Pitbull Audio opened their National City storefront in 2014. They’re an independent musical instrument and pro-audio retailer that has to compete with big-box chains, such as Guitar Center and Sam Ash. One of the methods they adopted early on to draw attention to the shop was running musician clinics. A recent example is Ministry guitarist Sin Quirin running through a collection of his band’s songs and fielding questions from fans on July 9.
300 W 28th Street #101 , National City
“We have an excellent reputation with our manufacturers and reps, and we try to work with them as closely as possible,” Pitbull Audio manager A.J. West explained. “They’re willing to send us acts and artists down here.”
"What You Going to Do About It?"
...the Bassics live at Pitbull Audio (December 2015)
The shop scored Alexi Laiho, guitarist of Children of Bodom, for their grand-opening clinic two years ago. It was such a success that West decided to bring in bands to play outside of the tutorial format. Local bands such as the Schizophonics answered the call, but it was apparent that the inside of the shop wasn’t the best setting for a rock show.
“We’ve only done two shows so far outside,” said West. “It was honestly just something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I recognized that the inside shows were fun, but the sound just wasn’t right, and it was kind of awkward having the fans come in here. It gave them the opportunity to really spread out and be able to bring as many people as they wanted.”
Located in a corporate park east of I-5 and a couple blocks south of Mile of Cars Way, Pitbull is in a good spot for hosting loud, outdoor rock shows. The neighboring offices are mostly empty on the weekends.
“We’ve had police drive by and they smile and keep going about their business. We’re respectful of the neighborhood. We clean up...we don’t want to make any waves unless they’re good ones,” West said.
As far as the logistics for the shows are concerned, the bands are responsible for all of the promotion, they don’t get paid, and they have to bring their own gear. The shop supplies some bottled water and food for attendees, a soundman, and a pro-level PA system. West estimates that they have “a little over $10,000 worth of equipment” set up outside for the performances.
“We do not use cheap stuff,” he said. “We want it to be a good experience for everybody, not just the people listening but for the bands as well.”
So far, the two outdoor shows have been sets by reggae and punk-leaning acts, but West is adamant that he wants to bring in everything from country to hip-hop and R&B. He was enthusiastic about bringing in Spanish artists, as well, since the neighborhood is rich in ethnic flavor.
“Music is music and I want people to know there’s an open forum,” West concluded.