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Paris - 1st & 2nd June
Topic Started: Mar 31 2009, 10:10 PM (1,991 Views)
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The Captain
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SeaUrchin
Jun 4 2009, 09:34 AM
Wakey! Wakey! How was the gig?

Uhh...me right arm...me legs...

I'll write up later...
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The Captain
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France...

Our first cultivation was mainly a failure, due to the currently infertile nature of the soil.

Le Baron, an odd, ex-bordello bar, on stage at about midnight. When we went on, outside of a handful of friends, there was nobody there- a free entry gig, in a city where the last time I played, it was to a couple of thousand. Strange. During the set, people walked in, to party afterwards. They liked the gig, but it wasn't a "band audience". L'International was strange in a different way. It felt and looked like a normal small gig, but...

The support band went on around 9, and had a small but very enthusiastic audience who were obviously fans. When they went off, they left and took their fans with them. We had about 20 people, though they liked the gig.

The closer we got to these gigs, the less I was expecting an audience, largely due to a combo of the lack of hits from France on the website, and the lack of promo in Paris for these. But, we didn't get many hits from either Dresden or Athens before we played there, and had a big rise just afterwards, so there is always some hope that a trip may work.

I will try to pinpoint the problems, but some French musicians I met offered their own opinions on the dire state of the French indie scene, and these were somewhat conflicting and inconclusive.

I say "dire", not because I expect everyone to worship at the feet of Scarlet's Well, but these gigs are a repetition of what I have already been told about Paris from other bands.

So, the structural problems inherent with free gigs. Both gigs were free entry, and I was told that all gigs at this, small (100 capacity) level, are. However, to me, these weren't the equivalent of bar/pub gigs- or, at least, L'International was a proper, but small, venue, with no other real reason to go there than see a band.

With free entry, you have club that don't feel the need to promote. They expect the bands to do their own promoting, and bring in their own audience. You can immediately see that this is not foreign-band friendly. Also, with no more taken on the door, the clubs don't pay a lot. Le Baron (€300) was a strange exception, but the other gigs that were on offer were all the same- €150. Again, with few other places to play in France, it's not foreign-friendly. No promo, no money, and a culture of not paying doesn't help at the travelling shop.

You may say if you were young and ever gig was free entry, you'd be going out all the time- this may have worked there 20 years ago, but it's possible that it's led to a real lassitude towards music.

I was also told that there are medium size clubs in Paris that require fairly substantial payment from the band to play there.

Then, the lack of a "federalisation" of indie/small music, that is to say, the lack of "strong" small/medium scenes in cities other than Paris. It's quite possible to do a tour of Italy, UK, Germany, Spain, without playing the capital city, but not so in France. Unusual for such a big country in the heart of Western Europe. This can't have been imposed, so where does it derive from?

The fact is, there is a big difference between the audience in Paris and other European cities. One has the impression that there is no indie audience at all...but there must be, because Siesta still sell fairly well there.

I never give up on a place, though I've come close to it with Denmark- there were next to no site hits either before or after the PopRevo gig. If I apply the same criteria to France that I apply to other countries, I should give up on it, but the problem is that there really is still a big interest for The Monochrome Set in that country- last year, the second highest hits in the world to the MSet site were from France. Which makes the lack of success of this trip particularly odd.

But, with a loss of about 450 on this trip, France looses priority to other countries that are in advance in terms of potential/interest- I'm just being practical, and I think I speak for the majority of the indie bands in the world. From what I have gathered (bands and those in the biz) in the past few months, Aussie, US, UK, German, etc., etc., bands all try to play France, but those who succeed in getting any gigs rarely have anything positive to say about the experience, which is sad.

I have much more to say, but I'm gonna kip.
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The Captain
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Note to the band...Blue Velvet is on ITV on Saturday, hahaha...
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SeaUrchin
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Jaunty Djinn
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Jun 4 2009, 01:53 PM
I have much more to say, but I'm gonna kip.

What you did say was most informative!

There could be a fair bit of mileage in the pyschology of french indie by the sounds of it. Can't really add any words of wisdom as I know very little about it ... pity it wasn't better attended though ... I like Paris and I really like Scarlet's Well so assumed that it would be a nice coming together.

Free gigs? They do need publicity just like free galleries and we have to lay on bucket loads of wine to get the crowds. That works but we still send out maybe 1000 invites and get about 150 attending the launches. Must check out Dublin ... people pay for the wine there! Does it make a difference?

Shit, I was supposed to be at a meeting this morning but it was cancelled so I'm talking rubbish on the forum instead.

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C's M
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SeaUrchin
Jun 5 2009, 11:07 AM
That works but we still send out maybe 1000 invites and get about 150 attending the launches. Must check out Dublin ... people pay for the wine there! Does it make a difference?


I say we appoint SU and Mrs P as joint V-Ps of Promotion: Outre-Manche!
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C's M
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Heel Scratcher
I shall only add a few snippets to The Captain's comprehensive coverage of the Paris tour.

Earlier, I had expressed concern about access to the first venue, in terms of knowing the right people ("les pistons") and adhering to its alleged strict dress code. In the end, I hedged my bets in a dress (smart) and opaque tights (offsetting the smart if the code was more casual!) As it turned out, access was no problem, as Peter was on the steps chatting to the bouncer when I arrived, and whilst the venue inside was very stylish, the two other women in the audience were wearing trousers. Drinks were pricey (5 euros for Coke - as in the beverage!) but there was no entrance fee, so that was fair enough. This was the first gig where I watched it entirely from the comfort of a wrap around sofa! The sound was fantastic in the room, such that the set was one of the best ever, so it was even more of a shame more people weren't there to enjoy it. I would call the audience "bijou" but exuberant.

The Tuesday's gig in a basement bar was, as has been said, a music venue first and foremost. The warm up act reminded me of an old French punk band called Telephone - scrawny and noisy, with a mindless beat - which appealed to the crowd who were down there initially. Those fans all cleared off and a different group gradually assembled to watch the SW set. They were a far cry from the "spicy" head bangers of the first crowd: this lot were your slightly intellectual, trendy types you get at London gigs - with interesting haircuts and pretty restrained in their foot tapping. I couldn't resist a bit of a solo bop (on the spot, I hasten to add) to the encore of He's Frank. I have been dancing to that track for 30 years, so why stop now?
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SeaUrchin
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Jaunty Djinn
Frankly delighted to hear that you are still dancing my dear :D
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