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Kill.pop knew about the Tool show when it booked its gig at The Hurricane and decided to follow through because all its members had already caught that group in action. It's a different story, though, when such competition comes as a surprise. "The first time we played on the patio at America's Pub in Wichita, George Clinton was playing right across the street at an all-night outside concert," recalls Eddie Schubert, guitarist of Full Feature. "We were playing to no one, and all we could hear was P-Funk. We had no idea they were playing until we got there." Though he jokes that his group should just have given up on that night, he maintains that "watching music will never be more fun than playing music, not even if it's Satan on a harp." (Full Feature plays at The Hurricane Friday, November 23; Satan's plans remain shrouded in mystery.)
Given that Clinton tends to play curfew-flouting marathon shows, Full Feature was unable to benefit from the spill-over effect. After opening its sets in front of sparse crowds, Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (contending with Motorhead) and Spleen (facing Fear Factory) welcomed a stream of stragglers who had tasted rock and wanted more. And it's not just the fans who search for something to do with the remainder of their evenings -- Blayney's owner Dick Schulte says everyone from Al Jarreau to The Moody Blues has stopped in after playing local sets. Perhaps an impromptu cameo from Bono would lessen the sting of seeing U2 capture a small but significant pocket of music lovers who might have headed to Blayney's to catch gifted singer/songwriter Kate Schrock's November 27 show.
Occasionally, bands must battle even larger obstacles, like Denver's always-ready-to-riot sports fans the night when the Colorado Avalanche clinched the Stanley Cup. "Not a single person showed, and we were playing with A Band Called Horse, one of Denver's biggest groups," guitarist Nathan Alexander says, remembering an ill-fated road trip with his group Albino Fly.
For its upcoming visit to Chicago, The Go Generation doesn't have to square off against Da Bears, but it will lose some potential fans to a familiar foe -- The Gadjits, who booked a gig on the same December night. It's a sitcom-style mix-up, setting two friendly groups to war in a vacation setting, which is fitting given that The Gadjits and Go Generation played together at The Hurricane on the same night Jerry Seinfeld yakked it up at The Midland. Because of the bond that develops between musicians who share bills, showtimes that conflict with those of other local bands can be more painful than faceless big-venue competition. Even National Fire Theory, who is clearly unafraid of taking on any world-touring Goliath, has canceled gigs so that its members could attend shows by area acts.
But most groups wouldn't skip out on a scheduled show, no matter what concert gets announced after the deal is done. "We play every show unless Holly is choking up furballs or Allen's face is the size of Epcot Center after a dentist appointment," Jade Raven bassist Kelly reports. "I don't think that bands who want to be taken seriously should cancel booked shows so they can go see something else," says Spleen's Tom, who once drove to Wichita to catch Kyuss because the group's KC date conflicted with one of his band's concerts. As far as concerts for which local musicians admit they'd bail on a booked show, Radiohead tops the wish list -- "If someone gave me free tickets," Kinder says, clarifying his vote, "and a promise to get laid." (Kinder will be checking out King Crimson November 27, but, much to the dismay of that band's fanbase, guaranteed hook-ups aren't part of the marketing campaign. However, this show does have a secret weapon -- a link to a supergroup even bigger than Bono's. Referring to opener John Paul Jones, Kinder says simply, "Led Zeppelin. Drool.")