i saw bat for lashes twice last week. this wasn't entirely intentional, it must be said, but it did make me think quite a bit about how gigs work and the kind of factors that can make or break the experience for an audience member.
first off i have to say that i quite like bat for lashes. after initially being rather sniffy about the first album i've grown to rather love some of natasha khan's stuff. so i approached both gigs in a positive frame of mind. the first was at the brighton dome. the sound was good, the view pretty good too. the set was geared towards the more uptempo numbers which meant i was a little disappointed, favouring as i do the more miserable songs. but not to worry. it was a nice gig.
the second was at the roundhouse - a rather more cavernous venue; the sound wasn't quite as good, the view restricted by a flat floor and the presence of a lot more people (some of whom wore large hats). what was slightly disappointing was that it was exactly the same set - same order, even the same (minimal) patter between songs. possibly natasha's voice wasn't quite as together at the second gig, but that'd be nitpicking.
but what struck me most on both occasions was that (apart from my lovely companions) i was essentially totally surrounded by wankers. this shouldn't be a surprise to me by now, you'd have thought, but still i am utterly gobsmacked by the numbnut behaviour that goes on at gigs. at the roundhouse someone standing mext to me actually made a phone call. now being a bloke i'm quite good at ignoring things that are going on right under my nose but i found it very hard to ignore that kind of thing. at a gig i want at the very least to be able to hear the music without someone shouting inanities down their fucking blackberry. or to each other.
so instead of having some mystical experience listening to the stuff that's coming off the stage i find myself wondering why people would pay 20 quid to go and stand in a darkened room pumped with loud music and talk loudly about how they got so pissed the night before they couldn't stand or how they've been passed up for promotion at the web design agency they work for or shout about the shit photos they've just taken on their iphone (look...here's a shit photo of the thing we should actually be experiencing instead of taking shit photos of it. how cool is that?). perhaps if i paid them each £20 they could come round my house and do that while i go out and see a gig that i know they can't attend and therefore have a cat in hell's chance of hearing the fucking music.
but i don't really have enough money for that. tossers.