Anatomy of a Gig #1 – John Bramwell (I Am Kloot) – Emma Webster

This new series – Anatomy of a Gig – is a space for people to comment objectively about live music events that they have attended, to build a resource for promoters and musicians on what works and what doesn’t work at a gig.  In this way, the Anatomy of a Gig series will review the gig as a live music event rather than reviewing the music per se.

Upstairs in association with BBC Introducing ft. John Bramwell (I Am Kloot), O2 Academy Oxford, May 21st 2012

Last Saturday I went to the Upstairs event (in association with BBC Introducing) at the O2 Academy in Oxford, featuring John Bramwell.  My husband was reviewing the gig for the local Nightshift magazine, but I went along as I am a fan of I Am Kloot, and therefore of John Bramwell.  The gig was a strange one that left both of us quite annoyed.  The aim of this blog post – apart from offering some catharsis – is to examine why this should have been the case.  On this occasion, the three main factors that appeared not to work were: running order/programming, ticket price, and location of the bar/social zone.

Before I start, however, what do I mean by ‘the gig didn’t work’?  If a live music event fundamentally consists of the following: artist, venue, audience, technology, promoter (Frith 2008), then a successful gig is one in which each element is functioning properly.  But in the case of a live music event, this means not just that the element works on its own, but rather it requires the successful interaction of each element with each of the other elements.  For example, that the artist’s microphone works when s/he sings into it, that the audience can hear the artist and/or their instrument, that the promoter has done their job and attracted a suitable audience to the event, that the venue is sufficient for the needs of the artist and audience.   The main reason that the John Bramwell gig left me annoyed was that the listening audience could not hear the artist properly past a certain point in the room due to the level of audience chatter towards the bar area, and that this had a noticeable effect on the artist (at one point, for instance, he called somebody standing chatting near the bar a very rude word beginning with C).

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