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Power to the Purple One: The Legacy of Prince

 
By on Monday, 25th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

2016 hasn’t been a good year for popular music. After losing hard rock great Lemmy before the end of last year, we lost David Bowie in January. The announcement last Thursday that Prince had been pronounced dead at Paisley Park was almost too much to bear. How on earth could a world that had only just starting to get back to normal after the loss of Ziggy Stardust lose another musical visionary?

On paper, Prince Rogers Nelson shouldn’t have become the legend we came to know. Based on conversations I’ve had in Britain and in the context of global superstars such Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and the late Michael Jackson, it may be hard for someone not of colour outside America to understand what I am about to say. We may be in 2016 now, but sometimes I feel like we’re still stuck in the ‘60s. For Prince to have overcome the average American public’s stereotypes of an African-American man and to be embraced for who he was and everything he had to say was, and still is, huge.

Back in the ‘60s, Elvis scandalised our nation – and the world – with what was then considered hypersexualised hip swiveling. Prince took what Elvis and Bowie did, and to many, many levels higher. Instead of tiptoeing around a man’s sexuality, he challenged society right in the face with what had previously been held sacred and behind closed doors. Prince said the kinds of things we all were thinking about sex but were too afraid to express. Tipper Gore was beside herself. And I’m sure it terrified her even further that the person who was blowing off the lid on sexuality and scandalising her white bread daughter was African-American. Years later, performing at the biggest show of American masculinity, Super Bowl XLI in 2007, and playing to thousands upon thousands of fans in that stadium and at home, he’d achieved acceptance in a way that no-one else had before.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NN3gsSf-Ys[/youtube]

Changing the norm is scary. So having Prince step out with his gender-bending falsetto and flamboyant outfits, as the poster child (er, man) for turning the ideal of what a man should be on its head, the value of his then-crazy notions on society and how they changed people’s minds cannot be overstressed. This is of course before we even consider his musical contributions to the world, including his mastery of and virtuosity on guitar that seems to fall by the wayside when considered alongside his outrageous, out-sized on-stage persona. Like Bowie, he was an incredibly talented and incredibly prolific songwriter. We now live in an era where women are having to defend themselves against men who want to control their artistic vision. Have we all but forgotten that Prince’s adoption of an unpronounceable symbol for his name was a stand against the corporate world and Warner Brothers, taking back control of his career for himself?

When I heard the news that Prince had died, there were several musician friends of mine who came to mind immediately, for their music has an indelible connection to him. As mentioned in my review of their newest album ‘Commontime’ that was released in February, Field Music came to the Purple One’s attention late last year, so much that he Tweeted about finding and appreciating their music. To help close out this article, I give you the kindly offered words of Peter Brewis:

I think he has influenced us from the very beginning in lots of different ways. I remember us aiming for a ‘Raspberry Beret’-type acoustic guitar part on a few songs from the first album in 2005 (their self-titled debut) and most recently there were ‘Parade’ (Prince’s eighth album) influenced jazz-orchestra codas on our last album. I suppose he will be remembered by many as the ultimate rock star showman, and admittedly the best gig I ever saw was him proving just that. But, for me, it was his abilities as a great, independent, music-making all-rounder that will always have an influence on me.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tklJdZzUB1Y[/youtube]

Prince was an outsider who made music that tapped into our primal musings, the musings deep down that we pretended we didn’t have but were just itching to let out. Like Bowie, he made it okay to be different and to think differently. Living in America, whether you were white or black or any other colour, you could like Prince and be included in the glittering, over-the-top dance party. Cheers to you, Prince. I hope you’re playing guitar like nobody’s business and smiling at the greatest rave in the sky.

 

He Thinks He’d Blow Our Minds: The Legacy of David Bowie

 
By on Tuesday, 12th January 2016 at 11:00 am
 

It has now been over 24 hours since the shocking announcement of David Bowie’s passing at the age of 69 from liver cancer. Chances are by the time you read these words, you have read loads of tributes, drafted up by journos, provided by celebrities who knew Bowie personally, plus those by your friends and acquaintances who grew up with and were influenced by his music and style. If you’ve listened to the right radio station(s) (*cough* BBC 6 Music *cough*), you’ve also had sonically the most enjoyable stroll through time, through his celebrated catalogue.

