AHHH! My band just got its first gig opening for a major artist!! AMA!
Update: alright all I’m signing off for the night. Thank you SO much to everyone who participated, and sent encouraging words, and even those who came with harsh words about the music industry.
This was an absolute blast, and a major confidence booster. Please listen to Yard Act. They’re a killer band that’s pretty freakin unique, and we’re so stoked to be playing with them.
Also, you can stream 91X, 91X Loudspeaker (hey Tim Pyles, you’re the man!) from anywhere… and come visit San Diego! There’s some great bands playing here like The Havnauts, Quicksands, Wild Wild Wets, Mdrn Hstry, Volclays, Evenings Empire, and tons more.
Hi Reddit - I'm Charlie, from the San Diego band King Whisker.
After playing in bands since high school, I finally just booked my first major gig, opening for the UK band Yard Act on their international tour. Built our own recording studio out (You can see the whole thing on our Instagram), and are hoping to tour our album soon.
Ask me anything, about being in a band that's trying to make it, recording an album, or simply "are you really happy right now?!" to which the answer is "YUP"!
I'm also seeing King Gizzard tonight for the first time - they inspired us to build our own studio and record our own album, so today is just a great freakin day!!! EEEEEE!
My personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charlierohlfs/
King Whisker's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kingwhisker/
A few other things we've done:
Nominated for a 2020 San Diego Music Award for our single Television:
Nominated for a 2021 San Diego Music Award for our album Relaxing with Aunt Janine:
Anyone that's able to support themselves fully from their music, has a sizable following, and has chart success I suppose.
Although there are plenty of artists who I'd consider "major" who may not hit all those categories.
Good for you, Yard Act is excellent.
Thank you! I'm just about as stoked to see them play as I am to play with em!
What was the process like getting this gig? Did you contact their management or was it through a booker for the venue? Appreciate any tips you have on getting opening spots!
We got contacted by a local DJ here on 91X San Diego. He was super stoked to tell us about the gig, because he knew how much it would mean to us.
To get to this point with our local station took diligence. We've been on air with them a few times, and hook them up with merch (and some weed), and we just let them know how much their support means to the local scene.
Having a local station that really supports the scene is rare, but if you have one... become friends with them FAST. Having an advocate and ally in the music scene can open doors.
We've played at this venue before, and have headlined most of the mid sized venues in town, so the booker knows we're reliable. Gotta make your bones playing gigs like crazy. Our first 10-15 gigs were in shit bars playing for our wives/girlfriends/boyfriends/partners.
I just wanted to say, I'm so happy for you. You seem genuinely super stoked, and that's awesome. Enjoy the hell out of it.
Hehe thank you. I'm unabashedly grinning hard, and also REALLY enjoying just chatting to people about my band on reddit.
Every little step forward is a big deal to me, music wise, so I'm just enjoying the ride while it's still going on.
So if hire you for a house concert for $701, being your most lucrative concert so far, will you bring weed?
Name the time and place. I sense immediate and MASSIVE riches in my near future!!!
what if i told you i could make this happen in silver lake (LA) a week from tonight lol (and provide an opening act if needed)
LA is nice and easy for us. Hit us up on Instagram if you’re serious!
Agreed man sadly the industry is still largely ran by payola, you gotta pay to win but it also sounds like your not resting on your laruels and yamnys or letting your success get yo uour head
Keep that attitude up
Much appreciated! Our success is super limited right now, but this AMA is really reminding me get it need to get my head back on the business side.
The pandemic almost killed us as a band, but we’re clawing back and remembering all the work it takes to make things consistently happen.
So glad you did this ama, I just heard I Makey Boom Boom for the first time. Holy shit that's a great song.
HEhehe thank you. Our drummer wishes more of our stuff sounded like Boom Boom. We started out a bit louder than we are now. Maybe we'll write some more unhinged loud stuff.
Concert producer and promoter rep here. Getting more of these types of gigs really is a lot of who you know, but it goes a long way to also have 1) a good social media presence (obviously), great sounding recordings, and also a press kit of some sort.
When I first started playing shows, tours always wanted a couple well known, good local bands and trusted the promoter to pick them without approval by the artist.
Anymore, booking agents for the artists require approval for opening slots. So having these 3 things that a promoter can send to an agent to get approval will go a long way. Get familiar with your local venues, who runs them, who books there, and who the main promoters are. If you see an artist or a tour coming through that’s been announced, try to find out who’s promoting the show and reach out to them to let them know you’re interested in opening up the gig if there’s a spot available. Have those links ready for them. Promise you’ll do your part to help promote and get some extra bodies out. If the show looks like it’s going to sell out regardless, it might just come down to getting a good local opening that can set the crowd up for an overall fantastic evening of music.
