Above: Queer Thursday Founders Vince Gutierrez, Cara Dolim, and Jonathan O'Valle
Probably one of the most difficult thresholds to cross for any band early on is finding places to play and actually getting booked at the venue. There's a myriad of questions and 'rules' out there, and most of them just heresay or complete fiction. We decided to reach out to local promoters and booking agents in and around the Long Beach music scene to ask them all the questions on your mind. So buckle up, Buckaroo.. this is one of the most informative interviews we've done to date!
Now lets jump in with Vince Gutierrez, one third of "Queer Thursdays", a monthly event which pops off every second Thursday at Que Sera.
- Every venue and evening has its own unique charm and draw, what are you looking for in a band / performer?
At Queer Thursdays we like to be all-inclusive when it comes to performers and their art, whatever medium that may be. What started as a mostly live music night eventually evolved into more of a variety show, where all of us freaks get to do our thing for one another in a safe space.
- How did you two get involved in the Long Beach music scene and how did that develop into you booking shows? (If you have a band or project, let’s hear about it!)
I met the late Josh Fischel in 2000 at a music camp when I was 13, he was the lead singer of Bargain Music from Long Beach and a voice coach at the camp. We kept in touch and watched each other perform throughout the years, and eventually it led to him reaching out to me in 2013 inviting me to join his rock theatre troupe, RIOTstage. That was my first taste of Long Beach, which grew into a love affair. I was living in Oakland at the time, and soon after that Josh and I were asked to run and book Live After 5 for the DTLBA for a couple of years. He eventually asked me to move here to help him start and run the Music Taste Good Festival in DTLB, which lasted from 2016-2018. Throughout that time, I was in bands in LA and Long Beach (tvheadsmusic / drugstheband), which helped me keep a log of bands I really liked to play with, and we could invite who we liked when we first started the night.
- What does your job entail? From inception to the end of the night of the show, what do you do?
We try to have somewhat of a theme for each night. Whether it's based on the music genre, drag, solo acts, or DJ's, its nice to have some sort of flow for the night. So we'll usually start there and build the night off of that. A lot of acts have been reaching out to us to play rather than us reaching out to bands like we've had to in the past. Each of us will get contacted by performers on the regular, and both of us go through our page DMs and watch or listen to see if they'll fit the night's theme. Once a lineup is ready to go, we send it to our good friend, and third partner in QT, Jonathan O'Valle who creates our flyers. At the Que Sera, we get there early to decorate a little and get our shit together at the door, and once the doors are open the night pretty much takes care of itself. We just have to not get too drunk to take care of anything that might come up!
- Let’s say a band hits at the check boxes to play your night.. but you've never heard of them. 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?
All of the above! We have a gmail account (queerthursdaysLBC@gmail.com), but most people just DM us either individually or in person. I always love it when new people introduce themselves at the event itself. It makes it easier to want to book them once you get to know them, too.
- What are your do’s and dont’s for bands you're booking? (can be before, during, and after the show)
As a musician myself, I usually say do what ya gotta do to get yourself noticed/seen/heard to get on people's radar. But one thing that is a bit of a pet peeve is bands dropping off the lineup at the last minute. Unfortunately it's been happening a lot more lately due to the virus, so we're a lot more understanding these days. Another thing that's not the best is when bands don't watch the other performers on stage. That's just been a personal thing of mine since I began touring earlier in life; always watch the bands you share a lineup with!
Above: Vince Gutierrez and Cara Dolim
- Is there a community of booking agents that communicate with each other?
I think the bookers in town are just as apart of the music community as the musicians are, because most of them are musicians and in bands themselves. Because we're mostly musicians as well, we get to see each other at other shows and talk shop about issues, bands, venues, etc.
- What’s something a band could do that would make you never want to book them?
No call / No show's. It's just rude. Also if you're a dick to anyone at the venue, especially toward the staff, we have a zero tolerance policy there. And fortunately we've only had to enforce it once or twice in our four year run.
- What is the easiest thing about booking?
It gets easier as our name starts becoming more household around town. Like I said before, now that we have bands and performers reaching out to us the easier it is to book a night without having to search for queer performers to play every month. Other than that, working with my best friends is awesome.
- What has been the most challenging?
For some reason finding a house DJ has been the hardest part lately. We can't seem to find any queer DJ's, sooo... CALLING ALL QUEER DJs! DM US!
- What is the coolest thing that’s ever happened at a night you booked?
One performer, Bonavega, a queer guitar playing shredder with a mullet and a speedo. He had dancers and performers with him who brought up a giant crucifix on stage and they tied him to the cross. He was also wearing a strap-on dildo and one of his "disciples" ended up deepthroating his strap-on while Bonavega was singing on the cross. It was pretty damn epic!
- How do you promote your night?
Right now we pretty much only do social media and word-of-mouth, but I'd like to start posting flyers and posters around town and possibly create some form of an old school street team.
- What do you consider a good turn out for a local band?
As long as people are through the door I call it a success! But, in reality I think that whenever there are people enjoying themselves in front of the stage and fully engaged, that's a good night. You know if you've ever been to Que Sera that it's a pretty funky room/layout. There's a big wall+fireplace separating half of the bar from the stage side. So it could be packed on the bar side and empty on the other, and vice versa, which can make or break a good performance depending on the crowd's engagement with the performer(s).
- How much co-promotion do you expect to see a band put out?
We at least expect them to repost the flyer on their main feed and stories as much as possible leading up to the event. Especially the day of the show.
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, we always pay our performers. We started out as a donation based cover at the door, but that wasn't very sustainable and had to pay a lot of performers out of pocket. So we decided a $5 cover would be fair enough and cheap enough not to deter anyone from coming, (we will also never turn anyone away for lack of funds). At the end of the night we tally up the drawer and split it up as evenly as possible, also taking into account whether or not if it's a band with a few members, or a solo act, we'll try and give the band a bit more.
- Does the venue pay you to book the evening?
Unfortunately, no. Que Sera only supplies the venue for us to do with as we please.
Queer Thursday's, every second Thursday of the month at Que Sera. $5 at the door