I kicked a support band off of a bill because I learned that they are virulent misogynists. Then the headliner, who claim to definitely not be Nazis, cancelled the whole show.
You are probably aware that we do a lot of metal shows here.
That's not because I'm some big metal fan. Actually I don't give a shit about metal. We don't book everything based on my personal tastes. We do a lot of metal here because we do a lot of all kinds of music here. Our mission is to provide an outlet for a wide variety of music and art. We'll book pretty much anything, so long as we think it won't be a security problem, a legal problem, or lose us a bunch of money.
But you know what? We chose not to do business with misogynists, racists, homophobes and Nazis.
Not on purpose, anyway. Sure, some things have slipped through -- for example, Combichrist played here several times before I became aware of how vile they are -- but one does what one can.
With the world going to shit, I think it's more important than ever to make ethical decisions before financial ones.
So we had booked this band Watain, and they were bringing this other band Destroyer666 on tour with them. I don't know anything about these bands; don't care to, not my thing. But in January, someone pointed out to me that someone from Destroyer666 was quoted as saying, "Those #metoo cunts just need a hard cock".
Well, that's not someone I choose to do business with.
So I told my team, "Destroyer666 is not playing on my stage. If you can get them off the bill great; if not, cancel the whole show."
Well, the agent representing the headliner represents some other bands that we do care about, so my team took their time trying to work it out with him. The agent dragged his feet on it for months (and why wouldn't he? He chose to represent these people, his job is to get them gigs, and maybe if he ignores the problem it will go away.)
Well, the problem didn't go away, so we removed them from the bill in mid-February. I said, "We need to tell people about this", but my team were worried about antagonizing the agent and kept telling me "Uh, just give me a few more days", and of course nothing happened. So, that was a mistake.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago people finally noticed that they were not on the bill.
According to many, many comments aimed at me on Facebook and Twitter, the fact that I chose not to do business with a band over their rapey, abusive rhetoric makes me a "pussy" and a "faggot".
Let me be very clear about this:
If that's you -- fuck off.
If you passively tolerate that in your community -- you're part of the problem.
So among the shouts of "pussy" and "faggot" and "censorship" and "cuck" and all the "what-about"-ism, one of the funnier comments was one that said, basically, "Metalheads are just chill people who want to see a show with no politics, why are you picking on us?"
Yes, metalheads are a simple, gentle folk who merely want to enjoy their growled sexist and racist diatribes in peace!
Part of the problem.
And I'll bet the dudes who say things like "SJWs are ruining metal" are at the same time wondering why there aren't more "chicks" at their shows. Hmmmm, could there be a connection?
Also, pro tip, if someone accuses you of saying something virulently misogynistic and your denial includes the phrase "PC hysteria" -- dude, now everybody is sure that you said it.
Then it gets better: after this all started blowing up, people pointed out to me that Watain have been ducking accusations of being Nazis for a decade.
How about that.
Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but do you know who has never been accused of being a Nazi? Literally everyone I know.
It's actually really, really easy to avoid being accused of being a Nazi. First, don't be a Nazi! Second, don't be Nazi-adjacent! Don't be that guy who says shit like, "Oh, they're not Nazis, they're just fascinated with the Third Reich", or, "They're not Nazis, they just believe in blood purity", or, "They're not Nazis, they just hate immigrants", or, "They're not Nazis, the just don't like how the Jews control the banks."
Or the best -- the best rebuttal -- "What, can't you take a joke?"
Or -- Watain's own rebuttal -- "Metal doesn't have anything to do with the world like you know it."
Anyway, we had been planning to go forward with the Watain show (minus Destroyer666) anyway because by the time all this bullshit came to a head, it was too late to back out of our contract without it costing us a lot of money and (more to the point) them getting paid anyway. But then at the last minute Watain decided to cancel the show.
Problem solved, I guess, and lessons learned: I guarantee you that my team will be googling things like "bandname nazi" more often in the future than they have been so far.
