So things changed for me yesterday. I was tagged by a stranger in a post indicating that the birthday party I had been hired to play at Black Sparrow was moved to another day/band. This was in addition to no longer having access to the place I’d anticipated staying for multiple weeks in the area, thus still being 750 miles away at a different safehouse and preparing to pack up and leave for the show last night.
I emailed the venue owner with the subject “I’m confused”, with a screenshot of said post which was said to ‘clear up confusion’, to ask how this might change the specifics of my show, like the cover charge and set lengths, mentioned I was just about to leave that night in order to make the drive, and that since the built-in audience of the birthday party would suddenly not be present, I would appreciate any local promotion they’d be willing to do in the meantime.
She responded by verifying that the invitations for the birthday party had mistakenly said “Saturday” the 12th, rather than Friday, and therefore they were moving the birthday party to another bands night to accommodate out of town guests coming on Saturday. She also encouraged me to cancel my show if I found that ‘too discouraging’.
I have based my tour map around this show, which, once I was able to set up my music rig, I have spent the last 9 days absolutely solid working on, including preparing an album to sell, buying stickers to give away, investing in a dual tiered keyboard stand to have access to both keyboards for the set, buying mastering software to help improve the quality of the album, buying blanks and sleeves when I discovered all my previous jewelcase albums are out of print, creating a poster, posting like a mfer on social media, etc. I was committed as hell to this performance, I thought I was playing somewhere known and safe, I was putting everything I had into it, and for a while now this show has been the focus of my life. I wasn’t ready to cancel, I just wanted to know wtf was going on and how it would change this thing I’ve been envisioning for months.
I asked for an idea of when they needed to know by, so I could work out my disappointment before making a decision (and also check in with my second show in February, which Black Sparrow was halfway toward, and by confirming or denying that booking I’d know better whether the trek was still worth it).
The venue owner responded by saying that due to the ‘tone’ of my emails, she felt it was best to cancel my show. The email included mention of every decent thing she’d done while booking me, from offering me one of her precious few dates when I contacted her (after she’d said she wanted me back any time after my first performance there), to negotiating a whopping $25 increase in guarantee from $50 to $75, said she was losing money on every show as a first year venue owner, and ultimately cited “I just don’t have it in me at this point to spend money putting a show that the musician isn’t thrilled to be playing. It’s not worth it for either of us.” as the reason for cancelling me.
I am hurt, frustrated, and angry. I feel impressively fucked over, and I am still reeling at the accusation of not being into my own show enough to be worth hosting. This tour was my bon Voyage to my two favorite venues, and the tour life I’ve been leading for three years now. I only had solid plans for the next two months of my life while doing that, and now those plans are obliterated. Green Door is battling on a day by day basis, and cannot tell me whether they will still exist by my booking on Feb 16th — and without the Black Sparrow show, traveling 1400 miles one way to play GD one last time is insurmountable. I’d anticipated finishing these shows in NOLA territory, doing a little more busking, and going from there, with loose plans to return to California at the end of March and potentially to Seattle in the summer, but now, I have no idea what to do or where to do it, my fragile confidence in my art is shattered to shit because of the crappy way this was handled, and I currently don’t know how anything that comes up out of this black hole might effect the small semblance of stability I had in my projected travels.
I am also really horrified at the manipulation I experienced yesterday, and am really fucking triggered by it. I haven’t been able to shake yet that I actually did something bad, that I’m in trouble for being bad, that the problem really is me, that once again I just wasn’t good enough, committed enough, nice enough, excited enough, HAPPY enough. That somehow, someone else fucking up their party invitations is ultimately my fault — for not staying in Taylor locally, for having the nerve to ask how these changes would effect my show, for having the audacity to be honest about being disappointed and sad to hear indirectly on facebook that my audience had literally fucked off three days before I performed, and for having the gall to be asking for time to deal with my emotions before deciding what was best for me to do.
This was all padded with praise and sycophancy, which made it even worse, and in the pressure of the situation I violated my own boundaries — which I presented when I asked for time to get my bearings before deciding what to do — and responded in exactly the ways that encourage people to play these fucking mind games to get the outcome they want but don’t have the fucking minerals to take ownership of — I thanked her profusely for all the decent things she’d done that any fucking venue owner should be doing, like actually booking gigs and being open to basic fucking rate negotiations for people who are touring, and agreeing to cancel the show while I was still disoriented and wasn’t ready to make that choice for myself, all while kissing her ass and failing to stick up for myself in the face of being belittled by her projections.
This is what capitalism does. This is how people trying to survive this economic paradigm — even people who say they care about what they’re doing and say they care about what you’re doing — treat one another while fighting for scraps to survive. Now that I’ve stopped cussing and yelling, all I can seem to do is cry. I’ve tried to go back to work on the album, making it even better now than I could under the timeline I had when I had this show, but I just.. can’t.
Some days, I really feel like I’m living my calling by carving out this weird life and making all the shit I make. Other days, like yesterday, and today, and probably more than a few tomorrows, literally none of this shit I am doing seems worth it.