17-Jun-2013 (Mon) Wherein a customer begs for the most expensive taxi, and your band's bio is terrible.

From a recent incident report. I'll just paste most of it here, because it's a gem:

"I was called outside to deal with a customer who was accosting female customers as they exited. I arrived and was told that we had escorted the customer out earlier for grabbing women. I started to talk to gentleman when he told me that he had done nothing, and he didn't understand why he was walked out. I informed him of the several female complaints, to which he responded, "I paid $20 dollars, I can touch the girls." I said no, and I had a girl inside willing to press charges, so he should leave the area and just go home. He then said, "No, you HAVE to arrest me, you HAVE to." At this point I gave him one more chance to leave, he said no, and gave me his hands to cuff him, so I did. [...] SFPD took him into custody with a Drunk and Disorderly charge."

So how about that.

Some photos from recent events:

Shay's Rebellion
Death Guild
Fear Factory
One More Time: A Tribute to Daft Punk
Twitch: Nonviolet + Ariisk
Turbo Drive: Vicereine + Delorean Overdrive

That Daft Punk thing, wow. I just don't understand. It was a Daft Punk tribute band, and it sold out. You might be wondering, how does that even work? Daft Punk are basically DJs who wear funny motorcycle helmets. So a tribute band is... different guys in similar helmets pressing play on the same CD? Yeah, pretty much. They are really nice helmets, though. Probably very expensive! And they brought a lot of lights and built this absolutely gigantic pyramid-thing. So, you know, nice light show and set-dressing. It still kind of baffles me, though. Did I mention that it sold out? Because it sold out and I don't understand.

They'll probably be back here in a few months, so maybe I'll get a chance to scratch my head at it again.


Now I'm going to complain about blurbs.

One of the difficult things about updating our calendar is getting decently-written blurbs for the events. Sometimes it can be like pulling teeth to even get a complete lineup of the event, but it's even harder to get a couple of coherent sentences describing the event, that aren't just taking the lineup from the left column and re-stating the same information in sentence form.

You'd think that any band trying to actually have a career, as indicated by the fact that they're actually touring, would take the time to write a pithy explanation of what they're all about, using words that might means something to someone who isn't already familiar with them. You'd be wrong.

Here are some egregious recent examples I've been sent, mildly censored to protect the guilty. These are all terrible they don't communicate anything that would make someone attend the show if they weren't already planning to.

The "Come to this party, it will party more than any party has partied" blurb:

Join us on DATE at DNA Lounge for PARTY, featuring all the new rising Bay Area talent! This month come check out up and coming dubstep sensation SOMEONE! Also joining us will be SOMEONE ELSE and many other local artists that are ready to lay down some heavy bass lines and fat beats.

The "I will assert greatness without saying anything" blurb:

Three Bay Area GENRE bands, A, B and C, come together under one roof at DNA Lounge for an incredible showcase on Thursday, SOME DATE. Expanding the beautiful realm between SOME GENRES, these hand-picked bands push the boundaries of buzz bands right through to the bigger picture: great indie music, created by lovers of great indie music.

The "appeal to authority" blurb:

BAND is the name of CITY's AGE-year-old producer, REAL NAME. NAME works out of his bedroom creating his unique brand of music. His music has been featured on LONG LIST OF WEB SITES YOU DON'T READ and many more. His breakout album has gained worldwide praise and attention from superstars like THREE FAMOUS PEOPLE and many more. Don't miss this rare showcase of raw talent!

This one's evocative, I guess, in that I can actually smell the dirty scalp and ball-sweat and skunk-weed just from reading it:

DUDE has been in the right place at the right time. The avid skater met esteemed workaholic producers WHO? and WHO? a 2007 PARTY in CITY and later became immersed in CITY'S weekly hot spot CLUB, witnessing the SOME DJs tear it up on the regular. An INJURY forced DUDE to take a year off from skating, which allowed him to focus on his music. He eventually ended up rooming with WHO? and WHO?, absorbing the rampaging, wonkily funky sounds he heard in his living space and then peace-ing them out into more blissful configurations.

The "exhaustive timeline and list of members" blurb:

BAND was founded by DUDE and OTHER DUDE in 2004 as an outlet for experimenting with electronic music. With the addition of THIRD DUDE in 2005, BAND released their first album WHATEVER on the WHO CARES label in 2006. After several weeks of topping SOME INDUSTRY CHART YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF and a handful of shows in the U.S. and Mexico, BAND went on a long hiatus while DUDE starting putting together material that would advance and not copy other electronic music. In 2010 ANOTHER DUDE joined BAND and the genre-bending album WHATEVER was written and conceived. Upon the release of THAT AGAIN in 2011 BAND divided audiences and critics.

[and it goes on like this for three more paragraphs.]

So I wrote these guidelines that I send back to people who send me shitty blurbs. It doesn't really help. I scream into the void a lot. But if you're in a band, maybe reading this will help you write a bio that doesn't suck:

The target audience of these blurbs is a customer who is not familiar with the artist, and who is trying to decide whether they would enjoy this show.

So please do include things like:

  1. What genre of music do they play?
  2. How would one describe their music? Quotes from reviews in the press are great here. Failing that, influences or other performers that they sound like.
  3. Names of previous projects, if any.
  4. If there's something special about their stage show or instrumentation, mention that. (Customers want to have some sense of, "Am I going to see a full band, or some guy standing behind his laptop?")

Things that are OK to include, but that we feel are not like to cause someone to attend the show, are:

  1. Where are they from,
  2. What other bands have they played with recently;
  3. Did someone say something nice about their latest album.

If you have answered at least questions 1-3 in paragraph form, you will have written a decent blurb.

Things that you should not include in a blurb are:

  1. That they are performing at DNA Lounge;
  2. The date that they are performing at DNA Lounge;
  3. Also performing are "X, Y and Z" or "On tour with X, Y and Z".
  4. "Don't miss this great show", "be there or be square", "please please please attend", etc., etc.

We've already established that they're playing here, on what date, with whom, and it should go without saying that we'd like people to show up. Don't just repeat all of that in sentence-form.

Also please omit:

  1. They have been remixed by XYZ;
  2. They have "caught the attention of" XYZ;
  3. They were played on radio station XYZ, or have a video on MTV;
  4. Last year they toured with XYZ;
  5. They won an award (unless it's a Grammy or something).

Tell people why they will like them, not a list of other people who like them.

7 Responses:

  1. Jim Sweeney says:

    I am often disappointed by what passes for blurb nowadays.

  2. juliansr says:

    the daft punk thing...people like to dance and familiarity breeds comfort...."Pretty lights", "Girl Talk " and some of those unlikely "bands" bring out a solid dance beat and nostalgic melodies without asking the audience to absorb some secondary themes. So they(audience) just let loose and party carelessly, drinking and dancing, mindlessly entranced, which IMO is one of the better things about going to see music performed live.

    even as a cover band, which is more of a Bargain for my entertainment $$$)...daft punk casts to a significantly wider audience, they are a decade plus in the business of name recognition and with wide media exposure.

    i hope that question wasn't rhetorical.

    • Also, the real Daft Punk don't tour that frequently, and if you squint, there's really no difference anyway.

      Besides, I bet these tickets were a lot cheaper than the real thing!

  3. Mike Marion says:

    I would very much like to learn to "tear it up on the regular." I wonder if they give lessons...

    I like that "lay down some heavy bass lines and fat beats" is the first one's idea of descriptive.

  4. nooj says:

    I have heard more people bring up the new Daft Punk album in conversation than any other album in over a year. Most of these people would go out of their way to see a tribute band.

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