I understand that Watain and Destroyer666 will now be playing at Social Hall SF. Tickets purchased for the DNA show will be honored there. (Update: Social Hall SF decided that they didn't want it either. The show has now been cancelled and all tickets are being refunded.)
So, it's not cheap, having ethics.
If you would like to support a venue that chooses not to do business with misogynists and fascists, please consider contributing to our Patreon.
Since our morning business is still very light, we're trying something new: during the early morning hours, we're closing the doors on the interior of the alcove and selling through the pass-through window. The dining room opens up again at around 10am. This cuts down on staffing, since when the dining room is open, we always have to have at least two people there, in case someone needs to walk away from the register for some reason. But now we can just close the window! This also should greatly reduce the number of nodded-off junkies we have to rouse from our bathroom. "Greetings from Fragrant SOMA".
Our morning business has always been light, but the fact that we have two broken espresso machines probably isn't helping. We had a guy from a nearby motorcycle shop say "I'll fix it for you so that I don't have to walk as far for my morning coffee!" That sounded awesome! But that was months ago and he hasn't freed up the time to actually do it. So we keep listing them on eBay, and knocking the price down every week, and nobody's biting. Pretty soon we'll be paying someone to haul them away and still won't have espresso drinks.
And, another Noise Pop has come and gone. I always enjoy opening up their little program booklet and looking at that cute cartoon map in the front that shows every live music venue in San Francisco except DNA Lounge. This year they had like five dates on hold on our calendar but released them all did all of those shows elsewhere. We can never get a straight answer from them on why. They say, "Oh we love doing shows there, it just didn't work out this time!" but their actions say, "we will do shows there only if we have exhausted literally every other option first." Obviously there's some reason they don't like doing shows here, but they won't tell us what it is. If we knew, maybe we could fix it. Sigh.
It seems like every couple of weeks someone asks me, "So is DNA still having money trouble or is everything cool now?" No dude, everything is very much not cool. The money situation has basically not improved in the slightest.
I guess I have to keep saying that over and over or people will just assume everything is fine and they can go back to not caring...
To put a "glass half full" spin on it, we'd be breaking even if we had just 10% more revenue. That doesn't sound like much, right? Just 10%!
But that's not exactly an actionable insight.
It basically just says, "you should have events that are more popular!" Sure. Getting right on that. Also, we can't really cut expenses any more than we have. Our biggest costs are payroll, rent and insurance. (Hands up if you work here and you feel overpaid. Yeah, I didn't think so.)
We have these massive fixed expenses that don't go away when the doors are closed, and don't scale with attendance, so the only real fix is... to be open more often. Taking overhead into account, it all comes back to the same old number: we need about an additional 800 customers per week. And I don't have the slightest idea what to do about that. We're already doing all the things that we know how to.
How about this: next time you come to DNA, bring two friends with you. Convince your layabout friends to skip the Netflix and actually leave the house. If just our regulars did that, it might solve our problem!
We're still getting a bunch of donations from the Patreon -- and thank you again to the 321 of you who are contributing! We launched the Patreon a bit over a year ago, and while it has stopped growing, it has held relatively steady. We also get the occasional donation from people kicking in an extra $5 or $10 when they buy tickets online, and that's all awesome. But it's not nearly enough to get us out of the hole.
The only real solution is butts in seats. Elbows on the bar.
On that note, here's some stuff we have coming up. It's good stuff, Carl! You should come check it out. And you should bring some people with you.
Last night, at the circus:
"A patron could t find his wife. Called 911.
Then found her at the balcony bar.
The patron called 911 back and cancelled the car."
Some recent photo galleries:
(Update: OMG, they uploaded even more -- now it's a total of 1,565 photos for this one small event. That's 3.5 photos per person. WTF.)
Hey, we'd like to do another Cyberdelia (our Hackers party) again this year, but we need a new corporate sponsor. This party has a lot of expensive overhead, so last year we were able to cover costs by making it be someone's official RSA / B-Sides after party. It went great.
