Touring

The Kills' Alison Mosshart on Indie Venues: 'So Much Great Art Is Born on Those Stages'

Alison Mosshart
David James Swanson

Alison Mosshart

"They are by their very nature of independence, welcoming and transformative for all, school and church with a bar and a spotlight."

Alison Mosshart from The Kills wrote this piece for Billboard for Independent Venues Week.

I owe immeasurable thanks to independent venues. At 14 when I started touring, it was independent venues that took a chance and booked my first band. Gave me my first rodeo. And my second. And eventually, too many rodeos to count.

I remember the first Kills tour I booked. I wrote letters by post to independent venues around the whole of America asking if they would have us. We didn’t even have a band name yet, nor did we use our real names… but we got so many letters back that I booked 3 solid months of gigs around the country. Those bookers were gamblers, and ultimately saviors. That tour changed our lives.

These clubs dotted around the country in every incarnation -- erected there on that corner, or in the basement, that old theater sandwiched deep in the hustle of downtown, or shack nudged up to train tracks, or roadhouse so close to the airport plane noise obliterates whole sections of songs -- are all run out of love and a desire to truly support the arts, music, and free fucking expression. That's the truth. I have no idea where I’d be 27 years on, without them.

I love these venues. They’re my second homes. I have grown up in them, honed my craft in them, snoozed behind their bars, wept in their bathrooms, danced to their bands, confessed to their walls, and fallen in love in their shadows. These clubs are exactly where you want to see your favorite band. Often smaller, more personal, close up. These clubs are where the iron is hot.

This is where you get to catch the artist working out his/her material in real time. This is where rough edges are delighted in and quirks are celebrated. This is where people riff. This is where the band tries that new song for the very first time and you are the first to hear it. These are the rooms where a fan or an artist will always proudly say, “I was there,” and whoever you’re talking to is HOLY SHIT jealous.

Independent venues are incredibly important to our musical history as a country, and they are incredibly important to our future. So much great art is born on those stages. 99% of the bands you love would not have crossed your radar had independent venues not been a vital part of their journey. I truly believe music, musicians, performers of all kinds and audiences everywhere, would suffer dearly without these rooms. They are by their very nature of independence, welcoming and transformative for all, school and church with a bar and a spotlight.

Cyberspace is neato but nothing is as moving or inspiring as ‘real life.’ Feeling that unified energy and adrenaline you get from being together, really in it together, sweating and going deaf and dancing ‘til your legs give out. That’s the real thing. That’s the shit right there. That’s why I fell in love with music and performing on stage. I owe so much of that lifelong love to independent venues, for the gift of time and space to make that discovery way back then and explore it for the next 27 years.

Unreal Environment: 12th Planet At The Stadio Virtual Venue | Billboard Pro Spotlight