarehouse.com

We've considered digital broadcasting, and it's absolutely part of the future of the Warehouse. There is a lot to work out, and a lot of time and research involved that we really haven't been able to finish just yet.

But it will work. It's nothing or double time for us.

theoyorke9 karma

What have been some of your personal favorite sets played at The Warehouse?

IamWarehouseSteve11 karma

Stanford Prison Experiment, on a Tuesday night to a crowd of about 8 people that included the opening band and the staff. They played like they were playing Download Festival. They had just gotten off tour with Rage Against the machine and it was unbelievable.

The most recent letlive. show at the Warehouse. They absolutely tore it up. http://youtu.be/5gnW5iHX578

Every Poster Children show was amazing.

NIL8. There was a NIL8 set that was probably the hottest show ever. The walls were dripping, the ceiling was dripping, there were clouds forming in the corners of the room, and they did not slow down one bit.

I have hundreds more, but that's only me. Ask any Warehouse kid from the past tow decades and you're going to get a completely different story.

vertigounconscious8 karma

how did you go about choosing your space? Did the town/city harass you about the noise?

IamWarehouseSteve14 karma

Two of the original partners owned a tanning salon in the basement, and the above ground part of the building was completely vacant. I used to hang out in the tanning salon between jobs because I did touring sound support. (Not to get tanned. It was always full of beautiful women.)
One day I asked for the keys to check out the space. I walked through the second floor and was amazed at the woodwork and the doorways. Then I climbed the infamous 49 steps, and saw the big room. Lost all grasp of reality, and made the worst/best decision in my life.

dakotaslim8 karma

Any ludacris riders make you think twice about booking a certain band?

IamWarehouseSteve23 karma

Oftentimes. We got a rider request a few weeks ago that was over 10 pages long, so I contacted the road manager. Turned out that the band hated that stuff so much that they made up a ridiculously long rider so that they'd never have to do it again. They basically said "cross off everything but the water".
But there have been some other weird ones. Sherwood asked for "1 (one) well greased goat", the Poster Children asked that they be introduced by a retired astronaut, and letlive wanted three small, three medium, and four large pairs of boxer briefs, and 24 pairs of black socks (which they did not insist on at all).
Tube socks are one of the most common rider requests/"necessities". Lots of time to wank on the road, little time for laundry.
And then there were The Dead Milkmen. They were one of our first big shows and at the time I didn't understand that the venue could cross things off of the rider. We had a whole buffet, deli trays, big bowls of candy, and two dozen long stemmed red roses, which they put to use at the end of their set. After they got done, they grabbed the roses, ran down to the door, and handed them out to pretty girls as they left the venue.

firesatnight8 karma

Steve I used to play The Warehouse all the time with my old band and you were always awesome. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Question... has anyone injured themselves on the stairs?

Also, are you tired of everyone bitching about climbing them? Haha

IamWarehouseSteve10 karma

Not tired of it. The stairs are an iconic part of the Warehouse experience.

A drunk girl in high heels broke her ankle once.
Wesley Willis injured the stairs.


Aventine8 karma

I'm donating because i just found out Wesley Willis played at the fucking warehouse. Also i'm playing there friday.

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

Wesley played here three times.

BDBN7 karma

Did you interact with Wesley much? What was he like in real life?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

We had Wesley play at the Warehouse 3 times.

Everybody who knows Wesley knows that he enjoyed headbutting anyone and everyone. When he grabbed the back of your neck, looked you in the eyes, and pulled your head towards his, you knew to grit your teeth together, and expect stars and a good solid thunk.

Prior to one show, a Warehouse staffer asked Wesley if he could buy one of Wesley's CDs. Wesley looked him in the eye, and said "NO. You can buy two!" And the Warehouse staffer was forced to buy two of Wesley's CDs.

At another Wesley show at the Warehouse, Wesley finished up his set, and came walking back into my office, and said "How much money I make tonight, Steve? I think I made 8 hundred dollars. I made 8 hundred dollars tonight, right Steve?" To which I had to give him the bad news that his math was wrong.

JG298 karma

You spoke of First Avenue, have you had any contact with Steve McClellan, who since being out of First Avenue has been working on stuff like this? http://demomn.blogspot.com/

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

Yeah, I've talked to Steve extensively, and he posted about it on the blog a while back. We've never really figured out a way to make what he's doing have any impact on our situation.

JG297 karma

You've been working all the angles with previous bands, including NIN, other music venues, Martin Atkins, etc, how has the awareness raising been going in those circles? What other Hail Marys are you working on?