But this year, sadly, that company has dropped out. Their lawyers said they can't sponsor anything that involves alcohol, so their after party has to be held somewhere that you can't get a drink at all. (Yeah, I don't get it either.)
So if your company would be interested, or if you have any suggestions of someone who might, please let me know! We've asked around but have had no bites so far. Target dates would probably be Apr 15 or 17.
Slim's and Great American Music Hall recently announced that they will be "partnering" with Golden Voice. That's a euphemism for "turning over most or all control of what events go on the calendar". Basically they are outsourcing booking to another company. I'm sure they have their reasons, but this makes me really sad.
I have no intention of picking on the Slim's team, whom I have the utmost respect and sympathy for, but...
I'm here to tell you that monopolies are bad. They are bad for consumer choice, they are bad for ticket pricing, they are bad for artists getting paid, they are bad for your local music scene, and they are bad for our culture as a whole.
To explain why, first let me start with some numbers. Here is who owns what when it comes to live music in San Francisco:
- Live Nation Entertainment ($9 billion)
- Owns TicketMaster (who sell 80% of all tickets in the US).
- Formerly a division of Clear Channel (who own essentially all US radio stations).
- Owns 117 venues, 75 in the US.
- Exclusively books 33 additional venues.
- Owns House of Blues (14 locations).
- Owns their own record label, Live Nation Artists.
- Books SF Masonic Auditorium (3,500 capacity).
- Owns The Fillmore (1,200 capacity).
AEG: Anschutz Entertainment Group ($8 billion)
- Largest owner of sports teams and events in the world.
- Second largest music promoter after Live Nation.
- Own many arenas worldwide.
- Owns AXS, a concert ticket vendor.
- Owns Coachella (600,000 attendance).
- Owns part of Bottle Rock (120,000 attendance).
- Runs around ten other large music festivals.
- Owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier.
Golden Voice, a division of AEG
- Books Coachella (600,000 attendance).
- Books The Warfield (2,300 capacity).
- Books The Regency Center (1,400 capacity).
- Books Social Hall SF (600 capacity).
- Owns 12 other venues in LA.
- Books Slim's (500 capacity).
- Books Great American Music Hall (600 capacity).
- Runs Outside Lands (200,000 attendance).
- Runs (ran?) Treasure Island Music Festival (30,000 attendance).
- Books The Greek Theatre (8,500 capacity).
- Books Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (8,500 capacity).
- Books Fox Theatre (2,900 capacity).
- Books The Independent [sic] (500 capacity, 21+).
- Is also an artist management business.
So that leaves us with the remaining independent live music venues in San Francisco:
- DNA Lounge (800 capacity) & Above DNA (300 capacity)
- Mezzanine (800 capacity, 21+)
- Bimbo's (680 capacity)
- Elbo Room (600 capacity, 21+)
- Neck of the Woods (500 capacity, 21+)
- Public Works (500 capacity, 21+)
- The Chapel (400 capacity)
- Rickshaw Stop (350 capacity)
- Cafe du Nord / Swedish American Hall (300 capacity)
- Bottom of the Hill (250 capacity)
- Brick and Mortar (250 capacity)
- Bender's (200 capacity, 21+)
- Eagle Tavern (150 capacity, 21+)
- El Rio (150 capacity, 21+)
- Thee Parkside (100 capacity)
- Milk Bar (100 capacity, 21+)
- Hotel Utah (90 capacity, 21+)
- Hemlock (80 capacity, 21+)
(I'm sure I have accidentally omitted some venues, but I think I got most of the SF venues that regularly host live music by touring acts. I've omitted venues that exclusively host DJ dance parties, because that's a bit of a different business.)
Even omitting all of the massive music festivals, three $17+ billion dollar corporations control somewhere around 80% of all available "seats" for live shows in SF and Oakland.
So what's the problem?
Let's start with a hypothetical.