It’s not my intention to repeat what has already been said and what has already been written. You can read plenty of that now all over the internet. (If you’re looking for an excellently written article on his legacy, or if you’re just looking to read more on him, I recommend my friend Dorian Lynskey’s piece for GQ, ‘David Bowie was the vanguard of popular music’.) On my way to work yesterday morning, stunned in hearing just minutes before of Bowie’s passing on a breaking news segment on local news radio, I contemplated how I might go about paying appropriate tribute to a man who meant so much to so many people, and over such a long, storied career.

It’s the herculean task of *all* herculean tasks. As I edited our Steven’s review of Bowie’s last album ‘Blackstar’ this weekend (you can read this as it goes live in an hour, at noon today), it blew my mind that this was Bowie’s 25th album. 25th. Contrast that to the current landscape of the music industry, where most pop artists are lucky to put out two or three albums before their record label gets all anxious about their profit margins and drops them.

All hats are off, and deservedly so, to this great man’s incredible talent, unstoppable creativity and audacious courage in going against the grain, going completely into character with his unforgettable, colourful, androgynous persona of Ziggy Stardust, for one. But the Bowie characteristic I relate to most that I worry might get lost in all of the posthumous celebration of his life was his prolificity. He never wanted to rest on his laurels and retire on the royalties from his biggest hits (‘Heroes’, ‘Changes’, ‘Let’s Dance’, just to name three), though we all know he could have easily done so. He could have spent his last years comfortably gazing out the window of his New York apartment and watching his young daughter grow up, and we wouldn’t have flinched.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMQ0Ryy01yE[/youtube]

He didn’t have to, but he kept working. And worked unbelievably hard. It is absolutely astonishing to consider that over the last year, as he continued his involvement with the off-Broadway musical whose script he cowrote with Enda Walsh, Lazarus, and was a key player in its development, all the while he was battling bravely with cancer, and in secret. As someone with a chronic illness, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to have to conceal something of such significance about his life, that he knew his days on this earth were numbered, that he could not let on to anyone beyond his immediate family.

This was a concerted effort to suppress the knowledge, so that the appreciation of his latest creation could not be affected by the eventual finality of his passing. As we feel the pain and mourn the loss of Bowie, there is some comfort to be found in the fact that even at the very end, he remained a true artist and although his life was sadly cut short by a terminal illness, he left us on his own terms. As he did with everything else in his life.

There was no-one else like David Bowie when he was living, while he was on this earth, making music, changing his look and image, crafting his art. He was different, celebrated difference, and allowed the rest of us to be okay with and accept our own differences. And there will never be anyone like him ever again.

 

Gig Observations of 2015: Editor’s Picks and Thoughts on the Live Music Industry

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd December 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Rather than choose my top 5 gigs of 2015 as I have done in previous years, I decided this time around, I needed to take a different tack, and for an important reason. I haven’t gone to that many shows this year. It wasn’t for lack of choice or opportunity, just various mitigating circumstances preventing me from what I wanted to do. Choosing shows, then, would be unfair to every band or act I missed because I couldn’t get their gig, through no fault of their own.

Instead, I’ve decided for 2015 I’d give an overview of how I view gigs now in this ever-changing music industry. In case you have somehow missed this development, please note: a significant portion of an artist’s income is now from touring profits. This makes it all the important to support your favourite bands when they come to your time, buy gig tickets and buy merch too if you can, as generally speaking, more of what they sell at the merch table is going directly into their pockets, and therefore towards their future music-making prospects, than other retailers you might be buying the same stuff from. If that isn’t possible, offer to buy the band drinks. Or bring them food and other tour provisions if the venue will allow it (check first). They’ll appreciate it. I once brought bananas to Peter, Bjorn and John at a 9:30 Club show (now that I think about it, I have no idea how I got them past security) because John asked for them on Twitter.

One of my favourite gigs in 2015 was outside America. While it’s true that you would think I’d automatically have fonder memories of shows away from home while on holiday, it turns out that it’s the people I met at the shows that made the most difference. I would be making a terrible sweeping generalisation if I said all security in America’s clubs are gruff, mean and unreasonable (they’re not), the clubs where I have faced ridiculous behaviour stick out as places I avoid. But when people at a venue go out of their way to be nice to me, I remember.