Local radio is a great help too, because it shows that you’re already worth enough of a shit in your local music community to be taken seriously. Promoters would way prefer to work with locals who have that sort of notoriety than ones who don’t.
The more national/international touring artists you’re able to play with, they can be added to your press kit of bands you’ve performed with. Says a lot to prospective labels, managers, booking agents that you’re good enough to have been set up to perform with worthwhile talent.
But traveling, expanding your audience, and getting more press coverage helps a lot too.
I hope some of this information helps! Congrats and good luck!
Edit: one thing I want to add, some additional advice as a promoter rep who has worked in this industry a long time. If you’re trying to add some degree of production to your show (custom lighting fixtures, scrims, props, etc) — make sure you advance that you have these things ahead of time to the promoter before the day of show. You don’t want to upstage artists. Some bands will find it cool, and a little inspiring, but too many others get super pissed about it. Then the tour manager yells at the local production manager on why they let you use all of that stuff, and then they complain to their agent, who yells at the talent buyer and promoter team, who then might not want to put you on another show because that’s the sort of reputation you’ve set for yourselves. Never assume it’s okay to be the opener and have a more flashy show than the bands you’re opening up for. Plus, you might bring that sort of stuff and there’s just not enough room for it on stage, enough electrical circuits, etc. Tours have to advance the same stuff with us as well.
I really appreciate the thought and effort that went into your comment! We have a garbage website right now, but we’re launching a new site with a proper EPK.
Adding this in will be a big win for us! Hopefully a tour soon!
Congrats man. I used to play in a band long ago, up in the Long Beach area called Crystal Antlers, and I totally know how you feel. Best of luck, this post was nostalgic for my music playing days.
Thanks brother! I’m enjoying it while I can 😀
Damn. So you only did 10-15 shit gigs before you did the bigger sell out venue ones? Damn.
Probably more than 10-15, but not a ton more. We just really push to bring a good crowd when we play gigs. As long as we're bringing people, venues are happy and we get better gigs, and make a little more cash.
How do you get organic fans? I've played gigs for years in originals bands. My current band is good, really good, but it's a struggle to get new audiences to stick around and build that dedicated fanbase we need. What did you do?
Ooof - its hard man. Honestly, I need to do a better job of it than what I'm currently doing.
I guess the main formula is: create content, engage with everyone who comes to your shows that wants to talk with you (as long as you're not being creep about it), make friends with other bands and artists, and give people something they want to be a part of.
We're a bit absurdist in our shows, and people seem to really dig when we get them in on it - we've asked audiences to "moan and yip" instead of cheer... so you end up with your whole crowd being a mass of moaning weirdos. Creates something memorable at least.
Put on a killer live show and you'll have a HUGE leg up on the other bands in your area.
What's your band called? I'll give em a listen!
How much will you get paid for this gig?
No clue - we'll get a percent of the door. Probably a few hundred bucks - maybe as much as $500? Reality is we spend much more money on gear, gas, and our rehearsal space than we currently make back from shows.
Most we ever made for a gig was around $700, which we were super happy with. I wish we made more, but we're just not at that level yet.
Also, thank you for bravely keeping Mr. Trump out of the Vietnam War.
You really should have a contract for every show you play, but especially with a venue that large and a national touring act. Played in a touring band in my 20s. ALWAYS have a contract, and somebody that you can call when some promoter tries to fuck you that at least sounds like a lawyer. Also, when you’re opening for bands for exposure, make sure you have merch, you can make double on merch than what you’ll get for opening spots.
I don't disagree with you entirely - this is a last minute gig for us, and I know the venue, and the booker. If we get hosed out of $200-$500 then it is what it is... but I'd be really shocked if that happened in this particular instance.
Merch is indeed available - a few different shirts and some stickers: https://www.kingwhisker.com/merch/
Our website is in the middle of some DIY updates. plz don't hate me for how shitty it is.
When is your next local show, so I can brag that I saw you when you were still small?
Aww that would be great! We're playing:
4/15 - Casbah
4/16 - 710 Beach Club
4/20 Casbah again
5/6 The Kensington Club
Come say hi! First drink's on me!
Let me know when you can make it up to the Sacramento area.
