One of my earliest memories of going out on a Friday night, was well established music venue and local boozer Esquires in Bedford. I'd set out with a gang of my friends at the ripe old age of sixteen, armed with our barely passable fake ID's and the early signs of stubble (Stubble maybe overstating it...it was mostly fluff that was developing.) The reason we went up there was simple, to watch local live music. It was the absolute highlight of my week. For me and my mates nothing could beat those nights. Nights spent nursing a slightly warm can of Strongbow, while dancing on sticky floors that were so crowded with drunken rockers you'd think we were there filming a scene for a post apocalyptic zombie movie. We'd go into school on a Monday with the battle scars from the ‘Moshpit’ of the weekend previous still on show like a proud tribal battle mark. But what really was best, was knowing that I'd only have to wait another four days until I could do the exact same thing again. When I think back to those times, with the mind of a seasoned musician, I reflect on some of those bands that played...and to be honest lot of them were really quite poor. But to that tipsy sixteen year old with an addiction to live music it didn't matter one bit. It was all about supporting the local music scene! If I am honest I was probably naïve enough to class those ‘Rock n Roll’ amateurs as the real deal and I imagine to them that meant a lot. As I know exactly what it is to have people really and truly appreciate you as a band and the music you play. It is the BEST feeling in the world.
So anyway yeah that was my first real taste of music and the local scene. Unfortunately though I have to say that I honestly feel those days are slowly coming to an end. I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that supporting the local music scene just by going down your local boozer who's putting on bands, is no more. It saddens me to think how much it has changed since I was sixteen which lets face it was only eight years ago. More to the point it frightens me how much it will change in the next eight years. It used to be a given that if you had a slot in a venue on a Friday night, you knew you would be playing to a crowd regardless of whether or not you brought anyone down to support. Promotion of the shows was actual promotion. Flyers around town, posters in shop windows and events on social media (all be it msn or Myspace back then). You always without fail had a great night. This makes me sound really old but I'm only twenty four!
These days it seems to me that its all about ‘Self Promotion’ and ‘Pay to play’ shows (which you always end up loosing out on anyway). When I say ‘Self promotion’ what I actually mean is promoters (in as loose a term as possible) put you on events that you have to promote completely yourself. Don’t get me wrong I’m completely fine with self promotion; however you expect that surely the promoter themselves would actually put in some leg work and promote the show as well. In essence all they are there for is to take a sizeable chunk of your fans money and pocket it on the door. Now I just don’t see what’s fair about that. ‘Pay to Play’ now this I really don’t like, this is where you get asked if you want to play a fantastic show as part of an after party tour for the rolling stones or some other cock and bull story used to excite you enough to actually pay for fifty tickets up front at face value to sell to your fans (is it not the promoters job to sell the tickets?).
Anyway I now sound a lot like I dislike promoters, which let me make quite clear I don’t. It’s just some promoters, the ones that do these things. I genuinely believe it is down to this that we don’t have what we used to at the likes of Esquires on Friday nights. Nobody wants to go to half empty venues because it just isn't the same without that jam packed ‘sardine’ atmosphere, and even your most loyal and die hard fans will get fed up in the end.
I think I have a solution, well not a solution but a way of at least re-capturing those nights of when we were sixteen and drunk off of half of a beer and sheer excitement. I genuinely believe that there are enough cheap venues out there for hire for the evening. Let’s face it; it doesn't have to be the O2, because it’s all about what’s in the venue than the actual place itself. You hire one out for the evening and get two or three local bands which you've either played with before or know would compliment your sound and put on a night. All you have to do is sell the tickets cheap enough so that you can cover expenses and you put on a really good show. This is a way of building relationships with other bands and their fan bases, but maybe most importantly reminding people of those good old days when they used to go to watch and support the local music scene on a weekly basis. You could even make this a monthly thing if it starts to gain popularity and I would put money on the fact you would get a lot more interest in the band as well.
As I say I don't think this is the be all and end all however I do believe it is a good place to start. So I ask you all to put these nights on in your local towns wherever it may be, so we, the bands, can at least try and get this dying scene back on its feet and out of the hands of crooked promoters, before it truly is the end of an era.
Thanks for reading #WonderFans