The Comet Tavern’s an old Seattle landmark, more known for its graffiti-covered walls and its status as a grunge-star hangout than its live music. Until recently, the Comet had live music maybe a few times a month, usually touring hardcore or punk bands with a couple local acts to fill the bill. The house gear was minimal, and shows were usually free. But a few months ago, they got new owners who decided to try and turn it into a more traditional live music venue.
Unfortunately for them and any band that plays there, they’re taking the approach of treating musicians like shit. The idea, tried and tested by club owners who don’t particularly care about music but only want to make a quick buck, is to squeeze as many bands as possible on a bill with no concern for coherence or reputation or type of music, in hopes that they’ll all bring a few friends and the bar will make some money. Which is fine as long as they’re organized and honest about it. Not the Comet. The booker told us the music would start at 9 because it was a four-band bill, and they had us listed at the bottom of the bands playing, meaning we should go on first. She sent us this long e-mail full of rules and regulations, and seemed pretty official, so that’s what we told everyone.
But the doorman and soundguy had some mystery order in which we were featured second (which was actually good), then refused to let the first band start until 10, even though the place was full (which was retarded). Because the show started so late and there were four bands, they rushed us off the stage after only 30 minutes, meaning we had to cut our set by 5 songs. Even though half the people in the bar, literally, were there to see us. Then the soundguy told us to load out…immediately…into the street…where we weren’t about to leave our gear unguarded. (What’s the point of that? Keep us around and we might actually buy more drinks.) Adding to the sting, the free drink tickets that all clubs give bands are only good for dog piss (PBR and High Life) at the Comet…and you CAN’T even add a buck or two for another beer because the OWNERS apprently WEIGH the kegs and check them against the tabs. (Although maybe the bartender was just being a dick because he didn’t want to do the math to figure out how much a drink ticket was worth.)
It really sucked because we had a lot of people there for us. (On a Tuesday night. Go figure. Sometimes we’ve had a lot fewer people on a Friday or Saturday.) And sure enough, as soon as we were done, the bar cleared out.
None of it made any sense from anybody’s perspective–the musicians were miserable, the customers were miserable, the staff was miserable for being forced to enforce stupid rules that they didn’t create.
Memo to all club owners and bookers: if you treat your musicians like shit, eventually you’ll only get shit musicians. Good luck keeping a venue running with that approach.