It's happened, or at least it's happening: Someone in this town is doing his best to water down the Houston music scene like so many watered down lagers. Hear me out here, I'm not against beer companies. But, when bands play at a brewery, they're essentially turning Houston into Austin one event at a time.
Have you ever seen people try to eat at a cafe in Austin, and they can't enjoy themselves because some terrible keyboard-based idiot is playing Billy Joel covers? That's because Austin called itself "the live music capitol of the world," and then proceeded to put live music in every corner of the city, including breweries and distilleries.
If you look at entities that book shows in Austin, they're favoring places like Dallas and San Antonio over our state's capitol, because Austin just has way too many free shows. That's where Houston is heading with these brewery shows — too many free events, not enough shows worth paying to see when you can see them for free.
It might seem logical to have a show at a beer brewery or an alcohol distillery, because the two entities already sponsor live music in great numbers. Tours, venues, and even events I've thrown for charity have had beer sponsorship in the past. But, these are events that happen in places that were built for live music. These are places with professional sound systems, professional sound personnel, and rooms treated and designed for a live music experience.
When did you ever hear someone say that the time they saw any band at a brewery was one of the best sounding shows they ever saw? You didn't, that's why. It didn't happen and no one who cares about the Houston music scene walked away from the show thinking, "they should do this more often." I've seen shows at all of the breweries here in town and I can say that as a guy who sees more live music than anyone I know, I wondered why these shows were booked in the first place.
So, you might be wondering the same thing. It's simple really: money. The artists get paid pretty well to perform at these spaces. If you're at one of the smaller breweries, you aren't getting a whole lot, but it's not chump change either. If you're playing at one of the big breweries however, you can buy a car with what you're getting paid. And, the breweries do this because they want to keep you there. No brewery is entertaining past the tasting room where you can trade in small amounts of coin for plenty to drink. Add to that food trucks and the attempt in creating an atmosphere with a brew pub attached, and now it's a business just like anywhere else.
But, it's also culture vulture marketing as well. These breweries want to achieve what Red Bull did for music five years ago, but because the shows are in a warehouse that wasn't designed for live sound, or they're outside in an area that wasn't either; it's just as effective as placing a blue tooth speaker on a pole in your closet. It doesn't sound good.
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If you think about it, when has free ever been that good for anyone? You can go on Craigslist right now and find plenty of soiled mattresses, old couches that someone's dog wet on, and a creepy hot tub, there's always one of those for free. But, does that make them worth picking up and hauling away? It depends how bad you think you need someone else's trash
In these events the artists get paid and paid well. The breweries get either people hanging in their brewpubs longer or they get you to forget that you're in a warehouse for a couple of hours, and that maybe you'll walk away thinking they're a cooler brand from the show.