Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So you want to play the Red Sea?

Below, preserved for all time, is the unfathomably long and insane list of rules and requirements to play the Underground at the Red Sea, long since closed, a notorious dump of a venue in the basement of a middle eastern restaurant in the Delmar Loop with horrible management and even worse sound. This list is a thing of legend, and like a fine wine, just gets better with age. Enjoy.

From The Underground's Myspace Blog, dated Tuesday, April 03, 2007:


The Underground is committed to accomodating the artist as much as possible. Our philosophy is that the performer is the irreplacable heart & soul of a live music venue. Though we lack the funds to offer guarantees, we plan our shows to be as profitable as possible for local bands, and focus on exposing each act to as many new people as we can. We're working to change the "Me and my buddies against everyone" mentality in the St. Louis music-culture. The Underground and Underworld-X Productions will reward & encourage groups who are interested in other music, respectful of other artists, and mindful of the challenges and responsibilities incurred by the club and UX staff. In short--rock stars are NOT welcome at our venue. Musicians who happen to be also rock stars are very, very welcome--and simply musicians most of all.

Contacts: Kurt B, Booking/Venue Manager 314-XXX-XXXX Redseabooking@.com

Sarah M -- Booking/Production assistant 314-XXX-XXXX Shortsinger@.net

Rick D -- Booking/Promotion 314-XXX-XXXX


*Policy Blog Contents*

Booking -- National Acts

Booking -- Local & Regional Acts

Day-of-show policies

Payment for non-ticketed acts


Payment for Ticketed Bands/Ticket Distribution & Policies

BOOKING -- National/Touring Acts

The Underground @ Red Sea is happy to work with national/signed acts of all genres. We provide hospitality, early load-in/soundcheck, promotional help & a cooperative staff.

Please contact Kurt, Sarah, or Rick to book a show, or contact us via the Underground myspace.

If you have no ability or intention of drawing a substantial crowd on your own, the Underground is NOT a good choice for a touring band. Our draws are very event-specific & we rely on gate receipts to pay artists. However, if you have even a small-to-moderate draw, you will find the Underground a *much* more profitable gig than comparable-size STL clubs. We don't take a door-split of any net profits, even for sold out events. Our costs are low & all gate receipts past our overhead are paid to the musicians.

First-time-in-town bands are welcome, but we require cooperation, strong promotion and hard work. A draw of 15 people can be sufficient for a great show & healthy payout if the local acts also contribute. In this digital/internet age, it's possible to draw a modicum of fans even in a town you haven't played before. "Nobody knows us here" is no longer an excuse. We can't afford to pay you *any* sum of money if you draw less than 5 people, not due to malevolence but due to our finances. It's important that every independent touring band understands this before you book a show at Underground.

The venue has two stages & we are happy to host touring bands on either, as a separate program or part of a 2-stage show. Our upstairs, "acoustic" stage works very well for solo artists, acoustic trios, jazz, jam & experimental music, world music etc. Consider the "Underground" stage your primary target if you're a loud rock band, metal, punk band etc.

We do not work with tour "packages" unless there are only 2 bands in the group & at least one of them is a proven draw in town.

We will not agree to unconditional guarantees, but we are open to negotiating a door-split % or conditional guarantee for a proven act.

Touring shows can be either pre-sold or simple door-cover events. Tickets for any pre-sale touring event are on sale at the front door at every show leading up to the event.

We have a show spacing policy of *2* weeks either way in a 50 mi. radius for touring acts. This means that if you're playing STL/ Underground on a given date, you can't book another show within 2 weeks of that date in a 50 mile radius of the club.

Bands can load-in as early as 5 PM on a show day. Complimentary food, beverages, hot tea/lemon (for vocalists) and sound Q & A/early soundcheck are available. There is also a beer discount for musicians.

Any special sound/equipment/lighting needs must be communicated to the venue manager at least a week in advance of the tourdate. Please note the sound engineers' contact info at the bottom of these policies. Feel free to call our engineers at any time with questions before your date.