What venues would be good for a band with ONE fan in Sacramento? We’ll play just for you bb.
I have a local venue about two and a half hours north of Sac that would absolutely book you guys if you ever made it up here :)
Sweet! Send the info to our insta!
Still not up for indoor concerts yet but I love casbah. I use to love the fm 94.9 local shows they would put on with the free food back in the day.
Yeah definitely a bit scary with the indoor concerts, but we’re all Uber vaxxxd and waxxxd so we’re just being careful and giving it a go.
Oh shit, I forgot to give credit to the inspiration for my Reddit name... my true artistic inspiration... MONEY BOY. Please don't listen to my music. Only listen to Money Boy.
Are you kidding. Seeing the name of our national hero as an austrian almost moved me to tears! Gucci bandana yo
Money Boy 5Ever
Hey man congrats. This is a crazy good time, but it’s important to take it seriously too. Enjoy it, but make some contacts, shake hands, and don’t get drunk.
Take it all in, but play ur cards right and it could be the first step on a long ladder
Source: am in a band at a similar stage to you, we play a support slot in Wembley arena next week and I’m fully shitting my pants.
WEMBLEY! That's huge congrats!!
Fuck yeah, nice to see other original bands in SD moving on up! =) Congrats! Did Tim Pyles get you the gig?
He did indeed! Mr. Tim is a mensch. I've lived all over, and the support for the local music scene from a legit rock/alt station is pretty unique in SD. Tim's a big part of that.
When are y’all back from your tour?
No tour planned yet - just got some SD shows lined up and likely some in TJ/MX very soon. We've been balancing some lineup changes, so there's been some "getting up to speed" time needed before we hit the ground running with a real tour.
(Likely a small CA/AZ/NV/NM/MX tour)
Excellent! I’m gonna follow you guys, maybe we can link up and open for you in the future:)
What’s your band called? I’ll listen to your stuff 🤘🏼
Well Well Well is my main project currently, No Kings is my old band. I’m just a lowly bass player but I’ll share your stuff with the boys and try an make something happen! 😄🤘
Wooop corgrats!!! How will you celebrate?! What do you think this means for you? Merde! Break a leg!
Yay! Thanks so much. I danced around the apartment a bit when we officially booked the gig.
I don't think this is a "we made it" moment for us, but it gives us confidence to keep pushing... which is honestly one of the hardest things as we're in this "in-between" phase.
We've had enough success for this to be a serious project, but we're still a REALLY small time band, and COVID has been brutal for live music. It's been hard to keep going at this with confidence and energy, and this gig means a lot to us. We can refresh, reset, and keep pushing.
I'll be slamming down a ton of edibles before this King Gizzard gig tonight to celebrate.
I'd smoke a blunt, but I'm resting my voice as much as I can out of an abundance of caution.
A man is a success when he gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night and in between does as he wants -Bob Dylan
I’d say you’ve made it !
Drink lemon tea with hubby and turmeric! Have a last at King Gizzard!!!!
Hehehe thank you! I shall drink as much "hubby" as a man can drink.
Ayy i’m seeing Gizzard in october, what’s your favorite album of theirs?
Gotta say Fishing for Fishies, followed by Nonagon, Followed by Rats Nest.
What is your ideal in terms of bands? Era in the past like 90s grunge, 2008 indie or are you generally site specific like what San Diego is if sites have sounds like Portland, chicago, New York, toronto. And San Diego is just the variant that best pairs with the UK band Yard Act?
From a band perspective, we have a pretty broad sound... somewhere between Talking Heads, Aquabats, Parquet Courts, and Weezer.
We try not to be too derivative. I don't if we fit into a specific era, but that could just be me thinking we're more original than we actually are.
MY personal ideal would be late 70s. Talking Heads, Zappa, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, Johnny Winter, Bowie!! That's the era that resonates most with me personally, although I listen to a lot of modern music from King Giz and Porn Crumpets down to Newen Afro Beat and Kendrick Lamar.
San Diego has a very diverse music scene, but we're probably one of the better fits for a show with Yard Act. We're definitely one of the more "outside art" type of bands in town. Lots of reggae, punk, metal, and butt rock in SD.
somewhere between Talking Heads, Aquabats, Parquet Courts, and Weezer.
My first thought when listening to the Television song was early "King Missile". I dig the sound.
Heheheh yeah I can see that a bit. Thanks so much for listening!!
