Pride In Practice: Transviolet Hand-Selecting LGBTQ+/BIPOC Direct Support For Each Of Its Fall Tour Dates
Provided Photo – Transviolet
In affecting change or raising awareness of inequality, it’s easy to share supportive messages or resources via Instagram stories – and those help. But to actually give support through your own business or enterprise can take a little more work.
“It’s crazy but, still, to this day, if you look at songs on the radio it’s still mostly white men, especially in the alternative space – 90% of the alternative artists on the radio are men, and most of those are white,” says Sarah McTaggart, lead vocalist of Southern California-based band Transviolet.
For its extensive fall club tour, Transviolet is featuring direct support from local artists who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or people of color for each of its shows to help even the playing field and give local musicians an audience.
“How do we give these artists and these communities more of a platform and more of a voice?” McTaggart says. “For us, bringing them with us on tour is a really small but we think important step to getting these artists out there. We’ve been in the vicious cycle where you can’t book a show because you don’t have enough listeners and can’t sell tickets, and you can’t sell tickets because you cant play your first show. We really wanted to be a part of helping artists that we really believe in and love the music and love the stories they’re telling, to have a platform to tell those stories.”
The band, which released its first full LP Born To Rule in early 2020 before the pandemic hit, is taking on its largest headline run to date, kicking off Sept. 8 at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, Calif., and taking in markets and venues including Empire Control Room in Austin, Exit/In in Nashville, Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, Funhouse in Seattle, Holy Diver in Sacramento and wrapping up at the Echo in Los Angeles Oct. 14.
Credited with bringing up the idea – and with Pride Month as a reminder – is agent/manager Eva Alexiou-Reo, who runs her own FATA Booking. Alexiou-Reo did the initial outreach with local LGBTQ+ / BIPOC organizations, fielding submissions and doing research on the bands herself, which were then further vetted by the band to include as direct support – not an opening slot.
“I had very specific guidelines, and I expressed to the organizations we were dealing with that this is direct support, not an opening slot,” Alexiou-Reo says. “We need a band that can confirm they are an active artist in their area or trying to break out nationally, with the idea of lifting them up in their own communities.
“I was surprised. I was getting people that had 15,000-plus Instagram followers and hundreds of thousands of streams– artists i’ve never heard of! That was fun. Wow, this is a real band? This is great!” Alexiou-Reo says the selected artists are being paid the same as a normal national direct support slot, with the same compensation that was allotted before the idea took shape for this tour.
McTaggart laughs that the process might have become more work than expected, but says lending their platform is important.
“As part of the LGBT community myself, that’s very important to me,” she says. “I think these stories need to be told. I was raised being exposed to very few LGBT artists, and I hope that continues to change. I think we’re seeing a big shift right now in our culture. There’s more and more artists being put in the spotlight from that community, and that’s awesome.
“Especially in the alternative space, i think it’s important to highlight both people of color and the BIPOC communities because there’s such a huge disparity in the alt space, especially, where it’s mostly white people, men especially.”
Drummer-producer Jon Garcia says the process has been somewhat organic because the band is very DIY, with the band and its fans already very involved in the LGBTQ+/BIPOC space.
“I think so far it is kind of organic by nature, because we’re a fully independent band now and kind of doing a grassroots approach, calling onto our fans to be the boots on the ground, and we actually started a list gathering street team emails of people willing to print out our tour fliers and go to local record stores and coffees shops and malls and stuff.
A lot of our fans are already in those communities, too, so hopefully it’ll spread that way and we’ll have a nice strong foundation to grow on.”
Considering the circumstances, just putting together a tour at all in ‘21 is a major endeavor, with Alexiou-Reo saying she had to act quickly when an opening presented itself.
“It was like one full week of rushing on fire to route the tour, to get the offers sorted with Chris (Swartz) in my office. Normally I work out different logistics – what ticket price do we wanna do? How do we see this going? It was all backwards. There were certain venues and promoters that didn’t have a green light to send offers yet. We were like the 17th hold. I would challenge the date without an offer — that’s a big leap of faith.
“Obviously, our job is to protect and navigate the best deal possible for our artists, but i knew it was going to be a citation where i’d have to go back once the dates clear and then have a whole new conversation – compensation and expenses and COVID expenses, COVID addendums, mine and their covid addendums – all that stuff. It’s kind of a blur. “We were lucky in terms of how fast we moved, and we did get it done in a week. But if we hadn’t been ready to pull the trigger and challenge those dates, I think we wouldn’t have gotten it. You see how many tours are confirmed this fall.”
The band, whose support history includes dates with Twenty One Pilots, LANY, Joywave, festival appearances at Reading & Leeds, Firefly, Gov Ball, KAABOO Cayman and others, continues to release new music including the recently released “Drugs In California” which has close to 200,000 YouTube hits. The tour feels like a long time coming, but they’re ready.
‘We’re getting really excited for it,” McTaggart says. “The livestream stuff was a really nice supplement when there was nothing else available, but I think everybody is craving the same thing, There is no replacement for a live show and being in a room full of bodies and sweat and griminess. That palpable energy shared between the artist and the audience, we’re so excited to feel that again. We’re a band that really thinks our live show is what sets us apart. We’re really excited to get out on the road again and give our fans a really good show, hopefully make some new fans.”
She adds that this will be the longest setlist the band has played, as well.
“Let’s put it this way,” Garcia adds. “I’ve started working out more to get ready for it.”
Laughing, McTaggart adds. “I’ve definitely upped my cardio game to prep for this tour, too.”