IamWarehouseSteve11 karma

Martin Atkins, former drummer of NIN, Public Image Limited, and Killing Joke has been very helpful spreading our story as have other industry people including Dennis Mollan from Pro Tone Pedals. We've been working every possible angle and have pulled out all the stops. We have been contacting friends and bands asking them to contact their friends and bands to spread the word about the rescue campaign. Many of the bands we've had through the Warehouse that are in a position to help the most are so big now that we can't get in touch. Nine Inch Nails, Fall Out Boy, Plain White T's, and My Chemical Romance are just a few that went on to massive success and we have not been able to get to them.

t_R_u7 karma

Is "getting discovered" different for artists/bands today than it was 22 years ago? What does it take to go from the Warehouse to playing Rock Am Ring or Glastonbury?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Yes. Who do you get discovered by? There are so few labels nowdays, and few of them are creating product. They're essentially distributors. But now it's easier to approach labels. The labels used to have codes and fake names of A&R guys that they would change on a weekly basis, and anything they received that didn't have that on it on the address got dumpstered. Now they've got facebook and twitter and email accounts and no A&R people. They get literally thousands of submissions a day.
But to distinguish yourselves now from the throng, you actually have to be good. You have to work material out extensively, network, and develop a fan base BEFORE you get noticed. The labels watch the internet chatter (like reddit) and acts that "get discovered" have built in fanbases. So to the label, it's like buying into an already successful business. They no longer want to have to create the product or find the customers, they want to package and sell an already refined product with an existing outlet.

t_R_u5 karma

If the product has to be refined before the labels pick it up, why is it so hard for indie bands/labels to make it big? It seems like if a band is at that point, ie getting noticed, growing fanbase, they have what it takes to succeed. Or is the money/marketing machine the labels offer? Or are bands conned into bad deals? (not arguing, just wonderin)

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Bands being conned into bad deals is the core business model of the major label music business. Wendy Day has made a career rescuing good artists from bad deals, and plenty of artists end up paying for bad deals years after they've stopped being a band.

smokespirit7 karma

how do you see the future of such venues??

I'm not a concert going venue person but your always hearing of a "legendary venue" closing etc where xyz played in the 60's etc

how do you personally see the future of not just not your venue but others like this?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

I see smaller venues disappearing because of how hard it is to compete with mid-size and bigger venues in nearby cities. Booking agents and bands are unintentionally conspiring to put small venues out of business by creating dozens and dozens of "megaband" tours (tours with 6-12 bands, usually featuring 2-3 big headliners) which small venues cannot possibly afford. These mega band tours are thick spring through fall and completely drain the disposable income of concert goers in a wide area surrounding the bigger venues. Kids from the areas where the small venues are will skip multiple small shows to be able to afford the 12 band show at the big venue, and all the merch that goes with it. That causes great financial stress on small venues. It is impossible for a small venue to compete with a show like that, and when those shows are happening every week to ten days in the summertime, it can put a small venue under mighty quick. The other downside to this is that the bottom third of those bands on the mega band tours, are bands that could easily be headlining the small venues. Those bands, and their agents, are operating in a very detrimental manner regarding the development of those bands. They put those small bands on the twelve band tour show, those bands play first to the few people coming in right after doors open, they don't get the benefit of the full crowd, they don't sell nearly as much merch, and the people who become their fans forget them by the following week, when the next set of 12 big bands comes through. Take that same small band, put them on a headlining show in a smaller venue, the show sells out, kids fall in love with the band, the band sells an enormous amount of merch, and the band creates an actual repeat market that they can afford to go to on their next tour, AND the small venue makes money.

The other benefit to a show like that is that the venue can add 2-4 local bands who get to play with a national act, play in front of a big crowd, learn from that national act, and eventually be able to have their own headlining shows. That is how band development works. But if all that happens are 12 band mega shows every other week in the big venues, the little venues are gone.

smokespirit2 karma

Thanks for the reply!

I actually noticed the whole 12 band thing your talking about. at the moment the UK is coming up to festival season - loads of bands playing over a weekend in a park eg Glastonbury style

whilst i'm sure as you said some smaller bands will appriciate playing in a big stage you have to wonder just how much coverage they get and how much they remain in the public's mind when the public have bought a ticket where across the top is U2 or rolling stones. surely that main event at the end of the gig is what is going to be remembered.

I used to do security at a small concert venue in manchester, UK and they would do what your suggesting - have an above average band headline and then 3-4 local bands support.

the average band would get much more dedicated fans and the smaller bands who could never get on a major festival card get practice and exposure to fans who listen to similar music.

