Facebook / Phanie Diaz
Phanie Diaz performs during a FEA gig.
Riot grrrl punk outfit FEA were halfway through a national tour when the COVID-19 outbreak forced them to return to their San Antonio home base.
The band, signed to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, tours incessantly. But with CDC advising against gatherings of 50 or more
, finishing it's current jaunt became impossible.
With audiences likely hunkered down for weeks to come, it's unclear how bands like FEA, not to mention live music venues and booking agents will weather the storm. Diaz, who also co-owns and books live acts for the Bang Bang Bar, says it will require a community effort.
How is losing so many dates on a tour affecting the band?
It was weird. The whole plan was that we were going to do this FEA tour, then come back, practice for the Girl in a Coma reunion show, do that, then do the shows with the Subhumans right after and then do the summer tour. So, the schedule was pretty full with touring.
So, we went out and the tour started great with FEA — the shows were great — everything was going right, and then it all changed within days. … We watched people slowly going into panic, people starting to wear masks. … We would try to go to the store and all of sudden there’s chaos. We were like, “What in the fuck?” It all happened within days.
So, where were you at in the country when this happened?
We were in New York, [almost halfway] through our tour and we just watched the whole panic arise. And then we saw South By get cancelled, and that was the big one. We were like, “Holy shit!” Because that’s always been there. And as a co-owner of [the Bang Bang] bar and a show booker, all of a sudden I lost my shows. … Touring bands didn’t want to come out anymore, and then Taco Fest got cancelled. And then, the tail end of our tour started falling apart, because understandably, promoters were cancelling shows to keep people safe.
And then when Trump banned travel from Europe. Well, Subhumans are in the U.K. and Germany, so they can’t come. I literally lost all my tours. So, it sucks. Besides being a musician and loving to do something that’s therapeutic for me, it’s also my job too, so I had lost half of that — and then I came back and lost all the bookings.
I’m trying to fill in some of the holes, but then again, I don’t know what’s happening with the bars: if they’re going to close or if we’re going to be limited with attendance.
How much money did FEA lose from the tour cancellation?
Oh, I could tell you that quick. With losing the tail end of our tour, the Subhumans tour and the Girl in a Coma gig, I’ve lost way over thousands of dollars.
Obviously we can’t sell merch to the people, we can’t make our guarantees or our door deals — all of that is gone. So, we’re trying to brainstorm. We've got to get creative at this moment, and I see a lot of musicians are trying to make their merch available online and doing the Stage-It concerts, and that’s smart. And it’s beautiful that people understand what artists are doing. For some artists this is 100% their livelihood and they have to hustle.
And fans will get it, supporters will get it, and they’ll help if they have the means to.
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