I’m forever getting requests to play over the summer and am always having to explain why I’m not doing shows. So instead of me wheeling out the same speech, I thought I’d compress it down into this blog post, and forward to everyone, much easier!
OK, so summer hits and what is your first thought? Beaches? BBQ’s? Holidays? It isn’t getting into a hot sweaty rock club is it? This is no bad thing as summer gives us the weather to do cool stuff like surf, and check out girls in Bikini’s – but live music has always seen a shift in it’s attendance, where people become distracted by other things. This is no bad thing, but experience has told me it does happen. I don’t get upset about my poor nights, I just don’t book them.
BUILDING A BUZZ – I always try and build my nights around what bands are active. Have the band got a CD to launch or a new website or a new name or new frontman etc This buzz is generated by people talking, and the obvious place most people see each other is 6th form and college. Summer comes, schools out and those 100+ different people you see each day all of a sudden turns into your usual mates down the stake park. Building a buzz about an event is always harder when people don’t talk, and I’m not one to rely on Facebook.
HOLIDAYS – So your parents (or if you are a parent) want to take the family away for that week in Spain. Friends groups are broken up in the summer, and all of a sudden your not going to go to the show on your own, without your best mate. Being 1 person down often leads to 2 (or more) missing at a show. I’ve always tried to mix bands up, get bands playing with other bands, not just so they can make friends but so their fans can make friends too. It’s about making people feel part of a bigger scene than just one band.
FESTIVALS – It’s summer, and the industry has seen a steep rise in the sheer amount of smaller festivals, not to mention the ridiculous cost of the bigger ones (Reading and Glastonbury I’m specifically looking at you, and your £200+ tickets.) Money doesn’t stretch as far in terms of going to gigs, and I can understand that – if a venue wants to chuck me some budgets, I’ll book gigs for free over summer, but people literally don’t want to be paying £5 to get into a gig + more on beer money, the week before they go on a festival bender. Case study = A few years ago I gave Frank Turner a Reading Festival warm up gig, it was one of the first with his new backing band and it was the Thursday night before Reading. He was selling out 300 capacity venues no problem at that point, we had 100 in which says it all. It is experiences like that, that have shaped my opinion.
IT DOESN’T GET DARK TILL’ 10PM – Sounds silly, but it’s true. People don’t go out until it’s dark. My bands usually hit the stage between 8 and 9, which is still back garden BBQ time. And once you’ve had a few of your own bevvies, who’s going to drive you down? I actually had to pick a band up once because they were over the limit. I vowed never to book summer gigs again. The turn ovt at that gig was crap too.
THE WORLD CUP IS ON – It’s June 2010 and England are playing, and what happens? My big gig with Devizes Festival clashes with the game. The usual 400 turns into 200. In 2011 the festival get itchy feet over my gig. We have no such problem this year, but just goes to show how much things like Sports influence attendance. (note; this also goes for Champions League Final, a British tennis star doing well at Wimbledon or say the 2012 Olympics coming to London…)
All of the above is not to say summer gigs don’t work, because they do. I once went to a wicked night on a beach front in Barnstable, a surfer band playing covers of Beach Boys etc was a reet treat. But on the whole summer gigs don’t work.
So that’s why I don’t book summer gigs. I hope you understand as bands, and as punters make the most of what gigs are on over the summer – DECADE at The Corn Exchange in July is a big risk for me – but to counter that gig, I’m giving you two free shows at The Lamb on July 23th Electro night + August 13th Gaz Brookfield + Sailors. Please vote with your feet at the DECADE show and keep the scene alive!