Go out and start a band

Go out and start a band

By Chris Mastrovito 02/17/2011

Here’s the thing: If you’ve read this column, I assume that you care about music in this community. Given that, I have a hunch that you might already be in a band, work with a venue or do promoting of some kind. But if not, at least you know that you totally could.

Ventura County has seen an explosion in the last few years of new bands trying to express themselves to their community and the world. Many of those active right now didn’t even exist before the Obama administration. Some of the old ones burn out or move away, but just like a redistricted high school, the freshmen keep cropping up in greater numbers than before, renewing the scene and energizing new crowds by spreading a creative bug. It may be easier than you think. Social networks and other online tools, like Reverbnation, allow people to post music and be instantly connected with opportunities traditionally available only to those with record deals, trust funds or vicarious industry dads.

Keeping it DIY, I just heard about a huge hardcore show scheduled at a barn in Camarillo on Valentine’s Day. A barn! Don’t underestimate the acoustics of an enclosed space with high ceilings; it’s worked in the opera scene for centuries. But the show, a stop on the U.S. tour for The Warriors, one of Oxnard’s most successful touring bands, signed to Victory Records, is an exercise in audacity. The promoter put up tons of money with every expectation of not making it back, because said promoter is willing to do just about anything to make shit happen. That’s the spirit of DIY. As a result, Oxnard’s finest, including Retaliate, Bermuda and huge Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive (Epitaph Records) were able to gather at the Camarillo Ranch Barn on Valentine’s Day, to put on one of the sickest hardcore shows of the year. And what better way to say “I love you” to your Valentine than from the center of a whirling pit full of testosterone and amateur karate?

The point is that you don’t have to have a record deal in order to make a record, or be a promoter with capital to put on a huge show. If some 23-year-old dude in Oxnard can draw 400 people to his backyard in a few hours, anything’s possible. We are still in great need of help in the all-ages show department. Right now, there’s an idea floating around in town to organize a network of local musicians, artists and fans with the sole purpose of systematically creating more shows in non-traditional venues all over the area. The concept, the California Music Collective: a channel through which people could offer potential locations, warehouses, garages, businesses — you name it — for bands to play, and that would combine efforts to create a schedule of DIY shows on a regular basis. Great idea.

By now you’ve probably noticed a strange urgency, that Jerry Springer Final Thought ring to this article, so it’s probably a good time to mention that this is, in fact, the last edition of Sounding the 805, at least for now. I know, I know, but who will fill these 4.25 column inches with the ramblings and esoteric references you have grown so accustomed to being bewildered by? Who will find all the unsung underground punk and heavy metal bands playing barns and non-traditional venues, and let you know about their otherwise unwritten successes? I’m leaving the rock journalism to the professionals, the talented editorial staff of VCReporter and its contributors, who will continue to offer insightful commentary about our local music scene. I don’t have to tell you that the best shows in the 805 are still free, and free of the elitist posturing that plagues scenes everywhere and leads to unidirectional thought and inauthentic mimicry. Don’t get caught up in that scenester trap. Ventura County has plenty of genuine creativity to go around, right?
Thank you for the music.F

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