The Frequency Calendar – September 2014



09/01 MR DENTON w/ The Begowatts, The Mood Manual 8:30 PM, 18+, $7 / $10 under 21

09/02 JASPER T w/ The Melon Heads, Soggy Prairie Boys 8 PM, 21+, $7

09/03 BENEFIT FOR MADCITY FILM CO-OP featuring  EMERSON D’ VORTEX, The Star Bandits , Madison Malone , Forward ! Marching Band , Sam Ness 8:00 PM, 18+, $6 / $9 under 21

09/04 ELKS TEETH AND RABBITS FEET w/ Without Return, The New Red Moons 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

09/05 KEON ANDRE (early) 6 PM, 18+, $tba

09/05 FULL VINYL TREATMENT w/ Stare Across, Attalla, Sir! No Sir! 9 PM, 21+, $5


09/07 WORT 89.9 FM welcomes MATT FLINNER TRIO 6 PM, 18+, $15 adv $17 dos

09/07 FALL II RISE w/ SkyAcre, The Begowatts 8:30 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

09/08 TBA

09/09 TBA

09/10 MAJESTIC LIVE presents MANDOLIN ORANGE w/ Leif Vollebekk 9 PM, 18+, $13 adv $15 dos




09/14 MAJESTIC LIVE presents SOLE + DJ PAIN 1 8 PM, 18+, $10 adv $12 dos

09/15 MAJESTIC LIVE presents RED CITY RADIO w/ The American Dead, The Moguls 8 PM, 18+, $10 adv $12 dos

09/16 MAJESTIC LIVE presents CEREBRAL BALLZY 9 PM, 18+, $10 adv $12 dos

09/17 COMMUNION MADISON & 105.5 TRIPLE M present Jessica Lea Mayfield + Crash + Oh, My Love! 8:30 PM, 18+, $9.50 adv $15 dos

09/18 TBA


09/20 BAND SWAP 2014 featuring LORDS OF THE TRIDENT + STELLA LUCE + SEXY ESTER 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

09/21 ALTHEA GRACE w/ Gabe Burdulis 7 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

09/22 THE SEEN w/ Modern Mod, BOTH 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

09/23 MAJESTIC LIVE presents MEIKO w/ Buddy 9 PM, 18+, $12 adv / $14 dos

09/24 NEIL ZAZA w/ Masino 9 PM, 18+, $10 / $13 under 21



09/26 MAJESTIC LIVE presents TWIN PEAKS 9 PM, 18+, $10 adv $12 dos


09/28 MAJESTIC LIVE presents DROWNERS w/ Bully 8 PM, 18+, $12

09/29 MAJESTIC LIVE presents MUTUAL BENEFIT 9 PM, 18+, $13 adv $15 dos

09/30 TBA


The Frequency
121 W. Main
Madison, WI 53703


BEAUTY: Pretty in the Park

Photo by Adeline Peck

Beauty Write-Up, Hair & MakeUp by Lnz Prazak | Photography by Adeline Peck |
Model Shannon Schenk

Look #1

Prep hair with Aveda Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother.

Apply a cocktail of Aveda Phemolliant and Confixor medium hold gel. Apply at root and throughout hair strands. Blow-dry hair and set large, loose curls. Let sit, then brush out and tease for long-lasting volume and body.

Protect your skin from the summer sun. If your makeup doesn’t contain SPF, consider switching to one that does, or apply sunscreen before your makeup. Here, we used Loreal True Match with SPF 17. A natural colored lip was achieved with Aveda Rehydrating Lip Glaze in Rose Copper.


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #1     Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #1     Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #1     Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #2

Looking for a fun easy summer style to keep the hair off your neck? French braid your hair down each side and tie with small rubber band. Overlap the braids, crossing them across the back of your head with bobby pin. Loosely pull apart the braids if you desire a fuller braid. For fun lip color, try Maybelline NYC in 015 Mandarin Rapture, worn here.


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #2     Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #2      Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #2      Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #3

Perfect a date night out, backcomb (tease) hair through the crown and lightly brush over to hide the “teasing.” Hold “poof” in place and secure with bobby pins in an “x” shape just below the crown. Brush or use your hand to smooth one side over and secure with bobby pins. Take remaining half of your hair and roll in over and secure with pins. Use hair pins to catch the stragglers. Spray with firm hold hair spray like Catwalk.


