Sunday, August 31, 2008

i really wanted to like playing at Exit Only....

I really think that Exit Only is a great idea. Though not enough of a youngling anymore that I can't go to bar shows, I sure remember the feeling - standing outside the back door of Berbati's to catch a glimpse of the High Llamas because the only all-ages shows were in the punk and hardcore scene that I had no interest in or at house shows I wasn't cool enough to know about - and hey, a warehouse, where bands play all ages shows for cheap? this sounds like a great idea. The location, while it feels remote, really is pretty close in (like a block away from the yellow line max, or two blocks off the Fremont busline) and since it's in a weird industrial area you don't have to worry about fussy neighbors.
Unfortunately, when I played there on Friday with New Century Schoolbook, I discovered that the reality has a number of failings.
Yeah, I expect a warehouse to be sort of stark and dirty, but it's so much this way as to be kind of depressing. Employ a broom, and put something on the walls, even if it's only butcher paper.
Also, on arriving (a bit later than the rest of the band, they usually let me show up late because I have really minimal gear. I was smart to be a flute player.) I found it almost impossible to figure out who, if anyone, was kind of "in charge." There were three guys standing in the entryway who paid just about no attention to me at all while I wandered in looking for my band and making sure I was in the right place.
The PA kind of sucked, and they only had one microphone. Fortunately we were able to borrow a second mic from the Raggedy Anns, (who I unfortunately didn't see, since I had to go answer phones for Tri Met at 9 in the morning the next day)
Now, I can also understand not having a lot of gear. Gear ain't free, after all. But you know, they could have told us ahead of time "Hey, we only have this one amp & head and one mic, you might want to bring some stuff if you need more than that."
Apart from some technical difficulties the show went pretty well, and the audience was into it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm by no means trying to talk shit. I think Exit Only is a great idea in a good space. but they need a wakeup call. If they had a little better organization - someone there to greet band members and tell them what's up who was easy to find (there was a guy there, I just had a devil of a time locating him) maybe invest in a little bit of gear and at least be really up front about what gear they have, and decorate a bit, they could be something really cool. and we all know there's a need for cool all-ages spaces in this town. Go the extra mile, fill that need.


Ben Meyercord said...

I kinda feel the exact same way.

Ben Moral said...

I know what you mean, and I've had a similar experience playing there. But why would you expect anything more or different? Here's the thing: nobody's getting paid to do this thing. If you think someone should be there to make bands comfortable when they show up, you should volunteer to be that person! If you think the space needs a face-lift, bring down some old show posters from 17 Nautical Miles and Food Hole and give the place some character and flavor of Portland's all-ages history.

At this point, my understanding is that "Exit Only" exists as exactly one very busy guy plus anybody who is willing to help him. And in fact, it looks like he's eager for people to step up and help out with exactly this stuff.

I don't mean to sound at all self-righteous (I don't have time to volunteer, for example.) I just agree that the space has a lot of potential and I think it would be a shame if that potential was never realized because it got a bad reputation.

Ben Meyercord said...

Ben--I feel ya dog. I think it has a ton of potential. I still will write up any show that are played there. The show I played the other night was really awesome for me (and the small group of friends who stayed to see it). It really is about the people who are at the show. I also feel that there should be like a table or something with I don't know a jar or something so people know where to pay for the show. I felt really bad for the touring band I played with the other night because they didn't get paid anything. I was planning on giving them whatever money I was paid. But I was not paid any money either. I kinda feel like Exit Only should have a series of benefit shows for it self. so that it could get a better PA, or a table with a jar on it, or whatever it needs.

Amber Dawn said...

I'm with ben meyercord on this one. I know that nobody's getting paid to do this thing, and I don't want the place to get a bad rep, but from talking to people I know who have played there, it already kind of has one. Yeah, I know that staff and gear costs money, but it doesn't cost anything to bring a broom by, or to tell the bands you're booking, "Hey, bring your own microphones." I want this place to survive and thrive, and I just think it needs a little different approach for that to happen. Plus, I feel that it's necessary for me to be honest about my experiences. I may come of as a jerk for telling it how I see it, but I could never forgive myself for saying, "This was totally fun and awesome" when it wasn't. bottom line.

Amber Dawn said...

pps. thanks for posting that link, I work nearly full time and play in two bands and don't have time to help out with that kinda stuff.. but maybe you should post the link in a post of its own so other people could see it, that would be rad.

Ste. Goldie said...

Amber Dawn -- "it's necessary for me to be honest about my experiences"
I agree. Honesty and transparency is a key component for change, for change of any kind. I admire your insight and commentary because of your honesty, whether I agree with it your not. It's called KEEPIN' IT REAL y'all.

Does anyone know these people of Exit Only? Would they agree with this conversation? Does anyone care to invite them to this conversation? I'm curious what they would have to say. Are the folks at PC-PDX the Exit Only peeps?

Ben Moral said...

Exit Only is run by a dude from Ohio whose name escapes me at the mo. Kevin? Zach? I'd look it up, but I'm lazy right now. He moved here pretty recently and decided to start the space when he was looking for a place to live and stumbled across a cheap and fairly awesome warehouse. He knows all the things that could be better, it's just a matter of (hu)manpower. He's just one dude, you know?

Obviously, I didn't mean anyone shouldn't post or talk about how they feel. Just wanted to give another perspective.

Amber Dawn said...

mr. moral - cool cool. I just didn't want you to think I was like, "man, fuck this place" cause i'm totally not,- or to think that you had the attitude like, "I don't want this place to get a bad rap so don't say anything bad about it," because that's silly. so I think we're like, samepageish now.