Here’s a question for area music fans: What do you want or expect out of a local band or artist? Do you want them to be your buddies who play at dive bars every few weeks or so until both parties (fan and band) age out of going to see live music? Or do you want them to meet with increasing success, perhaps to the point that they tour far more than they play at home, hitting stages night after night at venues of ever-embiggening prominence?
I bring this up because the hot item beneath the overall rubric of “Fort Worth Music Scene” this week has been “Did you hear about Quaker City Night Hawks?” I’d like to assume everyone has read this news, but for those with the fortitude to dump their social media, QCNH was playing at the Basement East in Nashville as part of the Americana Festival. To heavily paraphrase all that reporting, at their show, there was a problem with the sound. QCNH drummer Aaron Haynes had what has been popularly termed (and gleefully hashtagged, I presume) a “meltdown.”
If you care about this news item – and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a nice distraction from contemplating things like “Wow, really? A war with Iran?,” “Another recession is very possible,” and “Am I enthused about more Marvel movies?” – you’ve probably watched the video of the incident. The video, in my estimation, confirms everything you’ve read and heard, especially since it was typically embedded in the middle-to-last third of whatever article you clicked on or, more likely, whatever Facebook commentary thread you perused.
I’m not going to harangue anyone about what they said on social media about that band. I read some of it. I laughed for multiple reasons. I read Haynes’ subsequent apology for his starring role in the drama, and I hope he gets help with whatever is bugging him. But what I thought about from the media coverage of the ordeal was this: When a band is the topic of discussion for thousands of people because its drummer allegedly threw a china cymbal that ricocheted off a PA speaker like Captain America’s shield before decapitating the front-of-house guy, I’d say that band is probably doing pretty good, PR-wise. That’s a sad commentary on lots of things, the least of which is what really gets attention to musicians (and it’s often not music). But from a completely mercenary, neutral perspective, I bet Haynes’ tantrum will bring the band more fans than they lose, simply because we humans love a soap opera. And, yes, it’s a soap opera, because while you may not be receiving ads for soap, your interest in an article is pushing your eyeballs in with ads for something.
If the people running social media for Lightning Rod Records (QCNH’s record label) are savvy, they are spending a lot of money on Facebook and Instagram right now, so hopefully the ads you see are for the band’s latest album and/or their upcoming European tour. But think about it in the terms of “There’s no bad press.” Why do country music fans reverently whisper the legend of “Johnny at the Footlights” as if it were the story of Gilgamesh building Stonehenge or the tale of how America got her flag or some shit? And also, Aaron Haynes is a person with joys and frustrations, same as you. What if some article that wasn’t the Onion devoted 700 words to you losing your shit at Fuddruckers or wherever?
I’m not condoning Haynes’ behavior, and, frankly, what he did is well inside the realm of shit that makes me fucking hate certain bands. But bands change as they become more successful. However you as a fan deal with it is your prerogative. But you can’t wish someone success and then take it back because an artist or artists don’t relate to you in the same way. The fact is, Quaker City is a big band, more so because you’re talking about them. You might as well go listen to their music, too.