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 Booking


note to bands on our calendar:
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Booking E-mail address: booking@bottomofthehill.com.

Booking contacts for other clubs in the Bay Area: All of the Bay Area
 Additionally: List of clubs in the Bay Area: San Francisco | East Bay  
   note: these lists are from years ago and are no longer updated

ALL LOCAL BANDS/ARTISTS

Once you've booked a show at the Bottom of the Hill, make sure you come down to the club before your show. You may think of special requirements or get some great ideas about your presentation. The Bottom of the Hill is pretty well equipped to make your show here a special event.

Pick up the calendar and check your listing. Make sure your band name is spelled correctly. As we all know, band names can be quite oblique and that's all well and good, but you shouldn't expect the whole world (specifically our bookers) to know instinctively how to spell your band name. For example if your band is called "The Isle of Ewes" it's not really cricket to call up the week of the show all upset because you saw an ad where it appeared as "The I Love Yous." We're not mind readers, and as a general assumption... No, we haven't heard of you. So please spell out your band name to us, even if it seems obvious to you. After years and years of drug abuse, we have diminished mental capacities.

Here are some, hopefully, useful guidelines which apply to almost every show that's booked at the Bottom of the Hill. There are exceptions to these rules so please make sure you've checked with the bookers about your specific show.

Most of the time we have 3 bands on the bill for any given night. Sunday through Thursday shows usually start at 9:00 PM. On Fridays and Saturdays shows usually start at 10PM. Sometimes we may have an early show in the afternoon, starting at 3 or 4 PM.

For most shows the Headliner loads-in and sound-checks first. The support band follows suit a half hour later and the opener a half hour after that. The following chart works as a guideline for most shows we do at the Bottom of the Hill. Again, there are MANY exceptions to this, so please always check with the bookers about the specifics of your show.

Load-In Sound-Check Set Time Set Length
Headliner 6:30PM 7:00PM M/Th 11:00PM
F/Sa Midnight
Up to 1 hour
Support 7:00PM 7:30PM M/Th 10:00PM
F/Sa 11:00PM
40 minutes
Opener 7:30PM 8:00PM M/Th 9:00PM
F/Sa 10:00PM
40 minutes


You should pick one person in the band (or a road manager, or agent...etc.) to be the point person for the band. There will be forms to fill out, drink tickets to be got, guests to accommodate... etc. It's easier if there is a designated person for each band.

When you get to the club, the first thing your point person should do is find our sound engineer. That person is the stage manager for the evening. Introduce yourself to him/her. At that point you will be asked to load your gear to the area directly in front of the stage.. Drummers should start setting up their hardware.

Please be as flexible as you can. Realise that unexpected things come up all the time so you may need to sound check at a different time than you expected. Or you may need to switch your set time. When problems arise with the logistics of the show, it's best to be patient and as flexible as possible -- we want to try to preserve a good vibe to the night. Work with the sound person to come to a suitable compromise if these situations arise. Realise, we ALL want a good show for you. No-one is working against you.


HOSPITALITY

Your point person needs to know what to expect with regards to hospitality. All the details of your hospitality will have been worked out with one of the bookers at the time the show was booked. Here are some important points to remember --

  1. If you have a contract, you should know your hospitality rider. If not, there will have been a verbal agreement with the booker.
  2. The dressing room is our office by day. If you need to use it, then you need to make that arrangement in advance with the booker. On some nights we simply do not have enough staff to open the dressing room.
  3. We assign our hospitality based on the number of people in the band. (That means people who perform on stage) Please don't show up the day of the show and ask for drink tickets for sound people, light people, video people, merch people, backstage sex-slaves, indigent dwarfs, Red Cross volunteers... etc. If you need hospitality to include these people, then you need to make that arrangement with the bookers in advance of the show.
  4. Before we can pay the band, we need a representative of the band to fill out a couple of forms.
    • The first of these is the Guest List. On the top of this form is a section where you fill in the names of each of the people in the band. Each of these people is allowed two guests. Again, band members include performing members of the band only. Road crew belong on your Guest List. We have been known to make allowances in this regard -- always ask in advance.
    • The other of the two forms is a Band Info and Tax ID form. This form doesn't peg you for an IRS audit or set you up for surveillance by the FBI. Simply stated, it is legal proof that the club paid someone the proceeds from the door. That's why we need a person's name, mailing address, social security number and signature. The IRS will never see these forms unless we get audited and then it only shows that someone exists who received some sum of money. We appreciate your cooperation with these forms.



FIRST TIME BANDS

How do I go about getting a show at the Bottom of the Hill?

DO NOT SEND A DEMO unless it has been requested.

