Photograph by Matthew Suárez
The Electric Waste Band doesn’t trust anyone over 80.
Friday the 13th of March capped off a week that most Americans will never forget. The NBA had shut down the remainder of their season that Wednesday, and the NHL followed suit the next day. Nationwide, many citizens were starting to distance themselves from one another as they acquainted themselves with a new version of normal.
It was a strange moment of transitioning in the music world, as well. In San Diego, local music venues were still hosting live bands with large crowds on that night. At Winstons in Ocean Beach, a band called The Elevotors played. One hundred ninety tickets had been pre-sold for the show according to Winstons talent buyer Ted Wigler, but only about half of the purchasers showed up.
“Those hundred people they were right on top of each other,” Wigler explained. “They were going to the bathroom, and they were drinking, and they were hugging, and they were probably smoking joints together — the whole deal. They were not buying into it. That’s sort of the thing. It is so divisive that it’s almost like ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ Do you believe in God? A lot of people have this level of what they are going to believe in. I believe in science.”
The following morning that night’s band, Easy Wind, canceled due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Winstons pulled off an impromptu karaoke that night which featured multiple microphones that would constantly be switched out for the safety of the participants.
“Really, we were operating those last days sort of blind — unaware of how the transmission was going on. Masks were not part of the equation at all. We were way more on hand-sanitizer. That logic,” Wigler said.
The venue shut down early the next night, March 15, and began their long term closure the following day. On that night, March 16, the Electric Waste Band became the last band to play The Winstons stage. They did a streaming performance for an in-house audience of two (sound engineer and live-streaming guru) and whoever chose to tune in to the concert online.
Since then the club has been shuttered. Wigler suspects that bars will be one of the last businesses to get the greenlight for reopening — ‘Put three drinks into five people and you think they want to stay in their area?’ he mused — but he does have a concept for how Winstons can adapt.
“We are looking to semi-reinvent,” he said. We understand that you are going to have to do online streaming. How do you monetize that for the bands to make some money?”
Wigler’s concept is for Winston’s to operate with a reduced capacity for in-house audiences (perhaps 50 patrons) while live-streaming all their events to a larger, online, audience as well. He is considering going pretty big with this concept by potentially booking more expensive ($3000 — $5000) acts and charging $50 per head.
“That’s what I’m thinking. If I’m only allowed to do 50 people, this is how I have to do it. Are 50 people willing to spend more? Sort of like a bottle service philosophy or a private club?” Wigler hopes so. Meanwhile, his plan is to begin the new streaming era of Winstons this week.
“That is the game plan. Before we are open to the public, I’m going streaming. I’m turning that room into a streaming room.”