8 July 2011
Chat rooms or live gigs?
I go to see a fair bit of live music. I go to see the bands and hear the music, hopefully performed in a different way to the recored version. But I am getting more and more jaded by people around me who seem to be there just for a social get-together.
Let me explain...
Last week at Arcade Fire I'd paid £45 (+fees, which is another rant in itself!) to find that the sound was dreadful, the stage was too low to see the band and the 'live' visuals were out of sync, there was rubbish everywhere, there were portaloos but nowhere to wash your hands, and only weak over-priced lager on offer. To top that people were just standing around having conversations. Or they were jumping about wildly, flinging their arms about in a "look at me; I am at an outdoor gig!!!" kind of way. This particular extrovert behaviour is actually very rarely in effect at indoor gigs. Discuss.
Anyway, I wondered whether it might have been a better idea to have invited my friends round to my house for a crap drinks party the back garden with the band's music playing in the front room.
Then, last night I went to see Eels at Somerset House. This time I got better value for money (£27+fees) as the sound was great and I could see the band clearly – even the bar was well-organised. But in front of me were two young girls who talked though almost the whole thing. When they'd nattered and giggled and gossiped through three Eels' classics it was fairly evident to me that these girls didn't know any of the songs. So I poked one of them on the shoulder and pointed at the stage. Like rabbits in the headlights, they looked forwards, suddenly attentive, as if, up until then, they had no idea there was a band on at all. Two songs later a third girl joined them and they started gabbing again. Oh gawd. Why were they there? Why had they paid to stand and shout at each other when they could have gone to a café or pub and saved their throats (and my ears)?
Years ago, at a Flaming Lips gig, two girls were constantly nattering behind me. They'd started before the band came on stage. They were relentless. After about 30 mins I overheard one complain that the band had only played two songs. Er, she was wrong it, was three, but she'd totally missed the point of Wayne Coyne's charisma and charm, and she hadn't even noticed the large colourful balloons being batted about! A Flaming Lips gig is all about the experience. Silly little girl.
So my question is, what on earth are these people going to gigs for in the first place?! Why are they paying good money to go to gigs for a chat?
I should point out here that I am not some old fuddy-duddy who thinks people should stand silent at gigs – that's just daft – it's all about having a good time, though the flip side is people who stand at the back bar and complain that people are chatting... er move nearer the front, you plonker, this is a bar!
My problem is that the constant chatterers (and it's mainly young girls), who go to gigs by bands they don't know or care about, are ruining it for the rest of us who have gone to see and hear the performance. Not only that, there is a bigger crime – they are snapping up tickets that true fans would have paid good money for.
I believe a lot of people these days just want the 'badge' of having been somewhere or attended something. Perhaps this is why Glastonbury gets sold out so fast.
Oh, and then there are the couples who snog or gaze at each other through the whole set...