Comedian Stewart Lee, in his book ‘How I Escaped My Certain Fate’ writes about how, when he played the Edinburgh Festival, he used to get a lot of people coming to see him who didn’t know his work. Probably because he was a ‘big name’ and has been on the telly. As his stuff is so polarising there’d always be a number of people at the shows who really didn’t enjoy it. He used to enjoy messing with these people, thriving on the friction and not being at all bothered that they had a terrible night. However, when he became a parent himself he realised how rare a night out was for some people once they have kids, due to trying to arrange babysitters and so on. So he resolved to try and stop people coming to see him who wouldn’t enjoy it. He goes as far as always putting one extremely negative quote on all of his promotional material so potential audience members might at least think twice and find out a bit more about him and his work before booking tickets.
As I wrote last week, my first gig in an age was Throwing Muses and Tanya Donelly, both artists I’d listened to for ages, so I went along knowing I was pretty sure of enjoying my evening. Now I’m a father and gig going opportunities are a little rarer due to time and money constraints, will I be less prepared to take risks in the gigs I go and see. When I was younger if someone suggested going to see a band I’d usually agree, even if I knew little about them, indeed more often than not I was the one doing the suggesting. Sometimes I’d be amazed, sometimes (like the audience members Stewart Lee is trying to discourage) I’d be disappointed, but the disappointment wasn’t a big deal as there would be another gig along the next day or the next week. If I know I might not go to another gig for ages, am I going to always choose the safe option, the band I already know I like?
I suspect I am worrying about nothing. The desire to seek out new music is still there, and as Frida gets older the opportunities will become more regular (and we are lucky in having two grandmothers nearby who are keen to babysit). Although I may well rely more on others to recommend gigs to me, rather than always being the instigator as I tended to be in the past. So with that in mind, if there’s anything in the Leeds area worth seeing, do let me know!