Opening last night’s Poison show (fun, pyro-filled, CC apparently fluish) was the Swedish heavy-metal outfit Vains of Jenna: Think Buckcherry only with everyone dressing ca. the Sunset Strip in 1989, led by a singer who seemed to have learned his stage patter from the Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. At one point, the frontman–named Lizzy DeVine–pleaded with the crowd to buy some merch because the band was, and I quote, “fucking broke,” and since their set was quite enjoyable, I figured I’d help them out. But the only items available were T-shirts and keychains, and there wasn’t a CD (or even a CD single) to be found among them. What?
The same went for Poison, who were touring behind a new album, Poison’d!, that–while consisting of covers of fairly well-known songs–hasn’t exactly been burning up the sales charts. (The post-Rock of Love flush hasn’t helped Poison’d crack the Billboard 200, at least not this week.) Bret Michaels gave the album-plugging his all during the gig, but it would surely have been more useful for him to be able to direct fans to someplace where they could take immediate action.
Granted, I’m used to shows where the merch tables are operated by the bands, or at least their friends, and not some bored Live Nation employee. But really: Wouldn’t it make sense for these road acts, many of whom aren’t doing very well on the charts at all, to at least help their cause out (and maybe make a little extra scratch) by buying some copies of their album on consignment, then selling them outside the venue? (Or, hell, even stationing a van outside and reselling copies found in the local bargain bins?) This lack of CDs at shows seems like an outdated-enough business practice to be “a major label thing”; after all, even two years ago people who were flush with enjoying a band’s performance could head to an open-’til-midnight Tower Records and pick up an album by whatever band they liked, while now they’re beholden to the hours–and crummy selection–of Best Buy. (Who had a booth at the show, but it was only devoted to selling wireless signups.) But it really seems like a no-brainer to set up at least one space for people who are interested in music to, you know, actually buy music–even if it does push out the space reserved for the free sweatband counter at the “I Like My Zune” booth.
Vains of Jenna [MySpace]