Sunday, 23 June 2013

James Balcombe / Osmium Guillotine

Name: James Balcombe

Band: Osmium Guillotine (

Where: London

I play drums in a 'traditional' Heavy Metal band, based in Essex. 

A couple of years back, we received a message via the band's Facebook page from a London-based promoter, saying he'd listened to our music and really liked what we're doing, and had a great gig opportunity at a well-established venue in London, with a suitable line-up of bands that would really work with our style of music and a headline band that will pack the place out.

Up to this point we hadn't played many gigs in London, so it all sounded like a good chance to play to a new crowd. I made sure to explain to the fella that as we haven’t got much of a ‘following’ in London (other than a few mates) that we couldn’t promise to bring a big crowd of people, but that we would be more than happy to play an early/opening slot for free, as it would be a good way to help us build up a local following. He agreed that this was fine, and that we’d have an early slot on the bill.

After this the promoter kept repeatedly phoning me up at least once a week, each time, bizarrely, just to ask me things like “How I was doing” and if I was “looking forward to the gig” which all seemed like an odd thing to phone me up for, but fair enough. 

He also wanted to make sure I’d set up a Facebook event and invited people, which naturally I already had done, I asked if he could let me know the other bands on the bill so I could check them out and include them on the event page, and also if there was a gig flyer I could share about, but he insisted that the full line-up would be revealed nearer the date and was to remain a secret for the time being. Odd.

A bit closer to the gig date, he phoned me again, revealing that there’d be a slight change of plan to the line-up and that we were now the “heaviest” band on the bill, and also that we’re expected to bring at least 30 people to the gig, so he wanted me to give a list of names to put them on the guest list – I reiterated our earlier conversation that I can’t promise we’ll bring that many people, hence why we’re due to go on early as a support. He agreed that's fine.

When it got to the week of the gig, we finally got to see the gig poster, and found that the headline band were in fact nothing like us in terms of musical style, they were a female-fronted Indie/Pop band. There were 7 acts on the bill; 3 of them, including the headliners, were best described as Indie or very light Pop-Rock, the other 3 were acoustic solo performers, and then of course there was us, a bunch of Metalheads standing out like a sore thumb.

Fair enough though we thought, a gig iss a gig, we’ll see how it goes.

On the actual night we discovered that the running order had been changed – And that we were now playing last on the bill, with a stage time AFTER the ‘headline’ band had played! 

Not only that, but by the time we hit the stage, the bar was closed, and there was literally no indication to the remaining crowd that there was actually another band due on (the penultimate band’s name was the big bold one at the top of the gig poster with a big full colour photo of the band, whilst we were in very small print down the bottom, so why would anyone assume another band would be coming on?). Naturally they’d all started filing out after the headliners had finished, before we rocked up on stage to small selection of mostly drunken hangers-on and a few of our mates. 

The headline band took most of their gear with them (which we’d been previously informed by the promoter that we were to share to save time/space), so instead we were forced to use the venue's house amps (which were battered, falling apart and sounded pretty terrible). The only gear belonging to the headliners we were allowed to use was their drum kit. Had we known all this was the case we’d have happily brought our own gear.

We played the set, which went alright given the circumstances.

Then, as we were packing up and leaving, the promoter gave me a bollocking for us not bringing a big enough crowd. And then, finally, the headline band’s drummer also had a go at me for apparently “scratching” his drum kit, which was complete nonsense.

So all in all; a pretty rubbish gig, which basically just cost us the time and money, and all caused by lying promoters constantly bending the truth.

I've since discovered that they no longer promote gigs at the venue in question.

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