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What's the FIrst thing a band wants to know when they get to the club? Where is load-in? Where's the sound guy? Does the bathroom stall have a door? These are important questions, but what's more important: Who has the drink tickets, and how many do we get tonight?

Drink tickets are given to performing bands as a courtesy, and the number given out varies greatly from venue to venue. Sometimes the courtesy drizzles, and sometimes it pours. It's kinda like when you're on a plane and the flight attendant gives you a mini-bottle of liquor--that's cool. But better yet, when he or she parks the drink cart by your seat, you're flying the friendly skies.

Drink tickets are valuable: When clubs date their drink tickets, finding an unused one in your pocket the next morning is like throwing money in the parking meter on Sunday (of course you can try to redeem it for a game of Skee-Ball at the Seattle Center on a rainy day).

Drink tickets show you care: Offering one of these golden tickets to a friend is somehow more meaningful than using that hard-earned money from your unemployment check.

Use drink tickets as a down payment: Instead of using a ticket for a well drink or a domestic beer, use it toward that shot of Maker's you've been eyeing. An extra dollar will get you there, although sometimes just asking for an upgrade also works. Put your frequent flyer skills to good use.

Use the tickets before you play: The more tickets redeemed, the better you sound--and whether or not the bathroom stall has a door becomes less important.

We've cashed in our tickets while playing at many of the fine venues here in Seattle, and have included a few in our handy chart of venue hospitality:

Alta May plays Chop Suey on May 25, with Crictor and Cutthroats 9.