Part 1: Why I Prefer Gigs in Independent Venues
I have been an avid gig goer for a number of years now, and during this time one recurring thing has become apparent to me, that I felt would not only be interesting, but crucially important to write about. In the heart of this blog itself, you’ll see that I do not hide my preference for attending gigs in smaller independent music venues, over larger corporate arenas and stadiums. Following on from Independent Venue Week, through a series of posts I will be writing, I want to share with you the many reasons why I love smaller venues, show you the wonderful community that comes with them, and help bring recognition to hardworking venues that I’m sure you’ll love as much as I do. I hope to inspire you and in turn highlight how truly important these venues are to the local music scene.
Intimate Gig Experience
It wasn’t until I became older and my music tastes developed, that I discovered smaller local venues, and it’s safe to say that from the moment I did, I fell in love. For me, a smaller venue provides a much more intimate gig experience. Home to a gorgeous array of musicians, longing to perform and passionate in doing so; I have been able to see so many unique, talented bands and musicians in a very short space of time thanks to my local venues.
More Connected With The Bands
Independent venues are often smaller in size, and due to this enable a better view of the stage, and what I have found to be much more intricate gigs. On almost every occasion I have attended smaller venues, I have been provided with a happier, more enriching experience. I personally feel closer and more connected with the band I’m watching, and find that it’s nice to have musicians playing at a level where you can interact with them, rather than them being miles away, separated by barriers and a sky-high stage. I love a gig where band members are able to dive into the crowd if they so wish, not ones where they’re so far away you can barely see their faces unless you’re stood at the front.
Able to Speak to Bands and Musicians
More often than not, you will also get the chance to speak to the bands and musicians, before, during and after the gig at independent venues. I have met and spoken to musicians I absolutely adore in smaller venues, and although larger arenas and stadiums can offer meet and greets, it just doesn’t quite have the same appeal to me as a band that are just mingling around after the show for the love of it. I’ve had drinks with my favourite band members, and even become friends with some of them simply through interacting at gigs.
Smaller Crowd Helps Reduce Anxiety
Independent venues tend to house a smaller crowd, which is great from the perspective of being able to watch a band and interact with them. However, a smaller crowd can also be a huge benefit for a much more meaningful reason, which could help support more people than you’d realise. Due to these venues being smaller in size, they generally allow for an overall easier gig experience, by having less people in them. A smaller crowd, reduces the swell of gig-goers, and the common problem of pushing and shoving that puts so many off going to see a band. Although of course this may vary depending on the genre of gigs you prefer. I’m not the most confident person in the world, and as a result I don’t always enjoy being crammed into a larger venue with thousands of people, especially if I’m standing. Personally, I find smaller venues far less anxiety-inducing, and would argue that these venues make being able to watch live music much more accessible for those who may have anxiety, autism, or phobias which often make them feel uneasy and distressed amongst a large group of people, especially a boisterous crowd. Smaller venues have clear entry and exit points, and everything is in easy reach, thus reducing the claustrophobia effect which many people can find frightening in an overwhelming, crowded environment.
Low Price of Tickets
The next point I wanted to talk about was how incredibly worth your money, a ticket for an independent venue is. Ticket prices do not often rise above twenty pounds, which makes seeing a band in a small venue an amazing bargain. Also many smaller venues cut out the admin and booking fees that can be attached to the cost of tickets purchased from giants in the industry. The low cost of tickets at these venues, mean you can afford to go to more gigs as a result, and in turn you will get see a lot more bands and musicians. Not to mention all the better for visiting that precious merch table. Keeping costs low also allows you the means to visit a variety of local venues of the same nature, many of which even host free gigs or club nights that don’t require a ticket for entry. I cannot emphasize enough how important exploring your local venues is, if you have five minutes spare take the time to look them up and follow them on social media. See what they have to offer. You never know who may be appearing on stage next.
Local venues bring so much variety to the scene, by not only hosting amazing worthwhile gigs, but also special events. All-day gigs and charity events can be a regular occurrence, and these usually have a high number of acts on the bill, allowing you access to not just one but half a dozen of brilliant musicians. Just last week, I attended a gig hosted by Horizons Cymru, which was free and only required a contribution to Children in Need on the door. There were eight different musicians in the lineup, all of varying genres and I thoroughly enjoyed. Events like this are not uncommon amongst independent venues, who are passionate about what they do and love music. In addition, many local venues often collaborate together through multi-venue weekend festivals such as Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival and Swansea’s Fringe Festival. These events bring your local venues together, by hosting different bands in each one and giving them the opportunity to showcase themselves to a wider audience throughout the event. Bringing the music community together. Tickets for events such as these are usually very reasonable also, for the multitudes of entertainment they have on offer. If you fancy trying a multi-venue event for yourself, Ritual Union is Bristol’s answer, and this will be taking place at the end of March. I will link further information and tickets at the end of this post.
Supporting Emerging Bands, Culture and Economy
By attending local venues you are not only helping to support your local economy, but you’re also helping to nurture culture within your town or city. Local venues allow you to support and help grow wonderfully talented emerging bands and musicians. In return, you get to see these bands at the very beginning of their career. I can say from experience, that it’s such an incredibly humbling privilege to witness a band developing their music career. Even the most famous have started somewhere. As I touched upon at the start of this post, smaller venues allow you that space to be at one with a band, you can get to know them, support them and follow their journey. To think that attending a gig in a local venue can allow you this pleasure should make anyone want to buy a ticket for their next gig right this second. Smaller venues are home to so much talent, and many of these musicians are more than capable of really making it big. For example, Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival, hosted a set from Sam Fender a few years ago when he was only just stepping out in to the music industry, and look at how successful he is now. Even if bands you see at smaller venues do not initially make it big as the industry would define, then I’m of the opinion that I’ve gotten to know and see some absolutely wonderful, talented individuals, and that is certainly not time wasted. Bands are so grateful for your support at local venues. If you don’t choose to go to these gigs, then you’re not giving these emerging bands and musicians that chance to prove themselves. Support what they have to offer you, and you’ll have an amazing time doing so, discovering some fantastic new music in the process.
Discover Your Own Unique Music Tastes
I have my own unique flare and music tastes that I am overwhelmingly fond of, and I have these musicians and lovely venues to thank for it. Smaller venues have allowed my love for music to truly flourish. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Music will allow you to find yourself, if you give it the chance. By supporting independent music venues you are enabling this opportunity.
The Community Spirit
The last and most crucial element in why I love small venues so much, is the wonderful sense of community they bring with them. This leads me on to the next part of my series ‘Independent Music Venues and the Community Spirit Behind Them’ which I will be sharing with you in a couple of days time.