Over the last few years there has been a gradual change in the behaviour of a significant number of punters at gigs and festivals in the UK, which is characterised by the inane and often loud chit chat that occurs whilst an artist is performing, ignoring the music completely. The question is why spend fifteen pounds on a ticket and then not listen to the band you have paid to see and hear? Talking over a band is not the same as listening. No one can multi task that well.
Yes, gigs are not sterile places; most punters certainly wouldn’t expect everybody to stand in total silence. We respect the right of the individual to have fun as they choose, but surely there are limits? Unfortunately in this day and age it seems that a growing number of individuals have no respect for the artist that they have paid to see or other audience members whose enjoyment may be reduced. Would those same individuals talk all the way through a theatrical performance or at the cinema? We suspect not. So why do it at a gig or festival as well?
We believe there are two main reasons for this gradual shift in behaviour at gigs.
First, in the age of the download, individuals treat music as a throwaway commodity. People no longer hold deeper ownership of music as a physical form instead treating it as a backing track to their busy lifestyles. Our listening habits have changed. This may be setting your I Pod to shuffle on the train journey home from work or listening to snippets of music backing TV shows or adverts. Listening to an LP invariably involves pressing skip when there is a track you don’t like or simply downloading only the tracks you do. Sadly with this change comes an inability to listen properly with any depth through reduced attention spans. So by the time an individual is confronted with an hour long performance at a gig they simply cannot retain concentration for this period of time.
Secondly drink and drugs. Now please don’t think that this is some puritan rant. We like a beer or cider at a gig. Drink and drugs have always been part of the culture of live music and festivals. Yet something has changed. Whereas in the past people used substances to enhance the gig experience, these days it almost seems that they are used to block it out. Back in the sixties gorgeous young men and women went to festivals, took drugs, removed their clothes and danced as free spirits to the music. There was an innocence and beauty to their actions that the music formed an integral part of. It was never disrespectful of the artist, more a celebration of the music. Today you are more likely to see red faced beery men shouting at each other, their backs turned to the stage, oblivious to the band playing. Why pay good money to do this? Why not go and stand in a field and get drunk with your friends and save yourself a hundred pounds ?
So at the risk of repeating ourselves, why go to a gig if you don’t want to listen to the band? It spoils it for music lovers who actually go to enjoy the music.
So are there solutions to this problem, or is it not a problem at all? We’ll be posting more about this soon.