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #3      Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #3     Photo by Adeline Peck


Photo by Adeline Peck

Look #3     Photo by Adeline Peck


Want fun, fashion hair color? Hair was lightened to pale blonde (think white blonde). This blue was possible by using Paul Mitchell Ink Works. Use two parts blue to one part clear… Or see a professional.


Modern Mod: No Bullsh*t

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Interview by Jacob Boyardi | Photography by Jamie Strehlow

High school bands aren’t always the best to hear but they are almost always the best to be in. Every now and then there are exceptions to this when a band of youngsters in high school actually sounds like the best thing you’ve heard in a while and also maintains that sense of unified, fun, and friendliness that people often seem to lose as they get older. Modern Mod is one of those great exceptions. When you interview a band of high schoolers you don’t do it at a bar over drinks or some seedy backstage area. You do it at a coffee shop on a sunny spring day. That’s where I sat down with four out of the five members of Modern Mod: Emily Massey (vocals), Calem Pocernich (guitar), Alivia Kleinfeldt (bass), Ronnie Clarke (drums) (guitarist Maximilian Werner not present). We talked about what it’s like being a young, up and coming band and their vision for the future.

Jacob Boyardi: Modern Mod… I found out earlier you guys are all in high school. So that’s an interesting thing. How did the band form?

Ronnie Clarke: Oh, goodness. Livy, go for it.

Alivia (Livy) Kleinfeldt: No. You can start.

RC: Okay well, Livy and I were best friends in eighth grade. And we really wanted to join a band. It started out as a joke.

LK: Yeah.

RC: And we were like, oh we’re gonna make a band and we pretended this weird employee from Hot Topic was gonna be in our band with us. It was super weird. It was super messed up. And one day we were just like

LK: You texted me

RC: I texted you?

LK: Yeah you were just like, we should make a real band. I’m like, yeah I want to. (Laughter)

JB: And did you know how to play music at this point?

RC: I did

LK: I played guitar for a little bit but I never touched the bass. But now I have…

RC: Now you do.

LK: Yeah, I do every day.

RC: And yeah. Then we just kind of recruited people from there. Strangers. We all were strangers.

Photos by Jamie Strehlow

Photos by Jamie Strehlow

JB: And that was in eighth grade so that was a ways away from now. How did the whole evolution of Modern Mod go?

RC: We’ve been through quite a few members. They’ve come and gone.

Emily Massey: You met people at the Foundry.

RC: We met people at the place where we take music lessons. Yeah we got a couple guitarists there. They didn’t really work out. We actually took one of our old guitarist’s best friend, Cal.

LK: and kicked him out… Which is kind of terrible.


LK: It was mutual though.

RC: It was mutual. He wanted to leave.

LK: Then our singer.

RC: She quit to pursue her pop-country career.

LK: Yeah. It’s a little bit different from us.

RC: Yeah.

LK: But that’s cool.

RC: Then we auditioned several singers. We got this gem.

LK: Yeah.

EM: You guys knew my sister. That’s how I found out about you.

LK: Yeah.

RC: Yeah.

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: And how did the actual name, Modern Mod come about? Was that it from the beginning?

LK: Um. No.


RC: We’ve had some bad names.

JB: Did you go through a lot of different ones?

LK: A few.

RC: What was the second one?

LK: The first one was Shroptimus Prime.

RC: Oh. That’s right.

Calem (Cal) Pocernich: That’s the one I didn’t want to mention.

LK: We had a member named “Shrop.” We were just tossing out a bunch of ideas for a long time. Just trying to come up with something different. And then I don’t know. Modern Mod.

RC: It came up and I thought it was really cool and I don’t know. I thought about it but I thought it was kind of corny.

LK: Yeah.

RC: And then I just kind of thought about it visually.

LK: Yeah, because I texted you the idea. Like I’m not sure if I really like it but then you came up with that visual and I’m like okay, yeah that’s cool.

JB: Visualizing what Modern Mod would mean?

LK: Like the logo.

JB: Well, you gotta think about that stuff. That’s branding. It’s actually really interesting that you guys are getting the notoriety that you are being as young as you are. That’s pretty cool. But obviously you just had your CD release party at the Loft. So you’re playing the all ages shows, obviously still. But I know, because I saw you for the first time at The Frequency so you’re playing some bar shows too. What do you think about the contrast there? Also, do you play anything else like house parties or anything?

