Sunday, May 8, 2011

Local music you can afford

The music pounds behind heavy red wooden doors. A neon wristband clasps tight to my arm and the venue doors opens to let out waves of lyrical rhythms. People line the brick wall decorated with the works of local artists view of the world. An intimate room filled with over fifty fans and music enthusiasts surround the small stage. A grungy guitarist steps close the mic.

“Let’s hope we don’t disturb the neighbors,” he said with a smile. Signaling to the rest of his crew his hand flies down and the music starts again.

The Wire in Upland, Calif., houses performers from indie folk to metal rock. Bands from surrounding states and even those from afar make their appearance at this favorite local hot spot. The set is known for an intimate show at an affordable price, with only $10-15 a ticket it is no wonder the house is packed by the time of the headliner each night.

The scene is straight out of an underground New York City club. With the small stage being, bands have to be aware of how to precisely manage their set. If not careful, the stage can become overcrowded and hard for the performers to entertain a show.

“Unless you have some serious money to invest in the proper sound equipment, a small venue is where you can get the best performance for the right price for everyone,” said Beau Trembly of Temecula. Trembly and his band perform at the wire as often as they can, saying it is the old town feel and intimate set that keeps their fan base rising.

“Although the smaller stage tends to be cramped and the sound is far from what you would hear at the El Rey, it is the perfect way for a band to connect with their fans,” Trembly said.

Although wedged between downtown buildings, the Wire maintains a large crowd on performance nights, some regulars and others visiting from areas far from Upland.

“The Wire has a homey feel to it, like a coffee house, only no coffee,” said Staphon Arnold of Azusa. “We all come here for one thing, and that is to hear a band rock their hearts out. Everyone else is here to appreciate the music, not for a quick cup of joe.”

While this location is affordable, it also is a place for musicians to express their creativity and arrangements. Many of the larger bands in the media today got their big break visiting smaller sites to get their start. This is the driving force behind up and coming performers.

“As a composer I must be creative all the time, it is a reaction of emotions and I feel like I can express them and refine them in a smaller venue,” said Greg Johnson of Ontario.

In the digital world we live in today, it has become easier for musicians to hide behind talent through MP3’s and editing programs.

“The live show is he best way to test the quality of a performer, if they can pull it off in a small venue, they can pull it off anywhere,” said Trembly. “You cannot hide behind the production of auto-tune in a small space.”

Today, fans look for more than just music at an entertainment show. The smaller venues make it easier for people and bands to walk away with something more than just a few of their favorite songs. People want bands that are up close. They want to connect with the music they are hearing. The Wire can gives that to the crowds that flock there, it is not about a dollar sign, it is about the show and what people can take away.

“Music is not just about musicians playing and fans listening, it is about sharing an experience,” Trembly said. “It brings us all down to a more human level.”

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