Friday, April 5, 2013

'90s nostalgia: Cure for The Grand's ills

Biased opinion alert: The Grand's booking of The Pixies was genius.
Today, The News Journal had a story about The Grand slashing a quarter of its staff, having a huge revenue shortfall, and eyeing deeper cuts as a way for the 135-year-old venue to stay in business.

One reason cited was "increased competition." Duh. World Cafe Live at the Queen opened down the street a few years ago. Wonder why there aren't as many slices of the same pie to go around when there are more people eating it?

When the Queen opened, there was talk about cooperation between the venues, or at least some kind of drawing of turf. As in, "Hey, Queen, you take the adult-contemporary acts and the alt-rock bands, and we'll take the jazz, classical and pop icon group."

That didn't really happen, and what you're left with is Saturday (April 6)'s recreation of The Who's classic "Who's Next" album at The Grand and similar odes to Led Zeppelin tonight (April 5) and Pink Floyd tomorrow (April 6) at The Queen.


Look, I know nothing about demographics, budgets, scheduling, costs to book bands or any of that stuff. But it seems to me that a big part of the solution is simple.

Both venues could easily put butts in their seats if they realized who will come downtown.

It seems to me like a big segment of the concert-going population is in the 25-40 range. These are people with a decent amount of disposable dough that they'd be willing to spend on a night out to see one of their favorite all-time bands. And a good chunk of them on the younger end don't have kids, so they don't have to worry about baby sitters.

The Grand should pass, especially sans DeYoung (far right).
But those bands are not Styx, or REO Speedwagon, or anyone from the 1970s or 1980s.

These two venues have to look at who the REO Speedwagons and Styx are for this generation. These venues HAVE to look at the 1990s.

The Atlanta Journal-Constituion just did a story on this a few days ago. Down there, Sugar Ray, Everclear, Barenaked Ladies and Blues Traveler will all be in town this weekend. Smash Mouth, Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms are all out there too. Do some of these bands suck? Sure. Will people pay decent money to see them? You bet.

The Grand did it with The Pixies, but they haven't continued to dig deeper into that gold mine. The Grand could easily book Stone Temple Pilots and charge $45 a head and sell out the place in a day. I'm thinking that would put The Grand in the black for that night.

Nostalgia goldmine: right there waiting.
What about Weezer? Live? Soundgarden? What about a cheesy package show at The Queen featuring Better Than Ezra, Marcy Playground and Harvey Danger?

What about the slew of indie-rock reunions? I'm sure the show bookers at The Queen and The Grand never heard of Archers of Loaf or Guided By Voices or maybe even Pavement. But these bands have hardcore followings, and their ongoing classic lineup reunion tours would have easily sold out The Queen. Same goes for The Breeders' "Last Splash" anniversary tour, just covered on this blog, which hits Philly in May. I personally would pay a pretty penny to see any of those three shows in a beautiful venue like The Grand (or The Queen).

Big-time score for Firefly.
What about hip-hop? I know that sounds scary to both of those venues, but the Firefly Music Festival showed some balls and put rap legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Public Enemy on their sked of almost all rock acts. I'm sure they'll draw a new crowd with that booking - why not do the same at The Grand and/or The Queen? What are you afraid of?

Speaking of Firefly, why can't those venues get any of the acts playing the festival? More exposure for Delaware means more bands see a viable audience here means they'll come back. Yo Grand and Queen - go git em. Just like you did with Wilco and Bright Eyes a few years ago.

This is Dave Mason WHEN HE WAS COOL.
The Queen had the right idea when it went after acts like Richard Marx and Bryan Adams. There's a big market with huge selling '80s pop acts no matter how "uncool" a segment of the music world deems them to be. The Grand has the WRONG idea with acts like Dave Mason, which regardless of how it sells paints the picture of a venue that's out of touch - when you're booking a show, you're advertising for future shows. Not sure if 60-year-old guys stuck in the '70s is a vibrant target market.

Keep hitting that pipeline of nostalgia. The Grand could hit the '80s and score that late 30s to late 40s crowd. Like the Queen did, get someone like Psychedelic Furs, but go further. Get The Cure, or Morrissey, both of whom could easily sell out the venue.

But, to me, the 1990s seems like the next target to hit, and it's a big fat one.

And maybe The Grand has already made plans to do just that when it fills out its summer schedule.

Let's hope so.

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