RC: I’m not sure. Emily. Do you wanna take this one?

EM: Sure. Well, it’s definitely a lot more difficult to get our friends to come to our shows when we’re playing the, you know 18 and over stuff because most of our friends are younger than that. And yeah, I mean it’s cool that they have things like the Loft to do that kind of thing because it’s pretty much the only venue. It’s on a smaller scale but yeah. I don’t know how we’re really able to play bars actually. I don’t know how that works. We’re playing Genna’s. And so that should be really interesting because that’s 21 and older so we’ll have to try to pull a crowd from that. But we do see people being interested in our music that are around that age group, which is cool. But it is pretty different playing those shows. Mostly because there’s way less people.


Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: It seems almost like you’re getting a head start on what might be coming after you are all of age and maybe playing clubs on a regular basis but obviously graduation comes. Are there plans to stick together or is everybody going to just kind of wing it and do their own thing?

RC: We’re gonna stay together.

JB: There are plans?

LK: Yep.

JB: You just came out with this new album. How did that come together?

LK: Cal’s got the best description for our album.

RC: Oh, the title of our album. Yeah.

LK: Come on Cal.

CP: We named it “Tunnels” because we live far away from each other except for these two. And we just pretended that we went through tunnels to practice and see each other and stuff.

JB: So the album is called “Tunnels?”

LK: Yeah. Which is kind of weird because you listen to the album and it doesn’t really totally relate to tunnels.

RC: It’s an underground story. It’s because, okay, we wrote all that music underground.

LK: Yeah. In the basement.

JB: That was gonna be another question. Where do you practice?

LK: It’s the basement. We’re the basement kids.

EM: We were looking at some potential producers and studios that we could record a lot of our stuff and ended up getting in contact with Jack LeTourneau [E Labs Multimedia producer]. He’s a friend of my dad’s. And then we did some recording at The Exchange in Milwaukee. Did it in a couple days but the album itself took about a year to come into place. And yeah. Do we wanna talk about the songs? Some of them we wrote when we were like 14.

CP: More like 15 to 17.

EM: Okay. Yeah. Pretty young.

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: What do you write about?

EM: We have three different writers on this album.

RC: At this point yeah. I write a lot. Some of our songs are about nonsense. They really have no meaning at all. But there are a couple that have meaning. Like we have one called “NYC” and it’s basically because I wanted to move to New York City and so I made that into a song. And then there’s a depressing one. “Eyes.” You can listen to that one. Yeah. [looking to the others] What do you guys write about?

LK: Well, I just have to have a really specific idea in mind and then it just comes naturally and then I can finish it.

RC: Is “Sluts” specific?

LK: About something with the sun.

RC: Yeah. Something with the sun. That’s not specific.


LK: Well, it’s a specific idea about a sun.

RC: What?

LK: Yeah, we have a song called “Sluts” but it’s not anything related to sluts.


LK: It’s kind of weird.

RC: Go, Cal.

CP: With “January” it was me just writing by writing what day it was and just going off the day I was writing it.

JB: What are your plans for the album now? Are you shopping it around or planning to do the DIY thing with it?

EM: Um, a little bit of both. You know – Self-promoting as much as possible around here. We made a list of smaller labels that were interested in around the country that we will be pitching to and I guess that’s pretty much it. And we sent out a ton of them to radio stations and we’ll see what happens with it.

JB: Do you look into getting an agent and manager at this point?

LK: Yeah.

EM: Yeah. Hopefully. It would be really awesome to get a national booking agent but, I don’t know. We’re just gonna kind of look around. We don’t have many people around here.

RC: It’s also pretty hard since I’m still seventeen.

EM: Yeah that’s one thing.

RC: So I can’t really sign any legal documents right now.

CP: Hey cut that out of the interview. She’s eighteen.


RC: Yeah. What the heck. Well I’m eighteen. And I have nothing to say about that.


Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: As far as playing shows, do you get out of town much or are you planning on any touring or anything like that?

CP: I think our best shows are ones in Madison.

RC: At this point. Yeah.

EM: But we’ve played a couple. We’ve tried. Out of town.

LK: It’s hard.

RC: It’s hard when you don’t have an agent.

JB: I come from the punk rock scene where things at least used to be a little more tight knit so things might be a little different for you guys.

