Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shaki Presents Bids Farewell

Shaki Presents is no longer. The upcoming Gary War show this Sunday will be the last. Shaki has brought countless acts to BAR: Acid Mothers Temple, Thurston Moore, Animal Collective, Josephine Foster, Blue Cheer, Man Man, Wolf Eyes, Whitehouse, Dirty Projectors, Kinski with Kawabata Makoto, Dead Meadow, Dungen, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, the Thermals, Nat Baldwin, the French Kicks, Enon, and Gringo Star... and this is only naming a few. Granted, Sunday nights were never ideal, especially for those of us that live outside of the New Haven area, but whether or not you could make it to the shows, knowing Shaki was there was comforting. Besides the fact that the space and sound were fantastic, this was one of Connecticut's rare alternatives to a place like Toad's that hosted bands with a preference for roads less traveled, and Shaki was Connecticut's bellwether of the psychedelic scene. Let's hope this leads to a new opportunity, not a bitter end. Here's Omonte's statement:
It is with a heavy heart Shaki Presents must announce that BAR has canceled the Sunday night concert series. THIS Sunday December 20, 2009 will be our last show at BAR.

It's been a fantastic ride, way better than we ever anticipated. About 8 years ago, I took the Sunday booking spot at BAR with the intention to do something a little different, a little weird, a little left of the dial, a little needed...I missed the Tune Inn, I missed good shows in Connecticut. We have good taste here. We have great bands here. Something wasn't adding up so I went for it. It started out in the Frontroom, liqour bottles nearly rattling off the shelves from the loud sounds, a half a dozen folks or so playing pool and maaaaaybe watching whoever was in front of that big garage door. It moved to the back with Dead Meadow and Atrina, and Ideat Villagers drinking and rocking out. Now it ends with a shopping list of who's who in underground music having made what will be the stuff of legends in years to come ("Remember when Jack Rose was practically the house guitar player at BAR? Remember Thurston Moore crowd surfing a packed house during his noise set? Remember all of those sick FREE shows...").

Inevitably we all want to know why. BAR has told me they were not happy with the night, that the "numbers were low", they are looking for more. They took the decision to cancel Sunday night concerts at BAR. They want to focus on a Wednesday night concert series aimed to be more mainstream. I was criticized for not booking enough local bands (!) which I, of course, disputed. They went on to specify that they wanted more Yale bands. "Offers" were made to keep me involved with booking (as long as I booked what they tell me to book...Wednesday mainstay Tim Palmieri and cover band type of stuff was mentioned) and with the night ("Are you sure you don't want to run sound for these concerts?"). It was made clear to me that BAR was not interested in the type of events that Shaki Presents organizes. Other recurring petty issues obviously played their part, surely (the constant soundcheck struggle and manager-double-booking-nonsense we've endured for quite some time now, and other annoyances...).

BAR was very clear that they wanted to end the series asap. They were not willing to accomodate the concerts through to late February. Without a room, sound system, budget or support, we can't displace these canceled shows. We are truly sorry about that. VERY truly sorry. I, personally, can't express that sentiment enough. No one is going to miss this Sunday night concert series more than me.

In 8 years time, I watched my peers, friends, fellow musicians, local artists, students, townies, and strangers transform nothing into something. The awesome state of music we are at here in Connecticut can only be credited to these fine people. If we had any successes at BAR on Sunday night (and we had many), it can be traced back to the dedication, hard work, and loyalty that all of you fine folks have provided. It has been a pleasure to bring acts from around the world here to New Haven, Connecticut for you to consider. I feel an immense sense of pride when I think of all of the amazing local bands that played along side some heavy hitters. I, we, us, Shaki Presents, can't take credit for that. That's all on you folks. We may have provided a spot for this to happen, but it was all of the support from the public that really pulled all of this together.

The Sunday night concert series would never have lasted this long without all of this wonderful support. A big thanks to the Sunday night staff at BAR. Our Sunday crew is/was the dream team...bartenders, barbacks, security, waitstaff and those amazing pizza cooks. Also, big thanks to the Sunday manager(s) who have always backed us up...always. Biggest thanks to my boys, Warren of the Vultures, Miller of Coup De Grace/Humanoid. Miller, always working the trenches, eyes and ears on the floor. The addition of Warren to the Sunday night concert crew was HUGE. I can't express that enough. Coming in every Sunday and seeing these faces immediately assured me that the night would be a success. It's these faces that made all of the awesome bands feel so at home, so comfortable. Poster artists and DJs made our night extra special too. This awesome community is what kept these bands coming back. And gave us an amazing reputation!

Clearly we all need to thank BAR for letting us have this series at all. I, for one, am extremely thankful for the opportunity.

So here we are. Without a doubt, Shaki Presents is not out of the big picture. We just need a breather. This whole thing took a lot out of us. We've got stuff in the works, but down the line...reach out to us if you like, but please keep in mind we're going to take a break. Breather. Siesta. Nappy time.

Friends, don't worry about the loss of our Sunday night concert series. Continue to support local music, local promoters, local bands. Seek out underground music. This is our chance to do something even better. There is so much going on here in Connecticut. Really. Don't agree? Dig deeper. It's here.


Anonymous said...

Those shows were the best

Anonymous said...

oh yale...who can you buy?
this blows.

rickreaction said...

Thanks Rick O. & company for such an entirely great series. I look forward to your future endeavors in live music.

"There is so much going on here in Connecticut. Really. Don't agree? Dig deeper. It's here."


UVA said...

Oddly enough, GPSCY may be an appropriate alternative venue for the time being -- Rick, if you're reading this, it's Uva - reach out to me if there's anything I can do, financially or with liquor control, to help.

Shaki presents will be sorely missed, as will Jeff's craft brews, because unless he brews elsewhere, I'll never drink another pint. Later, BAR, it's been swell.

JENND said...

Rick...you led us into our proudest and most magical moments with this one. We will all look back and say we played side by side with some of the greats. How many shows can you think of when you could reach out and touch your heros? Magnolia Elec. Co., Acid Mothers Temple, Animal Collective...Etc. How many awesome flyers? AND-This room and its supporting attendees were always the pinnacle spot to show your work when it came to imagining yourself playing live as a local performer...if you played a set at BAR, you knew you had arrived. No one can say we didn't try, and succeed...what a success! Another chapter to add to Elm City's underground...keep the flame lit brother. With Love, JENND.

Anonymous said...

Miss you already!

Dale Nixon said...

Sorry to hear this Rick...the music scene has lost so many venues over the last few years, so many outlets and music has suffered...with nowhere to play, there's no reason for bands to form, and it has had a discernible effect in all areas of music.

as for BAR chasing the Yale crowd, isn't that what they already did? There's a finite number of Yalies out and about any given night, so who cares?

No reason to come to New Haven now...thanks for the effort and great shows that have happened.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly new to the area and finally found out about this series just in time to catch a show or two before it all ended. I'm truly sorry this has happened and hope something can replace it. Ct desperately needs a space (preferably near me) for stuff like this!