Sorry for the vulgarity, but it’s true. Last Friday, Will & Co. played what will be their final show for a while (as bassist Jake goes on paternity leave) at Hartford’s Webster Theater, the city’s “best” (cough, cough, *only*) music venue. We suffered 4 hours of driving rain and snarled traffic so the guys could open for The Radiators at this marginally converted movie theater. Management told them they had 30 minutes to play. For the privelege, the members of the band had to sell a certain number of tickets, which they paid for in advance. No other payment was forthcoming. This “pay-for-play” scheme is not only highly unethical and lazy (do these people not promote their events in any way? what if the band has no friends in fair Hartford willing to buy tickets like so many boxes of Girl Scout cookies?), but it is also probably illegal. Rest assured that local journalists are standing by to cover this story, as it’s a crime that has been perpetrated against many, many other hard-working bands who justifiably never want to stop in Hartford again.

Anyhow, aside from the indignity of selling tickets for this crap venue and getting dozens of people in the door to spend more money on drinks and snacks, the band almost literally got the hook after about five songs. This had happened to the previous band, as well: They got to the end of one song, and as they were launching into the opening chords of the next, the lights went off and house music came on. Just like that. Will tried to forestall this by asking after a few songs how much time they had left. Ten minutes was the reply. After a 4-minute song, darkness fell and classic rock spilled out through the PA. Boos resounded. Birds were flipped. Jake was uncharacteristically angry (for those who know him, anything stronger than “dude, that wasn’t cool” is practically a tantrum).

So if any of you in Hartford wonder why no good bands ever play in your city while they flock to smaller, more out-of-the-way venues, now you know. And if there are any entrepreneurs among you, the market is wide, wide open to create a better club; the bar is currently set very low.

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