Long Beach is no stranger to rising stars of music, however, “making it” as a band and finding places to perform can be extremely difficult. Learn about how local artist Jonny Strang of New American created his very own rock show, Supergloom, from the ground up.
Long Beach is no stranger to rising stars of music. Artists like Sublime and Snoop Dogg famously got their start here, but regardless of the prominent community of local musicians within the city, it seems it has become a less viable option to perform in Long Beach.
It’s no surprise that “making it” as a band is extremely difficult, but according to local musician Jonny Strang, of blues-rock band New American, it can even be difficult to gain local traction when some promoters and venues are not what he calls “band-friendly.”
“The regular channels are just awful, especially when you’re an early band and you’re trying to find some place [to perform],” Strang said. “You just learn really early on that promoters, 90 percent of the time, do not have your best interest at heart. And when I would see these other big shows [being] put together, I would just say, ‘I can do this better.’”
So, after realizing the best show he could perform would be one he created himself, that’s exactly what he did. Strang has been planning his second annual Supergloom music festival, which will be on June 16 at 5 p.m. at MADE by Millworks.
The set list is bottom heavy with rock bands like RMB and Thot Chamber but will end with new wave and psychedelic bands, like Young Creatures, Blackpaw, and Moon Honey. It’s all based on vibe, Strang says.
“There’s a style of music that comes out of Los Angeles that I really like, the more eclectic, odd, psychedelic music [that is] sort of mixed up with a Beach Goth sound. There are few bands out there that have that,” Strang said. “It’s hard to say what it is…you see some bands and it’s just like, that’s a Supergloom band. There’s just something about them, something weird or eerie.”
He also chose the set list based on familiarity. He met every band during previous shows he performed at or attended himself.
“I knew that if they were my friends, then they were going to show up on time. They’re going to make sound check, get on stage on time and [won’t] go long, because it’s a communal thing,” Strang said.
It hasn’t exactly been an easy road, however. During the first year of Supergloom, the original venue dropped out two weeks before the event because the venue didn’t have faith the rock show could make money, according to Strang.
They were able to move the two-stage, 16-band show last minute, and ended up performing for 250-300 people and earning around $4,000 for the venue.
Regardless of his success, things got difficult for Strang again when he began making plans for this year’s event. Again, a promoter grew concerned the event wouldn’t bring in enough money, so they wanted to end the show at 8 p.m. to turn it into a club night, but Strang refused.
“Supergloom doesn’t end at 8 p.m. What music festival ever ends at 8 p.m?” he said. “And I didn’t want to just give them all these people [my show] brought in for it to turn into a club night that I don’t get to exploit.”
The festival was starting to get further and further away from Strang’s vision.
“[I’m] someone who’s trying to throw a show that’s going to better the scene, get more people to listen to music, and get people to go to live rock events in that part of Long Beach. You don’t just switch a deal up at the last minute,” he said.
Refusing to bend to the venue’s new demands, Strang had two months to find a new venue. That’s when Josh Logan from Millworks got involved, and the show was moved to The Galley, a new venue at MADE by Millworks.
“The Galley is a very unexpected hidden treasure that MADE by Millworks provides,” Logan said. “There is nothing quite like attending a live music performance—the sights, sounds, and shared experience. No two are alike, and this one will be a night to remember.”
Strang said Logan even reduced the initial guarantee amount in half after meeting with him.
“Supporting local music is a part of the mission of MADE by Millworks,” Logan said. “At MADE we support local artisans, local artists and local musicians.”
When it comes down to it, Supergloom is happening because of community. The bands on the list are bands Strang knows personally, and MADE will be the venue because Logan and Strang had a mutual friend.
For bands who want to gain traction, Strang says they need to go to shows and make friends with others musicians—don’t just talk to the people on the bill, but talk to the bartender and even the sound technician; know who books the shows and have a personal relationship with them.
It really is as simple as being seen enough, he says, and that the advantages of being involved in the community don’t stop at getting gigs.
“Chances are, whoever puts shows together also knows the guy who prints shirts for cheap, has the cousin who creates buttons and has the PA system for super cheap,” Strang said.
It also might not hurt to make electronic or R&B music, he joked, claiming they seem to get more traction in Long Beach. But rock musicians and new bands shouldn’t abandon hope.
“Everything is cyclical, if disco’s coming back, why not the good venue?” he said.
For more information on Supergloom, visit their
Facebook event page.