The ground rules:

The Bottom of the Hill has no "foot traffic." We mean ZERO -- a null set. No-one comes to the club except to see the bands.

You should feel ready to play the Bottom of the Hill -- essentially this means that if you played a Monday night at the club, you'd feel very confident that 40 - 50 people would come to see your band. If you don't feel that's the case, that's okay. It doesn't mean you suck. it just means that you should wait a bit before playing this particular club. You shouldn't be in a big hurry to play to nobody and that's what happens if you play before you're ready.

When you play the Bottom of the Hill the first time, you are making a statement about your band. We're looking to see a lot of different things about your band:
  1. What does your music sound like live?
  2. What size crowd do you draw?
  3. What kinds of people come to your shows.
  4. What other bands are you friends with or do you go well with?
  5. How easy are you to work with?
  6. How loud do you play?
When we put together a show for your first time through the Bottom of the Hill, we're trying to get a good vibe going in the club: a party atmosphere. The most important thing is to create the conditions that are most likely to bring out your friends and fans and make them feel at home.

This is why we want you to play out a bit before coming to us. You should establish a rapport with other bands and musicians. You should build a wee bit of name recognition first. Here's a comprensive list of booking contacts for other clubs in the Bay Area for your convenience.

How do you do that? Remember, even dwarfs start small (Werner Herzog) so play the smaller clubs. Play the Sushi Sundays, and the demo Saturdays, play the Co-op parties, the rent parties, the (lord help us) frat parties and start a mailing list. Send your demo to "Demo Tape of the Week" -- try to get some press. Target your audience, figure out who is likely to like your stuff and concentrate on those types of events. Are you an artsy band? Then do that art opening. Are you political? Then take your acoustic guitars to that protest march.

When you start getting shows, PLAY THE ROOM. Meaning: don't play at 150 decibels at the Hotel Utah. If your artistic integrity demands that you play at that volume, then DON'T PLAY THE UTAH. You don't do anyone any favours by blowing their eardrums while keeping your integrity intact.

Make sure you go see other bands. If you like their work, introduce yourself. Give them a tape of your music. Make that connexion. Often times your first fans will be other musicians.

If no-one will book you, book yourself. Throw a warehouse party. Make some noise. We can only accommodate roughly 90 acts per month. Since EVERYONE IN THE WORLD has a band that means that roughly 5,999,999,910 bands DON'T play our club each month. Where else can we play? Check our venue directory for other clubs and phone numbers -- but try to keep in mind that there are alternatives to playing in established "rock" venues. Bob Dylan built his reputation at cafe's, Crash Worship at warehouse parties and raves, Ani DiFranco playing every little corner of this fair land out of the a beat up VW bug... on and on.

It isn't easy, we know. But that's the very essence of why some things are special -- if there weren't some effort involved, then it wouldn't mean anything. Try some of these ideas. Do you have other ideas? Send us your feedback. We'll be happy to pass on good advice on these web pages.


SHOULD I TAKE ANY SHOW THAT'S OFFERED TO ME?

No. Be smart about the shows you take. In the beginning it's not wise to be too choosy, but before too long you should start turning down shows that don't make sense. Realise that more is going on than just a show being played. You are being associated in the minds of the audience with the other bands on the bill and with the venue and with that night.

As your name begins to appear in print, most of the people who see it won't be coming to the show, but as they flip through the Weekly or the Guardian they may have some sense of what you're like based on the kind of bands you're playing with.

example: You see this ad as you flip through the Guardian --

Appearing Tonight at
Rick's House of Death
Make Your Ears Bleed with:
IRON MAIDEN
on their 1999
Eviscerated by Satan Tour
and: Napalm Death
Special Guests:
Some Band You've Never Heard Of



What might Some Band You've Never Heard Of sound like? What's your guess?

  1. Strident, relevant lesbian folkies, like the Indigo Girls
  2. Smooth soul, a la Anita Baker
  3. You can never tell because we're all so eclectic and One World, One Love, man.
  4. Brutally loud headbangin' metal like Iron Maiden and Napalm Death
If you guessed #4 you have common sense. If you guessed 1, 2 or 3 you need to get in your SUV and drive off a cliff.

Let's face it -- you CAN judge a book by its cover. That's why we spend time packaging stuff, right? So work with the bookers at this and other clubs to put together a good package.


WHO GETS CREDIT IF A NIGHT DOES WELL?

Some bands feel like it's a good thing if they're on a bill and their crowd shows up just for them and don't watch the other bands on the bill. The truth is that sort of thing doesn't do anybody any good. The most important thing for any band is to be associated with a good night. At the Bottom of the Hill we, typically, have three bands on the bill per night. If each band's crowd only comes for their set then we only ever have 40 people in the club at any given time and the club looks like we're holding a wake. The good thing is if your crowd comes early to see the opener or stays after your set to watch the next band.