The Staves at Dublin Olympia, 6 May 2015

Case in point: Robbie, a bouncer at Dublin’s Olympia, really didn’t have to be nice to me when I showed up to cover The Staves there in May. I was press like all the others in the pit. Yet he pointed out where I could leave my things during the show so I would not have to lug them around while taking photos, the dangerous bits of the pit where I might slip and fall, and how I might be able to access the venue wifi. I wasn’t herded like cattle or yelled at, which is an all too regular occurrence. I mean, seriously, which kind of bouncer would you prefer to deal with, when you’re there to do an important job? I had arrived early to scope out the pit and introduce myself so there wouldn’t be any issues, and there were none the entire night. In fact, we got into a very nice conversation about some mutual friends of ours (Kodaline and The Coronas) and he told me a story about the Script‘s early days performing there. Getting to hear such a story, in a location now forever famous thanks to the 2007 R.E.M. live album, was an unforgettable experience during my first visit to Ireland. I will always treasure the memories of that night.

2015 was also the year that Girls Against was founded, in reaction to more outspoken young girls bringing to public attention groping that has been taking place in crowds at shows. Massive props to Drenge, Peace and Slaves in particular for speaking out against and condemning such behaviour at shows. To me, this is the sort of anti-violence action (I’m not going to use “feminist”, I intensely dislike that word because that seems to indicate boys are immune to such vile acts) that is beneficial and is more effective than, say, the words of a popster. Maybe that’s just me.

Ride at 9:30 Club, 17 September 2015

Going back to my own personal live experiences year, another great night was somehow achieved with flying colours by, well, flying down the street. Ride, who had not played in North America for a very long time, had a great show at the 9:30 Club in September. Having heard that their ’90s contemporaries Jesus and the Mary Chain were complete bores, I was steeling myself for a similar experience. Not so. The show was a reminder to me – and all – that despite the inevitable ageing of rock stars, the music is still incredible, and most bands even when they past middle age are still excellent, excellent shouts. Perhaps they might not need as much of your money as the younger, fledgling bands, but they are certainly worth the money to go see and have a night out where you can support your local economy and nightlife.

My friend and I had to split before Ride’s encore, however, to go down the block and see my Welsh friends Until the Ribbon Breaks play at DC9. I’ve had a soft spot for Pete Lawrie and co. after seeing them win over crowds at SXSW 2014 and then smash it while closing the Music Wales night this year in Austin. To go from a 1,200-capacity, state of the art, two-floor club with massive balcony to a 200-capacity upstairs room really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Both shows were packed but both were also full of incredible energy. It reminded me it doesn’t really matter how big (or small) a crowd is, as long as the artist up on stage is giving it his/her/their all. That’s their art, and it’s our responsibility as fans to make sure they can keep doing what they’re doing.

Until the Ribbon Breaks at DC9, 17 September 2015

I would be remiss if I did not mention all the lovely people, bands, and artists I met in East Anglia for Norwich Sound and Vision. (All my coverage of the 3-day festival and accompanying conference can be found here.) It was my first time in that region of England and I was absolutely charmed by the city and by the kindness extended by everyone there. I highly recommend the experience to anyone wanting something to put on their calendar that’s much more relaxed where you actually feel human and you’re not running town to gigs and meetings like a crazy person! (Professionals: we all know what that’s like, right?) A special thank you to Adrian, Jenny and Dex for putting on such a remarkable event, and a very special thank you to Mark for tipping me off about it.

A final word. After the horrific events in Paris on the 13th of November (I wrote about this a bit back here), we have to keep going. I know it’s hard. I’m still shaken up by what’s happened, because some of the music fans we lost were friends and colleagues of friends. In 2016, more so than any other year in the past, I hope for more peace, love and understanding. Let’s commit ourselves to this. Through music we can stand together. And stay strong.

Peace out.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2015.
Continue reading Gig Observations of 2015: Editor’s Picks and Thoughts on the Live Music Industry

 

Mercury’s in Retrograde – Time for a Change?

 
By on Friday, 6th November 2015 at 11:00 am
 

In a British music lover’s life, there are very few homemade moments that excite us and promote discussion. There is, of course, the BRITs, but they are awards predominantly based around popularity. The one time of year actual music lovers can truly partake in the awards ceremony ‘buzz’ is late October, when the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize is announced. It all begins with the announcement of the date on which all will be revealed, after which countless music Web sites and journalists write articles suggesting their favourites they hope will get on the coveted the shortlist. Of course, very rarely is anyone correct – and this is what separates the Mercury Prize from any other awards ceremony – although they choose a majority of acts you’ve heard, with the rest you’re left wondering if you’ve been a social outcast, as they’re names that you can’t even pretend to have heard before.