Like i said i'm not a big concert man myself but doing security i got to listen to groups who i thought sounded great but would never had heard from otherwise. NYPC (new young pony club) was one who have not really hit big time but when they were live i really liked their style and sound. had they played a festival card there would be no way they'd have stuck in my mind.

there's a smaller town near to me and the local live music venue has just announced its closure and its a shame as so many local bands would get exposure there even if its just for 100 people but now they're not getting anything. (http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/10572400.Last_independent_live_music_venue_in_Blackburn_set_to_close/)

i wish you well for the future and hope the future isnt as bleak for live venues as it is in my mind.

IamWarehouseSteve3 karma

Thanks for writing back. It is very disheartening to know that small venues even across the pond are having a hard time. We're not going to go down without a fight, and you can help that fight by sharing this information (www.savethewarehouse.com) with people who value your opinion, and explaining why small venues are important. Just like you did in your reply.

RetardedHobo7 karma

Thanks so much for taking time to answer questions with us!

What does it take to get the attention of larger acts to your venue? Was it just natural buildup over time or were there strategies that you used?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Smaller acts becoming larger and developing relationships with their management and with their labels. Treating people right and developing a reputation for doing so. It wasn't anything intentional or planned, I had no idea what I was doing when I started, but treating people well can get you a long way.

suspirio7 karma

You said backstage antics. Craziest story, proper names withheld for anonymity is fine- go!

IamWarehouseSteve11 karma

Killdozer was loading out of the venue and were almost finished. I had just headed downstairs to get them to sign one of their promo shots. I was standing there talking to them behind the van when three really drunk girls come walking by. They get past the van, and one turns and looks at the band and says "What did you say?". One of the guys in the band just said., "What?". The girl walked up, grabbed the promo photo out of the guitarists hands, tore it up, and threw it in my face, then took a swing at the guitarist.
Next thing we knew, it was Killdozer Vs. Three Drunk Chicks live on the sidewalk in front of The Warehouse in a full -on street brawl.

The number of artists (local, national, and international) that have barfed from the heat, or thrown up off of the back fire escape couldn't be counted if I had 100 hands.

We also had to empty everybody out of a show because of a tornado. There were sirens going off, clouds swirling overhead, every broadcast (tv and radio) overtaken with tornado warnings, and we had to hustle about 125 kids and three bands down the infamous 49 steps outside, back in the side door, and into the basement. We didn't insist that anyone go down there, but as soon as people got outside, they looked up into the black swirling sky and ran down the stairs.

IamWarehouseSteve6 karma

Still thinking on this but I will get back to it.

altnation177 karma

What is your opinion on brand new?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Everybody at the Warehouse loves Brand New. They played at the Warehouse many times, including one legendary 4th of July show with Moneen and Senses Fail. Its been a long time since Brand New blew up, and we don't expect that we can ever do them again at the Warehouse, but we do try to see them when they are playing nearby.

seanolifter4 karma

Just wanted to say that was my favorite show I've ever seen in my life.

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

Its always been our goal to create moments like that.

86d7 karma

Was there any existing venues that you modeled the warehouse after? Or at least were inspired or influenced by?

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

When I was younger I used to drive to First Avenue as often as I could. It was like a hypnotic urban shrine to the most amazing bands. I also drove to Chicago to the Metro when I was in a band. I realized years later that I had absorbed a lot of things about those venues and used them in the Warehouse. Those places are still kind of landmarks to me.

t_R_u6 karma

Are there any architectural quirks in the Warehouse? Hidden passages, bootlegger stashes, crypts?

IamWarehouseSteve13 karma

We did find a large safe.....

vertigounconscious6 karma

Hey Steve! another Q - does owning a venue make you enough money to get by? If it doesn't, how do you supplement your income? what else do you do to stay afloat?

IamWarehouseSteve18 karma

It doesn't right now. Owning the venue doesn't even make enough money to make a venue get by. I'm a grown man. I live with my mom (who still bakes cookies for some of the bands that return to the venue from ages ago).
To the extent of the money that comes out of the venue for me: It's gas and food. My truck's got over a quarter million miles on it. I don't really do anything else but The Warehouse (with the exception of the occasional movie). I basically live here. I'm a stupid musical martyr.

ShadowMystorm10 karma

You are what someone like me would call a real hero.

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

I have never tried to be that, I just have a calling.

vertigounconscious6 karma

I've always wanted to open a venue, what are the steps?

