Small Crowds. Cheap Tickets. The Sound of Crickets.

"Hey everyone, we're (insert band name.) Are you ready to be moderately rocked out of your sandals and socks?!"

 

The one extremely drunk guy who can be bothered standing close to the stage slurs something that might be a word of encouragement if it was actually in a coherent language. The small handful of vaguely interested onlookers scattered throughout the room look at their feet, the ceiling, their phones. Anything to avoid having one of those horrifying human interaction thingies. Crickets chirp.

This is the grim scenario that confronts many small-time local bands, week after week, in the Australian music scene (and quite possibly beyond). It often seems that no matter how much time and effort the musicians put into promoting their shows- doing flyer and poster drops, spruiking on social media and what have you- they end up playing to the same small handful of punters; die-hard fans, members of the support acts, their partners. The usual suspects. It can be disheartening, to say the least, and it seems like it's only getting worse (I know, I know- I'm all doom and gloom, but hey, I'm a realist -okay, kind of a pessimist). So what the hell is going on? Why do the crowds keep getting smaller? Anybody? Crickets again...

 

Go back just a few years and live music was thriving. People were actually interested in going out to see local bands playing original songs. Even in a small city like Darwin, attendance rates at gigs were sitting at around 100 or so paying guests, and bands could grab a wad of cash at the end of the show, -once the door money was split- that would go a long way towards paying for their beers for the rest of the night (provided the venue actually coughed up the door takings, there are some pretty scummy operators out there who still try to push "exposure" as a legitimate currency). Money aside, a good-sized crowd which is visibly and audibly enjoying itself does wonders for band morale and overall atmosphere, as well.

 

All too often nowadays, however, genuinely talented bands with genuinely enjoyable setlists are being faced with virtually empty rooms to play to (some genuinely atrocious acts are pulling baffling numbers occasionally, but that's another story). People just aren't leaving their little air-conditioned bubbles, where social media distractions and Netflix marathons abound, to go out and get amongst real life. Too hot. Too noisy. There are other people out there! Gross! It's a sign of the times, and an indication of what we're becoming as a society. We're foregoing the 'gruelling' nature of collecting real experiences in favour of prepackaged entertainment and the sweet oblivion of mindlessly scrolling through pictures of people's dinner. Pictures of barely clad boobs and buttholes. It's a strange combination of apathy and voyeurism, and it's killing all kinds of industries, not just my beloved music scene. That's my theory, at any rate.

 

So please, if you're reading this and it strikes a chord with you - if you can relate to what I'm saying and have had similar thoughts yourself- do yourself and your local music scene a favour and go see a live show with local bands. Let's try to shake off the manacles of smartphone and social media slavery, rediscover the joy of real-life experiences, and bring the noise back to the venues, because I'm tired of listening to those damned crickets.

 

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