EM: That’s a good point. We don’t really have a specific scene that we belong to. Which would be nice because then there’d be probably a lot more shows. And then if the money ends up working out then a tour could be something.

LK: Money?

EM: Yeah. You need money to go on tour.

JB: You do need money to go on tour.

RC: So if we end up winning the lottery?

LK: Yeah.


Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: So, for two of you this is basically your first band.

RC: I’ve had bands that lasted like two weeks since I was nine years old. We only learned one song at a time. It was awesome. My first band we played sweet home… California?


RC: “Sweet Home Alabama.” We played “Sweet Home Alabama” and it was rockin’.

LK: That’s a good song.

RC: Yeah. It was rockin’ man.

EM: But this is the first real band.

RC: First real band. Yeah.

LK: Yeah. Mine was very short lived. We had a one day band.

RC: That was after though. That was after this band started.

JB: So I think we covered that. This is no ones first band then?

EM: Yeah. I played around with some other people but.

RC: Oh yeah. You were in another band.

EM: I played drums in a band for like, half a year and then we didn’t really go anywhere with it.

RC: Cal. You’ve played with friends. You showed us the video.

CP: Okay, but that’s not what I consider being in a band.

RC: Okay.

LK: Yeah. This is like, real.

RC: This is our first serious band.

JB: That’s a great way to put it. Do any of you have any formal training or do you just learn on your own?

RC: I’ve been playing piano since I was four years old.

EM: You’ve been playing classical guitar.

CP: Yeah.

RC: You played classical guitar?

CP: Yeah.

RC: Is it classical guitar though or is it just guitar?

CP: Classical.

RC: Really? I didn’t know. Oh, that’s cool.

EM: And you know bass.

LK: Yes. The double bass.

EM: You played cello.

LK: No. The violin.

RC: He played cello. Didn’t you play trombone?

CP: You can take more than one instrument in middle school.

LK: That’s true.

JB: So you have had some formal training. It sounds like you’ve all been pretty musically raised. What’s it like having parents who are kind of involved with the music scene?

CP: Over time we’ve kind of pushed them out more. Until now they’re not really doing much.

EM: Besides my dad.

LK: It’s mostly just advice and stuff though. Right?

EM: Yeah definitely. He’s always trying to give me a lot of advice and sometimes we butt heads on things. But he’s always saying that he doesn’t want me to make the mistakes he made as we’re trying to go for it and all that stuff. But overall I usually take most of his advice since it’s coming from a place where he has experience that’s good. And then your mom [motioning to Livy] kind of does a lot of stuff for the MAMAs.

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened at a show?

RC: Okay. We were at this show. We were playing this really janky show in the basement of some store or something.

EM: Was I with you then?

LK: Yeah. You were there.

JB: And this is in Madison?

RC: No. This is in West Bend. They have a really cool scene in West Bend. So we were hanging around and we were like, “Oh wait. Where’s Cal?” Our lead guitarist [Max] went and he saw this guy who looked… He swore it was Cal. He was wearing similar stuff. He had the same hair. He just goes up behind him and slaps his butt and it ended up being the headliner of the whole show.


LK: It was extremely awkward.

RC: Max just walked away. He didn’t even say anything.

LK: Yeah.

RC: It was good times.

EM: Do we have anything weird while we were playing?

LK: No.

RC: No.

LK: That’s it. But it’s cool. Not weird. You got to crowd-surf at East.

EM: Oh yeah. I crowd-surfed at my high school.

LK: Like I was saying, that’s cool.

JB: While you were playing?

EM: Yeah. We were playing some little show during lunch or something. I don’t really remember. And I crowd surfed.

JB: Excellent. So, if there’s one band you could go on tour with right now who would it be?

RC: Right now?

LK: Oh, man.

RC: And performing, right? We’re not like, being groupies.

JB: Right.


RC: I don’t know. Let’s do older bands.

EM: You get one each.

LK: We had a list a while ago.

RC: Of bands we wanna open for?

LK: Yeah. Or like, tour with.

RC: Oh, we did.  I wanna open for this band called Generationals because they’re my favorite band and they’re fantastic.

LK: That could work. They’re pretty chill dudes.

EM: They’re kind of like ‘60s vibey.

RC: Yeah, they can do that. They’ve got those backup vocals and everything. Oh, and Modern Lovers!

LK: Big. We prefer big bands.

