Update, May 18th: This post has been edited after we received a legal threat from Surface Unsigned. More here.
Round one of the regional Surface Unsigned Festival ’08 is nearly over, but have no fear sheer volume of acts they are dealing with in the midlands alone should mean there are plenty of gigs to come, if I’ve done the maths right the competition should be finished sometime in 2112.
Now each act are not going to be the-ghost-of-Jimi-Hendrix-playing-a-seven-hour-set-amazing admittedly, but this could be a great way of seeing local unsigned acts.
Tomorrow Digbeth favorite, The Rainbow (whose lack of decent website surprises me for some reason) will, play host too, Product Of This, Trial of Origin, The Singles Club, Planetman, Astro Reality, and Just Sweet Theft.
In the interest of transparency I found out about this because I will be there tomorrow (long hair, scruffy beard/stubble and waistcoat, say hello I’m nice) supporting Planetman, old friends and IMO one of the best unsigned bands in Birmingham.
As this has provoked quite the discussion, I give my report into Surface and the machinations thereof.
As I knew one of the bands at the gig last night any review that I do will have a bias. Anyway the structure of the event and competition as a whole is far more interesting, and by interesting I mean sketchy.
First of all I want to qualify my criticisms with the insistence that I did have a good time last night. Six pounds isnâ€™t a massive price to pay if the money was going to the bands or covering costs. And I still think there is a case to be made for showcase style show with six or so bands playing twenty minutes each.
Walking in the gig wasnâ€™t packed, Surface donâ€™t really do any promotion, that they leave to the bands to do themselves, expecting each band to sell 25 tickets each;
Note: We had previously reprinted verbatim an excerpt of the terms and conditions. Surface have requested we remove this as they consider it a breach of copyright so what follows is a paraphrased version written in a tone that we hope cannot be mistaken for that of Surface.
Oh hai! For to plai at event ur ordiance can haz 25 pipple. U muzt sell 25 tikkits 4 eech gig ur in. If u can not haz cell 25 tikkits u can still haz plai but ur band will NOT go froo 2 necks rawnd no matta haw mannie Sourfice Raiteens U getz. Kthnxbai!
From how empty the venue was, it meant a lot of bands must of eat shit on ticket sales and bought them themselves, you also only get the money back from tickets sales if you sell all 25 which is even then only a pound a ticket. So for 25 Â£6 tickets, the bands get Â£25 and Surface gets Â£125 now there are a minimum of six band at each gig so that means each gig they get a minimum of Â£750 (not to much maths I hope, my head kinda pickled as it is but I will push on regardless), now the first round of the Birmingham heats there are 38 gigs, which adds up too Â£28,500! just for the first round, all this, according to the booklet, going towards
“Sound engineer, Venue, Booth Operative, Security, Bar staff, PA, Lighting etc”(bold theirs)
From what I saw last night, lighting and PA was the venues own, bar staff provided by the venue also, there was no security. All the other stuff amps etc were provided by the sponsors, and to be honest the lead guitars speaker actually catching fire during the set isnâ€™t the hugest endorsement for their products.
Another criticism is the choosing of the bands the whole night was Rock/Ska/Pop, which means the Screamo band put in the second from last slot was never going to get as many votes seeing as they drove most of the crowd to the connecting bar. In fact the esoteric voting system is so much BS I wonâ€™t go into it in detail, needless to say the MCâ€™s main job was to push the text voting, seeing as the other voting was the highly scientific system of raised hands and I wouldnâ€™t trust this broad to count her children in the car on the way back from Alton Towers.
I would love to see the same structure applied to a regular night were six or so unsigned band played half an hour each and split the door, giving relatively new bands a chance to cut their teeth and punters a regular night to sample a section of the local scene.