05 Oct How to Support Your Friends in Bands When You’re Strapped for Time
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Last Thursday I was pumped to see my friend’s band at a local nightclub — and by local, I mean a 30-minute drive from my home. It was only 9 and I had energy and desire, but after a long week, it was dwindling a bit. Plus, Covid. My kids aren’t vaccinated yet.
And as I finished reading a book to my 7-year-old, I found myself yawning and facing the big choice: Do I rally, as planned, and head to the show? Or do I use my remaining energy to watch the Yankees game?
It’s a question I face more and more as a mom, when time is precious. I was born to play in a band and frequent dive bars, but seeing live music often feels like it clashes with my mom expectations: To be home and cheery, tucking my sons into bed.
So while I felt physically great and hyped about seeing the band, sleep won. And the next day, I felt terrible.
Albeit, this is somewhat in my head. I can’t beat myself up for deciding to lay low in the time of Covid on a school night. Neither can other parents who play music. But among indie artists who’ve yet to score that big breakout hit that brings them to the next level of name recognition, draw is everything. Every single person who is watching you counts. The club owners know it. The booking people know it. And the other bands you play with notice it, too.
I made it to only a handful of live shows this summer, not only because of Covid, but because my kids notice when I’m not home at night. I already practice once a week, so my evenings are pretty limited. I need to choose them carefully. So what can you do when you’re a parent (like me)?
After talking to a bunch of my musician friends who are also parents, we came up with this list of the best ways you can support each other when you can’t make a live, in-person event:
- Buy band merch. Shows are moneymakers if you’re, say, a one-hit-wonder ‘90s band on a nostalgia tour. But most indie rockers only make a few hundred bucks a show on a good night, which doesn’t include tipping the sound person (always do this!). So far in 2021, I’ve purchased one CD and one T-shirt from bands that my band Trashing Violet has played with. It makes me feel good knowing I’m supporting other artists.
- Watch livestreamed shows (for more than 5 minutes). If you can’t make it out of the house because you have to be with your family, you can probably still make it to a livestream concert. While the days of sheltering in place are behind us (hopefully forever), whenever I see a show in my newsfeed, I try to stop and listen for at least two songs, and comment. This shows my friends in that band that they rock (and that I care).
- Share their posts with friends. Go beyond “liking” all of a band’s posts to actually sharing their videos, news, new-song releases and show info with your people. Retweet like crazy. Add comments for context. Let others discover how great they are.
- Be generous with your personal network. While I can’t always show up for every show, I can always share my network. I’ve introduced drummers to deejays, and up-and-coming New York City bands to club owners in my hometown of Washington, D.C., and current home of Connecticut (so they have a few leads should they try to book a tour). Do what you can to help the next band get a leg up.
- When you do play, stay (as long as possible). On Thursday, Trashing Violet is playing the CT Rocks! Night 1 showcase with four other bands: 49 Feet High, Lucy’s Neighbor, The Wind-Up, and Vicki F (see what I just did there?). It’s a weeknight, and I’ll have lunches to pack and breakfast to make first thing in the morning. But I plan to arrive a half an hour ahead of time and stay through the entire show. And if a band stays for — and cheers for — me, I’ll always return the favor.
We want to hear from you: What are some of the ways you have supported bands when you couldn’t attend a live show?
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.