On Wednesday, June 6, I played with my band Atomic Brother at the Bitter End in New York City. It was an interesting show for 2 reasons. The first was that we were playing the Bitter End. The Bitter End, while maybe not world famous, is one of New York City’s few remaining landmark venues. After its opening in the 60’s it was home to such artists as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Harry Chapin, Peter, Paul and Mary and other folk acts and singer songwriters. Later in the 70’s it became home to performers like Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa and Neil Diamond. All we could think after being offered this gig is, “What the Hell are we doing here? Atomic Brother is a pretty loud band, sometimes bordering on the punk rock side, sometimes bordering on the heavy metal side. So, we really didn’t see how we were going to fit in at this venue.
As it turns out, we fit in just fine. First, like most music venues in New York City, the Bitter End depends on the bands to draw an audience. It’s not like it was, even as recent as the early 90’s, when people went to venues like the Bitter End just because they wanted to see good bands. Sometime in the 90’s people stopped going to places like the Bitter End and CBGBs and the venues had to rely on booking popular acts that brought in an audience, because the venues somehow lost their audience. There are still a few people left that go to these places (well, not CBGBs) for nostalgic reasons, but the built in audiences are gone. So, we were in luck. we didn’t have to play for a house full of singer-songwriter and folk music fans, we had our own audience to play for.
Secondly, another interesting thing that night, was that the audience we played for was partially made up of some people that found us on our MySpace page. This hadn’t happened before, we’ve heard stories that people really do find bands there, but it was more like folklore. You know, someone knows somebody whose cousin in in a band that knows another band that had fans from MySpace come to shows. We thought, like most bands, we were using it to keep in touch with our existing fan base and were being added to everyone’s collection of friends. I guess MySpace can work, if you put it out there, people will find it.
The show turned out to be very fun and very cool. The sound at the Bitter End was excellent, and is always excellent. The sound engineers that they hire are probably the best I’ve ever heard. It was great to know that going on stage the audience was going to hear what we intended them to hear. We felt a little weird about it at first, but we ripped through our set starting with the more hard rock tunes like “Everything and Less,” “Up In You,” and “Piece of My” ending with the punk/metal tunes “See Me Comin’,” “Allah Told Me To,” and “Not My Fault.” We hope to have footage from this show on the next episode of our video podcast, Wastin’ Time With Atomic Brother. soon.