DFW Music News

Q&A: Mike Schoder Further Tells Us What Happened Inside The Granada At The Crystal Castles Show

As space was pretty tight in the print edition this week, I wasn't able to fit the entirety of my interviews with VEGA's Alan Palomo or the Granada Theater's Mike Schoder into the space for my column this week on the Crystal Castles cancellation at the Granada. Below, find the entirety of my interview with Schoder from last Wednesday afternoon, in which Schoder details his dealings with Crystal Castles and his opinion on their decision to back out of the show.

Initial thoughts on what happened last night?
Nobody does that. You don't cancel because you don't like somebody. I don't know if they felt like VEGA was better than them or overshadowed them. Who knows?

Did they give you any reason for why they were willing to cancel the show?
They were saying, "We don't need this money." It was all about [Ethan] not liking the way the kick drum sounded. And it's like, if you've seen shows here, that just isn't [the case].

What's the worst part about how things went down last night?
Just to crap on the fans--that's the biggest thing. All these people bought tickets and came out and not only does he cancel, but he waits until 10 o'clock to do it, when all these people have been standing in line for three hours. It's just terrible.

At what point did you know the show wasn't going to take place?
As soon as the manager came to us and said they weren't going to play. That was just shortly after 10 o'clock.

What happened prior to that?
I was talking to Ethan, the keyboard player, for hours at the front of the house. It was just ridiculous.

Most ridiculous situation you've ever had at the Granada?
Oh, easily. We've never canceled a show--artists cancel shows for whatever reason, but nothing like this.

And you said you heard the band during soundcheck?
Yeah, it sounded great.

So what was happening between soundcheck and the cancellation?
Them trying to make their mind up whether they were going to play or not.

What were they saying?
[Ethan] was like, 'I'd rather not do a show than do a show where I don't think the sound is right.'

Were you willing to accommodate his requests?
Oh, sure, absolutely. But even their sound guy was like, "This system's good enough for 5,000- 7,000 people outdoors." I mean, it's a huge system; you can use it for festivals. But their sound guy couldn't get them on stage. Their manager couldn't get them on stage--but it was just her second day with them. When the rock star's standing there, you just kind of wait for what he says because he's the rock star. Even us. The artist makes the rules. We just fulfill whatever they want. But, you know, how loud does it need to be?

How upset are you about how this went down?
There's just so much in life that you cannot control. For me to get upset about it is wasting time. But I'm upset for the fans. I hate that. But anybody that's been in there and heard that system knows that the system is incredible.

I'm just trying to picture the scene inside the room in my head. Outside, in the line to get in, people were getting pretty riled up. But it sounds like a whole lot of nothing was going on inside, the way you're saying it.
There was nothing absolutely wild and dramatic about it. Like I put in that email: Play your show, talk to your fans, and if you don't like the sound, don't come back to the venue. But don't not play the show.

Sounds like you wouldn't have even minded if they went on stage and threw your room under the bus.
I don't fucking care what they say. They can say whatever they want.

What were you thinking when they said they weren't going to go on and that the problem was your sound system?
It was very weird. And any band that's played any amount of gigs, they've played in venues where the sound isn't exactly what they want. We can have 50 shows straight where the bands and the techs love the system, and then you get a night where someone's just bitching. That's just gonna happen. Everyone's got an opinion. They had an opinion. But to take it out on your fans? I think it really is a massive dose of insecurity.

Once 10 o'clock rolled around, people outside started to assume the show was gonna get canceled anyway. How late were you willing to wait it out before you pulled the plug on your end?
Well, they were only going to play a 45-minute set. I would have had them on at one o'clock in the morning. They could've gone on. Curfew's not until 2. Yeah, there were some underage people and they'd have to go home, but whatever. I was willing to unstack our woofers and place them in different places of the venue the right amount and move them around. Ultimately, though, there are only so many places the woofers can be placed to avoid fire lane issues.

Tell me about the sound system that you do have in place already. I mean, you're right: I've been to shows there and it's been plenty loud.
One of the reasons we have so much firepower in there is the eight levels--the four on the bottom and the four on top--and all of those levels have bar tops, and those present certain challenges. The concrete walls present challenges. There are all of those challenges, but one of the reasons I brought in double the sound [for the house system] than we'd originally proposed [when building the room] was to make sure that we had the best sound in town.

What could you have done to the system last night to get Crystal Castles on stage?
There was nothing we could have done. Had they been in the room when they were supposed to sound check, which would have been three or four in the afternoon, maybe. But they started sound-checking between five and six o'clock. But when they said, after six o'clock, that they wanted more woofers, it was too late to get any. We did it for System of a Down four years ago for something, and I almost vomited from the sound in the room. The guitar player vomited on stage because there was so much bass in the room. Seriously!

The whole thing is surprising to me, I guess. Like the fact that the show had such a buzz, even--y'know before the cancellation and everything. Just a weird night. I've gotta ask, though: Would you ever consider bringing Crystal Castles back to the Granada?
Are you kidding? No. As much as rock 'n' roll seems like it's so renegade and stuff, it's a business. It's about working with people and being professional. There's nothing professional about showing up and just being a total prima donna and saying you won't play. I mean, they've played rooms with way less sound than this.

Any lessons learned in this whole ordeal?
It's another one for the record books, I guess. It all just comes down to theory in the end and trying to figure out why humans do what humans do. But I really think this was an insecurity thing at the end. That's possibly why they were afraid of VEGA playing in front of them. And does the sound have to be so immensely and terribly loud that it's damaging people's hearing? Do you suck that bad that you have to be that loud where the bass is just causing people to vomit? I would like to see them play, just to see what the talent is there.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman