The Band Menu

21 Sep

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to present to you the phenomenon that has confounded me ever since I worked myself up past the title of “merch girl” in this business: The Band Menu. I cannot figure the logic of what those three words imply, and yes…the “The” is important, because it allows for the very distinction that floors me. Here’s how it goes sometimes out there on the road:

Me: “May I have a menu?”
Them:”Are you with…The Band?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Them: “Here is The Band Menu.”
Me: “You mean, a menu for the band?”
Them: “No, you order from…The Band Menu.”

Is it at this point I curse passing up that bag of Baked Lays and some 2 day old carrot sticks at the truck stop we were at 2 hours prior because I know what is going to happen. (Note for proceeding: I am trying to make a point here, so everything is grossly exaggerated and not pinpointed to any specific place or time or gig. This is an amalgamation of experiences. Also I have eaten some of the best food ever at venues which are oftentimes very generous. I’m talking about you, Morso Wine Bar in Gig Harbor, WA).

So maybe we walk in the lovely venue and they have a lovely menu because we eyeballed it online or snagged one from behind the counter.

The Menu
Like I said, this is some random menu I got from Google to make a point.
It’s not from anywhere I’ve been. Stop trying to trace it.

Then we get handed The Band Menu, which usually (when there is a The Band Menu Policy in place) looks like this:

The Band Menu

Siiiiigh. For reals. They edit their normal menu for Musician Eating Purposes. I think they actually even just copy the kids menu sometimes. The Band Menu is usually full of a whole lot of fried food and no greenery. A lot of times after traveling, you would kill for a salad. Even some cabbage on a plate with Italian dressing. Sometimes…there are no salads to be found. No fish. No unfried meats.

So I think from the restaurant point of view, maybe they had a band come in that ordered 6 of the $65 Buffalo Mignon or something, I don’t know. Somewhere along the line certain places decided that feeding their entertainers what they offer their customers was too costly, so The Band Menu was created. Keep costs down. Keep your musicians sluggish from a meal of fried meat so they don’t get out of hand in the 2nd set. I don’t know. It has literally made me sad at certain times to think that after driving all day to get to a show where she is going to kick butt onstage and pour out her heart and soul, The Boss has to choose between chicken tenders and steak fingers for dinner. It’s wrong.

The polite thing to do would be to give each band member a reasonable cap, and if they go past their stipend amount, they pay it. It’s fair. It’s human. It’s respect.

I’m sure from the venue side of things, there are horror stories of giant tabs from bands and no tipping or whatever, but I know a lot of musicians who do things right. Don’t make them eat the steak fingers. Unless they want the steak fingers…but give them some green beans too, because they need the vitamins.

(I feel the need to clarify I don’t want a gripe fest…the majority of venues feed us well and happily and let us pick things from their awesome menus. However, The Band Menu has happened enough times that I felt compelled to bust this phenomenon wide open here on the internet. Dateline shall be calling, I’m sure).

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