One Man’s Innovative Tour Is Another Man’s Depressing Career Move

Mar 21st, 2008 // 6 Comments


Times aren’t generally good for the alternative rock stars of the ’90s; after all, how many state fairs and Indian casinos are there, anyway? Still, a man’s gotta eat, so the Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark is making do playing for a market that Fastball hasn’t gotten to yet: People’s backyards.

Yes, for a minimal fee (and likely unlimited drinks from the cooler), the man who brought you the hit “The Freshman” and another song I vaguely remember will play your backyard.

So last year, Vander Ark spent his time playing living rooms, backyards or anywhere fans paid him to play. He hoped for 25 shows; he ended up with 75. One of his stops included performing for two pregnant couples in Louisville at midnight after a gig in Indiana.

“I also played for a young couple celebrating their anniversary,” he said. “They had a babysitter watch their baby for a couple hours. I play whatever they want me to play.”…

“It’s so much more enjoyable than the club thing,” Vander Ark said. “It really is a campaign — shaking people’s hands, thanking people for their support and playing music for them.”

The jokes really write themselves here, but in the end, if you know six other Verve Pipe fans and have a Sam’s Club card to get cheap booze, maybe you can throw a better show on in your backyard than you’d see in some lousy club off Highway 80. You can skip having a miserable open act, lower the drink price, and have at least an equal chance of having decent sound. Then again, you’d be booking the guy from the Verve Pipe, so maybe the deal isn’t that good.

Brian Vander Ark Literally Performs in Your Own Backyard [Spinner]

  1. tigerpop

    The “Living Room Tour” has been a popular model for a number of musicians on Vander Ark’s level. John Faye of Ike (and formerly of the Caulfields, who had one hit that wasn’t even really a hit 14 years ago) has been doing it for years, and it’s apparently worked out pretty well for him, even if it’s sometimes just a means to firm up tour routing. It’s a pretty smart way to play directly to the superfans, and the bottom line is significantly easier to cover.

    But: the Verve Pipe. Yow.

  2. Charles A. Hohman

    Loathe the Verve Pipe, but love Fastball, and resent the implied equation of the two. Remember Fastball’s Miles Zuniga co-wrote two songs on “Kill the Moonlight,” so they can’t be that lame. Also, “The Way” and “Out of my Head” were two of the greatest Elvis Costello rips since Joe Jackson went lounge (and Any Trouble disappeared entirely).

  3. bcapirigi

    hero was their second hit. i really liked it, at the time. way more than freshmen, anyway.

  4. Jan74

    I didn’t care for the Verve Pipe, but “Resurrection” was a pretty good album. I play it regularly.

    It beats presenting a reality show, I suppose.

  5. Herman Menderchuk

    Yeah, Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens did a Living Room tour in 2000 and still does occasional shows in that vein. I caught one up in Portland, Maine, that a friend of mine hosted and was impressed. DiNizio still sounds great, even if he’s about twice the size he was in his band’s heyday.

    Not a bad idea for artists who still have a loyal fanbase, although DiNizio has much more of an established back catalog to rely on than Vander Ark.

  6. Anonymous

    Comment on One Man’s Innovative Tour Is Another Man’s Depressing Career Move Not surprisingly, an awfully negative post from someone who clearly didn’t like The Verve Pipe, and has probably not bothered to listen to any of Brian’s solo work, which is very very different. This isn’t a case of Brian trying to “relive” the glory days of having beer bottles thrown at him and the band by KISS fans, it’s about playing his music in front of people who really want to hear it.

    If it’s not obvious, I’m a fan and have been since long before the MTV days the band experienced in 1997. And I had one of those lawn chairs tours. Me, family and friends, having a backyard bbq, with a live performance from an excellent singer-songerwriter. It was a great time, we enjoyed having Brian ther, and he enjoyed being there.

    And in the end, he raised enough money to record another great solo record with Bill Szymczyk (The Who, The Eagles, etc).

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