“You F***ing got into this show for free,” Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman kept yelling at the packed and thrashing Hi-Dive audience, egging them on into a mosh pit that stretched to the bar and toward the back of the venue. While getting dropped during a stage dive or hurrying to the bathroom cupping a nose full of blood, few in the Hi-Dive crowd were likely wondering why they actually got into this for free. Hold on — why was this a free show? By the looks of the place there was no real way of telling.
No banner draped the back of the stage sporting some sort of sponsor. There were no reps walking around pitching a product. None of the artists shouted out a brand or company while on stage. The only special shout out was to the Hi-Dive, when Spielman thanked the rock club for letting a bunch of kids stage dive, hit each other and walk out bruised and battered on a Tuesday night.
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In support of their new release, “No Peace,” Odd Future-affiliated punk act Trash Talk is nearing the end of a 17-date free tour, which is, somewhat subtly, sponsored by G Pen, a personal vaporizer. All fans had to do was go to a website before the show, RSVP by giving Trash Talk and G Pen their email, then, on Monday, RSVPers received an email with the unannounced location of the show (Hi-Dive). The anticipation of waiting in line, the free-ness, the sponsorship and email collection, it all had the feel of a targeted living advertisement you’d find at SXSW. But the difference being, Tuesday night wasn’t an all-out marketing campaign. Even on stage, the Jesus-lookalike hype man for the night’s opener, Left Brain, rolled a joint instead of providing a bit of product placement for the night’s host.
For a punk act, it’s the perfect way of doing a free and sponsored show. This wasn’t an all hail corporatism brand experience, like these shows can tend to be. It was a concert, and a wild one.