Let's say you're an agent trying to book a tour for your band. You decide how many days they want to be on the road, how many cities they want to try and hit, and then you start sending out emails to find out what dates are available so you can figure out the routing. Let's say your first call is to some venue in New York, and the talent buyer there says, "As it happens, I also book venues in 15 other cities, so I can put your whole tour on the calendar right now, how's that?" What a relief! So much less work! But then an independent operator in, oh, let's say San Francisco gets in touch with you and says, "I hear your band is going out on tour soon! We love those guys and would like to bid on the show." But then what happens? The corporate talent buyer says to you, "Look, I was giving you a great deal on these 15 dates, but if you want to take your business to my competition instead of taking the full package that I offered you, the price is going to go up. And also, maybe some of those dates are no longer available for you."
So you write back to the small fry, who may have even offered you more money for that particular date, and you say, "Sorry, maybe next time."
Or, let's say you're an agent and you represent a band with a huge draw, as well as a bunch of smaller bands. You're trying to get your bigger band booked on the summer festival circuit, so you're trying to pitch them as big up-and-comers to the agencies booking the festivals. Maybe these guys have been playing 2,000 capacity rooms and you're trying to get them their big break: a late afternoon set in front of a captive audience of 10,000. So while that conversation is ongoing, you are also trying to book a tour for a different, smaller band. You're thinking of putting them in an independent venue who are offering you a good deal, but the festival buyer also books dozens of smaller venues, and you sure don't want to piss them off, because that could mean your job. So instead, you go with the corporate-controlled smaller room as well, regardless of its merits.
"Well that's just business, that's just playing hard-ball." Sure. It's also bad for art, and bad for local businesses. It consolidates control and profit in whatever company controls the routing, even if they don't live in your town. It homogenizes everything.
This is how you end up with venues in dozens of different cities who all have the same calendar. This venue in Portland has the same lineup as that venue in Seattle, just shifted by two days, and so on. Obviously a venue's character is defined by more than just what's on the calendar... but the calendar is a pretty big part.
And those are only examples of how corporate consolidation is bad for the booking side of things. Multi-venue booking agencies also tend to own or have exclusivity deals with ticketing companies as well. Live Nation owns TicketMaster. AEG owns AXS Ticketing and partners with eBay's StubHub. You wanted to use a different ticketing service that you think has better features, or fees, or marketing reach? Sorry, not part of the package. So a monopoly or near monopoly in one industry, booking, squashes competition in another industry, ticketing. That's the very definition of antitrust.
And then there's Live Nation's cozy relationship with their former owner, Clear Channel -- who control the playlists of basically every radio station, and also own most of the billboards.
Plus, much of the time these conglomerates also manage the bands themselves: so in the examples above where the band's agent was talking to a venue's talent buyer? Now they're the same person! And often that company also has a financial stake in a record label. So the same company:
- Signs the band;
- Manages the band;
- Decides how much radio play the band gets;
- Promotes the band's tour;
- Owns the billboards in every city on the tour route;
- Owns all of the venues on the tour route;
- Sells all of the tickets, merchandise, and alcohol.
Good luck trying to compete against that kind of vertical integration.
Back in 2009, when Representative Bill Pascrell tried (and failed) to block Live Nation from merging with TicketMaster, he said:
Under the proposed merger, the combined company would have control over nearly every aspect of the live music business: artist management, record sales, promotion, licensing, venue control, parking, ticket sales and resales, all the way down to the hot dogs and beer. According to James Hurwitz of the American Antitrust Institute:
"If the combination is permitted, [the merged company] will have a powerful or dominant position in virtually all of the industry's markets. Viewed in combination, the merger will give Live Nation Entertainment unarguable control of most competition within the industry."
The companies, if merged, would be over five times more powerful than their next eight rivals combined.
The proposed merger would create a vertically integrated entity whose power would extend across five of the industry's six main markets. An entrant or competitor in any of these markets would face the merged firm not only as a market rival, but also as a power in other critically related markets. A new promoter, for example, needs artists willing to perform and venues appropriate for staging the event. A new venue needs artists and promoters willing to book the facility. The vertically integrated firm can withhold these critical inputs, and its rival will suffer.
