The Gigging Experience: The Good, Bad, and Slightly Absurd

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There are so many aspects of gigs to consider – sound, crowd, ticket price. Some of The Edge’s most avid gig-goers have written about their favourite (and in Xavier’s case, not so favourite) parts of the gigging experience.

You won’t need me to tell you that people are responsible for literally all bad things, and miserable evenings at concerts are certainly somewhere near the top of this list. For me, listening to music is often a solitary experience, in which I’m free to nod my head to the funky, funky beats without anybody around to judge me. Splashing out on a night in the band’s presence is to appreciate their art, not to be incessantly jostled by sharp elbows and deafened by tuneless imitators who believe they’ve paid for that privilege.

Certainly, when prices are at the upper end of that scale of absurdity it does feel like the audience deserves a few more than two drumsticks, and that’s if you can even get in at all. Any impulsive trip to a show these days is inevitably down a road lined by scruffy characters hawking the hottest tickets at the most offensive of markups. With the threats of aggressive and unstable fellow revellers, underwhelming performances that dismantle joyful perceptions, and kids so excited and out-of-place that they drink their Pepsi Max too quickly and have to smuggle the pungent remains to the nearest bin, isn’t it just easier to grab a cup of tea and curl up with Spotify?

words by Xavier Voigt-Hill

In 2006 my family and I went to see Muse at Wembley stadium. I, being nine years old and several years away from having more than a passing interest in music that wasn’t the Shrek soundtrack, was far more excited about the all-inclusive buffet dinner at the hotel than seeing what would become one of my favourite bands live, and as such I demanded I be allowed to wear ear-plugs and read a book for the entirety of their stage-time. Which I did, completely and utterly unashamedly.

But fast forward ten years and gigs have become my happy place. My best memories are being on the barrier, seeing Fall Out Boy, Biffy Clyro, Gerard Way, Panic! At The Disco do what they do best only mere metres away from me. There’s something so warming and heart-racingly exciting about being surrounded by hundreds of people who love the band just above you as much as you do. There’s something so intoxicating about screaming words out, words that have been there for you, described life and love and struggles and sorrow and everything in between, been the soundtrack to so many important times, in unison with a thousand other people whilst your heroes scream them right back at you.

There’s something so sweet and giddying about being at the right place at the right time, hearing your favourite song live when you never expected to. The third time I saw Fall Out Boy it was last October in Bournemouth, and for some reason they chose that one night – and only that night (having never played it live before and probably sparingly afterwards) – to perform ‘Jet Pack Blues’, a song I’ve adored to the extreme since it was released and a song not many have heard of. Words cannot describe how overwhelming that felt.

Because of gigs, I’ve held hands with my heroes, I’ve made them laugh and I’ve been reassured again and again that they care, they really care about what they do and how they do it and the people they do it for. And really, that’s all I ever want to know.

words by Sophie Trenear

One of the most genuinely satisfying things about live shows is the experience of hearing music in a unique setting. The vast majority of listeners are exposed to artists through headphones, laptop speakers, car stereos and record players. All of these have their own merits, but they lean towards placing convenience before quality.

At a live show – particularly, I have found, EDM and metal shows – music becomes more than just a tacked-on accessory to day-to-day life: it is, in and of itself, an artistic and sensory experience. You come to appreciate the complexity that music can entail by actually hearing it come into being on a stage; you pick up the subtle idiosyncrasies of each member of a group that, melded together, create a unique sound; you feel it in your legs and your chest as it pulsates through the ground. I believe that music first and foremost constitutes a tangible and physical experience which can be fully discerned only by attending a live show.

words by Oli Polhill

For me, the best thing about going to a live gig simply has to be the atmosphere. Seeing your favourite band in the flesh, feeling the bass thud through your body, jumping along with fellow fans who won’t judge you for knowing all the words to every song – there’s just something so exciting about it all.

True, sometimes said fans can be extremely annoying and very into pushing people for ‘fun’, but hey ho, just move away, grab a drink if necessary and enjoy the music. It’s not every day you get to hear it live, rather than on Spotify, after all.

From experience, I have to say that more intimate standing gigs tend to have the best atmosphere. Maybe it’s because you’re that little bit closer to the stage, maybe it’s that people tend to really want to be there or the fact that the entire space becomes so richly filled with sound. It doesn’t have to be a rave type gig either – watching someone reduce a crowd to utter silence with just their voice and a guitar is chillingly beautiful in its own way.

Either way, it’s the prospect of that atmosphere buzz which keeps me coming back.

words by Olivia Krauze

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About Author

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Official email person, rambly music writer, and former Records Editor at The Edge. Often found playing pop music too loud on Surge Radio.

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Third year Film and English student living in D.C., self-proclaimed go-to Edge expert on Cloverfield, Fall Out Boy, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Loves mostly those three things.

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MA English student at the University of Southampton and alternative music correspondent for The Edge.

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English Lit + German student. I write and act and stuff.

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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