Is live rock and roll dead? You might think I’m nuts in asking the question but from where I sit (or stand primarily) the attendance at shows in clubs holding less than 500 people has been disappointing to say the least and I am hearing similar rumblings from others.
The mega shows like the Stones, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and Nickleback for that matter will do fine but where rock and roll really lives and breaths is in the small clubs around the world, the dives where the up and comers ply their trade. To me there is nothing better than going to a small club and listening to rock and roll for a number of reasons. First off, its affordable. In these days of $300.00 “Gold Circle” seating I am in no mood to go to a show when for the same price I could fly to a freaking beach and enjoy a few days R& R.
Second, the whole experience is more personal. You’re up close. When the band takes a break you can chat with them at the bar or more likely while you’re taking a pee in the bathroom. The experience is more “real” for want of a better word and for that reason much more enjoyable, at least to me.
Seeing bands at small clubs also kindles a sense of rock and roll adventure. If you are only going to drop 10 or 20 bucks to go in and see a band (with 20 bucks being the high end of the scale) you are more willing to take a chance on the unknown, that band whose name sounds cool but who you have no idea what they are about. Sometimes it works out and you love them, sometimes less so but it is always an experience, which is what rock and roll should be.
Unfortunately, at some recent shows that I have been at, the attendance has been meager at best. This to me is quite depressing as rock and roll has always been a live medium and the only true way to experience the power of the music is to experience it at ear-splitting volume with a beer in one hand and your buddies and/or girlfriend crowded around dancing, yelling and otherwise making complete idiots of themselves. It is a way to lift you out of the here and now and bring you to a better, fun place, if only for the night.
In the rock and roll ecosystem, touring puts the butter on the bread for most bands and is the primary way for them to generate interest in their music, sell some CDs and merchandise and generally move up the popularity ladder. Lack of fans means lack of opportunities, lack of money and that could quite possibly spell the end for many a band. My challenge to you is this: Go see some live shows this summer at some of the medium to smaller clubs in your area. Haven’t heard of the band? Who cares! Give it a shot, you may very well be surprised at what you hear.
There is tons of great rock and roll being played on stages throughout the land. Go experience it, encourage the artists to create more and make live rock and roll a part of your life. How can you possibly regret that?
Am I right or am I wrong?
UPDATED! I just read the news that Sparkelfest, one of the best powerpop/rock music festivals around has called it quits due to a lack of advertising support and attendance figures that should be better than what they have been. We’re not doing ourselves any favours people….