I Used To Skate Once 6 @ The Zoo 24-06-2010

I Used to Skate Once 6

With the best part of 90 minutes to kill before Hope Sandoval is due to start her set at The Tivoli, I Used To Skate Once 6 down the road at The Zoo means that I have something to do whilst I wait. Although previous years’ events have always been in my diary, this is the first time I’ve managed to get there.

Arriving a little after 8pm, it’s a surprise just how busy the place is. And by the time I leave at about 9:20pm it’s one in, one out and there’s already a queue forming down Anne Street. When I pop back in on the way home, after the Hope Sandoval show has finished, to catch the end of the excellent Songs, it’s still busy, considerably busier than your average Thursday night at The Zoo when there’s no big name act headlining (even then, there are more people there at 11:15pm than there have been at some of the international bands I’ve photographed at The Zoo in recent times).

What’s the secret to filling venue all night long on a week day night? Obviously that it is an ‘event’, and more than a normal gig gives it a huge advantage and the organisers have worked hard over the last five years to build it up to the successful night it has become. But is that all? Does it help that it’s free? Does that it starts early, more or less straight after the normal working day (for most) has finished, draw in more people?

What’s the secret to filling venue all night long on a week day night? Obviously that it is an ‘event’, and more than a normal gig gives it a huge advantage and the organisers have worked hard over the last five years to build it up to the successful night it has become. But is that all? Does it help that it’s free? Does that it starts early, more or less straight after the normal working day (for most) has finished, draw in more people?

Free is an advantage; I remember seeing The Cops at The Columbian a few years ago (all the way back in 2006 by the looks of it) on a Saturday night and there was maybe 40 people there, with tickets around the $10 mark. Maybe six months later Triple J put on a free (and heavily advertised on their radio station) show at The Zoo on a Wednesday or Thursday night with The Cops headlining. Before the doors were opened, the queue went from the front of The Zoo all the way up Anne Street and around the corner to New York Pizza on Brunswick Street. But maybe that says more about Triple J’s unhealthy power than it does about people being too tight to pay $10 to see a band on a Saturday night.  But free isn’t the only answer: there have been plenty of free gigs recently – soundslikebrisbane, Label Parties, Unconvention – as well as free, live music 7 days a week at Ric’s, and the people watching are easily recognisable as the same people you see at gigs any night of the week anyway.

Regular readers of this blog will already know about my thoughts on late starting gigs (and there’s a separate post on the way for some more thoughts about that on its way).

It is noticeable that The Zoo is full of people who you don’t normally see at gigs in the Valley and at venues like The Zoo.  And especially not on week nights.  The crowd look more like they’d be at home somewhere like GPO.  It’s a very, very sceney and fashionista crowd; there are too many girls in heels and socks, far too many guys in three-quarter length skinny jeans and brogues.

It’s just one of the mysteries of life, at least it is to me: why people don’t go to gigs but will often be happy enough to pay obscene amounts to go to over-priced and usually underwhelming festivals and if they do go to gigs they will be ones by bands with songs heavily promoted by radio and TV.  People like music.  People will go to gigs and buy CDs and download music but so many seem to have to be spoon-fed what to listen to.  They won’t check out a local band until they’ve been validated by heavy rotation on Triple J, they would never dream of seeing that same band when they were playing for free at Ric’s a year earlier or paying $10 to see them in one of their early shows, maybe on the bill with a few other local bands.  A great example is when Ric’s put on a double bill of Cut Copy and The Presets (sadly before I moved to Brisbane, although I did see The Presets and Expatriate at The Hopetoun in Sydney, which was probably around the same time they were playing Ric’s).  You could have seen it a tiny venue with probably less than 100 people; last time The Presets played in Brisbane they were headlining The Riverstage in front of over 9,000 people.  Ric’s is free; The Riverstage gig was probably going on for $100.  All this has been brought further into perspective from talking to a few people recently and hearing that friends of theirs consider that “Brisbane doesn’t have a music scene”, are surprised when told that it does but still aren’t really that interested in it anyway.

