Havey Williams, a good friend of this parish, related this story during an exchange about tonight's I'm From Barcelona gig:
'As Johnny Johnson said to me last night, "we never used to buy tickets in advance for indie shows, how come we have to now?" That girl is *so* old skool.'
We didn't. You turned up, paid your money - or, if you were lucky enough to be enjoying sexual congress with the drummer every other Wednesday or had leant the support band your tambourine, got in free - and an evening of feral pop frenzy was yours. Now, though, we have to buy tickets in advance. There are reasons for this:
1/ Gigs are the in thing. I think this is tied into both the massive popularity of festivals - people want that experience all year round - and the resurgence in public taste of guitar-based music, which is conducive to the gig environment. For ver youth of today, verily gigs are the new clubs. People - quite rightly, I think - don't want to pay £20 just so someone plays someone else's records all night (and expects his own record deal/sexual services of disco foxtresses/not to get called a wanker when he waves his hands in the air - yes, we're thinking of you, Norman) don't want to pay £5 for a bottle of water and don't want to listen to techno. They have spent all week listening to music on a computer/ipod/faceless digital medium and they want to feel the electricity crackle.
2/ 300 capacity for this IFB show, yet it will sell out (at the time of writing, there are 3 tickets left). Indiepop is the most popular it's ever been. The interntational pop underground has gone overground - 150,000 youtube plays for just the one IFB track. They played some Hoxton bar last night, too. We never used to buy tickets in advance because gigs never used to sell out.
3/ Venues have started to take fire regulations seriously. Camden Barfly was closed/got its knuckles severely rapped/delete as appropriate just don't sue me* in the late 90s for over-selling. My suspicion is that they certainly still do so, just not as badly *ditto.
Harvey was also sage enough to point out that "it's much easier to sell tickets in advance than it used to be. You no longer have to open a box office, or employ someone to be at the end of a phone, you just get in touch with Ticketweb etc & they'll do it all for you."
We are paying for the convenience. Of course, I wouldn't mind just turning up, handing over some cash and walking in - I've no intention of shagging any drummers and I raffled my tambourine for charity - and I do mind the booking fees some places charge, but at least indiepop is so popular. I might think differently if it gets so popular that every gig I go to I have to drink beer out of plastic fucking cups, but for now everything, I think, is looking up.
This is probably a good time to mention that Harvey will be playing three songs on Monday night at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon in support of headliners H Bird. I don't know how much it is to get in, or where to get advance tickets, if indeed there are any, but I'm taking some time out at the weekend to "service" Harvey in return for a free ticket, seeing as he hasn't got a drummer available for that function. See you in Bunhill Fields Cemetery by William Blake's grave, Sunday at 3, Harv. I'll be there with an aubergine and a marmoset. The usual. Any vloggers out there, piss off, we're not interested.