WHEN WE PLAY THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL, HOW DO WE GO ABOUT PUTTING A GOOD BILL TOGETHER?

It's important to build bills that make sense. We could spend all our time listening to demos and try to put bands with other bands they sound like but there's two big problems with that approach. Tapes can (and often do) lie. Bands that have sounded like ska to our weary ears have turned out to be goth. Punky sounding tapes are sent to represent middle-aged metal bands. On an on (the horror, oh the horror.)

The other problem is that no tape can convey a true sense of the character of your crowd. If you have an affinity with other bands already, then our job is so much easier when we put a bill together for your first Monday night at the Bottom of the Hill.

Who have you enjoyed playing with? With what other bands have you shared good bills? What artists do you feel have the same draw as you? Of those artists, which would consider playing a Monday night with you? These are the people we would approach to play with you on your first time at the Bottom of the Hill. The bookers will help you with their suggestions and will fill in holes in bills where necessary, but your suggestions on who YOU'D like to play with on your first time through at the Bottom of the Hill ARE ALWAYS MORE THAN WELCOME.


ONCE WE'VE PLAYED THERE AND DONE WELL, WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?

Once you've played for the first time at our club, the next step is to do it again under slightly different circumstances. A bit later in the week, perhaps. With a different band or two. On rare occasions there may be a national act that needs an opener and you may fit on such a bill, but it doesn't hurt to take matters into your own hands and plan in advance for a future show at the club.

Keep in mind that NO-ONE plays the Bottom of the Hill every month. It isn't a good idea, no matter what your draw. It's important to use some strategy when you plan a show at the Bottom of the Hill. Our job is to maximize the impact of each show -- try to make them special.

The first and most obvious way of doing that is by not playing too much. Our policy is as follows:


IF YOU AGREE TO PLAY A SHOW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OTHER LOCAL SHOWS AT LEAST 2 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE SHOW AND 1 WEEK AFTER.
Specifically this means 2 weekends before and 1 weekend after. Many is the time we have seen bands announce to an empty room: "um...this is our last song... come see us at the Boomerang this Friday."

First off, why announce such a thing when the only people there are employees of the Bottom of the Hill? Secondly and most importantly, could the fact of having another gig in just a few days have something to do with the fact that no-one came?

Well, just to scotch any debate, as far as we're concerned no-one has that kind of draw -- except maybe the Pope.

Another way to make a show special is to make it a party. Is it a CD release? Is it someone's birthday? Is it someone's last show with the band? Is it Otis Redding's birthday? Did you get some press? Did you win a Grammy? People WILL come out on a Monday if there is a compelling reason.

THIS ALL SOUNDS REALLY HARD, WHY CAN'T IT BE EASY?

Because if we don't put thought and effort into each show, no-one will come and the club will go out of business.

Please remember, we're on your side -- really we are. We just want your show at our club to be a special event. We understand that you are anxious to get your career on a fast track -- but you shouldn't be in a big hurry to play to no-one at the Bottom of the Hill. If you want to play to absolutely no-one, you can do that at your practise space with less hassle. In general you should feel ready to play when you're confident that on a Monday night, with some thoughtful booking you will be playing to a crowd of 50 to 60 friends and fans. Until that time, be patient -- we're not planning to go anywhere. When you are ready, believe me, we WANT you to play. It's good for you, it's good for the club and, damn it, it's good for humanity. And if it goes well, rest assured, we WILL want you back.


HOW DO WE LET THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL KNOW ABOUT US IF YOU'RE NOT ACCEPTING DEMOS?

Good question. The truth is, at the earliest stages it's more important just to let us know you're playing and getting press and building a following. So please don't send demos, but feel free to send flyers, press clippings or other promotional or informational materials. After you've played a few shows and sent a communique or two, then you should call the booking line and after a bit of phone tag, we will call you and ask for your demo and talk to you about your thoughts on a first show at the Bottom of the Hill.

The bottom line is: if you send a demo too early it ends up in a pile with hundreds of others. It won't do you any good, it won't save you any time, it won't make anyone's life any easier.



WHEN CAN I CONSIDER A SHOW CONFIRMED?

Many times when you call for a show, the bookers will give you a tentative date saying something like: "why don't we shoot for the 3rd -- you ask the other people involved and I'll make sure the date is clear and we'll talk again to confirm it." That is NOT a confirmed show. A million different things can happen on BOTH sides of that conversation. The drummer is out of town, you forgot you have a show too close to that date, you're offered a different show that fits in better with your plans.

