Dave Dictor (MDC)
SPB: What was the largest and smallest crowd you’ve played to?
Dictor: The largest crowd was at the With Full Force Festival in what was East Germany with Motorhead, Agnostic Front, US Bombs, The Distillers. There was said to be 50,000 people there. Ozzy Osbourne was the next night's headliner at the festival. We played the smaller of the two stages yet I would say half of the people at the event were paying attention to us.
From there the attendance slides to between 5 and 7 thousand...both outdoors and free with the Dead Kennedys at Yippie events in the year of 1983. One was July 3rd at the Lincoln Memorial and the other at Dolores Park in San Francisco. In 1982 we got to open for the DK's in Europe for 17 shows that had between 1,000 and 3,000 in attendance. These were our biggest shows to date and there was something very satisfying to realizing we could handle a crowd that large and that basically didn't know who you were ‘til you played.
As far as tiny shows go, ]there are] almost too many to announce for a band such as ours. I must say the urge is to forget these non-events is strong...When we started out we played parties for 10 to 15 people all the time. And the Tuesday 9:30 slot at the famous old Raul's Club in Austin in 1980 could easily have less than 12 people in the club.
We just played Adelaide, Australia for 57 paid. Our motto for these shows is " Never have so many, traveled so far, to play for so few" (a rewording of Churchill's comment of the debt England owed to the RAF fliers of WWII). There are the shows where the advertising never made it into the paper, the date was advertised incorrectly or whatever. There are various reasons for extreme low attendance...one is plain old over-playing one's market which we have done a plenty in Portland and San Francisco through the years. We have played to groups of 5 to 10 people more than a few times and you just have to suck it up and pray it builds character.
On the other hand, I play acoustically for smaller groups all the time. We have played the Red And Black Cafe here in Portland for 20 people or less more than a few times. Sometimes a relatively small amount of people can give you more energy and positive response than much larger crowds. Enjoy your music and accept the ups and downs out there in the gig world. And face that many of us out there are never totally quite sure when it might be time to throw in the towel versus it just being a speed bump and you’re about to take your band to new heights. To me it is very sad when a person or group throws in the towel prematurely and a lot less sad when a band sticks around past it's due date.