A Band Full of Basists
Last week audiences are too quiet, this week they’re too noisy. Or at least, that’s one of the complaints in a recent Piece in The Times (now trapped behind the paywall) on the new trend of Living Room Gigs. “People are pretty disrespectful… if you look around a live music audience, about 70% of people will be talking” says SoFar Sounds founder Rocky Start (now there’s a name.)
It’s just a passing comment. He’s talking of normal gigs, of course (although the article does mention one of our top corporate acts Anna Phoebe later on) but it’s still an interesting contrast to corporate events where acts seem to have no right to ask for silence from the audience… and that’s probably the way it should be. Can you imagine a performer throwing a strop at a corporate event because the crowd is more interested in networking?
No, and that’s probably because of the way entertainment works at a corporate event. It takes a certain kind of performer to realise that in the many-course’d banquet that is a Corporate Event, the Entertainment sometimes isn’t even the starter. It takes the right kind of ego to act as an accompaniment to 50 conversations about ‘short-term profit margins’ and ‘fiscal solvency’ (did that make any sense? Account’s are more Duncan’s thing.) That’s why we call it background music -but not every performer can cope with not being the centre of attention.
It’s a quality that not every musician is blessed with. You can often pick it out from the first time you meet a new act, sometimes it comes with experience, other times it’s just a personal trait that some performers are born with. In bands, it’s normally the bassist who has it – in the oft quoted ‘Spinal Tap’, Bassist Derek Albion Smalls describes his personality thusly;
“We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water”
Wouldn’t it be great if all musicians were like Derek Smalls? Or would that just leave us booking hundreds of bands featuring only bassists? One can only dream.