Monday 28 June 2010

#musicmonday: It's good to share

As the ever wonderful Lauren Laverne points out in this week's Grazia (yeah I know throw me a bone- I was on a long train journey) the people who stop liking a band when they get big are a rather strange breed of music fan.

I come up against the idea that some friends and contemporaries see to have that when an artist or band get too big or popular they should somehow drop off your radar on a weekly basis.

I have had the debate/ argument about whether you are truly a fan or supporter of an artist if you drop them when they do well countless times in person so I thought I would try in print, to see if I could do better.

Now I and I’m sure most people would freely admit that virtually all music is better heard in a small- ish venue- I’m not sure what the exception might be- Queen maybe- I think I’d have liked to have been at that Wembley gig- or festivals. With a truly great band sharing the experience can be part of the pleasure- look at the Blur reunion performances. The joy of seeing lots of up and coming bands is that you do get to see them in smaller, intimate venues and that’s a great pleasure and privilege- but I don’t now go and see a band at a festival because they are on the main stage- just to spite them for being successful- it doesn’t make any sense. Would I refuse a ticket to see Joni Mitchell say in some big aircraft hanger- no. Would I prefer it if I won a ticket to see her somewhere tiny- yes- but I'd just be grateful to see her at all!

So I admit if you have seen a band fifteen times on the way up you might not be thrilled about seeing them at Wembley on a tv screen. Your relationship to a band though isn’t just about live music it’s about when it’s just you and them on the tube, late at night when you are happy or sad, waiting for people, trying to sleep, trying to find solace, ease nerves, to just have fun. Do I like the Beatles less when they are playing just to me in my earphones because perhaps millions of people are listening to them at the same time? No not really. I don’t care I just care that I love the song I’m listening to. In fact perhaps I love them more because I know they are comforting others at the same time.

Sometimes our enjoyment of an artist can be really affected by their ubiquity in the media and especially from over playing of certain songs. Florence Welch is to my mind over exposed at the moment and if I were her or her management I’d probably think about taking it down a notch. Truly though I think it’s partly a question of the media you consume- some radio stations really over play artists to the detriment of both artist and station but there is nothing an artist can do about that- it would be a strange person who said don’t play my song given the current commercial situation. There is definitely an argument that says you can probably over do the press, but likewise I suppose you don’t want to seem aloof or that you take things for granted.

I got to thinking about other artistic work and whether your fandom decreases as it becomes more popular and perhaps it does and I am just less involved in those circles? I don't think so though- you don't get people saying they don't like Van Gogh because his paintings go for more than £30 million these days do you? I suppose it does follow with comedy though that when someone is playing the Palladium they are suddenly uncool- but not theatre- you don't get people saying Simon Rusell- Beale is rubbish do you?

I think the attitude perhaps suggest you aren't a real fan (the word for fan of course comes from fanatic which I guess we only are about a very few acts at any one time). Perhaps it would be truer to say that you enjoy seeing new music and you are even fond of some groups or artists but there you aren't really a loyal follower in my mind if you drop them once they get their wings. If you truly want someone to do well because you so admire their work and love the way it affects you you are handing out their cd right left and centre, chatting about them, telling people they should check so and so out.

If you don't want to share your adoration for something then perhaps you don't really care for it?


Mr London Street said...

This is good but I can't help feeling it slightly misses the point, which at least partly is that a lot of bands when they make it big then proceed to lose everything about them which made them interesting in the first place. Justifiably a lot of fans are entitled to feel disappointed when that happens.

Also it's only human nature to enjoy feeling like a band is playing just for you. It's a lot easier to feel that way at small venues where the band is a stone's throw away and you can talk to them after the gig than it is in a soulless arena somewhere.

Lucy said...

Is Florence Welch the Florence from Florence and the machines? If so, the Golden Silvers who toured with her are interesting and not as overexposed as I expected them to become when they first came to light.

Re the issue discussed I agree with you there is nothing like seeing performances in a small space but I would go liking someone if they made it big, although as Mr London Street commented might go off them if they were changed by commercial pressures. I think sometimes people feel so miffed that someone they once had to themselves is now public property that they just reject them.

Rose said...

Hi Mr London Street- I was going to go on and say more and I felt I was ranting! I think you're right that that does happen with quite a lot of bands, but not all- and it tends to be a few albums in too. It's very true though.

Hi Lucy- yes that's Florence Welch- and yes I like the Golden Silvers- I like her a lot too and I don't think she's been changed yet- and hopefully she won't be. It is difficult for artists, they either capitulate to some extent or go off and get a bit experimental.