How Lubbock Became A Touring Destination (And Why It No Longer Is)
I have had this theory for a long time and it's time to let it out of the box.
In 1978 The Sex Pistols were booked through the American south. It was thought that sending the band through the bible belt would make for some great press. What manager Malcolm McLaren didn't know was that along with those headlines from the people who didn't want it around, would be people that were so relieved to escape the pressure cooker of being kept down by religious and conservative groups that they would seriously embrace hard music.
Lubbock didn't make the Sex Pistols routing, but a slew of punk bands hit the road and veered off to Lubbock. The Ramones, The Clash, U2, and a host of honor fresh, rowdy faces saw Lubbock as one of the easiest stops between Dallas and Denver. After all, it was better to play a night in Lubbock than to take a night off between the large towns.
Punk became metal and the hard music already had a home. Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest, and bands like Saxon and Riot started to make Lubbock a regular stop. By this time the road to Lubbock was well worn and other bands started following this routing scheme. In later days bands like Pantera and Drowning Pool would insist on Lubbock being on their routing. Adding a "late-stage" push was, believe it or not, Nickelback, who spread the word to bands like Shinedown and Papa Roach that they HAD to play Lubbock.
A lot of this coincided with the launch of FMX in 1980. We've been told by a number of promoters that Lubbock got this designation as a "must stop" because of FMX. I can't verify that, but I can say we did a number of wars for bands over Amarillo and Midland Odessa. Personally, I think it's 'geography+radio support'
Things have slowed a bit, and that kind of goes for all over. Somewhere along the line, New Mexico put up a venue that was much more accommodating than many in Lubbock. Then, came the uber-festivals that scooped up all the talent and gave them huge paydays with the promise that they not play the smaller towns before the festivals. The Amp is a great place for outdoor shows, but there is nothing that size for indoor shows which blocks out a huge chunk of the year.
There are still bands that insist on Lubbock and it's not surprising it's still the harder ones. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, and a few others remain loyal to the town.
So there you go, that's my theory based on going to concerts and helping publicize concerts for over 40 years. It has been an excellent ride Lubbock and I think we have a few more big ones on the way.