In interviews, many bands have commented that they feel a different sense of joy with a hometown audience. That the atmosphere is different, the adrenalin targeting different zones of the brain.
Can it be possible that you feel a similar sensation as a member of the hometown audience?
This is something I’ve been muddling over in my brain for some time now. I spent my summer camped out at festivals 20 minutes walk from my front door. I saw the same bands play over and over. And I got excited about it every time.
Trinity Festival ended with a visit from Eastbourne’s Toploader. Popular at the brink of the millennium, I had worn down my copy of Onka’s Big Moka in my teenage years. I knew that I’d still have the lyrics to almost all of the songs catalogued somewhere in the back of my brain. Yet, it was during their set that I allowed other members of the audience to get on my nerves. Pushing and screeching and clawing for attention, it wasn’t actually that different to the audiences for the previous acts of the weekend, of which were mostly Hull-based. But my claimed section in front of the barrier was being attacked by those who had come for only that one band. I was at siege with people who had taken the time to get frazzled by alcohol on a warm day, when I had been promoting local talent and enjoying the undulating crowds who had supported them throughout.
I did, of course, enjoy Toploader’s performance. My friend having been trapped outside the sardine can centre of Trinity Square, I was back to being on my own. Though I was on my own in a large crowd rather than on my own with the stage. Perhaps this was the fault, this was the reason I let frustrations bite and nag at me. Like a grumpy toddler, I didn’t want to share.
No, my role as a music writer is to share the experience. I love the idea of bringing someone that same wonderful awe I get at a live gig. So, it isn’t that.
A week later, and I was crammed into the Adelphi with members of the community and long-running Kaiser Chief fans. I’d paid my way, as we all had, and again was working on a review. Their first album had also adorned my CD rack at one time, and I was genuinely ecstatic at the thought of seeing them perform. Yet, I finished the night biting my tongue and panicking that the review I would write would be negative. I’d attended with the same friend as Trinity, working together for the piece: she reviewing Black Delta Movement and LIFE, as I took on the international favourites.
I couldn’t explain it. I had simply enjoyed BDM and LIFE better. Chatting with Mick Sanders, LIFE, after the gig, he pointed out that it was exactly the same set as they played at Trinity. I had worked this out after two songs, and realised that it had only enhanced the experience. I was seconds ahead of the other audience members when it came to knowing the words, and even called out the title of their final song as they warmed up to it: instinct pumping the adrenalin as I burst into the catchy opening line and bounced to the familiar tune.
It wasn’t that Kaiser Chiefs or Toploader didn’t put on show. Ricky Wilson was credited for demonstrating exactly how to do this, having interacted with the crowd throughout with anecdotes, clapping and a runway to the bar.
Last night, I attended The Sesh – a regular event showcasing local talent. I can only manage this during school holidays, and the bands in the line-up were four I had not seen live. Three were Hull bands, one including James Coggin who I’d interviewed a couple of weeks before with a different band, and the fourth was a special guest from California, Plague Vendor who are currently touring with The Black Lips. It was amazing; there were times you couldn’t wipe the grin from my face.
Chasing Athena held stunning instrumentals, and lead singer Ian Berry has a beautiful voice which digs into your soul. Age of Atlas told bizarre jokes and had technical issues, but were magical to watch on stage, a heat of energy. Headliners for the night, The Colour Line refused to let themselves be confined by the stage, and I ended up in a mosh pit for the first time since leaving university. Then, a younger more invisible self, I’d prefer to stand and watch from the outside. Now, I touched more backsides than you probably should on a Tuesday night, as I helped carry the performers into the crowd or back to the stage. I did spend a considerable amount of the set viewing the antics of the audience, frantically galloping like gorillas in a circle pit, bouncing mops of hair throwing their sweat around, and general movement as they followed Sam Rudderforth around The Polar Bear. I watched as the photographer for the night cast aside his camera and join them, taking the opportunity to attempt getting one shot which wasn’t all blur.
Dan Mawer, who books the acts for the event, and who I had met when interviewing him as lead singer of La Bête Blooms, asked which had been my favourite of the bands. I couldn’t place just one of them. I’d enjoyed them all for different reasons and regarded them as highly as each other within this respective field. I would happily see each them perform again in the near future. I felt bad for not giving a simple response, and standing confused before him.
I’m not sure I can make my point on this. I’m not sure there is an answer to the question posed, because I’m not entirely sure if this is just me overthinking something rather basic.
It could be that with bands such as Life and Black Delta Movement, I have forged a bond through numerous writings on them as subject matter. It may be that live performances have always been more on the small, more intimate scale for me, and that it’s this that captivates me. Perhaps the polished showmanship of international performers is too polished; I enjoy the spontaneity and raw energy of a local gig, which bounces from its audience as much as with them.
I don’t think I need an answer. But I did need to mull it over, to share my musings from the mosh pit. To express my discomfort with my thoughts.
I’d appreciate your thoughts too. Local bands vs International. A preference? A difference? A sensation?