We have ample merchandise space & tables, and staff members on hand to help with merchandise setup & sales.

Load-in generally ends around 7 PM. It's the touring artist's responsibility to inform the club if you're going to be substantially late arriving. Bands may have their set cut or changed due to ignoring this policy.

Please arrange to stay at the venue until at least 11:30. No load-out is permitted until 11 PM & load-out may only take place during intermissions. Any band leaving before 11:30 (or 10:30 on a Sunday night show) will forfeit all payment.

We will book the local support acts, but please feel free to make suggestions & offer help in this regard. If you have a specific local band you'd like to play/trade shows with, chances are we can accomodate.

We can help print flyers, posters & handouts and also help web-promote for any touring show. We can also give you details contact sheets for local media outlets and print news, but it's the artist/management who must follow through and publicize the event.

We are all musicians ourselves & will go out of our way to help a hard- working touring band with accomodations, housing etc. Just ask.

Please read the other policy blogs concerning sound, age restrictions etc, and write down all of our contact info. Thank you for your interest in playing St. Louis at the Underground!

Kurt, Underground @ Red Sea

Booking -- Local Bands

Please get ahold of either Kurt, Sarah or Rick to book a show. Our contacts are listed at the top of the policy page. You can always email our myspace too, we check it and reply to every band every day.

The Upstairs Stage is open to acoustic artists, solo and otherwise, and we would love to hear from you about doing some shows. Jazz bands, funk/blues, experimental/world music and other less-noisy bands are also perfect for the upstairs stage.

Show Spacing -- All local & regional bands/acts are asked to adhere to a show-spacing of one week within a 50 mile radius of the club. This means that you can't book another show within 50 miles of the club that happens within a week of your Underground showdate. If you break this agreement we will try not to cancel your show, but will certainly (at least) postpone it to a different date.

Keep in mind that this doesn't affect your playing as a different act or with a different band within the week/radius specified, but only the specific band/act/promotion in question. In other words, if your original band The Vegetables is scheduled to play at the Underground on Jan. 1st, you can still book your cover band The Potatoes to play Cicero's on Jan. 2nd.

The reasons for this policy are twofold -- one, it protects your act's draw, and it prevents bands from taking advantage of the club's booking (i.e. as a "live rehearsal" show or some such tomfoolery).

Showtimes -- Doors are at 7 PM on Sunday night & at 7:30 or 8 PM on all other nights. Set times are listed on the Myspace/Underground show calendar within at least 10 days of the show. Sets are usually 45 mins. to one hour.

We are currently booking original local bands for 5 shows a week. Sunday shows are for new acts to the club, Wednesday-Saturday are (largely) ticketed events for bands which are established at the club. If you're a new band to us & your credentials or circumstances permit, however, it's not unheard of to be placed on a Weds-Sat show straight away. However, though our Sunday shows are excellent low-pressure nights for a new band to orient to the venue, we do try very hard on them and the Sunday staff is very professional. Unlike many other STL venues, we try equally hard & equally respect bands of all genres & at all of our events throughout the week.

Day-of-show policies

Load-in/soundcheck is from 5 to 7 PM on all shows. No soundchecks or warming up are permitted to the first band after doors open.

We do not allow load-out before 10:30, and load-out is only permitted during intermissions or after the show. Any band loading out & leaving before 10:30 will forfeit all uncollected payment & will not be welcome back, unless prior arrangements have been made. Please, sit down and listen and support the other artists. It's easy to do and generates a lot of goodwill.

Parking is available in front of the club and in the Brandt's/Red Sea lot to our left (if you're facing the building). You must load in and out through the front door. Even if all spots in the parking lot are taken, you can still pull in and use it to load into the club. You can put your equipment anywhere to the right of the stage or anywhere behind the DJ platform to the left/far wall as you walk in.

Upstairs acts, please put your equipment against the far wall of the restaurant, or in the circular booth to the left of the acoustic stage as you walk in. Do take care not to place sharp objects on top of the chair fabric or heavy objects on top of tables/chairs.

