Slightly Dead

How bad is the concert-industry slump?

“We are off 30 percent compared to last year,” says a local promoter. “I heard Southern California [concert ticket sales are] off 20 percent.”

Yet, Slightly Stoopid’s Tailgate 2008 tour bucked the trend. The O.B.-based band’s 25-city summer tour wrapped up last Saturday at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre. All 5000 of the $32.50 tickets had been sold out for over a month. The tour also included sold-out shows at Denver’s Red Rocks (9500 capacity), Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa (8000), the Greek Theater in Berkeley (7000), the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston (5000), and Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia (5000).

Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald (who share vocal/guitar/bass duties) formed Slightly Stoopid in 1994. The reggae-drenched six-man band was discovered by Sublime, which released two Stoopid CDs on its Skunk Records label. Stoopid was publicized as Sublime’s “baby band” early on, but manager Matt Phillips says the connection is no longer necessary.

“They don’t want to glorify the death of their mentor and good friend,” says Phillips, referring to Sublime front man Brad Nowell, who died in 1996.

Slightly Stoopid’s arrival as a concert draw parallels the Grateful Dead in that the Dead were known for their shows, not their records. The band has no major-label support and releases music on its Stoopid Records label (including Slightly Not Stoned Enough to Eat Breakfast Yet Stoopid, which was released in July).

Also like the Dead, Slightly Stoopid has been largely ignored by radio. Their latest song, the reggae-tinged “2 a.m.,” has gotten airplay on 91X but has been added by only a handful of smaller stations across the country. Material from the band’s six studio CDs and two live albums has not earned them significant radio success.

“There are big radio bands all over [FM] 94/9 who come to town and can’t sell 200 tickets at the Casbah,” says Phillips. “Slightly Stoopid brings the party when they come to town. It’s like people are talking about it [in each city], and everyone wants to go to that party.”

Phillips says Stoopid Records has assumed the rights to its first two Skunk Records albums (self-titled and The Longest Barrel Ride) and plans to rerelease them before Christmas.

– Ken Leighton

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