It seems like almost every other day we hear stories about the closure of an established music venue we have fond memories of sweating, dancing, moshing or passing out in.
Whether it be the legendary TJ’s hosting the likes of Nirvana, or your local toilet club giving their stage to a band with “some dude my mate used to play guitar with”, it’s plain to see every time you walk down your local high street; this is a bad time for small music venues.
Is this down to a lack of passion for new music? Are people just not interested in watching an act until they reach the heady heights of stadium size stages? I think we all know that’s not the truth.
So what does this all come down to and how can we stop it before the echo of those gigs finally fades and leaves us with a silent ringing in our ears?
The Root of All Evil
Property has always been a commodity and always will, with this comes the value of bricks and mortar on a physical level; it’s simple supply and demand. If a buildings owner gets interest in their property that financially outweighs what the owner of your local music venue can afford in rent, sorry people, you’re getting a gastro pub. And no, the patrons don’t want to hear a hard working group of musically minded people playing their new set while they eat their tiny plates of over priced food. That’s money folks, at its very base level. If you can’t pay the price, it ain’t happening.
So why can’t these so called toilet venues afford the rising price they need to pay to keep the walls and roofs around the nights that will never be removed from many of our memories?
It’s no secret that the way we listen and obtain music has changed drastically over the last decade and I personally welcome this. The ease in which new music can be found nowadays can only be a good thing right? You either follow a link on your friends Facebook feed, browse YouTube, look through Soundcloud or take your pick from the myriad of different access points we now have.
The knock on effect this has on live music IS tangible.
People just don’t have to sit (or stand ) through tens (or hundreds if you’re unlucky or just really hard to please) of acts you have no affinity with, in a dingy club to hear that one band you’ve never heard of completely blow your mind. No, instead you do it in front of your computer at 3am in your pants. With the millions of live acts across the world at the any given point, its still a lottery. You may never come across that one track that introduces you to an act that you’ll listen to for the rest of your life. But if you do come across that band online in your pants at 3am in front of your computer, who are you going to turn to and scream “Holy S***, that was f***ing amazing!”?
No matter how easy music is to access now, you’ll never match the magic of hearing that track when its played 3 feet from your face by someone you’d never laid eyes on an hour ago, with like minded people and a pint in a plastic glass in your hand.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a lazy mindset, and not something that everybody subscribes to.
So what else?
The Production Line
It’s almost become a trend to blame the X-Factor generation for the decline in authentic and meaningful (read good) music but that doesn’t take away any of the truth behind it. It’s well documented that the charts are a fallacy and the Christmas number one is up for auction year after year. But what effect does this have on small venue?
Well, the scarily early involvement of big industry in the early stages of an acts development often leads to them bypassing the whole “paying their dues” stage of the toilet venue. No longer do future successes have to play for a drunk and his dog or suffer the setbacks associated with cutting your teeth.
Not such a bad thing? Bulls**t.
It’s these small venues that build character in a band, and give a solo act the confidence and persona to move onto bigger places. Is it any wonder we hear about breakdowns both mentally and on a group level of manufactured stars these days, when they’ve never been given the skills to deal with criticism, audience and the rigmarole of performance when one minute they’re writing in their rooms and the next minute they’re playing their grossly manipulated art to thousands in the O2 arena? The milk it and move on mentality of big industry in music has no time for your shit. It f***ed you and didn’t even leave its number.
These are just a couple of the reason behind these mythical places being removed from maps all across the world. What’s sad is that the true passion of the people keeping these place alive just isn’t enough sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, so many new ways of transmitting live music to a live audience are coming about all the time, from guerrilla gigging to playing in places live music was never even meant to be played; everything evolves and that should be a source of massive excitement. But does that mean we should wave goodbye to the nights spent in these underground havens of new music? I think not. These places need us all. Something that gave us so much love, something that we’ll keep with us for the rest of our lives needs a little something back so it can keep on giving.
So that’s it. Literally all it needs is your support. There are so many independent nights out there that it’s pretty much unforgivable to not seek out what you love.
Just remember who made that music possible for us all.Posted: August 14th, 2014 | Author: martin | Filed under: blog | Comments Off