So I recently attended an intimate gig, by which I mean a small scale show at a cosy venue with an audience of about 100. The artist, who is the frontman of an English goth rock band who rose to popularity in the 80’s, was promoting his new solo work while also performing covers and crowd requests. There were no long queues at the door, both my ticket and drinks were reasonably priced, there was little chanting or screaming from the modest crowd and no burly bouncers guarding the stage. Ultimately, the evening was relaxed, quietly atmospheric and pensive…And I loved it!!
In a time when festivals are overwhelmingly popular and music lovers spend a fortune to stand in packed fields and arenas with blazing lights, blaring mics and the roar of a crowd of thousands, there is something so refreshingly enjoyable about an intimate gig which I believe should be shared and encouraged. Of course, musical preference has a lot of input here – if you’re a die-hard Beyonce fan then don’t expect to ever see her doing a cheeky one night show down at your local pub. If you want world famous acts and A-list celebrities then you’ll need to stick to the arenas. However, if, perchance, you find yourself with a free evening and a craving for something musically marvellous then I highly recommend you explore your local pubs and small concert venues and seek out an intimate gig. There is just something very organic and powerful about being in a small space and feeling so closely surrounded by music. Being able to hear each instrument and every note clearly, seeing the sweat on the performers face and hearing the crowd sing along to every lyric – it is these elements which constitute the unique and artful skill of a successful intimate gig. Ultimately, it’s invigorating to be able to enjoy music without bright lights, an overblown set and the noise of thousands of fellow concert-goers. It may seem that I’m denouncing festivals and arena tours – though this is not my intention. Of course I’ve been to large shows and loved them and experienced high standards of musical ability and entertainment. I know and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere and sizzling anticipation which is ever-present at a big concert and I understand that it is this feeling which many festival-goers are intentionally paying for in the price of their ticket. However, while I am pleased that festivals and arena tours engage so effectively with large numbers of music fans, I do wonder whether they’ve caused the quieter fire and heart of intimate gigs to be swept aside or traded in for the need to pay a large sum of money for a vast and often heavily commercialised concert experience. Intimate gigs provide a valuable platform for both up and coming artists trying to promote their new work and experienced performers who desire to continue to connect with their fans. The festival/ large show concept simply does not suit all artists – and all fans for that matter. Not everyone can afford to attend popular shows and even those who can often find them overblown or missing the mark. Therefore, to eliminate or de-value the power and pleasure of intimate gigs which offer an alternative experience of music is troubling. It’s also downright daft because music is wonderful and should be valued in all its many shapes, sizes and forms.
So here is my advice to you – go and enjoy an intimate gig. No, it won’t be a roaring show with expensive stage production and hundreds of fans raving on Twitter after securing tickets. You’re unlikely to be part of a mosh pit, get locked in a portaloo or spend hundreds on your ticket only to be stood miles from the stage. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be an amazing show and that you won’t have a great time enjoying music on a smaller and maybe even more personal level. Intimate gigs are not only artistic, moving and impressive but provide a powerful demonstration of fans ability to enjoy unembellished concerts and music in its purest form as well as offering a vital platform for various types of artist. Let’s not completely lose them to shiny arenas and colourful festivals with bad sound quality and overpriced hotdogs!