Ever since I heard that “Living Room Gigs” exist I’ve been hooked on the idea. Why there are not more of them is beyond me. I’d love to create a national network for living room gigs in the UK. Naturally, when I had my album release (buy the album here!) gig last week, it was in a living room. Thanks to my incredibly hospitable host and a warm welcoming audience, it was the perfect dream gig.
So what so great about it?
Well, practically speaking, it makes sense. In a recession environment:
- People who like going out to gigs have less money.
- Venues have less money and are reluctant to hire musicians for a decent fee.
- People who like having parties have less spare cash to buy the food & drink necessary.
Living room gigs are an all-in-one solution to these problems with added plusses to boot. The musician plays a set or two, generally un-amplified for a group of guests at the host’s house. The host provides food (or bring-a-plate) and drink for donations and the musicians sells CDs or takes a collection for their fee. Instead of paying £10 or more for 3 drinks at a bar, on top of an entry fee for a gig, audience members get food, drink, live music and possibly a CD for probably that same £10. Meanwhile, the host gets to throw an extra special party with exclusive entertainment, while costs are covered by donations. The musician gets paid enough too. Everybody wins! But most importantly, the intimate, unplugged environment creates a pin-drop atmosphere; that’s where acoustic music really comes into itself and magic starts to happen. To me, it’s that incredible atmosphere that’s the best thing about a living room gig. There’s no “stage” and no amp making a division between audience and performer. We’re all just there, with the music, together. It feels REAL.
It clear that a living room gig was the right choice for my album launch. Another plus I noticed on the night was that the friendly environment encouraged strangers to get to know each other. This is practically unheard of at regular gigs. My host was incredibly welcoming, cooked masses of delicious food and created a trail of candles up to their front door. They even managed to get an oversized bottle of champagne for the christening of the album.
A few turned up by themselves, knowing no-one and quickly got to know the whole group. I met each person as they arrived and by the time the show started, I knew the name of everyone I was performing to. At the end of the set, a storyteller in the audience stood up and told a short story about the unwavering strength of “hope”, saying “Kimwei, your songs bring us hope”. It was the best album launch I’ve ever had!
So why aren’t more people doing living room gigs? I guess the 3 deterrents are:
1. The effort of organising it
2. Worrying that the no-one will be interested to going to gig at someone’s house.
3. Worries about security
My response to no. 1 is – it is an effort to organise a gig, but it’s worth it. From my point of view, organising it in tandem with my host was no more effort than promoting a regular gig, but with much better results all around. To no.2 – People ARE interested, they’ve just never tried it before. It’s quite easy to sell the idea to people but it’s important to explain in more detail to wet people’s appetites. And finally, to no.3 – There are a few ways to keep the gig safe, but here’s how we addressed security. Rather than call my launch a “living room gig”, we called it a “Secret Gig”. People had to join up to a facebook group in order to find out where it would be. This not only made it more exciting and fun, it also meant that we were able use the facebook group to see who was coming and how many people. Many of those who turned up were people who either me or the host knew personally, but some people simply saw a “Secret Gig” poster in town & were brave enough to come along. This worked for us. It also allowed us to meet the most adventurous people in town. People loved the gig so much it’s likely that I’ll organise more gigs in Exeter using the “Exeter Secret Gigs” facebook group. If you wanted to be even safer, then keeping it to friends of the musician or host would be ok too.
So there you have it. Hope this has inspired you to put on your own Secret Gig. I’m convinced that it IS the future!
Get Kimwei’s new album by pledging to her Kickstarter page:
Take part in Kimwei’s Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XNDwS7wUwE
Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at reverbnation.com/kimwei , watch at youtube.com/kimweidotcom , interact at facebook.com/kimweidotcom , everything at kimwei.com