IamWarehouseSteve24 karma

1: Borrow as much money as you can
2: Sell everything you own
3: Clean out your bank account 4: Convert it all to cash
5: Take all of that cash and make a very large pile, and saturate it in gasoline.
6: Ignite and save yourself from yourself.

vertigounconscious6 karma

sorry I have so many questions, did the advent of internet music downloading have a pronounced affect on your venue?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

I would say it had a pronounced effect on every venue. It probably quadrupled the amount of time it took to listen to and review interested band's inquiries. That said, it made it a lot easier and more interesting. We used to get bales of vinyl, tapes, cds, flexis, VHS tapes... It was kind of crazy trying to swap formats and keep up with it. Now bands have access to recording in almost any space. Before the advent of digital, bands had to get studio space to get a demo, and that cost money. To do that, bands had to play, make money, refine their catalog of tunes, play more, make more money... and by the time they got into the studio it was usually a fairly refined product. Now bands can write and record in a week and never test anything on listeners.

Here's an example of some of the stuff we'd get (NSFW):

muckbucket6 karma

Steve, thanks for letting our band (Tang) play all those years ago. Do you still enjoy promoting after the thousands of bands you've seen pass through your doors?

IamWarehouseSteve10 karma

TANG! Rochester rockers. Did your guitar player ever settle on a guitar head/cabinet combination? I remember he had different gear every single time he played.

I absolutely still enjoy promoting. I especially love to graduate bands up to bigger and better shows or to see touring bands come through and get so big that they can no longer play at the Warehouse. That makes everyone who works here very happy.

BDBN6 karma

Steve! What's the best way to get my band booked at The Warehouse? Once I get the gig (pleeeeaaaase), what's the best way to make sure I get another one? I know you see tons of bands go thru the place, so I wanna know what your pet peeves are vs. how to get (and stay) on your good side!

IamWarehouseSteve17 karma

As a small local band:
Be a local, and support the other bands that play.

If you're a regional band:
have top notch promo materials (music, photos, digital media, video, a link to a solid set of press kit materials). you don't need to spend 20 grand on a video. Everybody has access to decent resolution video these days. It's on two thirds of the phones out there. There's no excuse to not make the effort.

Try to request an opening slot on a show. Building a show around an untested regional band is really difficult.

If you live close enough to the venue to come to a few big shows in the same genre of your band, come. Do pre-promotion. Hand out download cards. If kids are asking me about a band BEFORE I've heard of them, chances are when they do contact me, I'll book em.

If you're an unsigned national act:
Go through all of the previous steps (except the coming to the venue).
Plan ahead and provide options for dates. We'll do whatever we can to get you in, on a show that you will fit into.

Don't expect to make what you make in your hometown/region. You're not likely to have the draw here like you do at your local club or venue.
Although you won't make a million dollars on the gig, here's what you will get: we'll get your name on posters in three college campuses, multiple highschools, flyers that kids hand out, a website (where we'll showcase your videos and links), a facebook page, a stage with professional sound and lights, opening acts to play with you, and the opportunity to make the biggest impact as you can on your first time through as an unknown national band.

If you're a national band: Why are you reading this on reddit? You should be doing soundcheck, or finding your drummer.

Everyone: Be professional. People put their lives and their hearts into making venues work. It's still a business for everyone involved, but things work best when everyone works as a team of dedicated professionals.

ShadowMystorm6 karma

Now that you mention it, I do need to find my drummer.

(And HEY! One can always learn something from reddit, especially AMAs from people like you.)

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

Oops I accidentally said something helpful.

eatingdust6 karma

When you first opened I used to go to the over 18 dance night. I was 16 and it was amazing. Do you have any crazy stories from those times?

*edited for spelling

IamWarehouseSteve14 karma

Yeah...When The Warehouse started there were five partners and they wanted to be a dance format-only venue and to be open from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am. It was a terrible idea. Instead of getting the cool club people after bar hours, we got drunk lunatics who were too krunk to know to go home. And those people were pretty convinced that anything below the level of their penises was a toilet, and that anything not too slick to fuck on, was in fact placed there to fuck on. That was an awful, albeit interesting time.

eatingdust3 karma

Thanks for the reply. I honestly dont remember anything but dancing my ass off during that time (and every chance I get to be honest).

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Hope you're still dancing.

BatmansNygma6 karma

I've always heard that My Chemical Romance is just a really weird band in person can you confirm/have stories?

IamWarehouseSteve13 karma

They stayed in the van for the vast amount of the time that they were here, which was a bit weird. However, they put on a great set. Although I was so infuriated by the band who performed before them that I wasn't paying much attention.

