It’s easy to look at bands who have made it into the big leagues, watching throngs of adoring fans launch themselves onto the stage (sometimes just to get kicked face-first back into the crowd, but that’s another story…), or seeing their names top the bills of festivals you spent your weekends as a child dreaming of. But everyone starts somewhere; most of the time in grubby, half-empty bars playing crappy second-hand instruments and using a sound guy who you swear you saw cleaning the loos when you were there last week.
People often look down on the local music scene. Don’t lie, we’ve all done it. If you’re in a band then odds are at least one of you has an ego too big to squeeze into the open mic night down the road and instead can’t understand why you haven’t been offered to play Glastonbury yet. Reassuring yourself that their offer probably just got lost in the mail, you shrug off the slot at the Rose & Crown because you’re too good to play a dive like that. Right?
If you’re a fan, then you probably started out going to more local shows than you can count. Going to the Loft in Clapham on a Saturday night was your “big night out”, when you’d whack on your checkerboard vans and backcomb your hair with red glitter hairspray in the hopes of scoring either a snog or a sneaky underage pint. But eventually, by the time you’ve hit your mid-twenties and can afford to go to ‘real’ gigs in ‘real’ venues, you find yourself asking: what’s the point. Right?
Wrong. For bands, the local scene is where you make your mark. It’s where you find out who you really as musicians, as performers, as people. Most bands are nervous as hell when they start out, but playing ‘little and often’ type shows can really boost confidence, giving you a little leeway to make the odd mistake, play the odd rubbish song, break the odd guitar string, in a place where no-one really cares. The local scene is one of the strongest veins of loyalty that the music industry has right now and if you ignore it, you could miss out on invaluable connections.
For fans, it’s impossible to stress how important you and your local scene are to the music industry. Let’s break it down, shall we? If you don’t support local bands- never go to shows, never buy merch, never check out new music- then those bands are left financially fucked. If those bands are financially fucked, then they break up. If they break up, there is no chance of them ever breaking out of the local scene and into the wider music industry. And if that never happens, we’ll be left with the same five bands making a quick buck while everyone else picks up the pieces.
We don’t want life as a new musician to become impossible, we don’t want local venues to close, we don’t want fans to be left without new bands, and we definitely don’t want the music industry to drown any further into the money pit. If you don’t want that either, then support your local music scene!