Monday, June 01, 2009

Owsley's Sucks...

..or How Not to Run a Business

I was really looking forward to seeing my friend Sarah Borges and her band, the Broken Singles, play a Denver show last week. It had been over a year and a half since they'd been out this way, and that was in Colorado Springs, a 150-mile round trip for me.

They were booked at a club called Owsley's Golden Road. I'd never heard of the place, and from what I can tell, a lot of other people haven't either. The club shows up in ads for several other clubs in town, so I'm guessing they're affiliated on some level.

Trying to get details about the club and the show proved to be tricky. The club doesn't seem to have it's own site, but with a little poking around, I found the listing under a drop-down on one of the apparently-affiliated clubs. The site was poorly built and pretty confusing, and there were still listings for shows from February. There were a couple of reviews of SB & the BS reposted there, but not much info on the club itself. In addition to the address, it said, "6pm doors, $8 advance, $8 day of show."

This was the Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend. I'd already done a lot, and I still had more to do the next day. So, I thought, "Great! 6pm doors, 7pm show, home by 10." I left the house to drive the eight or so miles into downtown about 5:50, figuring the band would be there and we could hang out and catch up.

I got to the club about 6:10. There was some generic band playing, and about 7 kids hanging out at the stage. There were maybe 8 or 10 other people hanging out in the back of the club. A woman came up to me and said, "Five dollars." That didn't jibe with the Web site, and something didn't look quite right. I told her I was there for the Sarah Borges show, and she looked at me like I was from a different planet. She pointed at a guy, who apparently was the bartender, and said, "Go ask him." I went over and told the guy that I was there for Sarah Borges. He said, "I don't know anything. I just show up when my name's on the schedule." When I asked him who might know what was going on within the confines of their place of employment, he didn't know of anyone. Finally, he pointed at the sound guy, and said, "Go ask him."

I approached the sound guy, who seemed to be really annoyed that anyone would look at him, much less speak to him. He was about as unhelpful as the others. He said he didn't know anything about an SB show, but his little all-ages show was schedule to run till 9pm. So, I was 3 hours early to a show at a dumpy club on a Sunday night. I wasn't hungry and I had no interest in the bands that were playing at Owsley's. I contemplated my next course of action for a few minutes, and I decided to go back home.

I wasn't sure if I could drag my tail out again, but Sarah and Binky (her bass player) are good friends, I hadn't seen them in a while, and they always put on a great show. So, about 8:45, I called the phone number listed on the club's Web site (again, shared with at least one of the other clubs) to see if I could get better information. I seemed to have interrupted the guy that answered from doing something more important than running the business, because he was rather annoyed as well. He assured me that the SB show would start at 10pm. When I told him that I showed up at 6 because of the Web site, all he could come up with was, "It's wrong."

I schlepped out again, arriving back at the club about 9:10, again looking to hang out with the band for a while before they go on. A new guy at the door greets me with, "Ten dollars." I point out to him that the Web site said it was $8. He told me that the owner told him it was $10 day of show, so that's what it was. I explained to him that I'd shown up at 6, and he couldn't have cared less. When I pointed out the obvious ("This place sucks!") he got a little defensive. After chatting with him some more, he seemed to be a bit more sympathetic to my plight.

As it turns out, the band wasn't there yet. But, the all-ages show was still going on. About ten minutes later, Sarah and the boys show up. Turns out they were told to show up at 6pm for load-in, but when they did, were told to come back at 9:30. It also turned out that there were still three bands yet to play the all-ages show that was supposed to end at 9. And, there was a warm-up act for Sarah, which meant that they wouldn't go on until 11:30 or so.

The band and I retired to the patio and had a great time catching up, and complaining about the shoddy treatment from the club. Sarah got on the phone to her people to figure out what to do. I guess the folks at the club kept pushing back the time to where they weren't going to go on until after midnight. The club refused to give anyone their money back. Sarah refunded everyone who came to see here out of her own pocket.

I offered to help the band load-in. We were almost at that point when Binky asked me to look after some of their belongings instead while they loaded-in. I watched the warm-up act for Sarah. About 5 songs into her set, Sarah sat down next to me and said, "Show's over." I don't know all of the gory details, but the club violated the contract, and they treated everyone involved very shabbily.

Out to the parking lot to say good-bye. Sarah gave me their new CD (great, by the way) and I got everyone to sign it. In the midst of all of that, some guy from the shelter across the street came up and made a complete nuisance of himself. We all went our separate ways, frustrated. I went to the club twice, didn't get to see the band play, and I got home at 12:45am.

The club and its employees screwed up in just about every way that they could. The amazing thing is that they seemed to be oblivious to what a poor experience it was for PAYING customers and the band. They've got a crappy and out of date Web site, they lied, they engaged in false advertising, and they just didn't seem to care. Places like this deserve to go out of business. You can be assured that I'll never step foot inside their doors again.


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