While that show will go down as one of the legendary ones at the Warehouse, it is probably more so because of A Static Lullaby. Those guys were VERY young when they opened for MCR and ill-prepared to deal with audiences. Prior to their set, they complained about not having any alcohol (although they weren't 21), not being allowed a guest list (although they knew no one in town), the stairs (although they moved almost none of their own equipment), and everything else you could imagine. During their set, the lead singer berated the crowd calling them stupid, fat farmers, and other cheese-oriented insults. He was completely unpleasant. The tour manager apologized to me and said that he was going to quit as soon as possible (we later learned he quit that night, and flew out of La Crosse)

The story gets more complicated.

At that point, we had a blog on our website, where I would write commentary on shows. This was perhaps the worst idea ever in history. As part of my review of the show, I suggested that ASL's tour manager wait until everyone in the band was asleep in the van, put the van on cruise control, and dive out and with any luck they would all die in a fiery rollover. Amusing, I thought. And then I got up the next morning.

Some kids had seen it, copied and pasted it to various sites, which became multiples of various sites, which became massive amounts of multiples of various sites, and then my phone rang. It was the Vice-President of Columbia Records, wondering if he should be putting money into a band acting like that. As I was talking to him, the other line rang, and it was ASL's management company. The management company quickly informed me that a lawsuit was not out of the question and would only be the beginning of my worries. I told them I had the the VP of Columbia on the other line, and that they needed to hold.

Because I was in a band, because I know guys need to let off a little steam, and because I didn't want to be the one to ruin somebody's career, I told the Columbia VP that I thought they were just having a bad night, and that it wasn't their normal behavior. When I switched back to management's phone call, they did not know what I had told Columbia. As they were still threatening a lawsuit, I asked how it would look on MTV news if the headline said "Gigantic Management Company Sues Tiny Venue Because Band Were Assholes." They said they would be in touch, and I never heard from them again. I did, however, hear from A Static Lullaby. Several years later, they came back through and I booked them without hesitation, interested in seeing the interaction. They were very professional, way better, barely remembered the original situation, and we all had a laugh. Two of the original members had started another band, called Casket Salesmen, and that band also came through several times, and the MCR show was always discussed with great amusement.

bigsam836 karma

I have worked in the Concert industry for about 10yrs and never really got past working the hourly venue positions, what advice would you have for someone like me to get into the industry in a production/touring realm? Also have you felt the affect of a large production/venue company with lets say the initials L.N in your venue? and have you ever thought of letting a company of that sort help or take-over the venue?

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

When we first started, we had a kind of an awful band play at the Warehouse called the God Damn Liars. They were from Minneapolis and several years later, after we hadn't seen them for a while, I was contacted by the vocalist who was now a promoter. His company was one of the bigger promoters in Minneapolis and he had overbooked a date and needed to move one of his shows to La Crosse. For the next couple years, his company ran several shows through our venue, although we had a handshake deal that was probably the loosest agreement you could possibly have. His company was eventually purchased by Clearchannel and then LiveNation but once they became Clearchannel, our handshake agreements were done and our relationship was done. Other than that, we have never had any issues with any of the big promoters and as of this point, no one has tried to strong arm us in to working with/for them.

As far as getting into the touring/production business, that is a "work your way up from the bottom" situation. With your 10 years of experience, you should approach the big promoters in your area and find a way to work for them in any capacity: runner, catering, bus janitor, whatever they need somebody for. Start at the bottom, and make yourself irreplaceable.

stabbyma5 karma

How many bands would play just to get your Mom to bake for them?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

I would think that none would play JUST for the cookies, but I know that some would play for less money if cookies were part of the deal.

Everclear always made cookies part of their compensation.

ShadowMystorm3 karma

I'd play for cookies. .

.. and airplane-tickets to cross the ocean.. :D

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

Alright, Liam Gallagher, come on over!

imtylerdurden5 karma

What do YOU like to see on stage when a band plays a set?

IamWarehouseSteve9 karma

First of all, I like to see the band on stage. I don't like to hear them waste time between songs with inane chatter about their mom, the ride to the venue, cheese, or that they just wrote this first song in the van. Noone pays to go to a show to hear that. They want to be impressed.

The most impressive thing that a band can do on stage is to play better than people expect. So if you're playing first, people expect a clusterfuck of tuning, talking and confusion. Instead, play song to song to song to song to song, don't stop to tell stories, quickly tell people your band name (CLEARLY) a couple times, and bowl them over with how professional your music is. Noone will like your band just because the bass player and the guitarist tell great inside jokes to eachother on the mic. They will remember if your band was as good as the headliner.

ShadowMystorm2 karma

Could you elaborate more on this? I mean, many big acts have loads of "middletalks", and get by supergood with it. When I go to shows, I like to hear the middletalks, it's the band getting personal with the audiance, telling their story.