Please do not load any equipment into the seating area or in front of the bar downstairs. Bands who do this will be asked to move their equipment to the areas nearer the stage & away from the seating or bar areas.

Artists are not allowed to "call out" or criticise/insult the club, staff, other musicians or club patrons while onstage. Anyone found doing this will have their performance immediately cut, and be asked to leave the club. All payment for the show will be forfeited. So be professional and classy & if you're not, be greedy and smart.

Admission is now always 16+ or 18+ and all-ages are welcome with parent or guardian present. The bars are still open for those of you 21+. No worries.

VIP's -- Each band receives *1* "buddy/wife/groupie" guest and unlimited music-media guests. A media person can be someone who writes for any publication or who does any webpage stuff for the band, but it can't just be a friend of the band who is taking pictures or filming the show. A professional photographer is fine as an extra VIP.

Also, any musicians with an upcoming showdate at the club are granted free admission to any show leading up to their date.

Obvious point, but the amount of VIP's being let into a show free is in inverse relationship with what we are able to pay the bands, and we love to pay bands large amounts of money for the effort. So we keep it pretty strict on the guest list.

(Our doorpeople have probably heard every single kind of bullshit imaginable by tough, insanely cool, wealthy, hip, superior people trying to squirm out of paying 5$ or 6$ to see 15-20 people play their asses off on 2 stages for 4 hours to entertain them.

"I'm with the band" (The time-honored classic. This one will be responded to simply: Are you watchin or playin?" "Watchin" warrants a paid cover.)

"I'm drummer/singer xyz's girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband." (Love is a beautiful thing. So is paying bands to play. 5$ please.)

"I just be here cause...I know the boss I...I just be here to..." (usually accompanied by lots of shuffling and hand motions) No comment.

"I carry shit." Bands do too. As in unpaid bands. As in grudges.)

Occasionally we have an ugly situation where all of a band's wives are not let in free, and the band or wives (or both) feel this is a terrible slap. I have had musicians walk out on shows due to this. One woman drove 2 hours back home instead of paying a small cover. It begs the question, why did you marry someone who you don't feel is 5 dollars worth of a musician?

All jokes aside, we dislike when that stuff happens and are willing at any point to explain our guest-list policy. It's a small-volume club and our nightmare situation is having a hoppin' showroom and no door money to pay the bands. UX is run by musicians and we don't want anyone to feel ripped off, ever. Or to think we're playing favorites by giving 5 guests to one band & less to another band.

I am available to discuss & further explain any of these policies. Thanks for reading and we look forward to working with you.

Kurt, UnderworldX

Payment For Non-Ticketed Acts

On a non-ticketed show, all door profits >50$ on the upstairs stage or >75$ on the Underground stage (staff overhead) will be paid to the musicians. We do tally the door, but if everyone contributes somewhat to the draw, the payouts are usually evenly split. The door tally exists only to uncover any artist who clearly did not work at all to promote the show, or reward those who draw an excellent number.

On weekend shows in the Underground room, the overhead increases to 90-120$.

Host Bands. One act per stage typically "hosts" each installment of the Wednesday showcases or Thursday "Elements Of" series. Host bands play for a strong % of door-receipts & play both an opening and closing set. This can be very lucrative & exposure-heavy, but does require a lot of promotion skills, material and energy.

Occasionally, opening or headlining local acts on weekend ticketed shows play for door receipts as well.


Hi, this is your friendly chief soundguy at the Underground. There are plenty of things bands need to know and understand about our venue & sound system to give yourselves and everyone else involved a good, low- stress show.

1. DO BRING A POWER STRIP OR TWO. We do have an extension cable available, and a few house power strips, but in general your time will be much easier getting power to the stage with some additional equipment of your own.

2. If you are playing downstairs and your band might need more than one direct-in, bring a few direct-in boxes. This would apply to cabinet-less keyboardists and bassists, or a vocalist bringing their own efx boards that do not have a XLR balanced output.

