Imagine never having enjoyed a local band at your local pub on a Friday night – hot and sweaty, crushed up near the stage, up close and personal to a band that isn’t yet well-known (but may very well end up beings so), without having to pay a cover charge?
Imagine never bothering to applaud when a band plays in front of you, having worked long hard hours to become good enough to be paid to play.
Imagine being able to hear whatever music you want, when you want it, without getting out of bed?
Well, I have just described the 20-40 year old audiences which make life for
We know most 20 somethings don’t like verbal communication and their and their ears are almost always involved with music of their choice, making them very difficult demographic to please (fancy not being able to dictate what they listen to!!). They simply do not know how to deal with being an audience because they can’t control it!
Unless you’re playing music they listen to, or it’s sing-a-long pub rock classics on a loud-strummed guitar and they’re fairly soused, or (and this is a rarity) they’ve been exposed to to a range of music by their parents, it’s hard to break through to this generation who barely look up from their phone (sometimes they even put in their earphones because they can’t relate to your repertoire!).
Let’s move on to the 30-somethings.
This demographic is one which seeks out venues where they can take their children. And preferably, venues where their children can be occupied whilst they imbibe with their “crew”. So much so, that they forget they have children. These venues made me feel that I was performing in a kindergarten and I declined further invitations to perform due to the stress of it!
Children screaming and running around in circles in front of your stage, like buzzing bees; throwing balls which end up on the stage, climbing on tables and other furniture, and looking as though they were imminently going to fall off and crack their skull just metres away from you.
Being a witness to blood and screaming just metres away from me is not what I have in mind when doing a gig.
The above scenario is common in many venues now, with people taking far too much of a back-seat when it comes to parenting.
I recently had to ask a security guard to get some very young children off the stage where we were trying to set up. When he was addressing the children, the parents magically appeared out of the woodwork and sagely agreed with the security guard, saying “yes, listen to what the man says”. I felt that the right thing would have been to take responsibility for their own children and exert their own parental force, rather than re-inforcing someone else’s words.
When did parents become so inert?
So, not only are they relatively inert as an audience, they have created a creche environment for bands and musicians who struggle to focus on their craft in the fact of a dozen or more kids running rampant in front of their stage.
The kids love the music, but haven’t learned to respect any one’s property, so when given the chance, they even come onto the stage and touch gear.
Some of them have watched one too many TV talent shows and think it’s their God-given right to get on the stage, grab the mike and start performing for their ever-adoring, never-criticising parents.
As a child, I think I would have sooner thought about becoming an astronaut than going onto a stage and touching anything, or touching anything that didn’t belong to me, for that matter.
I find that parents are all too prepared to hover on the distant horizon, waiting until their kids are on the brink of doing something really unacceptable, before getting off their chairs to take control (we mustn’t stifle their natural curisioty, after all).
Please, stifle it. Control it. Say something, anything. Don’t just watch your kids to see how far they can go before they hurt themselves. What about the property of other people that they are actually putting their mitts on, potentially damaging it. Or the fact that they are placing themselves in danger around electrical equipment.
Performers’ insurance does not cover damage or injury caused by other people being on their stage (not that venues even have stages these days, for the most part).
Please parents, think about teaching your children to respect others’ property, and the fact that someone is trying to perform music.
We are not musical robots who have been placed there for the entertainment of your children, or anyone else. We are real people with feelings and emotions who want to connect with an audience, not be child-minders or OH&S monitors.
Let your children be children, but please not near the stage.
And to the 20 somethings – please can we have some applause sometime? We really love it, not for any sort of validation because we know we know our stuff; but so we know we are making some sort of impact on you as live musicians in the digital generation. The thought of being able to break through to your generation leaves me excited and eager to continue to play LIVE MUSIC.