Rock and roll

A few years ago I went through a phase of putting on shows. I might still be in that phase, actually, we’ll see what happens this year. But anyway, I did some events. One was a bike polo tournament with a party after. Two were alleycat races, both with a show after. The last was a small polo tournament, on a weeknight and no party.

Understand that when I say “I” put these events on, all I mean is that I took part the financial risk and the blame, and did a little organizing. In every case, stuff like this happens with an army of volunteers, many of whom have very small jobs (bring the coffee urn, unlock the doors for us, something like that), but without whom the event could not occur. Every time I run an event and it works, it’s because a few people decided they wanted it to happen, and I got volunteered to coordinate. I love it, but I can take very little credit.

By far my favorite job is handling the bands. I get to choose an act, book them, negotiate a fee, transport their equipment and possibly their bodies, make a speech about how awesome they are, pass the hat, give them drinks. For a few moments there, I let my imagination run away with me.

I know everyone daydreams, it’s a part of being human. I think I’m the only one, though, who writes down my juvenile fantasies and publishes them where everyone I know can see and feel awkward about my oversharing, and tries to get more people to read it.

In this fantasy I’m a rock and roll promoter. I never got good enough at music to be the star of a band, but I get to have a little bit of reflected glory this way. I put on events every week, I have an entourage that I roll with. When I’m looking for a band, I get put on the list at clubs, get sent to the VIP room to watch the show, and listen to the band kiss my ass after they play. “Sure, you’ll do,” I say, and turn them over to my assistant to work out schedules and details, after offering them a fee that makes them stop talking for several moments.

This is a job I could do. It’s one that really appeals, because it doesn’t rely on asking some boss if I can make a living, please. One guy with the power to grant or revoke an entire salary with a single decision. My boss in real life is rad, but even so, I don’t like it. Instead I put on a dope party and everyone who shows up gets one seven-dollar vote as to whether the band and I get to eat this week. Democracy.

But reality is very different from my daydream. Not so much with the VIP room, more like texting a drummer 4 times to ask whether they can do Saturday night, and calling 5 different bands before I find one that can play. Never mind if they’re good or not. If they show up on time and sober, they’re hired. This operation can’t afford “good” yet.

Instead of hundreds of party animals lined up out the door, it’s more likely to be like alleycat #2 – the venue didn’t bother to promote it, we picked the wrong time of day, and only seven racers showed up. The band nearly outnumbered the audience, and although their professionalism was outstanding, they didn’t get paid well at all.

Sometimes you don’t win. Oh well. The lesson I got was that any time you have a little power, it’s not because you wrest it from the ground and compel legions with the force of your personality. Rather, it’s because the community has seen that you’re competent and willing, so they give you some resources which you’re expected to use in their service.

I’m still trying to figure out how I can live that life of service, and get the little bit of power I crave. Working at a job is not too bad, but 8 hours in the office slip away unnoticed, and then I have the whole evening and weekend to do real living. I am not interested in Game of Thrones. I don’t care for video games. I want to build stuff. Still looking. I’ll let you know how it goes, especially the flaming disasters.


So we put on a race

We should put on a race, I texted Mat.

Ok, he said. What should I do?

  • – Got a tattoo artist named Dave (@artoscience) to paint a poster ($12 for beer)
  • – Made 100 copies at Monk’s ($67)
  • – Wrote a letter requesting sponsorship
  • – Distributed the posters around town
  • Asked a bunch of places for sponsorship, and got 5 to say yes.
  • – Got a band booked to play on the night of
  • – Plotted a race route (google map?)
  • – Drove the race route
  • – Pressured all my friends, then, when I ran out of friends, my family, to man checkpoints
  • – Found another band, when the first one wimped out. (Downtown Mischeif ($100)
  • – Did a bunch of social media crap
  • – Bought a keg ($180)
  • – Rented a sound system ($89)
  • – Bought snacks and glow sticks for everyone ($40)
  • – Printed up the checkpoint instructions ($20)

And then we just waited for people to show up on the night of, and it worked out ok.

I was expecting a flaming disaster right up until people started to shop at like 7:29, but they did show, and they raced and everything.

Mat and I planned a 3 hour racecourse, but I guess I dramatically underestimated how quick people can go. Aside from about half the peloton dropping out at the last checkpoint (the steepest hill I could find, it was), every rider was done by 9:40, barely two hours after the starting horn. This was a problem for me…

The second-last checkpoint was supposed to be Nick’s, who is in a wheelchair and requires a drop off. So I was planning to start the race, then zip him up to Uvic, then spend the next three hours spectating.

Instead, we wasted 15 minutes while Aaron (the finish line supervisor) went to Tim Ho’s for his coffee and donut, a further 15 minutes while I picked up Mat from the first checkpoint (he was done his job in like 5 minutes and fully could have made his own way back to the shop, but oh well) and 20 more while a police officer issued me a warning for making a dangerous U turn after picking up Mat.

After I said “Thank you very much and have a nice night” to the officer, we proceeded (at the speed limit and with great respect for stop signs) to Uvic, where three speed heroes were track-standing at the checkpoint and looking impatient and sweaty in their matching spandex. We sent them on their way, then a couple more guys, then we left Nick to handle it while Mat and I went to hover near a charging station and answered text messages from all my volunteers, who were wondering if the race was over or not. “Pretty much”, I told them. “Go on back to the party.”

“I have a puker,” Corrie said. “Well, tell her to text me now if she wants a pickup, cause I’ve got two minutes of power here.”

Carli was too late. She had to make her own pukey way back to the shop. I hope I made it up to her, though – she got a special prize. The Puker Prize.

The race was over by that point, so we sprinted back to the shop to party it up and pay the band.

It all worked out surprisingly well, and everyone seemed keen to go again. If I figure out a way to make money doing this, we probably will.