We don't consider a show confirmed until we have discussed the full bill (opener, support and headliner), load-in/sound-check/set times and what each band can expect to be paid, what the ticket price will be.

It's often happened that bands have sent mailings or done posters for shows that weren't confirmed. Please make sure you have talked in person with one of our Bookers to confirm your show. Phone messages aren't reliable.

Don't be afraid to be anal. When you confirm a show with us make sure you know the following things:

  1. the date of your show
  2. ticket price
  3. load-in time
  4. sound check time
  5. what your payment is
  6. what the bar telephone number is in case of emergency
  7. how to get to the Bottom of the Hill
When we confirm a show with you also need to tell us how many people are in your band, roughly what the stage plot is (typically "guitar, bass, drums with two vocal mikes up front") and any special arrangements you will need for your set (ie. "we're sharing a drum kit with the opening band" or "we need a direct box for our Electric Latrinophone").


OUT OF TOWN BANDS

The Bottom of the Hill is not a good place to build your draw if you are an unsigned out-of-town band. As we discussed previously, we don't have any foot traffic at all so the only people who come to the club are people coming to see the bands.

The important thing when you're on tour is to play to new people. That is an objective that is not achieved if you play to an empty Bottom of the Hill. We do our best to put together bills that make sense and it's very difficult to put a band that no-one's heard of, with no draw on a bill that would be better served with a local band.

In most cases it is wasteful to send packages without contacting the bookers first. Additionally, it is almost always a waste of money to send packages overnight. The volume of mail that we receive means that it takes us a few days to get to packages in the best of circumstances.

We are usually booked 8 weeks in advance. It doesn't hurt to check for openings on short notice but they only happen rarely.

So is it impossible for a baby band from out-of-town to play at the Bottom of the Hill?

No it isn't. The best way to do it is to make friends with San Francisco bands that have some draw. We encourage you to identify yourself with a scene -- whether it's Brit Pop or Heavy Metal -- it's a good way of people who've never heard of you to know a something of what you sound like.

As you make connexions in San Francisco you can start getting your records played on local radio stations, place your music in local music stores and eventually the momentum starts moving towards you. Consider that just as knowing a San Francisco band can help you get shows in this part of the world, knowing you will help them get shows in your part of the world.

If you plan to come up to the area, get one of our free weekly papers (SF Weekly, SF Bay Guardian, The Onion, ...) and check out who's playing where.


COULDN'T MY BAND OPEN FOR ONE OF THE BIG NATIONALS COMING THROUGH YOUR CLUB?

Basically, no. Of course everyone wants to be put on to open for a show that is a potential sell-out but please realise that by saying you'd like to open for Pavement you are putting yourself on a list of 5 Billion bands. Many of those bands have paid their dues at the Bottom of the Hill and have built their own draw.

Further, for purely business reasons, we need bands that draw on those big bills as openers to bring the crowd out early. We have seen many shows where the 10 PM band plays to just about nobody and then 400 people show up at 11 PM. If we book a show like Pavement, you can bet that Pavement are taking nearly 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales. Therefore the only way the club makes any money on huge shows like that is if people get there early and buy some drinks.


MAKING CONTACT

Ramona Downey is the main booker at the Bottom of the Hill.

If you have any booking questions
you may send email to booking@bottomofthehill.com.

If you've already booked a show and have further questions you may contact us at production@bottomofthehill.com. Alternately, you may call Ramona at her usual number.


ONCE BOOKED: A NOTICE TO BANDS PROMOTING THEIR SHOW

While we encourage you to promote your own shows, we insist that you only post flyers and posters legally, according to San Francisco guidelines (see link below). Before playing at Bottom of the Hill, we are going to have you sign a waiver acknowledging that you have read and understood these guidelines and that you release us from responsibility for any and all fines incurred by your actions or those of anyone illegally posting on your behalf. The city has a generous policy for bands that wish to advertise their shows. Make sure you pay special attention to the details of size limit and acceptable locations for flyers. Remember to use other forms of advertising if you can: postcard mailers, e-mail mass mailings, posting at the Bottom, posting at record stores and other neighborhood establishments (with their permission, of course), radio station interviews and promotions, advertising in weekly newspapers. If you are going to post flyers on city streets, make sure you visit the sfgov.org site for the most up-to-date rules about posting signs in San Francisco.
Here are the guidelines they had, unless they have changed the rules as of late:
http://www.bottomofthehill.com/SFpostingGuidelines.pdf

Copyright • Bottom Of The Hill Inc. [judas bosch] [ judas bosch]