Why do gigs suck?

I don’t see a whole lot of live music. I mean, obviously I see and review musical shows quite often, but I reckon I could count the amount of gigs I go to on one hand – ermm, plus a couple of fingers!? 

This is mostly because there are only a select few artists or bands I’d want to travel into the city and pay dolla to see, but also because, well… gigs can suck. 

Wait, hear me out (wow, I start a lot of blog posts with those words, these days)! I was recently in West Kensington seeing my one true love Joshua Radin with the equally excellent William Fitzsimmons at Nell’s Jazz and Blues (brilliantly hidden gem of a venue, tbh), and despite the music being utterly gorgeous as per, I was full of irritation for pretty much my whole time there. And as the irritation boiled over into full on rage, I wondered if anyone else would share in my hatred of certain unfortunate norms at live music events…? Here are my biggest bugbears:

The stinky heat.

I mean, really. You own a venue specifically designed for bands, artists, comedians etc. to perform in. Fork out for some decent air con, or vents, or windows, or SOMETHING. I react really badly to stuffiness, as do a lot of folks I know – and other concert-goers I’ve met when we are all sat on the floor of a club or theatre, heaving and pouring the £5 bottles of water down our necks. Also, heat makes things smell, and depending whose gig it is, that can be dangerous (e.g. the long-haired unwashed pop punk dudes at a Bowling For Soup gig will wipe out all those around them with their pop funk, while teenage girls at a Taylor Swift gig will make others’ eyes water with their liberal spritzing of her fragrances).

The people.

Yes, this covers all manner of sins. Let me break it down into sub-categories of horror: the screamers, the song requesters, the pashing couples; the people who watch through their phone screens, the fangirls who sing along at full volume without any consideration for those around them straining to hear the person they actually came to see sing, the drunkards who proposition the lead singers, share personal information with the whole room and interrupt the cute pre-song stories, and the inconsiderate tall people who push through to the front at the last minute rather than getting there early and very kindly letting others find space around them while the support act plays. Y’know what? I’d rather go to a gig with about a dozen other people like me who stand sit quietly, watch adoringly, and don’t dare attempt to sing along above a whisper. Also we’d bring our own non-crunchy snacks, sip from our Keep Cups or metal bottles, and leave our phones in our bags for the entire thing. Mmm, that’s the dream.

The waiting, and the lateness.

Before the gig in West Ken, I called the jazz club to ask when I could expect everything to start – and, more importantly, wrap up – so I could get my travel plans sorted. I was horrified when they said the doors opened at 7pm, but the first act the night before hadn’t come out until 9, the headliner was around 10, and the audience had left by midnight. I really hate standing (in the stinky hot room surrounded by drunkards and macking couples) waiting for about half the time of the entire gig. I really don’t see why people can’t be told to turn up bang on 7pm, get drinks etc. in before 7:30, when the first act will appear, then have a brief pause to grab more refreshments and then have the headliner do their thing from 8-ish. Or, even better, have the gig in the afternoon on the weekend! Like a West End matinee! You could have a packed lunch on the way there, a cheeky early afternoon bev between acts, and get home while it’s still light! …no? What do you mean, ‘lame’!? I’ll have you know I am a very sensible 25 year-old now! The post-club kebab shop trips and 4am bedtimes (which meant passing out on your friends’ kitchen floor) are over, folks. Nowadays I am all about late evening baths and getting into bed to read at 9:30pm. Anyone else? 

So, if you hate gigs so much, why do you still go?

Hey, when did my list of annoyances turn around and start questioning me?! Pffttt. Yes, I did find myself thinking this while sitting on the last train home after my night with Joshua. Why do I do this to myself? What is the point of booking a ticket (the cost of which inexplicably increases every time I do?!) to put myself in these awful situations time and time again? I will never enjoy the close proximity of hairy, stinky strangers. I will always hate the screaming fangirls, the shouting drunk dickwads and the smirking bartenders, and my enjoyment will always be more than a little limited by my constant watch-checking and TFL app refreshing. So why do I do it, still?

I do it, still, because I love the music and I love the feeling it gives me seeing it live. Watching some of my favourite beings create beautiful sounds right in front of me; being vaguely aware of my eyes prickling and filling up when the first few notes of my favourite song are played; listening to artists I’ve loved forever telling stories, joking with their audience, thanking their fans; hearing the subtle hum of those around me quietly moving their lips along with the lyrics they’ve loved for years, just as I have… that sh*t is magic.


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