To avoid such problems, an entrant would need to enter the industry on several levels at once, a burden that makes entry far more daunting and costly. The combined entity could therefore use its five-market vertical integration to restrain trade both by chilling entry and disciplining rivals.
I'm sure the Slim's and Great American Music Hall team had compelling reasons for making the deal that they did. I assume it was a matter of survival. Much like DNA Lounge, Slim's has never been a self-sustainable business. They don't talk about it much, but it's not exactly a secret. They only way that Slim's has been able to remain in business for three decades is because of regular, large infusions of cash from their patrons, Boz Scaggs and Warren Hellman. Since Slim's bought GAMH in 2000, the same has been true of GAMH as well.
Warren Hellman was a great and generous supporter of the arts in many ways, but since he passed away in 2011, I assume the money tap has begun to dry up. Or their expenses have increased and become untenable. I don't know, I'm guessing.
But you only sink decades of your life into a money-losing business if it is a labor of love. I assure you, these folks haven't just been sitting around looking for their big chance to cash out.
Some people, Libertarians and other Free Market absolutists, will look at this and say, "Well this means that independent live music venues are not sustainable businesses in San Francisco, therefore it is right and proper that they should go out of business or be sold off for parts." That's like saying, "Well I guess you just don't deserve to live in San Francisco unless you earn over $150,000 per year: have you tried just not being poor?"
Diverse and extensive entertainment options are a huge part of what makes San Francisco what it is. Or was. Without that, we're just another bedroom community for Mountain View.
I understand that the Slim's crew are soon moving out of their offices in the Slim's building on Eleventh Street, and consolidating into the offices inside GAMH. I assume that they need less space -- and fewer employees -- now that they are no longer booking their own calendar.
If you'd like to prevent DNA Lounge from having to make a similar Faustian bargain some day -- and believe me, we've discussed it -- there's a way you can help: contribute to our Patreon. Show up. And get your friends to show up.
Hooray! We are 100% in support of this, of course. I wrote about this last year, but the bill has finally been introduced. You can help by contacting your senators and assembly members to express support.
Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 905, which will allow -- but not require -- cities to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m. The new 5-year pilot program version of the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to the six cities whose Mayors have expressed interest in pursuing later hours: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach.
Last year, a different version of this bill authored by Senator Wiener (allowing local control throughout California), passed the Senate with a 2/3 bipartisan vote and garnered significant support in the Assembly. Unfortunately, the bill was "held" by the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and not submitted for a vote by that committee. At the time, Senator Wiener vowed to bring back this effort to support nightlife. [...]
SB 905 does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in these six cities -- it simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours. As with the previous bill, cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods, only to certain nights of the week, or only to a few nights a year. Local governments still will have to create and approve a plan, which ABC will also have to approve, to allow for later service hours with full community input. The bill also has a five-year sunset, which means the effects of allowing later service hours can be evaluated and then renewed or discontinued after five years. The full text of the bill can be found here. [...]
Ben Bleiman, California Music and Culture Association and the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance: "This will would - finally! - allow these California cities who chose to do so to extend their operating hours to match other world-class nightlife cities in the U.S.A and abroad. Currently, we are at a huge disadvantage when competing with cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Miami Beach, and New Orleans, all of whom have late-night service hours beyond 2 a.m."
Joe D'Alessandro, President and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association: "Tourism is San Francisco's number one industry providing significant economic benefits to the people and workforce of our City and our important small business network. Permitting bars to extend their hours allows San Francisco to stay competitive in the night life scene with cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. who are all vying for a share of the business, leisure and convention market."
Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce: "We should determine at a city level how to best attract and support local nightlife businesses. We can't take a one size fits all approach when it comes to nightlife in San Francisco neighborhoods. What's best for one neighborhood might not be best for another, and this legislation allows us to capitalize on nightlife as an economic driver, increase jobs and local tax revenue, when deemed appropriate in a specific area of the City."
