Saturday, December 4, 2004
Though I’ve thought about it before, I’ve never really used my weblog to bitch about bad experiences with businesses. Seems petty and rather useless, anyway. No one reads this weblog. Except me.
Today, though, I’m going to bitch. About the Longbranch Inn bar (on east 11th street) and my experience there last night.
Last night the UT School of Architecture held a fundraiser at the bar. They packed it with people — maybe fifty or sixty. (It’s not very large.) They also booked some live music. My friend Ryan Lauderdale invited Jacob Green and I to do sets later in the evening. He would play, also. Awesome.
So. Shane Bartell played a set from about 10:30 until 11:30 with a live drummer. Sounded good. Good crowd. We were excited to play.
Jacob sets up and starts into his weirdo electro singing lounge act thing. Okay. Silly. Students tend to have high tolerance for unusual. But. One of the bartenders starts heckling him. Not some random idiot. An employee. Getting in Jacob’s face. “C’mon, man — I wanna boogie! Let’s boogie!” Repeatedly. Then standing just feet from the stage and saying things to other people like, “This is shit, man.” The guy acted either high or mentally retarded. He looked normal — in his mid-thirties, maybe. But behaved like a 10 year-old whose mother was very tired of having to tell him to leave people alone and act his age, dammit.
So Jacob just gave up after about fifteen minutes. He hadn’t invested much into the event, so fuck it.
So he cleared off and Ryan and I set our stuff up. Ryan would play for a half hour, then I would.
Except. While we were setting up our stuff, they had turned the jukebox back on loud, just to provide some ambient music during the break. This is perfectly normal. Except they, um, wouldn’t shut it off. And when someone asked, we were informed (indirectly) that they didn’t do live music after midnight. After, y’know, watching us set up after midnight. The staff just kind of ignored us. Blaring the jukebox: not a problem, apparently. Being very rude to people who came out to support your establishment asking for nothing in return — not even getting a free drink out of the deal. That’s fine.
Anyway. Ryan and I gave up and put all of our stuff away. Then the fucking jukebox broke. So no music at all. I’ve never believed in a god, but that moment made me want to start. (And I made sure to stay away from the device, not wanted to catch blame for the coincidence.) Within five minutes of the removal of our gear: No music at all. And people started leaving. It felt like the party was ending. And. Having offended us, they failed to consider that we might have friends in attendance. That they might irritate a slightly larger group of people. And they did.
And then retarded bartender — as a part of a team of people trying to fix the jukebox situation — starts yelling shit like, “You’re on! Go! Play!” What? Jesus, what a moron…
As we left (about 20 minutes later), one of the bartenders was in the process of trying to plug the audio out of some small, shitty jambox through the P.A. system the bands had used. Good luck with that, Chief.
I have played bad shows. Or’ve shown up to play and have not been able to. But I have never been treated like such a piece of shit. And not just by one guy — by the owner of the place, one bartender in a big way and just flat-out ignored by everyone else.
I wish them the best, but I don’t understand how they can so cavalierly alienate their core audience: People who go to bars often. ME. And other musicians and twenty-somethings. Unless there’s a very good reason, I won’t go back. The bar’s nice, but it’s no nicer than two dozen other bars in town. And it’s kind of out-of-the-way in a somewhat bad neighborhood.
I’ve had great experiences dealing with owners of other venues — even when problems arise. Rachel Koper at Gallery Lombardi worked with me at every turn — even when the cops showed up. The people at Ruta Maya have never complained, even though I know some of the music we’ve done there has been rather obnoxious. John at Elysium has been extremely friendly and open and communicative with me. They act like adults. And I want to support their businesses (as should you).
But not the Longbranch Inn bar. It’s bullshit. I left feeling crappy that I had bothered to buy a couple beers from them before things went sour.
When I got home, Haley recited that marketing gem: “If you have a good experience at a place, you’ll tell two friends. But if you have a bad one, you’ll tell ten friends.” Kind of unfortunate, but in this case totally true.
I'm Josh Knowles, a technology developer/consultant on a variety of mobile, social media, and gaming projects. I founded and lead Frescher-Southern, Ltd. I grew up in Austin, Texas and currently live in New York City.
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