Live music is a privilege that too many bands in Houston seem to take for granted.EXPAND
Live music is a privilege that too many bands in Houston seem to take for granted.

Why Don't Houston Bands Support One Another?

Houston’s music scene has always been a mystifying mistress. Every ten years or so, a crop of new musicians appears, plays hard, works hard, and then largely disappears. Reasons vary for this, but one of the biggest ones I hear is that no one comes out to see them perform. If you look at other cities, artists seem to support one another, and at the very least it appears that people show up to the shows. As a guy who sees people show up whenever they see a video posted that looks like the room is poppin’, I can agree that the bulk of the acts in Houston don’t support one another, and honestly may be the missing piece in getting people to attend concerts featuring local acts in this town. I’m not even asking artists to go see bands they’ve never heard of, or to go see bands they could possibly perform with in the future; I’m simply asking them to watch the bands they’re playing with the same night. Until that happens, I can’t see Houston’s music scene growing much larger than it is now, and that’s just sad.

Let’s be honest: If you're a local musician, I support your band more than you do. The bulk of bands in this town are terrible at promoting themselves, whether that means sharing a review of their latest releases or getting word out about their next endeavors in a timely fashion. We know that. I’m sorry if this offends any acts in town, but it’s just a fact. Some acts grind hard, get the word out, and understand that adoration of a steady fan base takes time; to those artists, I’d say keep it up. But for most acts here, it seems like the hang is better than the talent onstage. I actually don’t understand it at all, but it’s a thing.

What I witness at shows around town, sometimes up to six in one night, is that most acts here show up to the venue, hang out with their friends before playing, perform, and then go back to hanging out — never once watching the bands they’re billed with. And that’s pretty ostentatious of any band in this town to do, even the bigger ones. A certain respect for artistry seems to be lost on bands here. It’s almost like the thought of “no one cares” is embedded into their minds, and it’s mind-boggling why so many of them can’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves. It’s a thing, in life, where if you support another band, they will in turn one day return the favor. As it stands, I see about 20 percent of the bands even watching the bands they perform with at about 90 percent of the shows happening around town. One promoter remarked, "It's like these bands can't be bothered to care about one another; they'd just rather stare at memes on their phones on the patio."

Houston Shows Feel Empty, and they shouldn'tEXPAND
Houston Shows Feel Empty, and they shouldn't
Photo by MSP via Pexels

The other problem is bands not venturing out to see bands they're not playing with. As one band recently told me, "No one ever comes to see us even if we see [that band] on a repeat basis." There are acts in this town that I never, ever see at shows they're not performing on. It’s not live music they’re adverse to, because I’ll see the same people at big touring bands’ shows when they occur. But seeing band members on a random Tuesday night or other weekday shows where it’s just locals on the bill doesn’t seem to be something that happens here.

I’m a pretty loyal guy, and there are bands here I’ve supported because they made multiple events I was on or that I threw, and I appreciated it more than you’d think. I feel like the same should go for most bands, especially when they’re getting started. I promise, if you make it out to catch a local group and engage with them, they’ll walk away thinking how cool it was that you made it out on a Tuesday to catch their band; if you’re lucky, they’ll return the favor when you need them to as well. This is something that needs to start happening sooner than later, honestly.

The last piece of the puzzle is social media. I get it — social media sucks in so many ways, as it’s this juggernaut of responsibility looming over the heads of everyone who uses it. I've heard bands say stuff like "how difficult it can be to keep up with social media," but it's not like you have to live on the platform; just check your messages and post updates. Some bands nowadays don’t even have social-media accounts, and while a separate article could be written on how clueless that is, sharing album reviews and shows you'd like to see with other locals on that bill goes a long way. It’s the bucket of water theory: the more water you put in, the more water will overflow.

A ton of bands in this town either have family or coworkers or even friends that you and I don’t know. So when you share their success, their shows, and their press, people see it who never would have before. They will also see that you shared it and should, if they’re decent people, share yours as well. While I am aware of the idea that people seem to think that constantly sharing things can get annoying, it’s less annoying than seeing great bands go unnoticed. Sharing is in fact caring, as they say, and sharing something takes 20 seconds. You don’t have to engage with it again after doing so.

The truth is that most of this article will fall on deaf ears. Most bands in this town will either read the headline and not the piece, or read it and say, “that’s dumb.” But if Houston is to have anyone care enough to support local acts here, the artists have to care about the scene first. Maybe I’m asking too much, though.

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