3. OVERDOING STAGE VOLUME WILL KILL THE AUDIENCE AND BURY YOUR VOCALS. The Underground stage (& to a lesser extent the acoustic stage) is a very, very loud setting. We rarely have to reinforce any intruments and we are dependant on you realizing you don't have to max out to be loud at all. If you play very loud we will not stop you, but do recognize it will bury the vocals as we can only push them so far.

Another problem with too much stage volume is feedback. Every band is different, and temperature and humidity both can have an effect.

Even death metal bands sound very good at the Underground if you are willing to work with us on your stage volume and levels. Get there early and talk to the soundman & do a soundcheck if possible. Set your ego aside if asked to turn down. It really, really helps.

4 LOAD-IN AND SOUNDCHECK. DO GET THERE WHEN YOU'RE ASKED TO BE THERE. If you are the first act on either stage, go right to setting up your equipment. If possible forward any specific vocal mic requirements ahead of time to Kurt, so the staff can prepare accordingly.

Please do not play before a show/soundcheck. Tune up, certainly but turn off until asked to play. We have to communicate with people and get numerous levels through the PA, and your instruments are often very loud. IF YOU JAM RANDOMLY OR FOR FUN BEFORE A SHOW, YOU WILL BE ASKED TO STOP, BUT DON'T BE PERSONALLY OFFENDED. It's just what's needed in an intimate club setting.

During soundcheck, I am probably going to suggest soemone turn down. Its the odds. The Underground room, especially, is a huge amplifier. On occasion I do ask people to turn up. If I ask that, take it as a compliment. You've already started earning my respect as a performer.

5. DO RESPECT THE EQUIPMENT. Don't throw or abuse microphones. Our policy when that happens is to turn you off and allow you to break things elsewhere. If you really feel the need to smash equipment, feel free to bring your own.

Do NOT wrap your hand around the ball of the mic or grope the mic near the top. Do hold it around the middle.

If you have a strong, powerfully projecting voice, don't "swallow" or put your mouth over/on the grill. Sing off of it an inch. If you have a weak/soft voice, you need to be very into the mic's. It's the simplest way to boost your voice over the music.

The monitors at Underground are ample enough to reach the ears of any metal or punk band. If its not working for you, refer to the info on stage volume.

IF YOU WANT TO BRING YOUR OWN MIC: Great! I love a nice mic... as long as you know what its specs are and if its a cardiod, hypercardiod, shotgun, omni.. or whatever, so you can let us know. Also, I would like to know how hot the mic is. That really helps.

6. ROOM LEVELS. We have ample speakers for the room as long as the band isn't too loud. We have a recurring issue with the horns blowing because we are constantly faced with trying to stay above very obnoxiously loud musicians. Then again, stage volume that is hurting ears is not what we want anyway.

Basically speaking, we bend over backward to boost loud bands' vocals and PA sounds as much as possible, and respect your creative choices at each turn. But it is against the ethics of our club to risk people's health for the sake of "creative choice," so when a band reaches the ear-pain threshold (it does happen often & NOT just with metal bands), you will be asked (politely) to turn down.

Bands playing above the ear-pain threshold who refuse to turn down after two or three requests will be turned off & asked to leave.

7. DJ's. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE OUTPUTS THAT GO INTO AN XLR SNAKE. Or, bring appropriate transformers that will send a balanced signal.

Also, your sound levels will be governed by the house. Our feeling is that a DJ should be loud enough to be heard and felt, but quiet enough to allow people to talk. Our shows are not raves, and we try to encourage a communal crowd which sticks around all night. If our intermission DJ's are too loud, that chases some folks away.

If you perform between band sets, be ready at the end of a bands set to go on and expect to only play 10-15 minutes between sets. You may get cut off for a small sound check before the band goes on. I usually try to fade you out nicely. The show manager (usually Kurt) may have you turned down though my controls. If you have any questions about your apparent levels ask me and I will gladly fill you in if I haven't already.

