Experiences of Promoters / Promoting

I bet DiS has a fair few tales to tell of this.
Tell me your horror stories or successes below of promoters you’ve encountered or bands you’ve tried to put on.

So many horror stories about sketchy promoters having been in bands. Spent so much of my 20s chasing guarantees from slippery fuckers, with limited success. I remember literally chasing a Cardiff promoter down the street after he tried to do a runner from Buffalo Bar without paying us… Also had some absolute joke experiences with Tigmus who I don’t know if they’re still going. Absolute shitehawks.

Never really had problems with bands we promoted as we were quite picky I guess and tried to treat bands as we’d have hoped to be treated ourselves. Had a couple of iffy moments with jumped-up tour supports trying it on, and booking agents are almost universally awful, but generally bands have been great.


They’re bringing Buffalo Bar back! I will let you know if this promoter is still in there, running.

Yeah agreed it is mainly the promoters who tend to be the most condescending and/or outright corrupt part of the process I usually find.

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Only half of it though, sad times.

Who am I trying to kid, I reckon that if I died and heaven was just downstairs at Buffalo on any given night in about 2006 I’d be pretty made up tbh


Booking agents are so utterly pointless for most bands. Really annoying people, most bands don’t seem to get on with them either.

Cool that buffalo is coming back! I remember we played a show there once where the sound man demanded that our drummer put a towel on the snare because it was too loud. He spent almost the whole set standing next to our drummer yelling at him to play quieter. Hope he’s coming back too. I remember he looked like John Lennon


Used to put on DIY shows in Southsea / Fareham / Gosport. Gave up after nearly getting arrested when loads of underage kids turned up to see Enter Shikari (who’s popularity at the time thanks to MySpace I had massively underestimated) play a tiny church hall in Southsea and were boozing and getting rowdy outside. Had to lie and say the person responsible for the show had done a runner and we were trying to keep it all in check. Should have been a wild night as it was one of my most successful shows but spent the whole night dealing with drunk kids and couldn’t enjoy it at all.

Did enjoy putting on shows and have considered getting back in the DIY game - could do so now with less worry that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent but that’s half the fun isn’t it.


Tried promoting shows twice, both absolute disasters and feel incredibly sorry for the bands I put on


Put on one show once ever, with some mates. Went alright, but it put me off forever. Don’t need that type of stress, don’t like it or get enough out of it to make it worthwhile.

My main memory was getting to the venue we’d booked and realising that there was one plug socket for the whole place, and it was in the middle of the crowd. Spent the whole gig worrying we’d start a fire by overloading the plug, or that someone in the crowd would notice and just turn it off.


I loved putting on shows, even though it was always stressful somehow. Recently we did Mclusky in Nottingham and a few weeks before the show we were standing to lose a shedload of cash (in the 000s) but we actually ended up making quite a bit. Not sure I can deal with that stress in my old age :sweat_smile:


We had a good run, nearly 10 years of putting on bands and artists that we liked in venues that suited them.

We always covered travel and food costs, so never had any nightmare experiences with bands, and just about broke even across the whole thing, but you need a good group of you working on it to cover periods when someone is busy with work, or away or something. It’s definitely something that I don’t think you can do in your spare time when you hat your mid-30s and start to see an increase in family and work responsibilities.

Most of the niggly issues and fuck ups were as a result of everyone having to do things in their spare time, and that went for us as promoters, too.

Tour bookers were the ones who messed us around, tbh. Them and posh punters trying to blag their way in for free or for a reduced price.


Too many crap/dodgy pay to play type ones to mention. Biggest gig I played was at the underworld in camden and the headliners demanded a certain type of drumkit to be hired in which was a couple hundred quid the promoter took out of what he paid the other bands. So many absolute clowns out there, just makes you want to not bother. Rather just put on our own DIY gigs and play to 30 people.


I seem to recall playing a Monto Water Rats gig around 2008 or 2009 where it felt very close to pay to play. Given that’s banned I guessed it was a loophole. From what I recall they very much wanted us to buy tickets in advance to sell on to our mates. I think the point was we could buy these tickets at like £5 but on the night it would be £6 on the door but we had to buy 20 minimum or something. Anyway, obviously wasn’t for us as a concept and I think they were not impressed by the numbers we brought in. Had a good gig, though. Always a fan of the Water Rats as a venue but when Monto took over I remember it definitely got less fun somehow.



I have always had a fondness for venues with distinct front and back parts. I mean I know it can mean you play to 5 people or whatever but sometimes after or before playing, I just really needed a bit of a calmer spot.

I also loved how every new first attendee got to have a wild moment of alcohol-aided glee when they clocked the ‘Sam Widges’ sandwich shop opposite.

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This is fucking incredible stuff


I’ve put on a few shows at the local leftwing co-op venue / space over the years, and have no plans to do so again. Now these kind of places can be done right (see Wharf Chambrers in Leeds, one of my very favourite venues in the world), but this one is not done right at all.

A touring band once asked where the monitors were: the answer was that we could turn round one of the two PA speakers to face them instead of the audience. Not ideal.

Once had a French duo turn up in a van that was precision-packed to within an inch of its life with gear: two full drum kits, two massive DIY synths they’d made themselves, two big Marshall amps with headers, all the mics and cables etc. They said one of their cymbal stands had broken at the last gig and asked if we had one they could use. After a look around a sad pile of broken items in a backroom, the answer was no. Didn’t feel great about that.

Another time I was on the door and talking to some people who didn’t know about the gig but sounded interested, might have checked it out for a fiver a pop. Someone from the venue came over and slammed the ajar door in their faces and told me off for having the door open for too long, in case (presumably) Special Branch or MI5 were trying to sneak in. Now I know cops love to infiltrate leftwing organisations, but that seemed like overkill to me.


Got booked to play on what was Friday of freshers week, and the venue (jam cafe in Notts) was rammed. Five minutes into my set of boring ambient music my pals girlfriend came over to ask when I was going to start. Just made a ten second loop, played it for the rest of my set time and went to the bar.


Once saw Alexander Tucker do a droney-noisey-abstract sort of set at the Brudenell. He was set up on the floor, it wasn’t especially busy but perfectly well attended for the kind of gig it was.

After about 15 minutes, someone went up to him and leaned over the table to say something in his ear. About 2 minutes later he stops playing, tells the audience the guy had said “this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life mate”, and walks off. Felt really bad for him.

My main takeaway was that promoters don’t really do any promotion at all…the really crap ones bung you a load of tickets and make you sell them and don’t manage to shift any at all themselves.

There were definitely a few decent ones in Manchester in the mid 2000s… Blowout at the bierkeller, night n day and red deer club at fuel in withington were always fantastic

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Back then we had 2 booking managers that had their own circle of connections, and we’d just give them an even cut for the honorarium that we received (as if they were the nth member). It was pretty smooth cause it sort of helped us getting the high paid gigs since it also meant a higher cut for the booking people.
They had absolutely no say to what we had to do, just a yes or no if we were down for the booking and what the conditions were. Most of us didn’t drink too so we just gave all our beer and food stubs.
But they were reputable people too - one a writer for a major music mag - so I guess we were lucky that we had good interactions. And I could say that they still got us more cashflow via shows than the label, but the latter took more care of the tech riders, got sponsors and media screen time. Tech riders were a nightmare with just the booking agents so we always brought extension cables and even a portable voltage regulator at one point.

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