Sunday, June 22, 2008
Back in the day, bands - punk rock and other, would pile into their trusty owned, borrowed or rented Ford Econoline, Dodge or Chevy vans (American made big ass gas guzzlers that could hold 15 people or a band, their assorted gear, boxes of merch and mattresses) and just hit the road. Back in punk rock's early days, gas was below 79 cents a gallon... this I remember because in 1979, in Los Angeles, gas was just hitting 79 cents a gallon (79 - 79 cents - that's how I remember).
These days.... of course, its a whole other story. Gas is averaging $4 a gallon. For the average punk rocker or other independent band, this is just devastating. The title of this post links to a story on Yahoo describing how "high fuel prices put brakes on indie band tours."
That's what traffic looked like in 1978. Notice the VW Beetle - The People's Car was one of the cars of choice for the cash-strapped punk rockers. Even before the overall zetigeist for vehicles was energy efficient, the Beetle got some great gas mileage. It was also pretty easy to repair, not to mention park.
I've told the story here before about a road trip my college roommate and I made from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 1977 to see Iggy Pop when her Beetle broke down, and so did the tow truck that came to rescue us. But other than the breaking down and broken down tow truck part, back in the day, most people I knew would think nothing of piling into their little car, driving up to San Francisco for a show and then turn right around and come home - all within the same day.
With the price of gas being completely unaffordable, I guess all I have to say is - support your local scene, since your hometown bands are gonna find it hard to leave town... and when bands come in from out of town, GO and buy their t-shirts and other stuff. More than ever, they need the gas money from the sales of merch.
Its highly unlikely anyone we're gonna see can afford a bus these days....
I wonder if you can still find a VW van like the one parked behind Jam drummer Rick Buckler.
and I always found it weird and ironic that 999 arrived to sign autographs at Tower Records in a limo... but you can rest assured that limo rides are being seriously curtailed... what do they get? About 10 gallons to the mile?
That's Woggles bassist Buzz Hagstrom emerging from the Woggles van a short three years ago... Can bands like this, who have killer live shows, travel the country to entertain us anymore?
I don't know what the solution is - hybrid vans? Hey OPEC - how about rolling back the price of oil for your biggest customer - the USA?