8. KEYBOARDISTS, WHEN POSSIBLE, SHOULD BRING AN AMP AND CABINET. Bassists and Guitarists are asked to bring one, after all. I can use a DI if you don't have one, but your levels are at the discretion of the club as well as the band. Again, bring an amp if possible, it's a loud room and even small amps are plenty powerful.

9. SOUND REINFORCEMENT BEYOND VOCALS. I generally do not need to reinforce most instruments in either room. The exceptions being a exceptionally dampened kick, a weak amp, or an acoustic/acoustic electric guitar sans amp. DO bring acoustic-electric guitars! We don't have the best situation (upstairs especially) for trying to mic an acoustic guitar. Especially if you are a quiet strummer. Also remember to bring a 1/4" cable to plug your guitar into the PA head upstiars or the direct box downstairs. 20' Cable recommended highly.

10. DO RESPECT THE SOUNDMAN'S PROFESSIONALISM. If something is going wrong, he's probably already trying to figure it out. It's important to keep complaints thought-out and reasonable, and do refrain from calling out the soundman on stage.

If you get feedback or a cut-out onstage, first just try to make sure the mic is up and away from the monitors and mains and you aren't holding the ball of the mic. Sometimes I am just testing out your headroom and some feedback rings out. I am usually right on that, and its very very temporary. If it sounds shaky during the first 2 or 3 minutes, give us time, we'll make it better. Remember, we work hard and make a close study of our equipment in order to help you. We're all in this together!

11. LET US KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP YOU. Often bands will play an entire set, unhappy with a monitor mix or getting complaints from the front row, but not letting the staff know so we can fix it. We often check side-stage with the band between songs, but it's up to you to communicate any problems or concerns. We love to hear how we can make it sound better (onstage or in the crowd) if you let us know respectfully.

12. If you want major vocal effects, do bring your own effects units and have a way to control them onstage yourself; make you you're prepared to output to a balanced connection of XLR or 1/4".

13. Your front-line should not try to use more than 3 mics due to limited stage space.

14. If the sound guy is working 2 stages and is temporarily unavailable, please be patient. DO NOT ARBITRARILY START SETTING UP THE MICS YOURSELVES. This creates confusion and can upset the sound situation & your abilities to sound professional onstage. We work to be as prompt as possible with all band set-ups and checks.

15. If you have a rider for stage placement or specific equipment needs of any kind, please forward to Kurt in care of the soundguy. Helps me immensely. Or, feel free to give me a call.

16. Finally, if you meet the owner, Tesfiye, at the club, be sure to compliment how far the sound system has come along and that the musicians really benefit as things get better. Any forms of encouragement help in getting him to spend money to upgrade and keep things moving along.

Thanks for reading! We look forward to working with all of you.

Dave W.

Chief Sound Engineer, Underground @ Red Sea


UPDATED -- Advance tickets/reserved tickets

Dear team,

Almost all of our shows involve pre-sold tickets, but our ticketed shows are "real life ticketed shows" -- tickets are printed & sold at an advance price through available channels, and the bands keep a high % of the proceeds. The advance/reserve seats are sold at a lower price & it helps your draw to get the paper tickets out, but no band is ever given a minimum amount to sell, and we never ask for a $ deposit or out-of-pocket payment from any band.

200 TO 300 TICKETS ARE PRINTED FOR EACH SHOW. This is cogent on whether the show is being held on one stage or both stages, due to the capacity of the club.

You will need to come to the club & pick up advance tickets, VIP passes & a reserve sheet. These will be available in a "bundle" with your name on it. You can pick up tickets anytime from 6 - 12 on any night of the week, from the bartender upstairs or (during show hours) the UX staff. Your tickets will be available within 3 weeks of your show date, beginning with the show on February 15th. If you're booked before mid-February, be sure to call or write & ask about the availability of your tickets before coming out (we're fairly caught up and you should normally get them within 2 weeks of the event regardless).

Usually a band will receive 50 tickets, 3 VIP passes and a will-call (reserve) sheet.

