Gig promoters avoiding risks in tough times

Now well past the previous year and the widespread euphoria generated throughout the country and diaspora by the Olympic Games and the national soccer team’s unbelievable triumph at Euro 2004 in Portugal, the time has come to reface reality. Times, pundits seem to agree, are expected to be demanding for the local economy’s various sectors in 2005. The domestic concert circuit, too, appears, at this stage, unlikely to remain unaffected. Judging by the confirmed bookings made so far this year, concert promoters seem unwilling or unable to take risks on major ticket productions. Early indications show a clear preference for low-risk options, a blatant example being the imminent avalanche of gigs by one of contemporary music’s death-defying species, heavy metal, and its splinter styles. Renewable from generation to generation, the style(s) can, regardless of trends, be counted on to draw herds of free-spending, rebel-minded, mid-teen youngsters, mostly male, to concert venues. Also popular on the agenda are the tried-and-tested acts, bands that have been here countless times before and attracted good crowds yet continue to charge affordable rates. Taking the aforementioned factors into account, local concert promoters are opting for sensible investments, which in terms of concert activity, can often prove dull. The flow began last Saturday night with ’70s hard-rock/metal band Uriah Heep at the Gagarin Club in Athens, and, more interestingly, across town at the Rodon Club, the acid-jazz combo James Taylor Quartet, one of the country’s more frequent visitors over the past decade that, nevertheless, always causes a stir. This week’s offering brings a new Swedish band, Unisex, to the capital for one show at the Rodon Club (24 Marni Street, tel 210.524.7427) on Friday. The guitar-based pop-rock band, which has just released its debut album on a Greek label, will be joined by Danny Griffiths of the British group Archive, as an accompanying DJ. A day later at the Gagarin 205 Club in Athens (205 Liosion, tel 210.854.7600-2), the Irish group Therapy?, which managed to prompt particular interest several years ago but failed to produce the goods with ensuing projects, will present its most recent album as well as older work. On the same night, Saturday, local electronica acts will converge at the Rodon Club for the Greek Electro Festival II, which will feature bands culled for the second volume of a compilation CD. On the festival’s agenda are Decode, High Level Static, Atria and Universal Trilogy. Also on Saturday, as well as on Sunday, there will be more electronica at the Benaki Museum (138 Pireos, 210.345.3111-3) performed by both Greek and foreign exponents of the style. The two-day event, titled Electrograph ’05, will also feature experimental acts. Early next month brings the Eisplane Festival, an event focused on electro-pop’s darker side, to the Gagarin Club on February 5. Bookings for the festival include older dark-wave heroes DAF from Berlin, Kirlian Camera from Italy, as well as local acts Astyplaz, a popular newcomer, and Genetic Variation. February 5 offers other options, too. Thessaloniki cult band Xaxakes will travel south for a show at the Ston Aera club (Petroupolis main square) with new and older work. Also that night, a Saturday, Mad Professor, a ubiquitous figure best known for his remixes of Massive Attack material, will play a set at the An Club (13-15 Solomou, Exarchia, tel 210.330.5056). A week later, on February 11, Micro, a well-received Greek pop band, will present its new album at the Gagarin Club. Underscoring the highs and lows of rock and roll, the following evening, Steve Adler, the ex-drummer of former supergroup Guns ‘n’ Roses, will play with his new band, Adler’s Appetite, at the Ston Aera club in Petroupolis, western Athens. The British rock group Six By Seven, which has yet to convince listeners after several albums, has been booked for a Rodon Club performance on February 18. Radio 4, a dance-oriented rock act from New York, which put out a disappointing album last year after exciting with its predecessor, is scheduled for the Gagarin Club on the same night. The following night at the same club, the local act Sound Explosion, a seasoned performer, will belt out its infectious set of garage rock numbers. On February 20, one of the heavy metal scene’s more frequent visitors to this country, Cradle of Filth, will return for a performance at the Rodon Club. Bookings for March include rock legends MC5 from Detroit. They play at the Gagarin club on March 4. Musical prankster Tonino Carotone, who enjoyed considerable exposure from collaborations with Manu Chao, is scheduled to perform at the Gagarin on March 5. The month also brings two more heavy metal acts, Gravedigger, another regular visitor, on March 6 at the Rodon Club, as well as Brazilian group Sepultura, which had enjoyed crossover appeal early in its career. It will also play at the Rodon Club on March 21.