For many bands fighting to pull ahead of a perennially crowded local music scene, foresight into what venues are actually looking for is an invaluable asset.
For concert bookers searching for consistently diverse acts to bring their venues not only credibility but some revenue as well, the experience of also being in a touring band is crucial to success.
Dylan Glover, who both fronts ITEM and is the lead booker for Mahall’s Twenty Lanes in Lakewood, is able to glean insight from the best of both worlds. In addition to recently releasing ITEM’s sophomore effort, Sad Light, Glover also serves as a central lynchpin in Mahall’s steady rise in worthwhile concert bills seen over the past two years.
Glover talks about taking on the role of head booker for the small club, “I initially started as a booking intern and absolutely hated it. I despised everything about it. So I quit doing that and focused more on the front of house production; you know, sound and door and helping bands out with production management. Then, our talent buyer quit and I was thrown into my position because there was literally no one else and I knew I had to step up for the name of the business and keep things flowing. I thought it was going to just be temporary and that I would just learn how to swim, then I started to enjoy it and the freedom of the job. The rest is history.”
His role with Mahall’s has afforded Glover a far wider perspective of how new bands, like his own, are seen among the whole. His outlook is equal parts Buddhist and Fight Club, “No one cares about you. Your mom cares, and that’s great. Soon enough your friends will too, if you’re good. Typically, no one cares. Particularly, club owners and bookers do not care about your local band. You’re probably not that good, that’s okay. You need to understand before you are disappointed by not getting emails back.”
It’s this disciplined patience that saw the self-described “art rock for depressed cowboys who love modulation” open for indie rock legends, Dinosaur Jr., at the Grog Shop earlier in September. Glover notes, “In terms of attendance; that was our biggest show so far.” As successful as the show proved for the band, the opportunity almost passed them by. Only after a scheduling discrepancy saw original opener Mastodon bow out did Glover pounce on the opening. “What I’ve learned about booking is that you have to be persistent and you have to be assertive. In learning those things I was able to utilize those elements to get on the show.”
Glover’s education has not been a one-way street. “As a booker who’s a musician first and foremost, you’re able to more adequately provide what you feel is right to provide to bands, like money or food or alcohol. [Being in a band] changed how liberal I was with those things. The first thing I did when I got my job was make alcohol flow like water for bands that play at Mahall’s. … I’m going to make it right by you because I would want a promoter to make it right by me.”
With Glover peering through both sides of the looking glass, its little wonder ITEM has proved a consistent player in the local music scene, playing in support of Sad Light and as a featured act in this year’s inaugural PressureFest. With Glover on lead vocals, synth, and guitar, Connor Simpson and Skylar Keffer on additional vocals and guitars, Jacob Kirkwood on drums, and Nestor Nazario on bass, this sum total sees their latest release, Sad Light, operating on rarified air where familiarity and originality intersect.
Glover describes a subtle shift in ITEM’s sound when recording Sad Light. “We’ve moved all over the place. Our first record was bordering on progressive rock, but it’s still rooted in the indie bands of the late 80s and early 90s. Now it’s taken a more direct approach. I wouldn’t say it’s a sonic throwback, but we definitely tip our hats to our favorite bands. It’s a mix post-rock, pop, and indie rock in a 90s sense, with even jazz thrown in there from time to time, definitely slow-chord shoegazer stuff. We’ve got all these sub-genres that are swirling around into one mix of influence that spans all the different members.”
You can find ITEM on Bandcamp, facebook.com/socialitem; and Instagram @item_cle