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

I don't have any problem with "middletalks" as long as they occur in the middle. The worst thing a band can do is play their first song, get everyone fired up, and then stop to talk. It immediately drops the drama level back to the beginning. Also, I don't mind hearing bands talk if it doesn't sound like a scripted speech that they say at the same time every night at the same point in the set.

anarchicforce5 karma

Steve, thank you for being there. I spent many weekends of my childhood at the Warehouse with my cousin, I've made a great many friends there, and was fortunate enough to get to play a couple of times. It has been a huge part of my life.

You've had a couple of people offer community service for certain levels of contributions if the goal is met. Can you elaborate?

Second question concerning local bands, I've heard rumor Blood Kitten is actually just The Disabled in costume, care to comment?

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

Glad we could be there for you:) Myself and so far 2 other Warehouse staff members have pledged an hour each of community service for every $1000 raised when we hit our $200,000 goal. We are hoping that other people will join us in that pledge to raise awareness and contributions for our rescue campaign.

Misfitsnowman5 karma

Hey Steve always wondered when I lived in Sparta (2001-2006) why did 957 never mention you guys or any shows you had?


IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

95.7 has helped us in the past upon occasion by promoting shows, but like any radio station, they revolve around revenue from ad sales. Our typical budget includes advertising for posters, flyers, handouts and monthly newspaper ads but not for radio, which is substantially more expensive. Although it seems like DJs can say whatever they want, and do whatever they want, their power is severely limited by the sales department. The current music director, Phish, is an awesome guy who loves music more than anyone I know. He does everything he can to help us promote shows but again we do not have a radio advertising budget and their sales department has obviously fettered his capabilities .

eatingdust5 karma

You were once in a band, Victims. How big did your band get? What did that experiance teach you about running a venue?

IamWarehouseSteve12 karma

We didn't get very big, however we did sell a few thousand albums, a couple thousand singles and toured the U.S. a few times. Which was a pretty significant achievement for a band in the pre-internet era.

From a band perspective, if you're doing it right it teaches you plenty about any business venture; communication, marketing, accounting, logistics, planning, budgeting, interacting with new co-workers everyday withe every new venue, teambuilding, and a lot more.

Any parent that thinks being in a band isn't good for their kid, doesn't understand what being in a band is. Parents are quick to put their kids into organized sports because they want those kids to get a sense of discipline and learn how to be part of a team. The same parents are leery of putting their kids into a band, which is a far more complicated teambuilding experience because of the amount of variable involved every day. Sports have rules and structure and are contained on a field, being in a band is wild, it's much better preparation for adult life.

thatwhichisnt5 karma

Thank you for doing this. I am in college working towards a business degree. I am rather involved in the EDM scene in my area, and my dream would be to open my own venue on day. I want to help provide and facilitate the same type of life changing experiences to others that I am enjoying.

What is some advice you could give a guy like me?

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

First, get a job at that venue. Paid, unpaid, taking out the trash, whatever. Be around the industry as much as possible so that you can absorb how things operate. There is no better learning experience than getting out of the classroom and finding out what the real world is like. So get as close to the venue owner as you can (really, as many venue owners as you can) and don't step on anybody's toes. Even though its long before you may open your venue, you are going to want to start making as many friends as possible in the industry. If you have any further questions, you can always PM me.

nonnahs875 karma

Yo shoutout from a fellow La Crosse resident! So cool you did an AMA. I hope everything works out for you!

IamWarehouseSteve2 karma

Why are you wasting time thanking me, you should be spreading our savethewarehouse.com link instead!!

P.S. Thank you for thanking me. :-)

imtylerdurden5 karma

Are there any bands that are playing the Warehouse right now that you see a lot of potential in, and could possibly make it?

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

We had a band called Night Verses through a few weeks ago and they were fantastic. The singer killed it live and the drummer is amazing. Of Glaciers from the Chicago area are great, and many of us at Warehouse think that Skeletonwitch are one of the best metal bands on the planet.

Aventine5 karma

Steve, why set a goal so high and not keep any of the money? Would taking the 20+k you're at right now not keep the Warehouse open for a few more months?

IamWarehouseSteve16 karma

No, to the looming deadlines 20K won't buy us another month. We set it up for an all-or-nothing thing because the intention is to make it work. If the bank or the County take the keys at the end of the month, I don't want to walk away with the remains of the money of a bunch of disappointed people who are friends of the venue. I realize that people are contributing because they care about the venue, but if we can't save the venue then I don't want the money. It isn't about me, it's about the continuation of this great thing.

iamspamanda5 karma

Of all the bands that played at The Warehouse, which one's success surprised you the most?

