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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Great Pomplamoose Backlash of 2014 Is Upon Us: One Rebuttal to the Rebuttals

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

click to enlarge Pomplamoose and the no good, very bad week.
  • Pomplamoose and the no good, very bad week.
Last week, in what the musician likely thought was a gesture that might earn him some goodwill from fellow artists, Pomplamoose's Jack Conte published the details of his band's finances from their recent monthlong tour — an endeavor from which, after weighing tickets and other sales against the costs of travel, lodging, food, and paying a crew, they lost more than $11,000.

Interesting, right? Transparency. End of story. Except then the Internet exploded.

Some people felt the things Pomplamoose spent money on were not things "real musicians" should spend money on. Other people thought Conte's role as founder of Patreon, a startup that, yes, just received a shit-ton of funding, meant he didn't deserve to claim "starving artist" status. A lot of people have spent a lot of time declaring that they are the only ones who know how to be in a band, or what DIY means, or how the industry is supposed to work, and that everyone else is a big dummy. It's been a fun week.

Here's the Pitchfork rebuttal. Here's music analyst Bob Lefsetz's rebuttal. Here's New York Magazine on the squeezing of the music middle class.

As for us? We've seen some good points raised, and been amused by some Facebook statuses. We also reached out to a few people in the local music scene (of which, remember, the Marin-based Pomplamoose are a part) to hear what they thought, and we'll be publishing responses that enlighten/amuse us further, at least until everyone finds something else to get angry about. First up: Casey Shafer, who runs S.F.'s Burning House Records and has toured with bands from MxPx to Lil Wayne. 

So, Casey, what are your thoughts on this Pompla-mess?


I don't particularly like reading articles riddled with facts and figures. I am more of a Chuck Klosterman kind of guy. I have, however, spent nearly a decade touring with bands in just about every capacity imaginable.

As a tour manager, I have settled shows and handled finances for bands big and small. Some of these bands played the smallest and shittiest venues in the country, and some of them played arenas and the main stage at large festivals. I have slept on people's couches and had bands with big enough budgets to put their crew up at the Ritz. I have read a lot of the rebuttals regarding Pomplamoose and Jack Conte's article, and I have yet to hear from someone that is actually qualified to talk about life on the road. (Fuck you, Lefsetz). It is because of my experience that I feel entitled to say to the nay-sayers: Shut the fuck up.

I would like to address some of the points that have been brought up recently.

1. But Casey, they didn't have to spend all that money on hotel rooms!

You're right. They didn't! But I ask you: Have you ever stayed at a near-stranger's house after driving 13 hours and all you want to do is get three or four hours of sleep, only to have to wake up and do it all over again? Imagine this: You are so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open and when you get back to their house the gracious host(s) keep you up all night doing coke in the kitchen because hey, they just left a rock and roll show and it's their night to party. Because you are resourceful you put in some earplugs to drown out the noise while you nestle into their piss- and beer-stained couch only to have to fight off the Great Dane that won't stop licking your face (this is a true story and similar things happen all the time when crashing). Have you lived a story like this? No, you say? Then shut the fuck up.

2. Casey, they certainly didn't need to pay as much for all those crew guys and band members!

Correct again! They could have gone out on the road without a crew; lots of bands do that. But I have never in my life seen a band that headlines mid-level venues go on tour without at least a small crew. I am not talking about the band that goes out for a week to play shitty bar gigs up and down the West Coast. I am talking about an actual tour, where you have to take care of advancing, payroll, settling with promoters, babysitting support acts, and whatever else the day might throw at you. If you happened to be one of the people that thought the crew and band members were too much of an expense, then you likely have no clue what it's like to be on a tour — in which case I say shut the fuck up.

3. This was all just a publicity stunt for Conte's startup, Patreon!

Bravo, Mr. Conte. If this dude is clever enough and had the foresight to plan such a successful PR campaign, then I applaud him. This is why his startup just raised a shit ton of money and yours didn't. So ... wait for it ... shut the fuck up.

4. They don't even have their own van and trailer! They rented it! They didn't have to do that!

Correct again. Man, you are on a roll! Who knows why they rented a trailer? Maybe their last van blew up, and instead of buying a new one for a one-month tour, they decided to rent it. Maybe they aren't touring much next year, and the expense of having to park and store a van far exceeded the cost of renting one. I have rented numerous vans and trailers for this very reason, so SHUT THE FUCK UP.

With love,
Casey


There's gotta be a better word for this debacle than Pompla-mess, right? Hit me: esilvers@sfweekly.com.

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About The Author

Emma Silvers

Bio:
Emma Silvers is SF Weekly's former Music Editor.

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