Sorry Mon-mon, I couldn't wait till you gave me access to that site where dogs can howl to their hearts' content. This "beach" needs to see the light of day! I need to vent out something that's been weighing heavily on my Jazzmammary glands!
It's been some four weekends now since the launch of The Top Room and, for the most part, everyone who's been there [operative words being 'been there'] has gone away more than satisfied and content in the knowledge that good, live jazz music is alive and well in Kuala Lumpur!
Having said that, there exists the notion that the 2-drink minimum rule that applies to all who set foot in it is a tad steep and that it has been taken to mean that the RM50++ charged is a cover. A cover charge, from my understanding, is when you get charged a fee just to get in regardless. What this is is you have to consume at least two-drinks while you sit there and ENJOY the music. Period. You order two drinks also it'll come to around the same price mah! And it can be any drink of your choice from the drinks menu. Except, of course, the premium brands lah.
Okay. There are some who will argue that they only take non-alcoholic beverages. Well, if we wanted to sustain a business by selling soft drinks and entertainment, we should've opened a cinema. This IS a jazz club. And we still have overhead costs to pay. And, like it or not, part of the overhead cost is the music itself. So we feel it's only right that we levy a minimum amount for people to enjoy that. Especially when we're not compromising on the quality of the music.
Let's do some basic mathematics. Let's just say a glass of wine costs 20 bucks. If you have two of those you've already chalked up 40 bucks leaving 10 from 50. Now, kira the cost of the band, the staff's salaries, electricity, water, not to mention rental costs and the bar's stock, etc. You don't need rocket science to figure out that the margin of profit is actually very little given the whole package that's on offer!
We thought long & hard about this before we set everything in motion figuring that that was a comfortable price that, even we, wouldn't hesitate to pay for to get good, high-quality jazz in these here parts.
Of course there are those of us who are more discerning in our choices. Otherwise one can always go to other entertainment venues and not be obligated to pay for two drinks. But then you can also walk out halfway because you find that 1. the sound sucks [sometimes the band itself sucks too] and 2. the crowd is too damn loud cos they don't give a rat's ass about what's going on in the bandstand [which in the case of the bad sound/bad band might be a blessing in disguise]. But that's exactly why we impose the two drink rule - so we don't have to have the wannabes who don't really know how to appreciate good music but just want to be there to be seen. The ones that sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU... right at the top of their lungs in 8 different keys, all at the same time, and this is the best part, right smack in the middle of the band's heated, oftentimes played from the heart, solos.
It's quite sad because we find a lot of people don't seem to see the value of what they have here. It's a perennial problem anyway. We've been singing the same ol' song - just in a different key now. Musicians who've been in the business as long as some of us have been feel that its a losing battle. Especially when you're up against a mindset that adulates and celebrates mediocrity. Just look at Mawi. I mean, the dude can't sing to save his life! And yet, in Malaysia, he's the greatest discovery since keropok lekor! Definitely fishy, if you ask me.
Anyway, begging your pardon. I digressed. The point I'm trying to make and, I take liberty in saying this, The Top Room management has passionately upheld since its inception is this... it's high time that somebody took a stand for quality. It's high time that somebody took an effort to create a culture for something good. It's high time to say goodbye to mediocrity and hello to excellence. It's high time to stop apologising for the fact that we have got something good to offer. Something that's taken us years of hard work and passion to build, whether you choose to believe it or not.
It's so easy to sit back and watch performers on stage and judge them and say, "They are just musicians because they couldn't amount to anything else in life". Well, we'd like to get you on stage and we'll watch and see if you make the grade. And we're not talking Idol standards either. Sorry but compromise is not something that comes into our radar. All we want, to borrow that well-known phrase from Aretha, is a li'l R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And that's across the board really. It's not endemic to just musicians or any art form. It's a basic human need.
But I've gone off on another tangent altogether. Guess I've got more than one gripe tonight. Had some golden gripe water earlier but that didn't help. If anything, it magnified everything else.
Now back to the main issue before I get any more waylaid. What I'd like to say is, before you make any judgements about The Top Room, you gotta come at least once. Then you can tell me [and i'll listen to you when you say it because you'd have, at the very least, been there and seen and heard, first-hand, what we've got to offer] that 50++ is too much to fork out for two drinks and good music, good sound, good ambience and good company!