The Mercury Prize’s pretence is that it gives the award and nominations to acts that have, and excuse the pun, the musical ‘X Factor’. It goes to acts based solely on musical credit, and to an extent you believe them. It’s certainly not a popularity contest. In 1998, Gomez’s ‘Bring It On’ beat The Verve’s ‘Urban Hymns’; one of which is now considered a classic, and the other is just a debut album. However, you can’t help but feel that the tastemaker panel is just trying to stand out from the crowd by awarding the honour to underdogs rather than favourites, almost the opposite of a popularity contest.

The award can have a great effect on an artist’s career and more often than not, the winner will see a humongous surge in sales, though this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a career shortcut (see Ms. Dynamite, the winner of the 2002 Mercury Prize, who then went on to ‘win’ the one time Naomi Award [think the Razzies, but for music] for Worst Urban Act in 2006). This year’s nominations list features a lot of familiar names with Aphex Twin, Florence and the Machine, Jamie XX and Wolf Alice being major players. This definitely makes the awards more accessible, but one can’t help but feel these are safe choices. Past years have always been a veritable smorgasbord of the unknown and big hitters, but there was always a certain idea behind those chosen. You felt there were enough almost-controversial choices that there was a method to the madness; in contrast, this year just feels bland. Is this really the state of British music currently? It’s certainly not the Britain I’m living in.

For the judges, coming up with the initial shortlist must be no easy feat, having to whittle down from hundreds and hundreds of potential nominees to just 12. Although they definitely do a great job, isn’t the entire basis of trying to judge albums by musical quality completely subjective? How can we be told that these 12 records truly represent the current state of British music, for this specific year, when the actual judges, who all have their own levels of tenure and experience in the music industry, are supposed to chose for us?

Generally, the public shouldn’t be given a vote, because, as we see regularly, they control TV talent shows and the like, and look where that leads to, many a failed career and horror shows. However, there may be a fairer way to control the output of the Mercury Prize: that is, either including a delegate from each area of the industry – the lower and the upper echelons, the bigwigs, nominates their own delegate to go onto the judging panel – or we, as a keener public, vote for the judges. This avoids the wider general populous, the TV voters, creating popular nominations as they won’t be inclined to get involved with something that has no direct impact on them as people, and it allows us to decide who we want to tell us what’s good and feeling safe in the matter. At no point is the public involved in these awards, which might be a good thing, but it certainly gives off the idea we are no longer tastemakers. After all, if we’re the ones being told who’s the creme de la creme of music via a panel of judges, then by this proxy, whose tastemaking is helping the rest of the music world go round? By and large, the general populace are the ones who decide what’s good. We’re the ones that buy the records, we single-handedly created the popular music genre by going out in the thousands and buying singles. So why shouldn’t we get a say in something as significant as this?

The 2015 Mercury Prize Album of the Year will be announced on Friday, the 20th of November, in London.

 

Single Review / Essay: The 1975 – Love Me

 
By on Monday, 2nd November 2015 at 11:00 am
 

At the end of May 2015, The 1975 posted ominous messages and deleted their Facebook page. It was part and parcel of their embarking on what can be now looked back at as a brilliant marketing ploy that could only be interpreted as giving two fingers towards the very industry and fan base that had given them fame and fortune and put them on a pedestal as indie rock gods. Having watched their star steadily then meteorically rise with interest and curiosity since writing this Bands to Watch on the Manchester band 3 years ago, I was confused. Looking at this new cartoon manifesto in which Matty was depicted as a pink hostage, I asked myself, was there some kind of deeper political meaning to all of this? Or had they just finally flipped out, stardom going to their heads and destroying them? Like the rest of their fan base, albeit with less asphyxiation than their average teenybopper fan, I thought it was the end of the road for them.

Last week, the band – frontman and guitarist Matthew ‘Matty’ Healy, guitarist Adam Hann, bassist Ross MacDonald and drummer George Daniel – returned with a video for ‘Love Me’, purported to be the first taster for their upcoming sophomore album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, the follow-up to their monster self-titled debut album released in autumn 2013. As if he had been anticipating the fingers wagging at him about what had happened back in May, Healy wrote the following message for the press release of ‘Love Me’:

With ‘Love Me’ we wanted to capture the neon-hued enthralling acquisition of success and excess, the screaming momentum, the sexy daze. Everything is REDICULOUS! [sic] But, is it? The only art worth any investment is art that makes one feel personally addressed. A simple truth, or set of truths, that galvanises an awareness and passion within an individual and in doing so immerses the individual into a sense of shared experience and community founded upon that same personal connection or experience. Too many artists care what others think. We are for the ‘community’! A non-linear observation on everything that has been and what will become. A lack of understanding of the world we are living in. The post-ironic notion of the modern world. Selfie mythologizing. Creating how we consume. Fragments of culture. Not settling for what you’re given. WE’VE JUST COME TO REPRESENT A DECLINE IN THE STANDARDS OF WHAT WE ACCEPT.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ5bZuUlftI[/youtube]

