As someone who has been to numerous concerts, I’ve seen those “Support Local Music” stickers all over the place. It seems as if the whole world is claiming they support local music, yet when I go to a local show, the room appears almost empty with only a few dedicated fans. On the other hand, if one goes to a show for a more prominent band, there is rarely any room to breathe. So where are all of these people who claim to support the local music scene?
It appears as if this campaign is almost the “cool” thing to follow. Many people claim to show interest in the support of their town’s music scene, but state that their scene is dead without even attending a single local show. What people fail to realize is that many of the more prominent bands that they support all started from the bottom and worked their way to the top, so it can’t be nearly as dead as they believe.
The music at a local level is far purer than music that has been tainted with fame. These musicians are completely free to be their true selves because they have no intervention from labels or, in some cases, managers. It is rumored that A Day to Remember has had issues with Victory Records for this particular reason. Also, people often refer to the musicians they once loved as “sellouts” because, while absolutely frustrating, eventually signed musicians almost always need to commercialize to appeal to every type of fan. On the flip side, local musicians have no one to please but their current fans and usually stick to their unique style.
Small-time bands also tend to show more humility, as the only thing keeping them alive is their local fanbase. However, it goes without saying that not all local musicians are humble people and not all famous musicians have heads the size of Jupiter. Jason Butler from Letlive. is actually one of the nicest people I have met. I met him at the Vans Warped Tour and he was incredibly cooperative and friendly. During the event, it started to rain and despite the fact that he was about to perform, he still went out of his way to go through with our scheduled interview. Yet, surprising things that popular bands do, such as asking for my name or my thoughts on their music, are things almost guaranteed upon meeting some of these local bands. At small shows, bands usually hang back to meet their fans and on some occasions even become close friends with them.
These small-time bands generally have smaller shows than popular artists, so it’s as if their concerts are something special for their small following. It is a completely different experience to go to a local show rather than one for a more famous band. On many occasions, people go to concerts for more prominent bands, such as Sleeping With Sirens or Pierce the Veil, because they have simply heard of these musicians or are hopeful of being future Mrs. Kellin Quinns or Mrs. Oliver Sykes. Yet, if one goes to a local show, such as those of Ocala-based band Wage War, people are most likely there for only the love of the music. This gives their shows a more personal feel.
Local concert-goers eventually start to see many familiar faces. People who frequently attend local shows ultimately build a sense of community and for the most part, these communities are incredibly positive. Sometimes, people meet complete strangers at these events who become some of their closest friends. I actually met my good friend Eric at a Battle of the Bands competition, at the venue Revolution in South Florida. I like to think that these shows give people comfort in knowing that there are similarly-minded people who have experienced many of the same struggles they have, as music is an incredibly emotional experience.
There’s also nothing cooler than seeing a band you have long supported make it in the big leagues. I’ve seen this one band, Shout London, grow from a little seedling into a huge success. I saw the band’s start-up and went to several shows, and eventually they graced the stage at the Orlando Vans Warped Tour venue playing alongside incredibly prominent bands such as Anarbor and Forever the Sickest Kids, who are in a similar genre. It’s such an amazing feeling to see them perform at a high level because it makes me feel like I had a big part in their uprising. I understand that I’m not the reason that they suddenly became popular, but the fact that my presence helped this band start up is an incredibly uplifting feeling.
The support of local music also helps strengthen local economies. It goes without saying that local venues are an important part of the local scene as they are the ones that provide musicians with a place to reach out to their fans. Places like Country, BlueGrass, and Blues, otherwise known as CBGB, helped start up local New York musicians from the ’70s to mid-2000s, making some incredibly famous, such as The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads, and more. Every ticket sold at CBGB helped build the local economy.
It’s not actually all that difficult to become a supporter of the local music scene. Music supporters who would like to get involved should consider checking local venues and their ticket centers. Bands and venues also post a lot of their events online, which is an easier option for most. I’d also recommend supporting local musicians by purchasing their albums, as opposed to illegally downloading them, as they need a way to support themselves and continue to make music a career. Just talking to musicians about their music will help them determine how to stylistically move forward. I’ve had many bands who are starting up contact me for my thoughts on their music through social media sites such as Twitter. Even this kind of support can help a band out more than one could ever imagine. I just hope that one day, as many people show support for the local music scene as they do for the campaign.