When the Louisiana-based band, Stoop Kids, performed this past week at Mercury Lounge, every member of the audience was asking themselves the same question: “Why isn’t this band huge?” The musicianship is exemplary, the stage presence is mesmerizing and the quality of the songs exceeds most other bands playing nightly in NYC. So why aren’t the Stoop Kids absolutely mega?
This group of young men, fresh out of college from Loyola University in New Orleans, is suffering the same fate shared by many other bands who are trying to gain time in the spotlight: lack of PR. Promotion outside of their homefront music haunts is challenging for up and coming bands who want to maintain their independence. They don’t have a record deal but they are still churning out quality records with high production value. However, without a Corporate label and the Corporate-level marketing, a living wage is hard to come by. The income earned playing venues in other cities just isn’t enough to support the touring costs, daily living costs and production of future music. Bands like Stoop Kids can get trapped in the washing machine of the label-less and are forever stuck on the rinse cycle. They pay a local booking agent to get gigs in each city they travel to, but then they are responsible for the marketing and PR push to get people to attend. It can be exhausting for a band that is trying to keep the creative juices flowing to continue growing as musicians to have to constantly shift gear and access the opposite side of their brain for the business aspect of showbiz.
Some would say that if the band was any good, they would naturally rise to fame on their own. The reality is that so much of the music business is timing and connections, not just talent. The right kind of public relations team can get the band in the right venue in the right city to be heard by the right person, which leads to late night t.v. appearances, festival tours and finally, they become a household name. Stoop Kids has the true blue talent to be innovative on the music scene but that big break keeps eluding them.
The attendance at Mercury Lounge show should have been at an all-time high with people elbowing each other for more dance room, but instead the band played for a handful of fans. A lesser band may have phoned in the performance, deflated from driving all the way to New York City to play for a small audience in one of the most legendary venues in NYC, but instead Stoop Kids performed as if they were on stage at the Barclay’s. They mugged for the audience, melodically embracing them and transitioning from song to song with an expertise akin to those who have been touring for decades. Lead singer, Griffin Dean, seemed to be channeling the almighty Purple One as he crooned into the silver mic and made his guitar wail, eliciting chills that Prince would have envied. The synchronized movements of the band rivaling James Brown and his Famous Flames brought the overall presentation of the set to a frenzied level that even brought the lead singer of the headlining act out onto the floor to show off his dance prowess. The band’s new bassist, Sam Fruend, is the court-jester to Dean’s royal performance and the audience did not take their eyes off the stage as the two bantered musically against the grain. Stoop Kids is an electric band with tremendous potential. When the set came to an end, there was an audible groan in the audience as no one wanted the music to stop. Dean remarked post-show that they would have been happy to play for hours because they absolutely love performing. And don’t we need more bands who are so overjoyed just to play? Those are the ones worth the ticket price.
So how can you help a band like Stoop Kids? First, don’t let the billion dollar music industry tell you what to listen to. Ignore the Verizon cell phone ads that tell you Ariana Grande is an innovator you should waste your data on. Change the channel when gazillionaires are promoting wireless headphones because they already have all the money in the world and don’t need more of yours. After all, they aren’t the artists choosing between Ramen noodles for dinner or printing another 100 fliers to promote a show. Second, go out and find the bands you love and then TELL EVERYBODY YOU KNOW. In the age of social media, the average music listener has tremendous power at their fingertips. Tweet, post, snap and pin everything you can get your hands on if you love an unknown band. They need it. Desperately. Word of mouth advertising is the most powerful form of marketing there is, and the big music corporations know it. They would gladly hand over their first born to have a chance to peek inside your head for a few seconds to find out what you really want to hear next. Don’t let them do it. Be your favorite band’s public relations advocate and you shall be rewarded by more music as the band continues to thrive (and pay their bills.) Without it, they might cease to exist after too many years of struggling just to break even.
So set your music tracking apps to alert you the next time Stoop Kids comes to town early next year. You won’t regret it. And then be a megaphone for these guys. They deserve it.
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Article: Hannah Soule