Listening to ‘Love Me’ takes us all back to the ’80s, a decade known for its excess, its colour, and the funky guitar feel of now classics such as INXS’ ‘New Sensation’ and Peter Gabriel’s ‘Big Time’. The overall feeling is still pop, but it’s a very different style of pop than what appeared on The 1975’s debut album. The song itself is fine: as a pop song, it’s amusing enough, but it’s not earth-shattering. I don’t think that was the intention anyway.

In both the song and the video, the band are poking fun at archetypes and lifestyle of that era – a dark- and curly-haired sex symbol wearing makeup and fronting a band (RIP Michael Hutchence); girls in loud, bright-coloured dresses looking pretty and not playing guitar (Robert Palmer’s ‘Simply Irresistible’ girls); champagne and jacuzzis. We might be 2 decades ahead of that time now, but celeb star power is stronger than ever, so why not go ahead and poke?

Directed by Diane ‘Diamond’ Martel, the video fits what the lyrics say and rather fittingly, they also match what the aforementioned cartoon back in May seemed to be doing. The 1975 are mocking the establishment and mocking all their fans who have been following them around like puppy dogs because they think celebrity and fame – what ultimately all bands want and need, in addition to getting paid and paid well – isn’t and shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.

The problem, of course, in this era of massive consumerism, selfies and selfie sticks, and self-entitlement, isn’t this how bands achieve stardom, especially those like The 1975 who have a young fan base? There’s the additional problem of stardom by association, such as the infamous time last year Taylor Swift showed off hanging with her girlfriends, fellow pop princesses Selena Gomez and Ellie Goulding, at one of their concerts. (Yes, I groaned inwardly upon hearing about that video and knowing what it was going to do. Hey, I found them 2 years before you did. Hands off, Tay Tay! )

When I met Matt Healy at a blahblahblahscience day party on Maggie Mae’s rooftop at SXSW 2013, he thanked me for us at TGTF writing about them and like any good Northern boy I’ve ever known, he kissed my cheek when we said goodbye. I was blown away by his niceness and his charisma then and every time I’ve seen or met him since. I interviewed Healy before The 1975’s first-ever show in DC, at DC9. Scuttled away in a room, away from the maddening crowds, he was a shy, softspoken, thoughtful artist hiding under a fedora who’d just happened to given a diary with a date written out as “The 1975” and was impressed so much by that phrasing that he wanted to name his band after it. As we sat there talking, I had to wonder to myself if he and the band were ready for the fame that awaited them.

I agree completely with Healy that “The only art worth any investment is art that makes one feel personally addressed”: that is, in the context of being a music fan, you should be a fan of an artist or a band because their art, their music, their sound is what moves you, stirs up your passion inside. Reading through Healy’s words again, I think it’s to get lost in what he’s saying and also come to different conclusions.

If indeed you take his parting thought “WE’VE JUST COME TO REPRESENT A DECLINE IN THE STANDARDS OF WHAT WE ACCEPT.” at face value, doesn’t that mean, then, that the band have accepted their place in the music industry machine, that what they’re doing is making pop music and not true art? But at the same time, him writing that paragraph in the first place also suggests a coyness summed up in “Everything is REDICULOUS! [sic] But, is it?” What is ridiculous, and what is what Healy refers to as “a simple truth”? Like the human condition, the answers to those questions are different for each and every person.

All of this taken together, it’s entirely unclear what the rest of ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ will sound like. So there’s nothing else to do but wait and anticipate the release of the new album early next year.

Checkmate.

7/10

‘Love Me’, the newest single from Manchester hitmakers The 1975, is out now on Dirty Hit Records. ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, their second album, is purported to be released in February 2016. For all of TGTF’s coverage of The 1975, go here.

 

Norwich Sound and Vision 2015: an introduction to editor Mary’s coverage

 
By on Tuesday, 13th October 2015 at 1:00 pm
 

The knowledge we’ve gained collectively at TGTF as a UK/US music Web site from major industry events has been absolutely amazing since I joined up as USA Editor in the spring of 2009 and while under my leadership as Editor since summer 2010; I’ve personally covered major music events on three continents and have had life experiences that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. But there came a point in my blogging career this past summer, over 6 years since I began, when the usual suspects on the music professional calendar felt like they just weren’t cutting it anymore. I needed to broaden my horizons, to reboot, to find something fresh to add another notch to my belt.

