For years I’ve been searching for the perfect gig and last week, I experienced it.
Don’t get me wrong; there have been many brilliant gigs in my career, but what makes a perfect gig? Is it about getting hundreds of people to turn out? Is it about getting paid a wadge of cash and getting M&Ms in the rider?
Actually it’s quite simple:
- Everyone involved enjoys the music and each other.
- The organiser, venue and performer get paid enough.
This means I enjoy performing and the audience enjoys and engages with the show. In other words ‘people get it!’ They get the music and ideally I can get to know them too.
In order for the gig to be viable for the organiser/venue, enough people need to attend to make it financially viable. This means I too get paid enough to represent a fair recompense for my effort.
Last Friday I was lucky enough to play at The Jellyfish Productions Gallery in Buckfastleigh (Devon), as the sole performer in a gig organised by Ami Lee of the captivating acapella trio The Hummingbirds.
Let me tell you some of the wonderful things about this gig. 15-20 people attended which was the perfect amount for the beautiful gallery setting. I got to meet each of them before I played and chat to them afterwards whilst browsing the artwork. I knew who I was playing for. Two long time fans had made requests, which I practiced especially and performed. The space was just right to play unplugged and the whole audience were just so responsive it was unbelievable, even singing along unprompted. Almost everyone who heard me for the first time that night liked the music so much they walked out with a CD. It was a wonderful night!
In 10 years of performing there have been gigs with no good side. I wasn’t paid, the audience would rather I wasn’t there because they wanted to talk to their friends without having to shout over some music, and the venue held me personally responsible for low turnout. These are bad gigs. Why? Basically because the music may be good but all the relationships are either negative or disconnected. At Jellyfish Galleries all the relationships were brilliant! The gallery owner, gig promoter, performer and audience members all respected and appreciated each other hugely. They connected and shared personal ideas, opinions and feelings.
But even a gig where one thing is out of place can be a horrible experience. Being well paid but musically ignored is demoralising, and having a warm fuzzy gig which sets you back £50 in fuel with no payment, simply leaves a panic about how to pay bills. Even a gig in which they audience is suitably impressed but fails to ‘get’ the music can feel a little sad.
So, my message to frustrated musicians out there is that the ideal IS possible! Jellyfish Productions was actually not my first nor my only perfect gig since I made the decision to create gigs that have the potential to be wonderful evenings for all involved. After years of oscillating, I’ve pretty much given up noisy pub gigs or anything where I’d be considered background music. Instead, I’ve focused on unplugged environments and listening spaces. It’s finally paying off, because when people listen, they hear.