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Blog: Stage Times Furore

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Yesterday there was an article in one of the tawdry free tabloids saying that The 100 Club were going to stop publishing stage times. This caused an ONLINE FURORE with sensible people pointing out the 300,000,000 very good reasons why this was stupid, some Perfectly Nice People saying "It's to make you see the support band" and 17 wazzocks saying "It's about the music maaaan."

The 100 Club claimed that the reason they were doing it was to force people to come early and see the support bands because, hey, they could be the next big band, yeah? Obviously this is a load of bollocks, as the only reason they want people there early (as casually mentioned in a follow-up on the BBC) is so that you're forced to spend more money at the bar while you wait. "If people come here and see another band we are going to make a bit more money but it's not going to pay the rent on Oxford Street," he says. No, I imagine you make that money from hiring out the venue, what with that being YOUR BUSINESS and everything. Also, if venues like The 100 Club were ACTUALLY PLEASANT places to be in, and sold beer that DIDN'T turn you inside out the next morning, then people WOULD spend more time in there, rather than going to one of the MANY much much nicer around Oxford Street (who I imagine also pay rent) before heading down to see the band they had ACTUALLY PAID FOR. As The Beer In My Glass remarked when we discussed this, if the venue did things like telling you ACCURATE times when you went there you'd have a much nicer time and so would be MORE likely to go AGANE and spend MORE money too!

I'm all for going and seeing the support band, having been a support band for the VAST majority of my gigs, but if you are the ARTISTE you specifically DO NOT want an audience of people who explicitly DO NOT WANT TO BE THERE. These are the absolute WORST people to try and play for - they will refuse to listen and talk LOUDLY all through your set, spoiling it for anyone who actually DOES want to see you, and will on occasion get on stage and try to PHYSICALLY REMOVE you so that their mates can come on and, invariably, play an hour of "blues funk with an indie twist", generally while wearing HATS.

What you need is a set-up like they used to have at the Bull & Gate, back in the 1890s when I used to play there. That had an ACTUAL PUB which you could sit in and chat, undisturbed by whatever dreadful nonsense you were sharing the bill with, a dedicated GIG ROOM without a bar or toilets which was JUST for seeing bands in, and between the two a sort of halfway house with a BAR and some seats where you could hear the bands and, if you were curious, pop in to see them. This meant that punters could CHOOSE to go and look at someone they'd not seen before, rather than be forced to SHOUT over them, and once they were in it was up to the BAND to try and KEEP them there.

It all comes down, I reckon, to who you think that gigs are FOR. I have been a gig-goer, a promoter and, of course, an International Rock Star, and in all those guises it has been clear to me that a gig is for THE BLOODY AUDIENCE. They're the ones who've come out to be entertained and have often PAID for the privilege. It's the JOB of the promoter to persuade them to come (by doing things like TELLING THEM WHEN IT'S HAPPENING), and of the band to ENTERTAIN them when they get there to such an extent that they a) want to come again and b) buy your MERCH. Oh and, of course, c) GET THEIR MINDS BLOWN BY HOW AWESOME YOU ARE.

Sadly, many many bands what I have experienced over the years think the gig is for THEM. These are the ones who have all the costumes and pre-worked BANTER who get upset if it doesn't go exactly how they imagined, or the ones who do not even LOOK at the audience, let alone speak, and then complain that they didn't clap enough. These sort of bands or acts would be MUCH happier if they stayed in the rehearsal room, and to be honest so would the rest of us!

In conclusion, then, I would say that it IS worth going to see support bands - they're usually crap because ALL bands are usually crap, but occasionally one isn't - but GOOD LORD if you have bothered to turn up then, as long as you don't spoil it for other people by e.g. standing at the front and talking loudly all the bloody way through the gig, you are free to come and go as you PLEASE. Any band, or promoter, that thinks otherwise does not deserve an audience in the first place!

posted 13/2/2019 by MJ Hibbett

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