A friend of ours at Generator NI suggested I look into a conference and festival taking place in October, not my usual time of the year to visit the UK. Further, I was told it took place in East Anglia, a place I’ve not had the opportunity to visit in my 9 years of travelling to the country. Sounded like a good shout, eh? Starting today and through the rest of this week, I hope to give you a better idea of and a flavour for Norwich Sound and Vision, the East of England town in which it takes place in and why everyone – from music professionals to the obsessive fan – would do well to look into this boutique happening. Though it’s smaller than The Great Escape, it’s one of the better-run events on the calendar, staffed by passionate local leadership and staff truly devoted to the cause.

I had been aware of the strength of Norwich’s musical community, having noticed that at every Liverpool Sound City we’ve attended (prior to this year when the event was moved to the docklands, at least) always had a Norwich-sponsored showcase. Of course, you wouldn’t put on such a regional showcase unless 1) you had secured the financial support from local culture-related offices (read: there are people in your area who are excited about and want to help you spread the word about local talent) and 2) you felt the quality and potential of the artists in your area were incredible enough to want to shout about it to a wider audience outside your region.

I had the good fortune of having the time to attend both days of the conference and all three nights of the festival. Though the number of delegates is significantly less than that who attend the Great Escape, I thought the programming was excellent, covering a wide range of topics that would appeal to music professionals already in the industry, those looking to make moves into other parts of the business, and budding artists. (In the coming days, I’ll also be bringing you my thoughts on the showcasing artists I witnessed live while in Norwich.)

As the industry landscape changes, especially in terms of how an artist makes enough money not just to survive and break new markets, most usually without the backing of a major label, it’s obvious there is no ‘one size fits all’ standard model towards the yellow brick road of fame and fortune for a new artist. Nor is there one single benchmark of success for every artist to denote he/she/they has/have ‘made it’. Despite both acts first growing their fanbase in Britain and then made successful forays into America and beyond, success achieved by Bear’s Den and Public Service Broadcasting came to be via different paths. Stories like theirs give me hope for the future, and I hope they do the same for you, too. Syncing and streaming, also discussed in their own panel talks, are two topics that should be important to every new band, with the potential for revenue in either or both that could prove significant.

I have to admit that living in TGTF’s little corner of music industry land for quite a few years now, I haven’t needed to give much thought to how many little details must be sorted out, and in good time, to put on and to promote a major music festival and make it successful: sorting out event licences; keeping the local residents happy; making sure there is adequate police, fire brigade and medical emergency services in case god forbid something terrible happens. I know now why there are so many people I have come to know and become friends with that are involved with them, and I will certainly leave those kinds of headaches and heartaches to them. Case in point: Paul Kennedy, cofounder of The Zeitgeist Agency, who PR for Kendal Calling among many other festivals during the year, an event our Martin has covered for us several times including this year, had the unfortunate task of dealing with the fallout of a punter’s death this year at their festival.

The sad example serves as a reminder that although music festivals are big business and are about the organiser’s bottom line and yes, money talks, but it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a greater community, and we can and should be looking out for each other. Ultimately, I feel there are enough of us, with the good in our hearts, all in this together, and we will keep this industry alive and thriving. That’s something we all should feel good about. But that doesn’t mean we should ever rest on our laurels. From there, we need to keep going. And keep pushing.

I recently said, in tears to a manager friend, that as a music editor I often feel like a soldier in a war that will never end, where artists are fighting with each other for regional funding and festival slots and they can’t count on album sales because young people are stealing their music and not respecting their hard work. Quite often, I don’t feel like I’m ever doing enough to help new artists. If I can speak from a purely selfish standpoint, hearing the varied points of view from so many people from different walks of life in our industry made me feel a bit more comfortable at least with my own position, and where TGTF fits in with all of that.

Wherever you are, whoever you are in the music world – whether you’re a professional supporting an artist, you’re an artist making music or you’re a fan who buys concert tickets – what you do and how you act within this world does and has an effect.

Keep fighting the good fight, everyone!

Norwich canal
Just in case there was any doubt that I was actually there, here’s a photo of the canal near where I stayed in Norwich. Not going to get that kind of view at most festivals!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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