IamWarehouseSteve17 karma

ModSun. When he first came into the Warehouse he was the drummer for Four Letter Lie, a screamo-metal band. He was just kind of a chill quiet dude with a good sense of humor who hung out and beat the hell out of the drums. He always wanted a mic back by the drums, and the band members and I would tease him about it.

One day he just told the guys in the band that he was going to quit to be a hip hop artist. The next time he played the venue it was awful. But the transformation was amazing, and now he completely owns his style. He has been included in a 2011 Rolling Stone magazine article as 1 of the top unsigned artists in the world. But even better, he loves the venue, still comes back, brings a great group of fans, and we always have a great show.

vertigounconscious4 karma

loved Four Letter Lie

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

We hear some rumblings about a Four Letter Lie comeback and that would make US all very happy. And a lot of kids too!

wakeballer395 karma

What is your attitude towards people smoking joints at concertsa?

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

Smoking is not allowed indoors in any public places in Wisconsin.

mjh844 karma

One act that you haven't had that have tried to get? And one act that you'd love to have at your place. (forgive me if this was asked, I just saw this AMA)

IamWarehouseSteve9 karma

One act that we'd love to get: Depeche Mode
I'd also like to get Nine Inch Nails here on their current tour, but I doubt that their giant lighting panels would fit up the stairs.

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

Not really but there have been a number of missed opportunities and cancellations that would have been amazing.
The Warehouse is about 30 minute drive from where Butch Vig grew up. Garbage was rehearsing in Madison for their first ever tour, and it was going to start at Seventh Street Entry in Minneapolis. Their agent wanted a warm-up gig. I made flyers and laid on heavily that BUTCH VIG was playing the show... the guy who produced Nirvana. Their management decided instead to spend one more day rehearsing instead of having a warm-up gig, and the show got cut.

We also had Paramour booked as an opening act on a national tour and they dropped off, unfortunately.

There were tons of other bands that we had to turn down because they wanted too much money, and I should have ponied up... Blink 182 wanted a whole $300! They were just some poppunk kids from California with a young agent in Tahoe who didn't sound very legit. She was legit, and we missed out. We also had a local band called Mr. Blink, and I couldn't think of how to promote without confusing people.

There are many more where that came from.

Ymarksthespot5 karma

I'd have shit if Garbage played the Warehouse. My 15 year old boy self would probably have exploded with pubescent combustion if Shirley Manson so much as looked at me.

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

I stood next to Shirley at a NIN show in Madison, Wisconsin and had pretty much the same reaction.

aztalanturf3 karma

Steve do any of those mythical Garbage flyers still exist? If they do, I know a lot of hard core Garbage fans who are big time collectors...

IamWarehouseSteve3 karma

Not that we can find, but we know they exist out there somewhere.....

suspirio4 karma

Who do you like for President in 2016?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

Somebody who is not owned by a major corporation.

BennyFackter4 karma

Hey cool, I'm playing there tomorrow! It'll be my 2nd time playing there, first time with this band (The Way Back). Can't wait to play, it's too bad it's under such circumstances. You're a champion, and have always treated me and my friends in other bands well, I've never heard a musician say a single bad thing about the warehouse. Except for the stairs of course.

Keep fighting the good fight!

IamWarehouseSteve3 karma

Thanks. Looking forward to the show.

sewalker4 karma

Is there a band out there that played the Warehouse and DIDN'T make it "big" that you were sure would have?

edit: Sub question, did you think Everclear had what it took when you first had them in the building?

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

I did see that Everclear had that in them the first time. They were really raw but they had incredible work ethic. They played their first show here in La Crosse on a Tuesday night, Wednesday they were playing The Seventh Street Entry, Friday they were scheduled to play in St Louis. They called and talked me into putting them back on that Thursday between Minneapolis and St Louis. I would rarely book an act two nights apart like that but given the reactions and the buzz I did it. They came back and about 50 more kids showed up than the Tuesday night show.

PlasticGirl3 karma

As an original Everclear fan, this makes me happy.

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

When those guys were young, and they had that EP out on Tim/Kerr Records (and the following two records) they were hungry and I could hear it in the music. That original lineup of Art Alexakis, Greg Eklund, and Craig Montoya are, and will always be Everclear to me.

PlasticGirl3 karma

I agree with you. When Greg and Craig left, I pretty much stopped listening to Everclear. I went to a couple of Everclear's shows recently, and Art still plays mostly tracks from that era. He even played material from Sparkle and Fade, which I think is one of their more raw albums....World of Noise is nigh unlistenable now.

