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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Exploring the Atmosphere of Gigs: Smaller Venues and Technology

After my previous chat about bigger venues and festivals, I wanted to focus on my favorite way to experience a gig. In my opinion, the most authentic gigs you will ever attend will not take place in an arena.

Personally, I love smaller concerts. Any time the audience can sit on the floor and vibe out to the tunes, I am there for it. I also like when smaller audiences show up to see bigger acts because bands often loosen up and try things that they wouldn’t normally try when playing a bigger, potentially higher stakes gig. I’ve seen some of my favorite bands in small intimate environments, and every time, I come away with a more authentic experience than I would if I went to a bigger gig and I could hardly make out the faces of the band members from where I stood or sat.

They’ll take place in a rock club like Royale or the House of Blues. This is where you can comfortably enjoy a bigger gig with the flare and excitement of an arena gig but often for a cheaper price.

And if you want an intimate experience in the city, that doesn’t necessarily involve sitting on the floor of someone’s living room or a coffee shop, I suggest spaces like Brighton Music Hall (a personal favorite, and the venue has the cleanest bathrooms of any concert hall I’ve ever attended), the Middle East (upstairs or downstairs), Sonya, O’Brien’s, and The Great Scott. Seriously, if you’re looking for a concert to attend, chances are if you peruse the websites and social media for these venues, you’ll have no problem taking a chance on any of their gigs.

There is nothing like a punk or hardcore gig in the Middle East downstairs, or a chill acoustic gig at Brighton Music Hall, or an emotional excursion in the newly renovated and opened Sonya. These venues are often very chill, relaxed, and welcoming spaces where you are likely to meet lots of new friends if you’re an outgoing person. I’ve attended shows at larger spaces and really had little to no interaction with anyone other than the people I went to the gig with.

Gigs have changed a lot over the few years I’ve been attending them—mobile technology and social media have played a big role in this. Now, I love social media and I love my phone. However, when I’m at a gig, especially a gig for a band or artist that I love (not just casually checking out a new artist), I am paying attention. Phones are distracting. Even if I’m not terribly into the bands, I give them the respect that I would want as a performer. I recognize that not everyone is like this, but I like to put my phone away.

WHAT! I put my phone away? Why yes, yes I do.

I don’t pay money to attend a concert just to stare at my phone or to watch a concert through my phone screen. So, hey, let’s put the phones down.

Now, I must concede that I am likely to take a quick photo of the band at the beginning or end of a set, or a quick video of a particularly juicy portion of music. Other than that, my phone is away and I’m being respectful. Social media and mobile technology are revolutionary movements in the concert scene—while they’re imperative to how we get information about bands and gigs, they’re also a massive crutch at gigs.

People get bored, I get that. So the first thing they do when they get bored is pull out their phone. It’s upsetting, but there are times I must fight the urge as well. And as much as I’m a purist, I’m also a massive hypocrite and I am weak when it comes to my own boredom. So, I admit that I’ve been there.

To my comment about sitting on the floor during an intimate gig—I’m all for it. However, the flip-side of this is purposefully seated auditoriums or theaters. I’m not so much a fan of that environment. Forced, barrier-induced seats can hazard the concert-going experience. Over the years, I’ve actively avoided seated gigs because different venues have different rules for these areas and often, that includes no standing up to dance—instead, if you stand, you’re expected to stand in place, which is so limiting when you want to let your body groove to the music.

But that is only a small concession about those venues. Ultimately, if you’re attending a gig, I respect you for supporting the arts. That’s one of the most important things for me as a performer, an organizer, and a genuine lover of live music.

And yet, as a lover of live music, I’ve only recently gotten the courage to attend concerts on my own. I know, I’m surprised, too. Even though it took me years to work up the courage to go to gigs without anyone else, it’s how I made new friends who love the same music I love in the city that I love to experience live music in. It’s a win-win.

So go out there, see the bands and artists you love, and take your friends to experience it with you! Or don’t: go alone and make some new friends. Just support live music. There is a myriad of opportunities in the city to experience great tunes and I trust that you’ll find something that sounds good to you.