Your choice to I introduce the band is very Toronto 2000 like Robin Black "So Sick of You" of who I am friends with the guitarist Stacy Stray. I love it. Believe in yourself and your band you guys sound great. Vibes high, stay creative. Everything has a melody and a bright twist. Cant wait to hear about you or pop up under subscriptions. I hope pitchfork does an article on u. Been my go to many years.
Thanks so much!! A pitchfork article would be big big big for us.
Are you ready to RAWK?
Born ready... then forgot... but now I'm ready again.
Where’d you come up with King Whisker?
Were there any other names you all considered?
We get this question a lot :)
We originally wanted to be "The King La-Las" but couldn't figure out a way to write the name that made sense... and we were also worried people would think we were from LA, so we did a bunch of brainstorming.
We actually named the band after Dr. Katz from Courage the Cowardly Dog: https://bit.ly/37bAB34
We really just wanted a band name that didn't truly mean anything, since our music is mostly absurdist/art rock.
The only other name I remember was "These Are My Neighbors," but I know we debated like 90 names.
What are you going to spend your commemorative fifty pence piece on?
This guy yards. More commemorative 50p pieces, obvi. It’s the perfect scheme.
That's super exciting!! Congrats!!!!!!! What will be the first thing you guys will do after the show?
We'll probably balance trying to be COOL ROCK AND ROLL PEOPLE with wanting to go to bed and rest up for the next gig... reality is we'll wait around for the venue to clear, then load out our gear and schlep it back home :)
We don't get wasted at our shows any more, it's more business and art/music for us than the party stuff. We gotta drive our gear home, and we don't drink and drive. ROCK AND ROLL!
What’s up man? Just wanted to chime in here, from San Diego too and I do a lot in music but more on the hip hop stuff, I manage a couple producers and actors. Had a #1 song last year and a couple number 1 album placements. Happy to give any feedback or advice on stuff. I own a concert agency too based out of Sac called California Live and we’ve done prob 2k shows at this point but I don’t run point on that anymore. Congrats on your tour booking, the game is brutal right now lol
Thanks man! I may hit you up!!
Weird question, how do you transport all of your gear?
We have a van and a Subaru. Lots of lifting and sweating. We all help each other load in/load out.
Our drummer got a dolly recently, which basically means we’re a big deal now.
Have you ever played at a place that you would never, ever, ever return to even if they gave you a billion dollars?
We played on top of a moving bus that was doing off ramps at 50 on the highway... we... may not want to do that again... although I've been informed that there was an issue with the driver and they were hospitalized the next day.
But also I would literally do anything for a billion dollars that didn't harm me or others.
What are your plans after that? Have you thought about? Congrats!!!!!
Yay thank you so much! We're playing a showcase for the San Diego Music Awards the night after, so that's what's immediately on deck. It's a fundraiser to get guitars into schools, which is extra dope... then a 4/20 show :)
My DREAM would be to start getting gigs for more and more major acts in San Diego. That would be the best possible thing for us right now.
After that, more gigs hopefully! Likely recording some new music soon. I'm also working on a solo project just for kicks.
Thanks so much for listening, my man!! Also, I don’t know Mother Mother. I’ll check em out.
Have any inspirations for starting this band? What would you say is the genre for you type of music? Happy to see you guys are from my home city! Can’t wait to listen to your music
I just always need to be doing something music related or I go insane. I took a long break from any serious music while I got a career going, and it got to the point where I needed to get back out there and be in a band. That's kinda how it all got started.
We're "art rock" but we most often get labeled as indie rock out here.
Thanks for listening. See you around the city!
How do you find people to play music with? Since moving to ro San Diego I can seem to find anyone. Most theater groups and small bands I've tried to reach out to tend to be either clicky or worried about "sharing".
It took a lot of Craigslist and bad auditions to find the right group.
We got lucky to start as a 3 piece of friends, but we’ve had to replace a bass player twice, and added more members all through Craigslist. Just takes a ton of patience and time.
I'm listening to your band right now. Why does your band sound so knarly?
Holy fuck! "Relaxing.." is a fucking genius album.
I host a podcast about music called Stuck In Rotation, it's only a few months old. I'd love to have you on as a guest
Absolutely! I’ll listen to your podcast tomorrow. Hit us up on Instagram and we’ll give it a go.
How do you feel about making money through streaming?
Ooof the whole thing is a mess. You have to be getting tons of streams to make any money.
It’s a great tool for LISTENING to music, but it’s terrible for the artists.