That The Zoo can max out its capacity on a Thursday night for an exhibition of skate board art and some small, not-that-well-known bands is fantastic.  But what the Brisbane music scene needs to do to connect with a lost generation that doesn’t think that Brisbane has a music scene and that has little interest in going out to see some bands for the other 364 days is the year remains the million dollar question.

More photos on Flickr.

I Used To Skate Once 6

I Used To Skate Once 6



2 Responses to “I Used To Skate Once 6 @ The Zoo 24-06-2010”

  1. good post.

    people can’t be expected to go to a great, small gig if they simply do not know about it (that’s a whole other matter). but i do agree that a large number of people need some kind of validation from a ‘respected’ outlet before they can attend a band’s gig. it annoys me to no end because people, like you wrote, need to be spoon-fed. they’re just lazy; they need the bands to come to them instead of searching out the bands first. it’s both their loss and the band’s who most of the time are just grateful that anybody is interested in their music which is on par with anything that is being produced elsewhere.

    i’m continually disappointed by the attendance levels and, well, interest in local (& interstate) bands who are working very hard and creating some of the most interesting music you’ll likely to hear. remember: there’s a lot of bands out there without a out-of-ten rating attached to them. i’ve tried everything I, simply an enthusiast, can to get more people in: the most extreme having offering to pay for the door charge (usually <$10 but most likely free anyway), a ride to the gig, to giving a long diatribe as to the band's relevance for some encouragement to get the fuck out of the house and off Facebook. but i've found that if they haven't heard of the band before on the radio or an online outlet like Pitchfork etc, they simply won't care about the gig…. but on the other hand when I do manage to get somebody out (usually with the premise of free beers) they really enjoy the band's performance and ask me "has this always been happening here?"…

    my suggestion for anybody out there is to just go to any gig you can. lucky dip it. i think the first gig i went to when i first moved here was one featuring a certain obscure, mountain-dwelling band. i didn't know what the hell was going on. i was a bit indifferent to their sound but i checked out what was going on with them, listened to a bit more, now i can appreciate their music and really enjoy it. wish they'd perform again, now. damn it.

  2. Justin says:

    Thanks for the comment. i really appreciate that you took the time to write a lengthy reply.

    I probably am a little unfair in what I say as it’s not a Brisbane thing and not an Australian thing. It’s something that’s always gone on but I’m still perplexed to why it happens.

    I can remember a big group of us going to see the Manic Street Preachers in February 1992 when they were touring to promote their second single, You Love Us, at a 500ish people venue when I was at uni in Newcastle (in the UK). Good night, pretty terrible gig but everyone had a good time. It would have been in the £3 – 4 region, although part of me thinks it might have been even lower, more like £2.50. There was maybe 50 people there. The MSP are still a pretty big band now (still fairly terrible if you ask me) and do arena tours 18 years later, although their commercial heyday is over a decade in past. But I can remember saying to my friends they should come along to a few gigs I was going to in the next few weeks after the Manic’s played but they weren’t interested in the slightest.

    And that’s the story of how I saw Pearl Jam play in front of a few hundred people the week they released ‘Alive’, a month before Ten came out, Smashing Pumpkins when they were touring Gish (the 2nd time I’d seen them at the venue, the first when touring the Lull EP, pre-Gish about 6 months earlier) and Tori Amos circa Little Earthquakes and they didn’t.

    I guess I don’t understand the rationale. I’ve taken friends to gigs, they’ve really enjoyed it but when you say about going to something the following week or a few weeks later they suddenly become uninterested, even though they had a good time. It’s as if they can only manage a specific quota of bands in any month/year or something. And I guess I’ve never really understood club culture and why people are more than happy to pay a cover charge, not too dissimilar to what it would cost to see some bands play live, to experience someone essentially pressing play on a CD machine. Seeing some bands, having a few drinks is just about my favourite pass-time; I just can’t work out why so many people don’t want to do it more regularly.

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