MAYBE PEOPLE DON’T GO TO SHOWS BECAUSE BANDS SUCK
It’s no secret that the music industry is in shambles. What was once an industry that could stand neck and neck with Hollywood is now just a series of competing guerilla operations. Some richer than others. This is not news. This is talked about every day. All I hear about is how the sky is falling and there’s no hope.
Well… I beg to differ. I think there’s nothing but hope. You see, I attended an Opeth concert in L.A. two weeks ago. as well as one held by Muse in Atlanta about a month and a half ago. Both shows were completely sold out. The audiences were in awe of the performances. Both bands sounded incredible. Both bands had great staging. I’m sure both bands cleaned house in merch. The sorry state of the music industry didn’t seem to be affecting them too harshly.
I once read someone in Dream Theater saying something to the effect of, “We’re in a bubble that somehow protects us from what’s going on with the rest of the industry.” Why is it that some bands can clean house in any economic climate, while so many other bands that just two years ago were living the life, are now downsizing back to vans, getting real jobs, etc.? People point to the the sheer amount of tours leading to poor ticket sales. Other people say it’s just that people don’t have money due to the bad eonomy. Well, somehow they seem to have money when Opeth, or Dream Theater, or Muse, or Slipknot, or any other mega-band comes around. Kinda like your pothead friend that’s always broke, but can always find money for weed.
It’s not that there are too many bands touring. Its not that there’s not enough money out there. Yes, I’m sure that this is a small part of it but really, honestly, I think that the reason tickets don’t sell like they used to is because band’s don’t put on shows worth paying money for most of the time. How exciting is it to go watch five dudes that look like they just rolled out of bed bang their heads really fast for an hour? Couple this amazing imagery with generally not being able to understand what’s going on musically because the sound sucks and the band isn’t really as tight as their record would have you believe. Suddenly, it’s not that exciting to go to a show. I think that if it’s between the aforementioned exprience and YouTube, YouTube wins.
Here’s an example where YouTube doesn’t win. Check out this clip of Muse opening a concert from the tour they’re on now. Sound quality isn’t the greatest, but check out the level of production –
I saw that in person, and I promise, nothing on Youtube will do it any justice. It’s worth paying the money. I think 15,000 other people agreed with me, because the Arena was sold out. This show was one of the most extravagant spectacles I have ever witnessed. Well worth it.
The Opeth show I just saw was the same story. Not an Arena, and not the Starship Enterprise production, but still a level of greatness you can’t capture on internet video. People know this about Opeth, and subsequently the show was, as I said, sold the fuck out.
People will pay for quality. People will pay money to be blown away. Bands that can’t blow people away are getting hit the hardest by the economy. In these trying times, people are only going to spend their money on sure things. Maybe these so-called “headliners” shouldn’t be headliners. Maybe these bands got to the position of headlining because the momentum of the trend they lucked into swept them there. Maybe now that the bubble is bursting, the truth behind what really gets people out to shows year after year is coming clear. Music, and showmanship win. Always. Never underestimate your audience.