There was an interesting message come through on facebook this afternoon (not a sentence I thought I'd ever type) from Danny at Tweefort, which mentions Indietracks, and calls is "huge", which is very sweet. And I mean that in a totally unpatronising way, honest. It also mentions that Chariots of Tuna are playing the festival, and outlines Elm City Popfest, amongst a load of other stuff. He's a busy man, that Danny. I wish I had both his get up and his go.
Which sort of ties in well with a thread on the anorak forum about promoting gigs – it’s mainly aimed at the little people like me and you who do it all for the love of seeing bands that normally wouldn’t come to your town or city and play, unless you offered to arrange a gig for them.
Simon from the excellent Sweeping the Nation blog seems to have had more bad luck than normal as he’s started out promoting gigs in Leicester – a place that has been, sadly, a bit of a backwater for indiepop acts for a few years now. He’s gone through the rigamarole of acts cancelling on him, five people showing up, venues double booking on him – the lot really.
Other replies in the thread sort of made me wonder why I bother putting gigs on in Nottingham, because, for sure, there are loads of negatives along the way, and it’d be easy to just think, “bugger it” and stop putting on shows.
But it’d make for a pretty dull existence popwise in Nottingham for me if I did that.
The last time I stopped putting on gigs, I stopped for about six years, and I think I can count on two hands (both mine, since you ask) the number of gigs I went to in that time. There’s always going to come a time now and again when you fall out of love with music, but there’s nothing that concentrates the mind more than looking at the listings for Rock City or Rescue Rooms.
The main hurdle, of course, is attracting a crowd – not easy when you’re so ridiculously (and thankfully) out of touch with the local hip scene who seem to turn up to anything that involves a harp and three bottles of half empty water being played over a Captain Beefheart guitar.
So what to do? Flyer like mad? Impossible in Nottingham where DHP actively rips down flyers for gigs that its not involved in (and I’ve followed one of their monkeys around and watched him doing this (I was bored)). Rely on friends coming from all over the country to boost numbers? Well, they do, and I’m eternally grateful for that, but that’s not how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Or do you sell your soul to a local band who you don’t really like but who might bring a few people in? I’ve done this once a few years ago, and I’m not doing it again. I’d have rather missed my own gig and stayed in and watched Dancing on Ice than watch them again.
I don’t think there is an answer to fetching loads of people in. And nor does it worry me that much any more. Like Marianthi said, there’s droplets of joy to be taken in the most sparse of crowds – especially if that crowd is having the time of its time, and the band has connected with that and is playing its heart out. Which probably makes me sound like a hippy, but still…
On the same thread it’s easy to see how Andy Hart got so disillusioned with a year’s gig promotion. Having to be hard-nosed and cynical (not that he is or was, the big softy) to make it a success sort of negates why you’re doing it in the first place. And that’s understandable. I just used gigs for an excuse to get a bit tipsy as much as anything, and if i lose fifty quid then I, rightly or wrongly, think that I'd probably spend that on a good night out anyway.
And of course it’s not on if you lose loads of money, but, here’s a thing: people in bands are usually really quite nice, and if you speak to them they’ll usually understand that you’re not Vince Power and have to be up for work in the morning just like they do. And they’ll probably shrug their shoulders and put it down to experience.
Which is what you should do.
Because it’s better than staying in and watching Dancing on Ice.