I recently went to an intimate concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton and I just have to write about what a great venue it was and how awesome small venues are in general. Granted, it was a Killers concert so I would have had a great time regardless of where it was held. But really, I found it amazing that a band who had sold out arenas like Wembley can also choose to have a gig in a comparatively small venue.
This isn’t the first time I’ve attended gigs like these. In the past couple of years, I’ve bought tickets to watch underrated artists who may not sell out big venues but whom I really really like, maybe because I listened to their music repeatedly while I was growing up. Like Vonda Shepard for example, who rose to fame while playing songs on the hit show Ally McBeal.
I remember I used to “borrow” (and I use this term loosely) CDs from my uncle Tony’s extensive collection and hers was one of the albums that I would take up with me to my room. I was a very emotional and angsty teenager and I spent quite a lot of time in my room agonising over my teenage crushes and Vonda’s songs were (and still are) the perfect accompaniment to that. I dare any woman from my generation to tell me they didn’t cry their heart out to Baby Don’t You Break My Heart Slow.
I saw Vonda at Bush Hall, Sheperd’s Bush last year. When my sister and I were queuing up for this show, I was half afraid that we were being scammed because from the outside the place did not look like any concert venue I’ve ever been to before. There wasn’t even a proper entryway, just a tiny door that resembled the stage door that theatre performers go in and out of. But you should never judge a book by its cover I guess because the inside was absolutely beautiful. This hall looked more like it was used for wedding receptions and parties rather than concerts. It was awesome. And at 26£ per ticket, it was a freakin’ steal!
Anyway, here are some of the other reasons why small venues are A-awesome:
You don’t need to queue for an entire day just to get a good view
So the last time I went to see The Killers at Hyde Park, I queued at 6am, had an egg mcmuffin at around 10 and nothing else thereafter, had small sips of water throughout the day so that I wouldn’t have to go to the toilet for the next 12 hours and eventually I got to see Brandon and co. at around 9pm. The reason I did all that is because I am only just over 5 feet on a good day and I wanted a good view of the band for my first Killers concert. So I was right up the front during the show but it came at the price of my sanity.
For their concert at Brixton, I came at 7 after having had a good pub dinner and a couple of rounds of drinks, bought another round of drinks at the actual venue before eventually grabbing a spot and still managed to have a good view of the band. O2 Brixton also has an amazing sloping floor so even if you’re at the back and vertically challenged like me, you’ll still be able to see Brandon Mr. Brightside Flowers.
If you do make the effort to come early, the view is spectacular
The Apple Music Festival is held annually at The Roundhouse, another intimate venue. I’ve been lucky enough that even though I’ve never won any tickets for that festival (you can’t buy tickets, you have to enter a lottery because its completely free), I’ve had at least one friend win tickets 3 years in a row and they’ve taken me along as their plus one. I’ve seen Robin Thicke, Avicii, Little Mix and the last One Direction concert before the band broke up. I queued up pretty early for 1D because I am a not-so-closet directioner and as a result I got to see them up close. I had to battle it out with what seemed like hundreds of tweens though; at one point I thought a stampede would break out! I never want to go through it again, but it was still a great experience.
The acoustics are awesome
Because its such a small venue, the sound is kind of contained and so to me the acoustics sounded so much better than it does in the bigger venues.
You feel one with the crowd and with the artist
Gavin Degraw is one of those underrated artists who should be more famous than they are. His songs got me through college. One song in particular has special meaning to me and is the reason why I bought tickets to see him perform TWICE in one year, both times at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. The first time I saw him live, More Than Anyone was not on the setlist and I was crushed. I was determined to keep watching him until he played it. And when he did, I really truly felt like he was singing it just for me.
Absolutely beautiful. Thousands of people all singing along to my favourite song. I do love it when artists do sing-alongs during concerts. I saw Kodaline at Hammersmith Apollo and they asked the crowd to sing along to The One, which is actually the one song of theirs that I know the words to. I love the lyrics to this song.
I think for most artists, having people sing along to your songs is a form of validation. I mean, take The Killers for example. Every time they play Mr. Brightside, Brandon hardly needs to sing because the audience does it for him:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hearing Mr. Brightside live is akin to a religous experience. Lol
In some cases, you pay peanuts for the tickets.
The Killers tickets were a bit pricey at 68£ but most of the tickets for the shows I’ve seen hardly ever go over 30£. If you’re a music lover like me, that’s nothing. Also, when I’m watching lesser known artists, not only are the tickets cheaper but there’s also a guarantee that everyone who’s there are true fans which makes for a better experience.
So yeah, I’m sure arena concerts and festivals are awesome in their own way and they’ll have an entirely different atmosphere because of the huge crowds and the number of other activities that you can do. But I personally am spoiled for life after having been to shows like these. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up if someone were to offer me, say, free Glastonbury tickets. I just want to celebrate music and all joys that come with it.