There's was some Q&A on his Twitter before the lunatic fringe showed up:
@Scott_Wiener Each city will decide for itself whether or not to go later. @aclimbingnerd Why is San Diego being left out? @Scott_Wiener B/c there was significant opposition from San Diego & little support. It was clear San Diego was never going to adopt later hours. The opposition from cities that would never adopt it anyway was jeopardizing the whole bill. So we limited it to cities whose mayors say they want it @aclimbingnerd Thanks for the response, as a resident of San Diego I'm always amazed by the resistance to (in my opinion) common sense ideas in San Diego. @x thank you! How do we support this? Will help us service industry ppl & make roads safer! @Scott_Wiener Thanks! People you know around the state should contact their senators and assembly members to express support. @x thx! Think it helps if you explain this isn't just about drinking but business (more opportunities), safety (no rush of driving at 2am - stretches out times ppl can head home), and options (things to do/eat for service industry & Late hour workers like me). @jonwiley Any provision to enable future cities to opt-in without having to pass another bill? @Scott_Wiener No. We included the entire state in our effort last year & a lot of cities that would never even consider doing this still opposed the bill. It made no sense to me, but that's how it went. So this is a 5 year pilot in 6 cities. When the pilot ends the program can be expanded. @prince_erin I understand the economical standpoint but what research has been done in regards to public safety? Longer booze time means people can drink more. How will this impact dui's? @Scott_Wiener There's no evidence that increased service hours increases drunk driving. Comparing last call time to rates of DUI collisions in all 50 states shows zero correlation. If people are going to leave a bar drunk, they're going to do it whether they leave at 8 pm, midnight, 2, or 4. @dukoid Bars closing at 2am was really the strangest thing for me when visiting the land @CaliSeaShepherd Does this mean that only voters in these cities will have a say at the ballot box, or does all CA vote on it?
Or, "That time I dressed as the Dazzle Booth in the Dazzle Booth."
It's by the Main Room front door, but I went with a Dazzle Room interior because lighter backdrops work better than the usual DNA Lounge green-on-black hotness.
This is going to get messy, I'm sure. Please proceed with the self-mortification. It is Mortified tonight, after all.
I sunk a whole bunch of time in to trying to build my own photo booth a couple of times over the last decade, and each time I ended up giving up because solving the basic vending machine problem of "take cash or card, dispense candy" was just too much of a pain in the ass, so we finally just went with an outside vendor, Photo-Matica. We only get a portion of the money, but they maintain the printer, so, fair trade. (Pro tip: printers are a gigantic pain in the butt.)
I'm told that this cabinet started off its life as a chemical film-based photo booth, some time in the previous century, and they refurbished it with the usual digital features.
(This is where 2018 says "Hold my beer".)
So, if you're not doing anything this afternoon, and/or you don't like wearing pants, we are again the official before- and after-party of the 17th Annual No Pants Subway Ride! Help maintain our town's level of WTFfery.
Recent highlights: the Skating Polly show was fantastic. You should check them out.
Hotline was great fun as always, though it unfortunately suffered the attendance curse of being on the Friday of New Year's weekend. They brought in a snow machine! It looked amazing, but I'm afraid to ask what the "snow" was made of.
Every year, Bootie's NYE flyer contains references to a selection of the year's trending topics, and this year they included The Monopoly Man, the "cause-player" famous for photo-bombing the Equifax hearings, among other recent kleptocratic antics. When I noticed that, I messaged them on Twitter saying, "Hey look, you're on our flyer!" They responded, "Awesome, are you flying me out?" And A+D decided that the answer was yes! So that's awesome.
As I mentioned last time, December and January are typically really slow months for us: we're open less, and far fewer people show up. So now would be a fantastic time for you to contribute to our Patreon. I know a lot of people have it rough at the end of the year, but it's always worrying when I see a bunch of our patrons editing their pledges downward, without new members joining in. Our monthly Patreon pledges have actually dropped several hundred bucks a month since October, and we've had only a couple of new sign-ups in months.
