It’s Only Rock & Roll (but it’s local)

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September 24, 2012 by raconteurmagazine

By Nate Bradley

Music is almost everywhere. It’s on your TV, on your radio and in your living room. You inanely hum that catchy tune that just won’t bugger off out of your head. It’s even behind the couch. So why is it that local music scenes are being turned down from eleven? Yes, that will be the only Spinal Tap reference. I promise.

A question that I am often asked, primarily by non-musicians, is:

‘Does it really matter if there aren’t small gigs?’

Many musicians and music fans who thrive off live music may feel their heads begin to explode at this question, but in the case of some people it isn’t entirely ignorant. Imagine, if you will, that you listen mainly to music which is in the charts. Your aural life is dominated by the likes of Katy Perry, Jessie J and Justin Bieber and you love it. A friend tells you that a band is playing at a local bar and it’s going to be smashing. Would you go along? Of course not. You are never going to experience
anything like your preferred genre, screaming guitars replacing screaming children.

Personally I find it impossible that anyone can only like one genre of music and are, in fact, trying desperately to fit in with the popular choice. There are two arguments raised by this though, my opinion placed tentatively to the side.

On the one hand, you can take the viewpoint that the charts are strangling local music scenes. If all the music that the masses are listening to are fundamentally the same song with a different twist, people aren’t getting the opportunity to listen to anything new. Their vision of music will remain as from a tunnel whilst this situation continues.

Opposing that view is the opinion that there is a similar lack of diversity in the genres found at local gigs. It is understandable to see this point of view. I’ve been to local gigs for a good many years and it almost always seems that you end up seeing either roaring metal bands or simpering indie bands. I’m not saying one is better than the other, both have excellent and terrible examples readily available. This is a similar problem to the samey nature of the charts as it, to an extent, excludes more than it invites.

The latter is not true. If you are going to a venue and hearing metal act after doom metal act after black metal act, have you considered going to another venue? You wouldn’t turn on MTV to hear Turisas, would you? You could argue that venues could be more inclusive and cater to a wider musical audience. You could. You’d be wrong. There are generally some bizarre fusions and genre
examples found in the middle of any gig. I recently played a gig with my band, a post rock inspired outfit, joined by an excellent grunge band and an acoustic set up which played the best cover I have ever heard. Try and imagine anything more surreal and marvellous than The Beastie Boys’ “You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right” played in the style of Damien Rice. Go on. I dare you.

So the next time you’re thinking of going to a gig, don’t think: ‘That won’t sound like Dizzee Rascal’ or ‘I bet it’s going to be another Metallica covers band’. Instead think that you may well be missing something fantastic. If it is shit at least there’ll always be a bar.

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