RC: If you say the Strokes I’ll kill you.

LK: I wasn’t gonna say the Strokes.

EM: Nothing’s wrong with the Strokes. I would tour with the Strokes.

RC: Not right now. They’re really boring.

LK: Okay. Strokes, 2001.

JB: You have to figure, no matter how you feel about them you’re gonna be on a huge stage playing for tons of people.

LK: Yeah. Exactly.

RC: Yeah. That’s true. But that doesn’t mean everything.

LK: What about an older band? Like The Beatles?

EM: The Beatles?

RC: No. Get out of here.

EM: That’s too easy.

JB: Nobody doesn’t want to tour with The Beatles do they?

RC: I wouldn’t choose The Beatles. Like when they were playing, they had a bunch of teenage girls peeing their pants for them. It’s disgusting.

EM: We wouldn’t have to deal with teenage girls.

RC: It would be annoying though. It would be like being the opener for One Direction. It would just be a bunch of people who don’t give a shit about you. All these girls just waiting for the cute boys.

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: But then you’re playing the percentage game. You gotta get that small percent that does care about the openers.

EM: That’s right.

LK: True.

RC: I’d rather have like a 50% with a smaller band than 1% with a big one. Does anyone else wanna choose? I chose two and you guys chose none.

EM: She chose the Strokes circa 2001.

LK: I just said I was not gonna choose the Strokes because I was gonna get yelled at.

RC: Yeah.

EM: I think it would be fun to tour, even though you guys don’t really like them. There’s this band called Cherry Glazerr from LA.

RC: Oh.

EM: But they have the same vibes. And they’re also like our age.

RC: They don’t have the same vibes. They sing about their periods, which nobody wants that.

EM: The style of music though is kind of similar.

RC: Okay. Whatever.

EM: It would be kind of fun. It would be kind of like a girl power tour.

LK: I just wanna tour with a band that has a cool crowd. Just a cool, accepting crowd.

RC: Generationals. I swear. I went to their show in Chicago and they just had all these 20-something cool dudes.

LK: Which? The show in Chicago?

RC: Oh yeah. You were there.

LK: I’m like, you did?

RC: “Cinco de Quatro.”

LK: No.


RC: It’s Arrested Development.

EM: I haven’t gotten that far.


RC: I would choose the Modern Lovers because they’re awesome and really sweet. They seem like cool dudes.

EM: I’d do the Breeders.

LK: Whoever’s cool.

JB: How do you feel about the way the music industry is these days and trying to make it as a band?

RC: Ooooh. This could get dark.

EM: Yeah.

JB: Are you going to come out with your album on vinyl?

EM: We have a 45.

LK: We don’t have the whole record on vinyl.

EM: Yeah. That costs too much. We did a Kickstarter campaign. And so that’s pretty much how we had gotten our money. We get paid very little to play shows.

RC: I think we got paid to play two shows ever in our life.

LK: Yeah. We got paid. We were supposed to get two hundred dollars and we got one hundred.

RC: Oh yeah. That was awesome. And no one was there too. Sweet.

JB: One more thing. What song has been stuck in your head most recently?

RC: (Gasping) The summer song. (Laughter) Have you seen that? It’s all over Facebook right now.

LK: It is?

RC: (sings) “It’s summer time. And isn’t it great. It’s summer time.” It’s not even a real song though. It’s like; I think it’s a family. They just recorded it.

JB: It’s just like a jingle?

RC: Yeah. And they act really nerdy and just… awww, it’s so good. They’re my heroes. I don’t know what it’s actually called. Do you know what it’s called?

EM: “Summertime.” (Laughter) Not a good song to have stuck in your head. Do you have any song stuck in your head?

LK: Uh…

RC: You had “Weekend” by Smith Westerns.

EM: I was just listening to that song.

LK: I have “Weekend” and I have that one really good Phox song… The other one…

EM: “Confetti?”

JB: Have you guys played with Phox at all?

EM: No. That’d be really cool.

RC: We played with Monica [Martin].

EM: Yeah. She did a little solo ukulele thing. It would be really awesome to play with Phox.

RC: Yeah. Hint hint. Hint hint. (Laughter)

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

Photo by Jamie Strehlow

JB: Now there’s a shoutout. One more thought. What kinds of social media are you guys using to get yourselves out there?

