Music Scene Showdown

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by Nathan Cooper

Music surrounds our everyday lives, from our car stereos and iPods, to the ringtones on our cell-phones. It is a part of our lives that I find most enjoyable. The problem with Pensacola is that there just isn’t a good enough venue to support a halfway decent music scene.

Sure, there are venues around, the Civic Center for example. Let’s be realistic though, the kinds of bands that would come to Pensacola (Slipknot and the like aside), just do not bring in enough people to fill up a venue that big. Not to mention the ticket price on a show at a place like the Civic Center is most often exuberant. People do not want to pay fifty dollars for a show even if it is one of their favorite bands. I wouldn’t pay fifty dollars for the best of shows; it’s simply too much money for a college student to fork over for one night.

The solution is smaller venues, which we now see popping up all over Pensacola. There are open-mic nights at places like Sluggo’s and the Belmont Arts Center which are great for local talent. Musicians from around town like Anna Jeter and Steel Calhoun play their music to the enjoyment of the crowds of people gathered to see them. This size of Sluggo’s and Belmont are fine for the small crowds gathering around the local music scene but as soon as a hip indie band pops into town, it is clear that these venues are not adequate to support a decent-sized show.

Sluggo’s for instance, hosted the band Girl Talk on Tuesday March 3, 2009. Normally for a local show, tickets for admission are around $5, a very reasonable price. When a non-local band called Why? came to town, ticket prices were at their highest I’ve seen them, at $12 a head. Now it seems like Girl Talk will be putting that to shame with around a twenty-dollar price per head.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I think Sluggo’s has gotten a little too big for its britches, so to speak. Wolf Parade played at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta for around $17, a band with similar popularity to Girl Talk playing a much better venue, both in size and sound quality, for a comparable price. Now you may be thinking, that’s not that much better of a deal right? Consider that Dr. Dog, another band of similar standing to Girl Talk in the music world, played a show at Club Downunder in Tallahassee for only $10. Ten bucks to see Dr. Dog in a venue that is at least twice the size of Sluggo’s seems like quite a deal comparatively.

I’m not sure what makes the price so high at Sluggo’s, whether it is the venue or the artist; but either way, I think if we had a venue that was truly dedicated to its shows, we might be able to reel in some decent talent with a ten-dollar price tag. Until then I suppose I’ll pay twenty dollars to be crammed into a side room listening to the remixed pop of Girl Talk, hoping that someday a better venue will host a show that’s worth looking forward to see for the price.

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