Soda Bar booker Cory Stier put it best when he described his job as akin to running around like headless poultry. Look for the following five decapitated chickens to continue to run their butts off in 2016 to help San Diegans get exposed to their favorite local and national acts along the way.
What and Where: KAABOO Fest founder. KAABOO returns to Del Mar September 16–18. Jack Johnson, the Avett Brothers, and Goo Goo Dolls are already on-board with more acts to be announced.”
“I have been going to live-music events for more than 35 years and have attended hundreds of concerts and dozens of music festivals. I have a deep passion for live music and these types of events.”
Where did that name come from?
“KAABOO is essentially a made-up word and means whatever the hell you want it to mean. It’s an expression of the feeling that wells up inside your gut when you’re just having a purely good, relaxed, get-away-from-it-all, genuinely fun time with your friends and family. Our team came up with the name after a long night of drinking tequila and beer around the fire pit at a local hotel.”
Besides the name, what sets KAABOO apart from other festivals?
“The traditional live-music experience is pretty unrefined and what we wanted was to be able to try and address those problems. You won’t find any porta-potties here; instead, you get flushing toilets, an abundance of places to sit, shade, areas with air conditioning, gourmet food, art you want to explore, and spaces to get away from the music for a little while and do something different. People are going to have nothing but choices, and I think that’s important.”
What and Where: Candace is the president of Live Nation in San Diego. She books concerts at Viejas Arena, Open Air Theater, Sleep Train Amphitheater, and the House of Blues. Upcoming Live Nation shows for San Diego in 2016 include Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Beyoncé, and even Billy Joel performing a sold-out concert at Petco Park.
She played keyboards for No Knife for a bit, but, as far as paying gigs go, Candace started working for Bill Silva Events in 1998. She stayed with the operation through numerous buy-outs and mergers.
As she explains it: “Bill Silva sold his company around 2000 — two years after I started. He sold his company to Universal Concerts. A year later, House of Blues bought out Universal Concerts, and about five years later Live Nation bought out House of Blues. It’s just been one buy-out after another. I’ve just been transitioning throughout the entire period, and just kind of inherited Live Nation.”
“Basically, agents will call me and my job is to decide whether or not we want to book the bands that they’re pitching us. We have a choice, and if we book them it’s basically gambling. I gamble their money and try to make a profit. I have to guess ticket prices. Sometimes bands have a general idea of what they want for ticket prices, and sometimes I have to guess. Setting ticket prices, booking shows, paying the artists, and making sure that you’re doing everything to market the show and sell it. In the office I’m in it’s real work. It’s real business.”
Choosing the right venue:
“If they’ve sold out the club and want to take that next step, that’s usually when they’ll ask me. For the most part, like with a band such as Coldplay, it’s a no-brainer. They’re gonna play the larger rooms. Sometimes, if the bands want your local expertise they’ll ask you, and I try to make my best recommendation…even if it’s not my own venue, sometimes. You don’t wanna do wrong by the artist. It doesn’t help you or them in the long run. I try to be as honest as possible.”
What and Where: In her own words: “I run SD-Dialed In. I write daily and occasionally interview for the TV show SoundDiego. I am the publicist for the Casbah. I help with marketing at the Observatory. I am the best merch person in San Diego,” she laughs. “And I am the content manager for DoSD.”
“DoSD is part of the ‘Do Stuff’ network that has 19 other markets across the country. It’s beyond music. It’s also movies, film screenings, operas, symphonies, happy hours, beer tastings…all that kind of stuff.”
“I grew up in Chula Vista, and I’ve always really been into music. In about 9th grade I got involved in the hardcore scene, and I’ve just been a music fan my entire life. I worked at an ad agency that worked very closely with radio, so we would get hooked up with tickets for concerts. Going to shows all the time just became part of who I was. I wasn’t unemployed at the time, but I was working at a place where I had a lot of downtime, so I started writing about the shows that I had been to. I was doing that more and more, so I started my site. Things picked up from there. Tim Mays eventually hired me as publicist for the Casbah. I started doing some booking here and there, and it just kind of snowballed to where I am now.”