Self producing my own EP made me much more willing to buy music from indie artists.
Are you getting any income from streaming? Or is it through bandcamp album sales or shows?
Most of our money comes from shows and merch, and a little from bandcamp. Not a penny from streaming.
What instruments do you (plural) play?
Guitar and voice are my primary instruments. I also play bass decently well, and a little keys and drums, but only barely. I just use them help write mostly.
I’m rhythm guitar in the band. Aside from My Job, Converted, and the first solo in Whiskerton, all the other leads are Alex, our lead player. She’s amazing.
Song writing is definitely my favorite part of the process though.
Yo! Late to the party here but I saw King Whisker one night last year at the Music Box. My friend's band was coming on after you but I absolutely fell in love with you guys while watching your set. I frequently check to see when your gigs are but I can never seem to find them. Do you gig often and if so where can I find that info?
Ayyyee thank you! We took a BIG break from live shows after the Music Box gig. Our bass player had some life stuff, so he moved back to the East Coast. We JUST got an amazing new dude on bass after 5 months of searching and we're hitting the ground running with new shows now.
We'll hopefully be back to our 2x a month in SD schedule, with shows in LA, MX, and nearby as well.
Awesome! Well, I'll see you Saturday at Casbah.
Woooo come say hi! We’ll grab a drink.
Would you rather have finger sized legs or leg sized fingers?
Are these the only two choices?
You must choose, the rules of ama are clear.
Finger sized legs, but I’m not happy about it.
I’m literally in the car with Jerm now. We’re driving back from the King Gizz show.
Damn, I missed this! I sing in a pop punk band in Australia and would have loved to have asked some questions on where you plan to tour etc. We're planning an Australian tour around end of June.
I'm actually in San Diego for a few days in June. Any good recommendations on where I could catch a show. Or feel like grabbing a beer and talking about music? I'm sure my wife will be sick of me by then.
Hit me up on Instagram!
As far as good spots for music. The Observatory and Casbah/SOMA are where the best big acts generally come through, unless they're huge. BrickXBrick is great if you're a metal head.
Music Box has great acts too - very diverse music styles coming through there. Wet Leg just played there a few weeks ago.
Soda Bar is excellent both bigger more "out-there" acts, and some local/CA bands.
There's usually reggae or something similar at 710 Beach Club or Winstons.
I know I'm forgetting a ton of spots, but those are some good choices to start with.
Bullet with a name?
We're more of a "burrito with no name" kinda band.
OP, I love your comment. Would you share your band's art? I would like listen to the music. I enjoy many different flavors of music.
Would you be so kind to share something?
Here's our super low budget music video we shot and edited ourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_OtwQhCmro
And here's our DIY album - all recorded/produced by ourselves. Mixed by Big Bad Sound in LA :
Spotify, if you wanna stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/5NVtXNnkeiAps9Ifjt6isV?si=ht6Ns7Q5QvyqzPJQrm2QpA
Bandcamp, if you wanna buy:
My old band "made it" and they earn a few hundred grand a year now. Well, my best friend who runs 'the business' does. Hate to rain on your parade but you've got a lot to learn about the industry. The fact that you answered "No clue...maybe as much as $500" to someone asking how much you'll make is a dead giveaway. Even mediocre cover bands earn that in the middle of nowhere. People can make 200+ a day waiting tables and 3+ dudes splitting $500 bucks is meaningful? You got suckered, hard. That's what basic nobodies get paid just because they might have a local draw and it isn't worth playing for and putting yourself on the list of bands who play for $500.
If you don't know how much you'll get paid you are just asking to get lied to and paid nothing, because the people who book shows are greedy lying trash. Does the "major artist" list you as an opener on their website? Or are you just something the venue stuffed in because you are known to cost virtually nothing and will save them from paying the headliner for an extended set?
I mean come on dude, I know a bunch of guys in their 60s and 70s who play jazz covers at the Yacht Club for like $2500 a weekend. You are getting sold on meaningless and deniable association with a bigger band instead of getting paid. Everything comes down to money, like in every other business. You are categorizing yourselves as a cheap date. I'm not even commenting on what I think about your music, this is just strategy in the market.
So...do they list you as associated or as an opening act on their website? Yes or no?
They're an AMAZING band out of the UK. Definitely check them out!
I think they're a major artist because they're on a world tour, have been on Jools Holland, The Tonight Show, and Tiny Desk, and they're battling for #1 on Billboard.
What is your definition of a major artist?
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