Just under five years ago, I would never have expected to be saying that I am completely bored with the humble local show. I remember going to shows as a fifteen year old kid, welcomed by packed house venues and quite diverse line ups, where I hadn’t even heard half of the bands playing. But I didn’t care. Every band brought a new sound, a new stage show, and a new album to my playlist. And then cue in 2014. A less then fantastic year for the local show to say the least. Going to a gig now meant sitting on the steps out the front and having a chat with your mates, and then heading in to see that one band that interested you on the promo. Lineups now had five of the same bands with names such as Landscapes, Exposures, Circles, Perspectives or Stations, who seem much more interested in making sure you said their name at the door rather than watching their set. As well as this, they are all either playing the now standard overly progressive, ear bleeding technical sound, or busy being a Sworn In cover band and trying not to cry on stage in their matching black hoodies.
The influence of successful bands on musicians has gone from a source to draw inspiration and guidance from, to an all out carbon copy ideal, which must never be deviated from. Sure the stage show, lyrics and appearance may change slightly, but the base model is still the same. This is where I place most of my blame towards the current stagnant state of local shows; the incessant desire to fit into the mould of what’s popular for the next few months, before another band takes the spotlight, and everyone jumps ship on the current trend. I’d say that the promoters and booking agents have a part to play in all of this (by booking 5 or 6 of the same bands on a bill, and then rehashing that show in a month or two with a slightly different line up) but the fact is there just aren’t enough unique bands in circulation right now. Coupled with this idea that lineups MUST stick to one genre, kids don’t seem interested in the idea of mixed bill lineups anymore. Gone are the days where you could watch an acoustic or post-hardcore act open for a death core band, or vice versa. It seems that instead of states and towns having a wide array of appreciated and solid bands, it’s now boiled down to one or two main popular acts, followed by a horde of smaller bands trying desperately to cash in on the current trend.
Things need to change with the mentality of bands and their ‘fans’ if the glory days of local gigs are to return. Instead of writing the next big Death Card rehash, break the mould, write what really interests you as a musician, return to your roots. Start booking mixed bill line – ups, stray from the idea that booking mind – numbingly heavy bands is the only way to draw a good crowd, because it isn’t. Bring back the excitement of heading out with your friends to a local show.