It's a worthy goal. I've heard stories from New Times contributor Chris Hansen Orf about when every band on Mill (including his band, Zen Lunatics) got signed, during the heady days of the Clinton administration. Everyone knew everyone, from the Gin Blossoms on down. Bands like The Refreshments were name-checking other bands in the scene, like Dead Hot Workshop, in their songs. It was a wonderful time, he says, until everyone got dropped. But Orf's band is still together, and he's still friends with the guys he played with back then. By contrast, The Medic Droid broke up after their first headlining tour (which is why they're not playing a South by Southwest showcase this week). That's what happens when you don't pay your dues in local clubs.

If Organ has hope of rebuilding, it's through the pleasant quaintness of his monthly BFLS ("Best Fucking Live Show") at Last Exit. His project — Doggass Productions and the BFLS — started after Organ posted a rant about the local music scene on craigslist.org and received an enthusiastic response. He decided to build a show around his manifesto.

The BFLS has four bands and four comedians, so there's something going on at all times. Doggass doesn't book based on genre or "draw" (how many people a band brings in) and everyone is expected to chip in with marketing efforts, handing out fliers and the like. Each $5 ticket comes with a program, so the crowd can figure out who's onstage. Doggass is militant about the start time for every set, and it expects everyone in a band to stay the whole show.

By any means necessary: Doggass Productions promotes on Mill Ave.
Courtesy Photo
By any means necessary: Doggass Productions promotes on Mill Ave.

"If nobody else shows up — if it's just the bands and comedians there supporting each other — there's 25 people you're playing to," he says. "I think creating a music scene starts with the bands, the commitment to get there early and stay through the whole time. The other bands support you, you support them."

"It's the opposite game plan of every other promoter in town. They run off 500 fliers, and they sit at the door and take people's money," says DDB drummer Aaron Bland. "You know from us exactly when you play and what you'll get paid."

I'm not a promoter and I'm not in a band, but that sounds pretty good to me. Certainly, it's the most positive action I've seen from a band tackling the many problems with the local scene. (I can't attend a show without someone bending my ear about the scene's problems.) Too many people spend their time bitching about media coverage, making fun of the bands that do get covered, and publishing stupid 'zines to further fragment things. They complain yet don't attend shows where their friends' bands aren't playing, and they hardly ever venture beyond the same few venues. It's no wonder a city the size of Phoenix — a city with a lot of young and creative people — hasn't boosted more bands to the big time.

It's funny: I go to both Hollywood Alley and Modified Arts fairly often, but I hardly ever see the same people at both venues. Yet I see plenty of repeat customers at both. The naysayers are wrong: People in Phoenix care about local music; they just don't seem to care about local music outside their preferred niche, which is why they're left looking for a crowd. Maybe they'll find one this Friday at Last Exit.

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7 comments
Emilio Vasquez
Emilio Vasquez

"It's no wonder a city the size of Phoenix � a city with a lot of young and creative people � hasn't boosted more bands to the big time."

Yeah because 'the big time' is what it's all about.

Why don't you get a job with Entertainment Weekly or Us! Magazine.

That would better suit you. I don't think you're genuine about this whole 'music' thing.

Chad
Chad

"I have been doing shows in Phoenix for 9 years now. I was doing shows when Long Wong's and Bash On Ash were still kicking. THE PHOENIX SCENE HAS NEVER BEEN FUCKING STRONGER. More bands are doing more cool things than never before. I have no idea what this guy is talking about."

It sounds like you have never been outside of Phoenix. It may be stronger than ever (highly doubtful) but it needs to come a long way to be close to the same level as any other big city. Go to a city like San Francisco, Chicago, or even Denver and you'll see a real scene. There may be good pockets in the Phoenix metro area but they are the exception.

Martin Cizmar
Martin Cizmar

The Maine was just at the Venue of Scottsdale in December, and I think they played The Clubhouse in January or February. http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com...

They're not headlining the Marquee, they're just part of AP tour, Stephen. The point remains: selling 1,300 tickets when you've got 10 million plays exposes some incongruities.

Stephen
Stephen

A) I could not disagree more with Organ. I have been doing shows in Phoenix for 9 years now. I was doing shows when Long Wong's and Bash On Ash were still kicking. THE PHOENIX SCENE HAS NEVER BEEN FUCKING STRONGER. More bands are doing more cool things than never before. I have no idea what this guy is talking about.

B) The Maine are not still playing clubhouse. Their headlining show at the Marquee SOLD THE FUCK OUT in advance. There were no tickets to be had at the door. Their last show before that did 1,300 tickets at The Venue Of Scottsdale.

Tony Toledo-President/Founder,
Tony Toledo-President/Founder,

The local music scene has a pulse and we've all got to work together to keep it alive! The scene may not be as it once was but its still giving birth to some powerhouse metal bands. Many metalheads in town have no idea that they can see good live music almost everyday of the week and even 3-4 different shows every Friday and Saturday night! I'm just talking about local metal shows. With the other genres of local music in town I'm sure there's a number of live shows taking place every night. I believe there are plenty of hard working bands out there doing their part to keep the scene alive but they need your help! You, the fan, are what will breath new life into the scene. You don't have to come out every weekend but every once in a while would be nice. There are so many good bands in this valley just waiting to be heard for the first time.

Tammy
Tammy

Wow! Great article! I could write a "novel sized" reply to this!!! I now have a favorite new New Times writer!

 
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