Tickets are sold through the musicians at a set advance price, usually 5$ for a local show. Any sold paper tickets must be given to the purchaser at the time of purchase.

Anyone wanting a ticket for the show but who can't meet up with a band member (or just finds it inconvenient) only has to have their name/s added to this will-call sheet. Anyone on the will-call sheet can simply come to the show anytime day-of-event & will have a ticket (at the advance price & marked with the specific band name) waiting for them. They can purchase the ticket at the advance price & its sale will be credited to your payment.

All proceeds from the total amount of paper tickets + will-call tickets sold in each band's name is kept by that band, minus 25$ for the house staff. If you don't sell 25$ worth of tickets (most advance tickets are 5$ so this amounts to just 5 tickets), you are NOT responsible to pay 25$ anyway. If you sell absolutely zero tickets, you don't owe any money & you still get to play the show.

Finally, if any band has over *10* DOS door-covers collected in your name, you'll receive a bonus payment from that as well.

All proceeds from your sold tickets, plus any unsold non-VIP tickets must be turned in to the club staff before doortime the night of the show. Basically, you are responsible for 5$ a head on whatever tickets not turned back in. Also, no tickets may be distributed on the venue premises except by the club staff.

Anyone whose name is not on the will-call sheet & does not have a ticket by doortime, must pay the DOS door-cover to get in. No anonymous ticketholders are allowed on the will-call sheet (you must have names for each person reserving an advance ticket).

Please be professional and courteous. If you forgot to list a name of someone reserving a ticket, waiting for them to show up, running to the door & giving frantic instructions to the doorgirl is NOT an allowable method of handling the situation. Also, PLEASE do not stand by the doorperson and attempt to lead them along the entire time in helping your reserve ticketholders. You can, however, quietly ask to add names to your reserve list before the show begins.

Also, "purchasing" tickets yourselves to be given to people at the door (in exchange for their repayment later or some other nefarious scheme) is not allowed. If someone wants a ticket before the show but can't make it to see you, simply add them to the reserve list -- that's what it's there for.

The total of your adv/reserve ticket proceeds (minus 25$) plus any bonus money from DOS covers will be paid to the band at load-out.

This is a very low-risk and profitable system for the bands. The 25$ kick-back pays the staff, the promoter makes money *if* they put together a hot show that draws a lot of DOS covers, and each band can make decent money for pulling even an average crowd.

A walk-through for anyone confused:

Your band, the Vegetables, books at show at the Underground. You come out and pick up 50 tickets (priced at 5$ advance) and a will-call sheet. Each band member sells a few themselves and you get a dozen or so emails or calls asking for reserved seats on will-call. You pool what money & paper tickets you have and find you've sold 24 paper tickets adding up to 120$.

When you arrive for load-in, you give the club staff the 120$ and the 26 unsold tickets. Later, *7* people on the will-call sheet come in and are given ticket stubs for the advance price of 5$. At the end of the show, you are given the whole amount of your advance + reserve proceeds, minus 25$ -- for a payment of 130$.

Or, let's say you're heroic and do a great job of promoting the show. If you sell 50 tickets at 5$ each, you keep 225$ at the end of the night. If say, 20 more people show up and pay the DOS cover (usually 6$) to see you, you then also receive a bonus of 60$ (for getting 10 people over the *10* mark in dos covers). This amounts to a profit of 285$.

Finally, let's say the band falls asleep for a month and wakes up the day before the show, and sells only *2* tickets. Again, the band is NOT responsible for money not made from tickets. In this case, you hand in your 38 unsold tickets and the 10$ taken in and that's that. You don't make any money if you tank, but you aren't asked to recoup anything (though the club and booking agent DO lose money in that situation, but we take that risk) and you still get the exposure of playing the event with the other bands.

You will be asked to let us know that you've read & understood these policies. Thanks for playing the Underground, and we look forward to working with you. I am available to answer any questions at 314-XXX-XXXX.

Kurt, UX