I am not going to try and sum up 2018 for you. You were all there and, hopefully, you saw some cool shows. Instead, I'm looking ahead at what our little town can do next year. This is my end-of-year list for what I am asking of ourselves in 2019.
I am starting with what may be the most serious item on the list, and sadly one that requires attention well past simply the next year's time.
I want people to feel safe at shows in Santa Fe, and not just from drunken flying elbows—although please knock that off—but from harassment and outright assault. Santa Fe has some great inclusive spaces for concert-goers, but if we average it all out, we still have just as serious a problem with safe spaces as anywhere else in the country. Instances of abuse toward women, people of color, queer and genderqueer people, and trans people does occur despite some people's notion that we are some progressive utopia. It's happened at shows that I have attended, though I was unaware in my cis-white-male ignorance, and even while I have been onstage. It's stomach-churning and almost made me want to stop playing music altogether this year, but I don't just want to wash my hands of it.
The root problems of these safety issues will take some serious cultural overhauling, mostly targeting the ubiquitous evil of toxic masculinity. In the meantime, we can watch out for each other and hold abusers accountable. Are you friends with someone in the scene who is abusive? Maybe they are in a band with you, or you have known them a long time, or you think they might get you a cool gig, None of that's worth placing abusers' comfort and ability to abuse over everyone else's safety. Break up that band, start a cooler one with less shitty people and call that behavior out when you see it. Talk to people who book shows and run venues and let them know who is not behaving to the standards of your community. It's something I know we can all do better.
MAKE SHOWS FRIENDLIER TO YOUNG PEOPLE
People are going to drink at DIY shows, but as long as they aren't raving drunk in the streets, no one's really going to bat an eye. Worth considering, though, is that these shows are great opportunities for young people to come see bands and socialize, and maybe they'd rather not be around a bunch of wasted adults. I am not naive, nor do I want to police the fiery hearts of the young folk who I know are getting drunk. But I also don't want to be the one fielding questions as to why a 31-year-old man was catching a band's set alongside a bunch of teens with alcohol poisoning.
Since Warehouse 21 is in a state of flux, it feels like we really need to step it up in welcoming youths to shows. These kids are going to be so much cooler than us if history has anything to show us about generational gaps, and I cannot wait to hear the bands they start after having a great time at a show without getting sick or hurt or weirded out by the old timers. So be cool, do not offer sips of your booze to just anyone—and, while DIY spaces are a good place for people of all ages, maybe we can start throwing more matinee bills. Imagine that: a punk rock matinee show in Santa Fe. We could even make it a potluck.
Until then, more established venues can follow the lead of Tumbleroot and Second Street Brewery and open up shows to all ages more often. I get that Meow Wolf has a bar that is not connected to the venue and there are logistics to consider and I am sure concerns with alcohol sales, but I would love to see more all-ages shows there. They attract cool bands. Let the kids enjoy them too.
PAY YOUR LOCALS
If you are showing up to hang out and watch a show, bring some cash. Maybe it's a free show (and there are a ton of those in town, which is great), but local acts have stepped up their merch game recently and likely have tapes, shirts, stickers —maybe even vinyl (though seriously, if you are self-releasing albums, please do not press vinyl—for you and your credit score's sake). Any cash you put in local musicians' hands will lead to more of those cool things being produced, and will even put food in their stomachs and possibly gas in their tanks so they can go out into that wide wide world and spread the gospel that cool bands do indeed come out of Santa Fe.
It has long been accepted that local musicians do not get paid well, if at all; a lot of them don't even expect it. Plus, in terms of DIY shows, the touring bands should and do get paid (and so does the venue if they are lucky). Locals are thanked and told how cool their set was and maybe out-of-town gigs are promised, but such promises are worth about as much as the air used to make them. Soon, cool bands are more broke than when they started. Much lamenting follows. Breakups occur.
But here's the thing: The small spaces that offer a place to play your music with very few strings would love to pay local talent. They just need people to show up and for those people to know a suggested donation is not something to blow off. You truly do get what you pay for, and a scene where we show up to each other's shows and pay the cover is healthier. From a local band standpoint, I certainly have friends ask to get in for free. That used to be an easy yes, but nowadays my philosophy is pretty firmly that friends are the people who definitely cannot get away with skipping the door fee. Pay your friends, and they will keep making music. Show up with a six-pack and no cash and your friends might well break up and it will definitely be your fault.
This applies to bands paying folks as well. Pay your bud who showed up to take photos. Do not cash in friendship points for album art; the outside world is not going to sustain us, so we will do it ourselves. You should know that by now.
There are a lot more things I want from 2019. I would love for us to all stop using streaming services for our music, for example, because buying music directly from artists benefits everyone. But for now, I have seen much growth in Santa Fe in recent years and want that growth to be nourished even further. I've said it before—making music is hard, but we can make it a lot less hard on ourselves if we try to focus on what it is we love about music itself; the people making it, the people going out to see it. They deserve to be safe, inspired and paid.