Not Just the Ticket — audience question #5

This does not count if we’re talking about a show you played, since I know there are musicians out there reading this and all — instead, this is as an audience member:

What is the smallest show you have ever attended, in terms of an actual paying audience? We’re not talking bedroom rehearsals or hanging with friends jamming in a garage or studio — an actual show with paid admission, somewhere.

In my case, probably a Yak Brigade show in 1996 or so in LA. Maybe…five? And that’s no slam on Yak Brigade, that’s probably more or less what we expected anyway, seeing as I came up from OC with the band.

10 Responses to “Not Just the Ticket — audience question #5”

  1. Thierry Says:

    Until last year, that “honour” went to a Flashing Lights set at a festival in Ottawa the early ’00s. I’m not sure what the organizers were thinking, but they scheduled the Flashing Lights (featuring Matt Murphy, formerly of the Superfriendz) at the same time as fellow East Coast power poppers Sloan, who were headlining on the main stage. Since fans of one of the bands were almost certainly fans of the other, it was inevitable that the audience would gravitate towards the more famous name, my girlfriend and I were left to watch the Flashing Lights play their hearts out for a half-dozen people.

    A close second was a Cale Parks & Lemonade show last year here in Toronto (which means that the bands had to drive up here and probably lost quite a bit of money) where the audience consisted of the openers, the bartenders, and 4 other people (and I don’t know how many had paid their way in – I was on the guestlist).

    • Ned Raggett Says:

      Two bands and five people? I salute their spirit — poor folks.

      Festival billing like that Flashing Lights show is always a bugbear. The best festivals somehow manage to escape the ‘overlapping sets’ scenario but those usually aren’t the BIG festivals, too many bands and not enough time.

      • Thierry Says:

        The thing that made me feel most sorry about the Flashing Lights’ set was this was an three-day festival with two stages and a tent, so it’s not like they couldn’t have scheduled them at another time that wouldn’t have conflicted with the most similar sounding (but much more popular) band on the lineup.

        As for Cale Parks and Lemonade, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel somewhat obligated to stick around until the end, and perhaps buy a beer that I normally wouldn’t have bought.

  2. Austin Says:

    I saw Matt Sharp (formerly of Weezer) sometime in 2002 or 2003 play a solo acoustic set to about twenty people.

    It was not bad-ish.

    ~Austin

  3. Jen Ludwick Says:

    I spent a lot of time working with indie bands in the 90s so attended a LOT of sparsely attended shows.

    However the one that sticks out in my mind is a mid-week show with Phonocomb. This band was made up of ex-members of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet – a band moderately known for creating the theme to Kids in the Hall.

    Anyways – there were about 5 others in attendance in addition to the record label staff. But one of the five was Fred Schneider from B-52s. It was just such an odd person to see at a mid-week show, in the winter, in Chicago.

  4. Chris Barrus Says:

    Couple different answers here…

    Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate played a solo show to an attentive crowd of zero at the UCI Student Center in the late 80s. I was actually working at the computer store around the corner and heard someone singing “Medicine Show” and was “wait a second…”

    I saw Bailter Space at Al’s Bar in ’98 (’99? it was their last tour) and there was maybe 10 people there to see them (the rest were playing pool or in the other room).

    The most dramatic example (in terms of crowd size vs. later success) would be the 1983 R.E.M. show at the Concert Factory in Costa Mesa. Maybe 30 – 40 people there?

  5. Robert Ham Says:

    The best I can think of was the Spectrum show I went to right after I moved to Portland, OR. One of Sonic Boom’s favorite bands Jessamine opened up, and they did a fine job to a pretty healthy crowd (they were locals after all). But after they were done, the room thinned out considerably leaving me and about 9 – 12 other people there.

  6. Robert Ham Says:

    Oooh, I just remembered another show – seeing The Lilys a few years ago in Portland and being one of no more than 8 people in attendance.

  7. mark reed Says:

    I saw Groundswell – 3/5ths of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – last gig in December 1999 in Wolverhampton : 8 people.


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