Back in April I lamented how I don't really know how to promote the Patreon, and wouldn't it be awesome if someone with some graphic design and/or marketing skill could help out with that, but that person has not yet materialized, so as with so many things, I guess if I don't do it, it won't get done... so I half-assed it. Which is better than no-assing it. I just picked some amusing photos from our gallery and slapped "SUPPORT DNA LOUNGE" and the Patreon URL on them, and started posting those once a day.
So, when you see those go by, please give them a Share or RT or whatnot. With the way the social mediators work these days, nobody's going to see them if other people don't muster up some "engagement".
I haven't done a photo gallery dump since mid-November, so here it is!
I hope you love it so much that you share it with all of your friends so many times over the next few weeks that they get so sick of seeing it that they go fiiiiiine I'll donate already, geeeez!"
Even though we're now a Legacy Business, we still need your financial help. Hopefully you've been enjoying those awesome sound upgrades that we just made, but they did not come cheap. As I mentioned on the occasion of our thirty-second anniversary (!!!) in addition to this traditionally being a very slow time of the year for our business, we also recently had some really expensive equipment failures and plumbing disasters to contend with. So we very much could use your help.
But of course one of the best things you can do is to just show up! And bring your friends. We've got a lot of cool stuff going on this month, check it out:
Anyway, blurbs. Santa wants you to write blurbs.
We do a number of DJ events, and it's always difficult getting blurbs written for them. Most of them just have a repeating blurb describing the party in general terms, without describing the artists at any particular event.
For some parties, that makes plenty of sense. Some parties are the sort of event where people show up on the reputation of the party itself, and the majority of them don't have a particular interest in who is DJing that night: they just know that the music they will hear is their kind of thing.
But there are other parties where the headliners are touring DJs, and people care deeply about them in particular. When I look at the comments on these parties' Facebook events and on Twitter I see a lot of people being extremely concerned about set times, because they're here for that one particular DJ that they really don't want to miss. It seems to me that parties like Control, Acid Rain, and So Stoked are very much the kind of events where the specific DJs tend to have enthusiastic fans of them personally.
But we rarely end up having blurbs for the headliners. If the promoters do write a blurb for the specific event instead of re-using the generic one, it's typically just, "Come party party party mind blown party" without any, you know, adjectives. (Hey, blurbs are hard to write. And the artists themselves rarely bother writing their own bios.)
Even though our traditional division of labor with outside promoters is that we run the venue and they, you know, promote, it's a group effort, and we try to help out in any way we can. So we do things like sending email to past ticket buyers saying, "Hey, you bought tickets for Control last time, with DJ So-and-So, the next one is coming up with DJ Other-Guy." But these emails go out and.... they don't tell you anything about DJ Other-Guy, because nobody wrote that blurb.
I gotta believe that if someone is obsessive about DJ So-and-So but have never heard of DJ Other-Guy, that there are words we could say to them that would improve the odds of them coming to the show.
Are you a musical obsessive who enjoys many of the modern forms of EDM that we've been hosting here of late?
Would you like to write short blurbs for us? Mail me!
Compensation will be proportionate with how good at it you are!
Omar has been writing them for our rock shows and doing a great job of it, but we could really use some help on the dance music side.
What's a Legacy Business, you ask? It's a San Francisco program to help historic small businesses stay open, in the face of the changes the city is going through. The Office of Small Business says:
Legacy Businesses Anchor San Francisco Neighborhoods
San Francisco is a world-class city known for its many distinctive neighborhoods. Contributing to the uniqueness of the city are the people, architecture, streetscape, geography, weather, transportation, history, culture -- and businesses. San Francisco wouldn't be San Francisco without its many independent, locally-owned businesses.
In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs remarked on the importance of neighborhood businesses: "The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop."
Our neighborhood businesses -- including retailers, service providers, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, and more -- are the places that give the city its character. They're the bedrock of our communities and a draw for tourists from around the world.
Preserving our legacy businesses is critical to maintaining what it is that makes San Francisco a special place.
