The natural progression from "why should I pay for the music I consume?" was always going to be "why should I pay so much for going to a live show?" In a fast imploding industry that is literally squeezing blood from stone, a downfall of its own doing, the movers and shakers are clutching at straws. Record companies are insisting on publishing rights to remain afloat. Artists are relying on money from merchandise sales and concert tickets to remain capable of eking out a living. Yet we all follow the rantings of the tweeters and the twats.
In the wake of a few Cape Town shows potentially being cancelled or postponed due to extremely poor ticket presales, the question once again raises its ugly, acne-pocked head: Why are the residents of Cape Town so apathetic towards everything? The Mother City's inhabitants have always been famous for their reticence to purchase tickets up front. It's an extrapolation of their every day social interaction. Never commit to anything lest something better comes up. And with the summer looming, there are a lot of distractions. But let's - for the sake of argument - assume we're going to focus on the perpetually black clad trudging in the shadow of Table Mountain and glaring at the well-to-do passers by in the Gardens Centre. There remain precious few who take any subgenre or "scene" seriously enough to "live the life". This includes walking the walk, talking the talk and wearing the corresponding clobber despite the prevailing weather conditions. It's a gross generalisation, and I know some shining examples who are exempt, but these individuals are also invariably of the terminally unemployable variety and are therefore always broke. Just getting to the venue is sometimes a bridge too far. And these are the very people to whom the concert means the most. In most cases a plan is made, but it is difficult.
Then you get those who can afford to buy tickets to every exciting band coming here. This requires the sort of expendable income that's usually associated with gainful employment. And being stuck in suburban hell, sprogged up and short of babysitter options. Priorities change, particularly when the majority of the bands, however unbelievable they are, could be argued to be a little dated in some cases. Make no mistake, they appeal immensely to those of us that remember the halicon days of our misspent youth, but what of today's miserable youth? We very quickly pooh-pooh their tastes, but pull a face when they don't congregate in their droves for what can only be described as classic rock acts, by their shitty standards.
Then you get those of us in the middle. The successful adults who have the music so ingrained in their make-up that they wouldn't dream of missing the opportunity, or privilege, of seeing these amazing bands do their worst. In most cases, we have traveled outside our borders in order to see as many as we can. Some of us even continue to pay our own dog's ear homage to our heroes by forcing our square musical pegs into round holes.
So the answer is not simple. The organisers who are putting their fortunes and reputations on the line are doing an amazing job. Their sacrifice is appreciated by the vast majority of those of us who don't have the resources or will to put so much into making these amazing shows happen. But you can't make a horse drink once you've led it to the water. You can only hope that the deeply ingrained culture of apathy is eventually replaced with genuine excitement and commitment from the many, many people to whom they hope to appeal. Drawing comparisons between - for instance - Sepultura visiting our shores a decade ago, and their show next weekend, become difficult. 10 years ago we had nothing. We are seriously spoiled for choice now. People are having to decide which shows to attend and which to forfeit. Very few of us are lucky enough to be in a position to afford it all. For fuck's sake, most people balk when you charge R40 for 3 or 4 awesome local bands at a great venue.
"Why should I pay for my entertainment?" Don't get me started, but it's going to be almost impossible to get the horse back. It's bolted and no amount of closing the stable door is going to change that. That being said, all we can do is continue doing our best to make it better. Encourage people to invest in local music by paying to see shows, or buying the records or merchandise. Provide them with something worthwhile spending their money on. Giving up now would potentially have devastating effects on all the hard work already invested. If shows need to be cancelled because of financial constraints, then so be it. I understand and will redouble my efforts to help avoid a similar scenario in the future. I can't speak for all the rest of the mouth breathers.
With any luck we can avoid something as drastic as cancelled shows, but let me put this out there: Lamb Of God had City Hall packed. Why? Are they simply an altogether more enticing prospect? Are they really more popular? I suppose so.
In summation: This is an upward curve, relying on YOU, the music fan to make it work. Only if we all pull in the same direction do we achieve results. The organisers do not owe you a damn thing; you owe them your eternal gratitude and more of a willingness to buy into their endeavours.
There is obviously a whole interwoven multitude of socio-economic factors that one could argue this way and that ad infinitum, but I don't have the time to get into that. I have wounds to lick and prayers to offer up. Also, that whole cliche of drowning my sorrows...
NGDG: For every ditch in the road there's a subterranean mole person braking for a speed bump.
Spread The Love. Refuse! Resist!