Waiting for gigs to return during this pandemic is a bit like clapping furiously after the band has left the stage, before the lights go up. No one knows if the musicians are coming back or how long we may have to wait to find out. As the audience roars, feet stomp and hands get sore, we hysterically assure ourselves – it can’t really be over! But how long are we going to have to wait?
Today marks eight months and 28 days since I last attended a gig. If that sounds like the introduction at a rehab meeting, I can assure you, gigs are a habit I definitely don’t want to quit. Contrary to my wishes (and perhaps yours, dear gig-parched reader) the pandemic has all but pressed the pause button on live music for most of us who regularly (or fanatically, or even just occasionally) attend shows. Whether it was the local pub’s weekend knees-up, small intense club tours, grand music halls, laser-strewn arenas, big bucks stadiums or festivals of all shapes and sizes, we are all trying to crawl through these deafeningly quiet months without that edifying communal experience.
I feel incredulous looking over my shoulder today on such a barren audio desert behind me. To turn back and contemplate the eerily still horizon ahead, is yet more bleak, littered as it is with the stubs of ticket refunds, screens sticking out of the sand flickering with the weak promise of a streamed performance from a band’s living room on the other side of the world. If I’d have known it was The Last Gig back in February, I wouldn’t have wasted the best part of two songs queuing at the bar.
As tours continue to be postponed and the last weeks of this pandemic year roll on, it’s a good time to ponder how we survive this previously unthinkable gig-less life…stay tuned!
Photograph: Faith No More at the Roundhouse in London in 2015. This view from the balcony captures the moment the crowd raises the rafters at the end of the band’s set. © Imelda Michalczyk