Faced with fewer bands touring through the American South, club owners appear to have re-evaluated their own profit margins and the sources of their income. Why pay some band from New York a big fee to perform, when a local band can fill the room or at the very least cover the costs for the night at little or no money?
Local music is an important part of any city's music scene and part of the joy of living in a city with a thriving local music scene like Atlanta is watching our local favorites grow and mature as artists. But when the club owners no longer can pack the room with fans of the latest buzz band, they have to figure out how they can afford to keep the doors open with fewer customers, so with lower volume, they have to reduce their costs by paying the locals less and less, and before too long the music fan is faced with enduring whatever band the club can scrape together to play for free that night and with putting up with fewer and fewer comforts (AC, clean toilets) in the club itself.
In a perfect world, our fine local bands would rise to the occasion and fill the empty stages left by the touring bands that refuse to venture too far from home, but in the imperfect world in which we live, there's a downward spiral as owners realize they can make greater profits by paying the bands less, or even nothing at all, and the quality of the music on stage suffers as a result.
So, yes, I've been to fewer shows this year, partly because there's been fewer shows this year, in my humble opinion, worth seeing.
But then, suddenly, an oasis appears in the desert. Over the next week, Atlanta will get to experience Swans (Friday), Fear of Men (Monday), Marissa Nadler (Tuesday), and Boogarins (Wednesday), and then almost nothing for the month of August. But then, just as dramatically, we'll get another overload of shows on September 8, 9, 10, and 11, with Car Seat Headrest, (8th), Angel Olsen (9th), Quilt and Mutual Benefit (10th), and Joanna Newsom (11th).
So don't lose hope, Atlanta, there's still good music to be heard out there, and in the meantime we can support our local artists like Little Tybee at Terminal West on August 5, Takenobu at Eddie's Attic on August 13, and Hello Ocho and Jeffrey Bützer at The Earl on August 29 and September 3, respectively.