RC: We have iTunes, Twitter, our website.

LK: We have an email –

RC: The same as our website.


RC: Yeah. Pretty much everything is “Modern Mod Music” for us. Look it up on any of your favorite social media stuff. We’re on there. Except for like, Pinterest.

LK: We don’t even know what that is.

EM: We have an Instagram.

RC: But we haven’t used it in like a year. We have a Myspace somewhere.

LK: Our influences, I just don’t wanna even see those. Those were all kidding. I’m pretty sure we put Back Street Boys under influences on our Myspace page. And Taylor Swift.

RC: Oh my God. I wanna tour with Skaters.

EM: Skaters! I just saw. They’re this band from New York. They were in Chicago and we went to go see them and they’re really cool. That’s the song I had stuck in my head.

RC: Which one?

EM: “I Wanna Dance (But I don’t Know How).”

RC: Hmm. “Band Breaker” by Skaters has been stuck in my head for the past month. How about that? There we go.


At press time, Max is headed off to college; Modern Mod is currently holding auditions to find a replacement guitarist. Contact Modern Mod either via Facebook or email them if you are interested in auditioning.



Listen to “Tunnels” online at

The Frequency Calendar – August 2014



08/20 WOOD CHICKENS w/ Sally Grundy, Plowtown, Villainy of Thieves 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/21 LIFEAFTERSIX w/ Wall of Funk, Dead End Moves 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/22 COWBOY WINTER w/ The Noise FM, Middle Twin, The Flavor That Kills 10 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/23 THE MADISON MUSIC SCENE featuring KYLE HENDERSON 5:30 PM, 18+, $6 / $9 under 21

08/23 MIDWESTERN CHARM w/ Heavy Looks, Little Legend 10 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


08/25 THE RYAN MCGRATH BAND 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/26 BOB LOG III w/ Roboman 9 PM, 18+, $10

08/27 SYNAPPSIS DJ DUO (Hendrix Gullixson & Tanner Mclean) 9 PM, 18+, $5 /$8 under 21

08/28 THE RUNNER UPS w/ Butchered, Bedtime Bandits 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21

08/29 THE FAITH HILLS HAVE EYES w/ EME, Fault Line Empires, The Frenetic 9 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


08/31 SLOTHTROP MUSIC NIGHT  featuring Dan Kennedy, Sexy Ester, Jeff German & the Blankety Blanks, Marty Finkel, Eric Hester, Corinne McKnight 8 PM, 18+, $5 / $8 under 21


The Frequency
121 W. Main
Madison, WI 53703


Words of Fang: Pay To Play

Pay 2 Play

By Fang VonWrathenstein, Lords of the Trident

Not everyone in the music business is an angel. And no, I’m not talking about those gritty, sleaze-rock bands called “Sex Angels” or “Dirrrty Sinners.” I’m talking about jerks who steal money from hard-working bands. For every one Fang VonWrathenstein, giving out free advice and asking nothing in return (*cough cough buy my album cough*), you have ten jerks trying to sell you false stardom. What am I talking about? Pay-to-play scams.

pay to play

What is a pay-to-play scam?

They come in many different forms, but the majority of them ask you to purchase a certain number of tickets from a promoter ahead of time and sell them to your fans. Usually if you sell a certain (usually unreachable) amount of tickets – say, 20 tickets for $20 apiece ($400), you’ll make back the money you paid for all the tickets. And if you don’t, well – at least you get to share the main stage with a bigger-name act, right?

…not always. Many venues (The Rave in Milwaukee, WI is notorious for this) will put “pay-to-play” bands on side stages, bar stages, and the like. They’ll put them on very early, very late, or even while the headlining band is playing! Let’s say you’re a huge fan of Scar Symmetry, and you decide to play a side stage at their concert. How pissed would you (and your fans) be if you were playing the side stage while Scar Symmetry was playing on the main stage? I’ve seen it happen.

Some venues will not make you pay for tickets up front, but will expect you to sell a number of tickets to your fans. In some very rare circumstances this can work out in your favor. You should ask yourself (and/or the promoter) the following questions:

  • Would enough of our fans buy tickets and travel to see (headliner band in question) and us?
  • Are the tickets fairly priced?
  • Are we playing the main stage, or some crappy side stage? If we’re playing the main stage, when are we playing?
  • How many people can we expect to see us at the timeslot we’re in?
  • Are there any additional incentives? For example, if the venue sells out all the opening bands make $100 or something like that?
  • Based on the headlining band, the timeslot, and the ticket price, can we expect to make a decent number of new fans?
  • Are we allowed to sell merch? Do we need to upscale our prices to meet the headlining band’s prices? For example – do we need to sell our $10 shirts for $25?
  • Does the venue take any cut of our merch sales?
  • What are the penalties for not meeting our ticket sale goal?