War stories from the merch table:
“I did merch for Young the Giant at Soma and I had to call the tour manager four or five different times to come and take money away from me because the kids have this money from their parents, and there’s nothing for them to spend it on besides water and chips. They run in and they’re throwing the money at you and yelling at you what they want — and then trying to run into the venue so they can get up front. It’s insane. I’ve never been so sweaty and, like — ‘AHHHH!!!!’ — freaked-out by people attacking me. Literally just throwing their wet money that they keep in their sock or their bra.”
What and Where: Host of NBC 7’s SoundDiego. Look for him to bring your spirits up with local and national acts after you have endured yet another C- worthy episode of SNL on Saturday nights. Salani landed the gig with SoundDiego after Rick Tyner from M-Theory music recommended him as a potential host to producer Eric Page.
“I’m a native San Diegan. My background with the scene began back in high school. My sophomore year I started going to all-ages shows around town. Mostly coffee houses. The old Chabalaba Café near City College was a favorite spot to see shows. It’s long gone now, but whenever I drive past the corner of 16th & C Street where it was located, I usually reminisce of the fun and amazing local shows I saw there as kid, like Deadbolt, Dark Globe, and Steve Poltz. Seeing these local bands and artists live set the tone for me wanting to see more and more shows. Unfortunately, I wasn’t 21 and going to see shows at venues like the Casbah, Bodie’s and the Spirit Club just wasn’t going to happen. So, in the meantime, if there was an in-store at Off the Record or KCR or KSDT was doing some local show on their respective campuses, I would try my best to attend.”
How beneficial has SoundDiego been for the local bands that it showcases? Do you feel it helps local venues as well?
“I like to think that SoundDiego is a part of the overall big picture. We have a great and vibrant music scene with plenty of outlets to help spread the word for local music via radio, print, blogs, social media, and TV. We have Loudspeaker on 91X, The Local on FM 94/9, the Reader, CityBeat, and SD Dialed-In all doing great work to help promote local bands and the venues in which they play. Each and every week, we shoot SoundDiego from a different venue around San Diego. The venues are just as important as the bands and artists.”
Partial list of some of Daye’s faves on the local circuit:
Bit Maps, Glass Spells, Lost Pets, and Nicky Venus.
What and Where: Cory books shows for the Soda Bar, a venue that generates very little of its profits via soft-drink sales. Upcoming Soda Bar events include Yuck, Diarrhea Planet, and locals Grizzly Business.
“I always booked shows for the bands that I was in throughout the years. Getting presale tix and then selling them to my friends to try and play Canes, the Epicentre, and the Scene. That was where it started. Further along, I started booking bands and actually booking tours for a bunch of different local bands and my own band. At some point I segued from booking tours to buying tours. I went in that direction about six years ago now.”
Booking shows in SD:
“This city is brutal. You have the right shows lined up, and you think that you have a slam-dunk, and then it still doesn’t go well. You’re wondering what it was…it could have been so many different factors. At this point, it’s a very tough time period in San Diego with the amount of competition that there is. Luckily, we’ve been able to be one of the top places, even though we are so small.”
“We had Foster the People right when they broke. Their single came out on Monday, and we had them booked that Friday on a show that was, like, 5 dollars, and their guarantee was 200 bucks. I don’t even remember having tickets on sale. It was just out-the-door, extremely overwhelmed within the first hour. It was pretty funny. When stuff like that happens it’s often pretty exciting.”
Booking = Gambling:
“I always hate that it’s actually gambling…but I guess it is. I never had a gambling problem, nor do I like casinos. The way I see it is you’re buying to resell. That’s essentially what you’re doing. Is that gambling? Kind of, because you are rolling the dice to hopefully get your money back and more… and sometimes you don’t.”