This is a great program, and I'm glad San Francisco does things like this! It's a breath of fresh air, given how difficult it is to run a business in this town for so many reasons.
Businesses that qualify and are approved become eligible for certain grants, including some that behave a bit like rent control. (You may not realize that rent control doesn't exist for commercial leases: it's a residential thing only. Commercial leases have no restrictions, by state law.)
So this is great news, and we're in the process of looking in to that whole grant situation.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you our application to the program. I had to write a long essay explaining the first thirty-two years of our history. You've probably read some of this before -- there was some cutting and pasting, and it's a little repetitive because of their submission format -- but it's a more concise version of our long history than what has appeared in other places:
DNA Lounge: Legacy Business
h. How would the community be diminished if the business were to be sold, relocated, shut down, etc.?
Because we take chances on such a wide variety of events, losing DNA Lounge would mean that those events would have a difficult time finding new homes. Some of them would probably end up in underground, unlicensed and unsafe spaces. Some might not happen at all.
Many different subcultures have made their home here over the years, and would find it tragic to have to scatter to multiple less-welcoming places.
Due to the concentration of entertainment businesses on Eleventh Street, all of the businesses benefit from each others' presence. For example, DNA Lounge's restaurant always gets more business when Slim's has a show, and Butter gets a lot of business from folks who begin their evening there before heading across the street to DNA Lounge. If DNA Lounge were not here, it would significantly reduce the number of people patronizing our part of SOMA. The fact that our block is bright and loud and active is part of what makes it safe.
a. Describe the business and the essential features that define its character.
DNA Lounge is an all-ages nightclub, concert venue, and 24 hour restaurant and cafe. We have four different performance spaces, including two stages.
The thing that most defines the character of DNA Lounge is the diversity of entertainment we host here. Whereas most venues specialize on either live concerts or dance parties, we have always regularly done a mixture of both, as well as other kinds of stage performances, lecture series, circuses, robotic exhibitions, dance performances, hair shows. We always strive to provide a home for a whole lot of truly amazing art.
We've had many years of the most diverse, weird, interesting calendar of any venue anywhere.
Hooray! Go us!
Here's what Devon has to say about the work he did over the last few weeks:
The Main room has a new Midas M32 live mixing console, and a new BSS Soundweb London BLU-100 main system processor. The Midas board, with it's legendary pre-amps, brings a big upgrade in live sound quality for live shows. Plus it's compatible with the X32, a board that a lot of bands are touring with these days, so they can just load their show file from a USB stick instead of having to haul in their entire board.
We reconfigured and re-tuned the entire system from scratch over the course of several days. The highs and mids have an astonishing clarity and presence unlike anything we've had in that room. Subtle textures and details in the music pop out like we've never had before in this room. Everything is really clean, and not harsh at all at high volumes. The subwoofers got a 20% increase in power by switching from one 4,000 watt amp to two 2,400 watt amps left over from Codeword. This also changed the impedance from 2 ohms to 4 ohms, which should make for tighter bass, too.
We were able to put some really narrow cuts at the frequencies that made the ventilation ducts rattle, which makes the room sound a little cleaner. The bass is much deeper and punchier, able to hit you in the chest pretty hard. Even at low volumes, the room feels a lot bigger and more present. You can still feel the bass even when the levels are low enough for quiet conversation on the dancefloor.
We replaced the Lounge's subwoofer amp, giving it a noticeable bump in power. The room was also re-tuned a little bit, making it sound better and more even overall.
We replaced the two older EAW subs under the Above DNA stage with three of the JBL subs salvaged from Codeword. It's a change from two horn-loaded 12" subs to three front-loaded 15" subs. The room was re-tuned from scratch and is a lot cleaner, with way more bass than before. The low end used to taper off a bit about halfway to the bar, but now it carries all the way to the back of the room. Overall, the room sounds a lot bigger.
The Dazzle Room got the fourth subwoofer from Codeword, which helps fill in some much-needed low end. We did a bit of re-EQing on the mains for better clarity.
So, you should come by and check it out...