If enough of these points are in your favor, you may consider playing the show. For example, my band recently opened for HELLOWEEN in Illinois. Our fan base had enough interest in seeing us and Helloween that we were able to sell the required 25 tickets quite easily. We had the option of selling the tickets for $25 and taking a $5 profit on each ticket, or selling them for $20. Obviously we were more interested in getting rid of the tickets than profiting from the venture, so we sold them for $20. We played on the main stage, but at a crappy time slot. Still, we probably played to 100-150 people who were really into our music. All in all, it was a pretty good time, and we’ve established a good working relationship with the venue. They’ve also promised us a better time slot next time.

This is a rare example of pay-to-play working out well for a band. It is important to remember that this is not the norm! You have to be very selective when selecting these types of shows. If it smelly fishy, turn it down.

Even though the Helloween show was pay-to-play, at least it was a legit show, and we didn’t have to buy the tickets in advance. There are some situations where pay-to-play is a complete scam…

The worst of the worst – Gorilla Music

If you’ve been in a band for more than six months, you’ve no doubt been approached by someone from “Gorilla Music” or “Gorilla Productions” offering you a spot in a battle of the bands. These battles are usually on an off night (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday), and promise BIG PRIZES for the winner of the battle. The winner of the battle will be determined by “crowd participation” – so you’ll want to bring as many of your fans as you can in order to win. Did I mention you need to sell tickets to the event? And the tickets are usually priced at $10 apiece? But don’t worry about that – the winner will get $500 and 20 hours of studio time!

How much of that $10 ticket price do you, the band selling the tickets get to keep? You guessed it – $0. All of the money goes to the promoter to “cover expenses.” So, let’s break this down:

  • The promoter tries to fill 10 band slots for the battle
  • Each band gets 15 minutes to play
  • Tickets sell for $10

Let’s assume that each band sells only 10 tickets. That’s 10 x $10 = $100. Multiply that by 10 bands and you have $1,000. Then the promoter randomly picks some winner, gives them $500, and walks away with $500 in his pocket. How much work did the promoter have to do to actually promote the show? Nothing!

Most bands that actually win these battles sell far more than $500 in tickets before they “win” their $500. And that 20 hours in-studio time? Mostly bought on the cheap from no-name studios who know that finishing anything will take far more than 20 hours of time. In a recording studio, 20 hours is nothing. There have even been reports of “winning” bands being promised the money in the form of a check in the mail (that never arrives), and the studio time at a studio that doesn’t even exist.

Just say no

“Gorilla Productions” (and companies like them) prey on young, inexperienced musicians. They fill their ears with dreams of stardom. They say the battles will be attended, on average, by 250 – 300 people. Ladies and gentlemen, the picture below is from an actual Gorilla Productions battle of the bands. Feast your eyes on the sea of people:


Yup, there are your 250 people. Most of the people in the picture are in the other bands that are competing. There’s no other way to say it – these guys are scam artists. And they’re stealing from musicians, for Dio’s sake! We already have no money! Steal from a multinational corporation or crooked lawyer, not from poor musicians. What’s a greater sin – stealing $1,000 from a rich person, or $25 from a poor person? If any of these guys contact you, tell them that you (and Fang) say they can go die in a fire.

If you want to read more about the “Gorilla Productions” scam, check out the very detailed page here:

Why spend $500+ to play for 15 minutes when you could use that money to set up and publicize your own show? When it comes to pay-to-play gigs, your first instinct should be to just say no. And your second instinct should be to hunt down anyone associated with these scams and light them on fire. And when you’re about to flick the match in their face, all “action movie style,” tell ‘em… “Fang sent me.”


Are you a band that owes your success to my pearls of wisdom? Do you wish there was some way you could pay me back? Well there is! Buy the Lords of the Trident’s album off AmazonMP3, iTunes, or BandCamp, watch our music videos on YouTube, and visit us online -

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