Being born and raised in Seattle gave Robin Taylor a leg up in her music industry career. Submerged in the middle of the booming grunge scene in the 90s, Taylor found herself comfortable nestled in with all the creative types and casually started booking shows as an independent promoter.
“It was crazy. I met Jonathan Poneman from SubPop at Kurt Cobain’s backyard barbecue. They were all buddies of mine,” Taylor told Amplify. “I was always into music and all my friends were musicians. If I’m not going to play guitar and sing, promoting shows is what I will do.”
Since they were friends, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic called Taylor just days before the band was leaving to record what would become Nevermind in Los Angeles. He asked her if she could put together a show for the following night and Taylor insisted on needing at least two days to promote. Novoselic agreed and Taylor slapped posters up all over town. At 3pm on the day of the show, there was a line around the block to get in and it became clear that Nirvana was going to be big.
Taylor also worked the door at a tiny room called The Vogue and when bands she liked weren’t scheduled to make stops all the way up to Seattle, she stepped in.
“Because I was in Seattle, bands started calling me and saying ‘Hey, can you get us a show in Portland or Vancouver?’ So I started becoming a mini booking agent. I did a couple of Green Day shows and that’s how I met Jawbreaker. It grew from there,” Taylor said.
“Steve Freeborn, who owned the O.K. Hotel, always let me do my thing when booking the room which was the first time I ever booked a room nightly,” Taylor added. “he let me book with little interference which was not only cool but was a very positive influence. There was mutual trust.”
Taylor moved out to New York to work with Lisa Miller as an assistant at CMJ, before making the decision to branch out on her own. As the president of her company, Inland Empire Touring, Taylor books regional and international tours for roughly 30 bands.
“It got me excited to be booking again, cutting my own contracts and talking to people. You get bogged down when you’re running an office and you stop doing the thing that you love,” Taylor said.
Taylor recaptured that momentum she had from Seattle, referring to it as “lightning in a bottle” and continues booking shows for bands she’s passionate about from Brooklyn. Amplify caught up with Taylor to find out about five shows that shaped her love for music.
The Who Farewell Tour at Kingdome in Seattle
Oct. 20, 1982
I already loved the Who but the Clash opening was a mind-blowing two-fer. I was in high school and was already a Clash fan since “new music” and/or “indie music'” was my thing. I remember thinking that a huge number of Who fans who walked into that show did not understand what they were going to see. They were different for it afterwards. Plus it got me thinking about the curation of concert bills and how interesting a show could be.
Nirvana at O.K. Hotel in Seattle
April 17, 1991
As a promoter this was probably the most exciting show I’ve booked to date. They debuted “Smells Like Teen Spirit” live that night. They had Bikini Kill and Fitz of Depression open for them. Literally, the only thing I’d change about that show is the spelling of Fitz of Depression on the poster. My poster guy spelled it incorrectly and put Fits of Depression!
Modest Mouse at Crocodile Cafe in Seattle
It was the night I started working with them. I had seen two previous shows but this night in my mind, proved they were ready even if one of them was still a teenager and couldn’t be in the 21+ club unless he was playing. They were supposed to open for Jonathan fire but they had been in a minor accident while crossing the (mountain) pass so Modest Mouse just played and kept going for a solid two and a 1/2 hours. You just know you were watching something new and exciting.
The Glands at Mercury Lounge in New York
Nov. 4, 2011
I love this band and still do. I got their records in the mail, cold-call style. I listen to everything I get. I put these CDs in and thought ‘Holy shit, what is this? This is the best band ever.’ I put them on tour Modest Mouse and The Shins loved them. Sadly the singer passed away two years ago. Their records will stand the test of time, I’m sure. This was a headlining sold out New York City show for this Athens band. It just felt like a win.
Jawbreaker at Jabberjaw in Los Angeles
June 15, 1995
Jabberjaw in Los Angeles. I have very fond memories of that place. I loved booking this tour. All three bands (Jawbreaker and opening bands Fluf and Chinchilla) were friends and the music was fantastic. I have seen some great shows in this decade, I promise. These were pivotal.