The 12th of March. It’s officially been an entire year since I last climbed the infamous King Tuts stairs. We knew things were getting a bit more serious when, a few days previous, the announcement came that SXSW had been cancelled and various other gigs were being postponed in response. I didn’t think too much of it at the time… there was still a whole summer of festivals planned, and all the chat of a two week lockdown (with the threat of army trucks to keep us in our houses, remember that rumour?!) was just going to be some time to catch up on some sleep after a busy start to the year.
Lucia & the Best Boys took to the stage and played the best set I’d seen them play, following on from support acts Medicine Cabinet and the Drive – I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly was drowning in naivety about how serious the situation was about to become. If you’d told me in that moment that an entire year later I’d be writing a post about the fact I hadn’t been to a gig since that night, I’d have assumed you’d been drinking from the bottle of hand sanitiser that had been lobbed about the crowd – it was still a bit of a joke. It was an incredible gig though, and I’m glad we ‘went out’ on such a high. You couldn’t turn around in the crowd without seeing a familiar face, everyone was in good spirits and the music was on another level.
There’s an endless list of things I miss about live music; from the actual music, to the feeling of being in the middle of a crowd – the community of it all, but what I’ve come to realise is that the experience of a gig – for me anyway – is a lot more than that. It’s a stress reliever, it’s a place to only be concentrating on one thing, it’s a couple of hours where anything going on outside the walls of that venue doesn’t matter… and a year without that has had a big impact on everyone. Artists and promotors have done the best job in delivering live stream gigs & fundraisers to keep venues, touring crews and everyone involved afloat, as well as providing entertainment for everyone stuck at home. I’ve spoken about Ben from Death Cab For Cutie’s livestreams plenty of times, Danny Jones, Lucia & the Best Boys, Cassadee Pope, All Time Low, Tyler Hilton, Frank Turner – there’s masses of footage been created in the last year – acoustic sets, living room gigs, concerts in the back of vans that we otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to explore and I’m definitely grateful for the way artists have adapted to be able to still perform. But still, there’s nothing quite like having to hurtle yourself down the back stairs of the Barrowlands and along Argyle Street in the rain to make it to central for the last train, or having to rearrange your perfect stage view position seconds before the band’s due on because the tallest guy in the venue has magically appeared right in front of you.
The livestream gigs have been a godsend, as has my new found obsession with ‘live albums.’ I never really understood the hype of them before, but in the last year I’ve found myself reaching for them more. Bring Me the Horizon & Arctic Monkeys have both recently (by recently I mean within the last year), released their ‘live at the Royal Albert Hall’ albums and I’ve listened to them in every which way possible; blasting in the car on the way to a big exciting Tesco trip, in bed in the pitch black with my eyes closed imagining that I’m there, or out on one of the many, many, many daily walks for a bit of serotonin boosting crowd noise… they’ve become a go to cheerer-upper, and I highly recommend giving them a go in every situation you find yourself in.
I’m not sure the next tip has been more of a help or a hindrance but… old. live. sets. Youtube is FULL of old festival sets, name the band, there’ll be a set on there somewhere. I’ve watched so many, and it’s definitely not the same, but seeing your favourite band bouncing about a stage again, and picking people out in the crowd with the same tshirt as you, or that one guy singing his heart out but with the wrong lyrics is a very welcome distraction technique. Also, a chance to re-watch sets that you went to, spot yourself, cringe, and vow never to wear that neon pink waterproof jacket again… just me?
Speaking of neon pink jackets, another thing that’s popped up in conversation in the last few weeks, that I didn’t realise, is how much certain outfits are tied with certain gigs & concerts. Is this actually just me, or do you remember what you were wearing when you first saw your favourite band? I fully remember going to River Island to buy myself a new plaid shirt the weekend before the first time I saw All Time Low (cos the 14017 I already had in my wardrobe weren’t good enough for Jack Barakat to notice me in, obviously), or the studded white mesh top I wore to see the Pretty Reckless in 2015 (which has since gone missing and I’m very upset about it). That red H&M dress I carried for 12 hours, rolled up in my bag on the bus to London to see Taylor Swift’s RED tour in, the purple hoodie I wore to see Kids In Glass Houses in the O2 Academy, and also to see Paramore & You Me At Six for the first time (yes, that show in 2009 in the SECC Hall 4 that everyone and their granny was at) – LOADS of things bring back gig memories for me. Maybe I’m just an overly nostalgic person and that’s why these outfits stand out in my head, but I absolutley do not want to have to remember the same 3 oversized jumpers and pair of pyjamma shorts that I’ve watched all these livestreams in my bed in! I can’t wait to get back to planning what I’m wearing to interview the next band in, or what I’ll need to wear to ‘day’ work that’ll also be ideal for going straight to a gig afterwards, again!
I think this is the longest I’ve gone without a gig since I was about 13! Hopefully normal bloggy service will resume soon, face-to-face interviews & gig reviews will be a thing again and we’ll be back to singing our way through the smartie tube, on the way to cram an arena’s worth of people into a three carriage scotrail train… it won’t be long til we’re back in venues, clutching overpriced pints and waiting for the lights to dim. And we’ll appreciate it even more when it happens.