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

Give me Sparkle and Fade any day.

PlasticGirl3 karma

If I ever make it your state, we should have a beer together.

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

I only drink Everclear!

9Toees3 karma

Every letlive show I've been to the lead singer has destroyed, trashed, or thrown something I hope he didn't mess up too much of the warehouse but their live performance is amazing.

IamWarehouseSteve6 karma

Jason did not smash, destroy, modify, or otherwise violate anything at the Warehouse and frankly, if anyone is going to break something, I would prefer it would be him.

9Toees5 karma

I'm glad to hear that although I love watching it. The State Theatre in St. Petersburg FL had him climbing their rafters throwing the mic. They cut his mic half way through and he just kept going.

It's refreshing to see someone in a band so into their music and even though I've never been to the warehouse ill send the link around hopefully it'll hell save this amaig place

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

Thanks much! Everybody here loves letlive. and we all certainly hope to be here to have them back whenever we can.

itzjamesftw3 karma

Hey Steve, no question here as I live about three blocks from the Warehouse. I've seen Poison the Well on a 125 degree day. I've danced to Sherwood, I've Moshed to I set my friends on fire, I've enjoyed the local flair, I've seen some of my favorite bands and some great up and comers. I've donated in the past and wish I could give more. You've done a great thing for music fans in this area. Though I've grown on to different music, I just wanted to thank you for your time effort and enthusiasm you put into the warehouse.

Rock on.

IamWarehouseSteve3 karma

Thank you so much for your support. You can help right now by spreading the word to your friends and asking them to spread the word to their friends, etc. savethewarehouse.com goes directly to our rescue campaign.

t_R_u3 karma

Have you gained a knack for being able to tell who will go on to bigger and better things and who might not even make it back? Any surprises?

IamWarehouseSteve11 karma

There is a strong correlation between bands that work the entire time they're in town without complaint and their ultimate success, especially when compared to the bands that show up long enough to soundcheck, do their set, and bitch the whole time they're here.

theoyorke3 karma

When are The Victims getting back together?

IamWarehouseSteve9 karma

When some benevolent soul contributes $250k, The Victims are going to rehearse steadily for six months and host a private show for the benefactor here at The Warehouse.


MrBubbles0073 karma

What was the hardest time for you as an owner and why?

What was the best?

What has been the best show that youve personally seen crowd/band/and musical taste wise at the venue.

IamWarehouseSteve5 karma

Now's been the hardest time. This is make or break for the venue, and it has not been easy.

The best time to be the owner would definitely be the the Midi Ghetto Tour with Chemlab and 16Volt. That show brought together a huge group of our regulars from over the years, the bands were absolutely great, the audience was hungry for the music, the bands totally connected with the crowd.

The Pegboy / Superchunk show was incredible too.

BDBN2 karma

I know that Frank Black/Black Francais played at your club with his solo band. I was way too young at the time to go (or even know who the Pixies were), but do you have any funny stories about him? Is he as insane as his music makes him out to be?

IamWarehouseSteve7 karma

First of all, he advanced his own show. Which means, he called the venue a few days before to check on load-in times and everything else. He called himself Francis, I didn't realize who he was and almost hung up on him. At the show, he was a very quiet, reserved guy. At that point, he did not want to be associated with the Pixies, he wanted to be known as Frank Black. At the end of the show, I asked him to sign a Love and Rockets/ Pixies concert poster I had, and he wasn't going to do it until he realized I was the one who would be paying him that day. So now I have a reluctantly signed Pixies poster.

His set was blazing.

t_R_u2 karma

I see the President and chairman of ASCAP is doing an AMA as well. Do titans like them and the RIAA see the value in small venues?

IamWarehouseSteve8 karma

No. Don't really want to comment more than that. They make it prohibitively difficult for small venues to play covered music, and I don't really see the artists benefiting much at all for what that's worth. If anything, organizations like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC should be subsidizing small venues as the incubators of their future revenue. We pay for the right to develop their future talent through license fees and the work we do to promote bands.

BDBN2 karma

What are some of your favorite bands? Not just bands you'd like to see play at your club, but bands that you grew up listening to, currently listen to, have a special place in your heart? You've mentioned NIN and Depeche Mode. Who else?

IamWarehouseSteve4 karma

Depeche Mode and NIN.

No, really. Lifter, Walt Mink, Poster Children, Stanford Prison Experiment, 16Volt, Chemlab, One Minute Silence, Workhorse Movement, Night Verses, letlive., The Bolshoi, Mi-sex, Re-flex, Howard Jones, and manymanymanymany more.