Event Spotlight: Indie Nights
Who? What? Where?
Hey, we’re Michael and Jose and we organize a monthly indie rock event called “Indie Nights”, a showcasing of indie rock musicians and art vendors from the Long Beach/LA/IE area! We’ve been doing this for about a year, originating from backyard shows to having residency at Que Sera in Long Beach. We promote and book talent in Long Beach, LA and IE.
How did you get involved in the Long Beach music scene and how did that develop into you booking shows? Do you yourself have a band or project, let’s hear about it!
(Michael) It all began when I moved here beginning of 2021 from the Bay Area and I started serving in a restaurant where I met the DJ duo Las Chicas Tristes! They kind of took me under their wing and were nice enough to introduce me to many Long Beach musicians and artists and show me what the scene was really about. Shouts out to Letty and Benny! I can never thank them enough.
Around the same time Jose and I met in line at Clancy’s earlier last year (drunk as hell) and we had been best friends ever since. Jose had mentioned he had a band and that he plays locally. We went back to my spot with a couple friends for the afterparty and saw an opportunity to throw a kick ass show in the backyard. Jose already had many connections and was involved in the IE/LA music scene, booking his own band Couch $urf and other local bands.
(Michael) I’m a house and disco DJ based in Long Beach (DJ Little Son) and I am also a guitarist in a band called Billy & The Kids!
(Jose) – I started playing the drums at church 17 years ago and have learned how to play the guitar, uke and piano. I am in two bands, Billy & The Kids and Couch $urf. . I’ve also recently started acting in an independent film for a movie called “The Red”.
Indie Night Founders Michael (left) and Jose (right)
What does your job entail? From inception to the end of the night of the show, what do you do?
We handle booking, promotion, payment, and any necessary hiring. During and before the show we basically direct and communicate with the bands and venue the whole night to ensure the night goes as smooth as possible, answering any questions or concerns the bands might have.
Every night has its own unique charm and draw, what are you looking for in a band / performer?
We are mostly looking for driven and passionate artists who can bring the energy. Put on fun show and get people moving, that’s basically all we ask. Indie Nights has always been about the people. We want people to feel comfortable and to have fun!
Let’s say a band hits at the check boxes to play your night.. what’s the best way for them to reach out and share their music? Email? IG? Or should they come introduce themselves in person at a show?
It’s always best when artists come introduce themselves in person, because it always makes for a better connection. We are always active on social media, so Instagram is the next best way to communicate quickly and efficiently on anything, especially booking. Our DMs are always open! @indienightslbc
Email works just as efficiently, it is also a more formal approach.
above: The Sex Skeletons
what are your do’s and do not's for bands you’re booking, before, during, and after the show?
-It always helps when everyone is on time because it makes for a much smoother process! Beforehand always ask for any equipment needed or special input such as midi keyboards, tracking, etc. Communication is everything!
During the show we would like for everyone to be respectful to the other bands, crowd, staff, time slots, and venue. Being respectful towards everyone is definitely a precondition for anyone we book!
After the show, just be good humans in the world!
is there a community of booking agents that communicate with each other?
-There’s a lot of good and creative people in Long Beach who host events and have their own thing going on. Long Beach’s music scene as a whole just has its own network of agents, organizers, and talent.
what’s something a band could do that would make you never want to book them?
-We are very patient and understanding people, so it takes a whole lot to sever a relationship with us. That being said, there are basically two things that would want us to never book a band again Disrespecting the venue, fellow concertgoers and staff. Basic respect is expected.
The second thing would be to cancel last minute with no excuse. We understand that life is very unpredictable, and things do happen, but if it a band becomes too unreliable, we probably won’t continue to book them. We’ve had bands cancel on us days before a show, and that makes it tough to find a replacement in a reasonable amount of time.
What's the easiest thing about booking?
-The easiest thing about booking bands is finding talent! There are so many talented people in the SoCal area that are waiting for a chance to shine. At the same time, it’s tough choosing bands when there are so many good options!
what’s been the most challenging?
-During the backyard days, our biggest problem were the cops shutting down our Indie Nights events, due to noise complaints. With our residency at Que Sera and a great team supporting Indie Nights, it’s rare that we run into any serious problems. If anything, sometimes it’s hard to keep the time slots concrete because of unexpected delays. That’s why it’s crucial that everyone is on time and staying loyal to set times.
What is the coolest thing that’s ever happened at a night you booked?
-At our last Indie Nights event, the power shut off at Que Sera at the end of one of the bands sets, which actually created a staple in the night as that has never happened before in the history of Que Sera. Everyone cheered when the lights went off because they thought it was part of the act, but me and Jose knew what had really happened.
During the backyard days, a wholesome moment where firefighters from the fire station next to my house came to enjoy the show. You could also see the firefighters sitting on the roof of their fire station watching the show and jamming out! Indie Nights is really for anyone!
how do you promote your night?
-Our favorite method of promoting is through word of mouth and flyers! You can find our posters up and down 4th St in Long Beach. We also have paid promotion through Instagram.
what do you consider a good turn out for a local band?
-A good night to us means its’ hard to get a drink at the bar! Haha just kidding. If everyone is smiling and having a good ass time, then we know it was a good show. We want people to talk about Indie Nights like its Disneyland. A community event to look forward to!
How much co-promotion do you expect to see a band put out?
-We don’t rely too much on our artists for promotion, as it is our job to get the word out and get people interested. It is obviously highly encouraged to promote as much as possible from all angles though! The more the bands post, the better. But we do most of it.
The Business: (the nitty gritty ish)
do you pay the bands that play? How do you figure out what they earn at the end of the night?
-Yes of course! We always pay our bands handsomely. We pay based off entry fee and turnout.
Photo above: Deth Coast
Does the venue pay you to book the evening?
-No, we pay the venue to host our events.
What kinds of agreements are made between booking agents and establishments?
-One of the agreements is that we pay a fee to the house for the space/sound system. It’s also required that we have our own person handing the cash at the front door. Every place has its own agreements and rules, but this is specifically ours. Shout out to the man Matias from Que Sera! You rock dude!
Photo credits: FivePercentLIfeBattery