Music Scenes: Time To Stop Complaining And Do Something About it!


Evening all!

Today I’m veering away from label based shenanigans (love that word) for a personal post to talk about the scene.

Now, for those of you that don’t know what I’m referring to, the scene is what people tend to call the representation of music, bands and gigs in their area. Every county, town and city has a scene, and they tend to have highs and lows. It’s a cyclic thing, music everywhere is like it.

I’m writing this article not as an educational piece (though there may be some good pointers in here), but as an observational piece. To be perfectly frank, I’m hacked off with people in the Medway Towns and surrounding areas complaining there is no scene in town anymore.

“Oh, I wish there were more bands to see”
“I remember when there used to be a gig on 4 nights a week”
“What happened to all the good music in this town?”

When I was working in the record shop I used to hear this constantly. In fact, to my knowledge people are still going in there and moaning to their mates about it, despite the array of colourful posters that adorn the entrance to the shop, informing them of regular club nights, one off gigs and album launches(!) from local bands.

It takes 3 groups of people to create, maintain and evolve a scene. Bands. Fans. Promoters. Now, I happen to exist in all 3 of these groups, so I feel I’m in a pretty good position to talk about it. There have to be bands to create a scene. That’s a no brainer. Following that, there has to be fans. You need people to go to the shows after all! Then finally you have the promoters, of which there are plenty in the towns, believe me!

The issue with Medway, I think, is that no one is ever happy with the music scene unless its uber cool, on the cusp and breaking ground. The problem here is that these things have to be built from the ground up. There are loads of bands that want to play. There are a good group of promoters covering an array of genres to book bands. Admittedly the venue situation is a bit tricky for us but we all talk to try and move forward. But where are the fans?

I, with 2 friends, run a Zing, Bang, Kapow Productions. We put on a gig every Sunday in Chatham with some great bands. We promote it hard, as do the bands, but I still hear people complaining about how there aren’t any good rock bands in town to go and listen to anymore. Admittedly, I know Sundays are tricky, but we start at 5 and were usually done by 10. What are people usually doing on a Sunday about then?! To add to that, you’ve got MotherBoy, Moogie Wonderland putting on Alt/Rock/Punk shows, as well as a few other guys (Even Bar Mojo/Command House!) putting on rock line-ups! And to address the “lack of good rock bands” quite frankly that is a load of BS. Frau Pouch, Z-Stacks, Dog Town, Houdini, Cry Baby Special & The Monsters, The Dirty Vibes, Yokozuna, Fishtank, Rageweed, Iron Iron, Wolfgang Special, and tonnes more that I’ve forgotten, apologies. And that’s just rock/alt bands. The Preservation Society have got some fantastic bands signed up to them, and if I’m thinking right, they’re part of the brains behind getting The Cribs to play in town and ME1, the Rochester Castle gig with PIL! Or have butchers at TEA, a local collective putting on some fantastic gigs in the South East. You have them to thank for Grandmaster Flash at The Casino Rooms.

A few quid isn’t a lot when you get to see 3 or 4 bands play.

I guess what I’m trying to say is GO TO YOUR LOCAL GIGS! Wherever you might be reading this. The only way to make and feed a scene is to keep turning up. Don’t complain when you know damn well there are probably 4 gigs on that week, but you just can’t be bothered to go. Venues are a premium these days. Medway lost Bar M years ago, RAFA club is a shadow of its former self and lets not even get started on what WAS the Tap’n’Tin, let alone what its become (You know INME and The Libertines played there right? NME features and all. What happened?!). We know it might be a bit of a grotty pub but you have to persevere, because once other venues see there’s a calling for places to play, they’re more likely to get involved.

Also, moan at promoters, not the bands. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt recently from being in the industry is that its not the artists fault if they don’t get that gig in your hometown. It’s the promoters. If they’re not playing there, it’s probably because a promoter didn’t think he/she’d make any money from it. So go shout at them and let them know you want to see that band on their club night or line up!

By Luke Crook

15 thoughts on “Music Scenes: Time To Stop Complaining And Do Something About it!

  1. A couple of quick points:

    1. TEA isn’t a collective, it’s a company.
    2. Moogie Wonderland doesn’t put on gigs, it’s a club night.

    That said, there are a number of valid points raised here, though I think the problems in Medway stem more from a lack of venues and people simply not wanting come out to gigs with any regularity.

    And please don’t moan at promoters about the bands. Suggest your favourite band to us, sure, but a few times now we’ve booked bands that people have told us they desperately wanted to see, only for hardly any of those people to actually turn up on the night. If we’re not putting something on, it’s probably because it doesn’t seem viable for us to do so. Moaning at us isn’t going to change that fact.

    Everyone has their part to play, and the Medway scene is definitely starting to move in the right direction, but there’s still a massive cultural shift required here before we have anything close to the “scene” that we all want.

  2. I think the issues lie mainly here with a negative attitude in regards to Medway in those who haven’t opened their eyes to see all the amazing things actually happening. It will change, but it takes each of us to be more positive about Medway and show people who are not part of the scene all the coolness actually going on. It’s going to happen, but it is down to each of us to promote positivity.

    I personally believe there is more to it than just putting on a event, it is the ethos behind that event 🙂

  3. Is there that much coolness going on musically though? It’s far, far better than it has been, but it’s still relatively dire here for an urban population of this size. There’s an average of two, three gigs if we’re lucky, on an average week. Ideally, there should be that each night, at least through the weekend.

    People like XX:Art, Motherboy and PresSoc are doing great things, but even now it’s starting to feel a little bit like the market is reaching it’s saturation point. How many gigs are actually selling out, or at least getting close it? It shouldn’t be like that. We can be as positive as we like, but if people aren’t willing to come out, even every now and again, there will never be that much of a scene here.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m absolutely not trying to be a downer on this. I’m genuinely more excited about the Medway music scene right now than I ever have been. But there are problems here, particularly when it comes to getting people through the door and finding suitable venues, and we all need to figure out what the solution is.

  4. With regular Medway music previews featuring what’s upcoming that month; album reviews and listings for gigs, it’s good to be able to remind everyone that WOW magazine is trying its best to be a platform for bands/promoters/gig nights to make themselves known. I can’t include everything all the time due to sheer lack of space, but I do try to include an eclectic mix and as much as I can. And it’s worth saying for those who don’t know: it is free to list your gig in the Music listings. (Emma D, Editor.)

  5. I’d like to find out how many people turn up to gigs just to discover new music. It does appear to me that people will only come out to see bands they already know or are friends with and that can be very disheartening for a promoter that wants to bring new music into Medway. Even when familiar bands are on a bill with new bands, many people have just tended to stick around for their friend’s band and not even give the other bands a chance, in my experience. Hopefully new supportive venues can bring the music community together and encourage the sharing of new stuff.
    Also, I agree with pretty much everything Ed and Natasha have added to this discussion, some great points made there!

  6. Thanks for the Moogie Wonderland and TEA shout out 🙂 I have 6 years experience in people coming to events and while there can be lows, people do want to come out to things, but it’s bad practice for a promoter to expect those people to come out every time. The long term value isn’t in filling out a venue, but in making sure that the people that do come have a spectacularly awesome time – that’s when people get excited. TEA put on Sister Mantos – kind of queer-tribal-disco-spandex-freakout band from LA. There were wigs, skin tight zebra suits, crazy dancing, art projections and kick-ass beats. Only 20 people turned up but they all had an awesome time and thought it was freakin’ surreal. The band want to come back. I imagine the 20 people that came will come next time we have them play AND will bring their friends. One of the best nights i’ve ever had in Medway. So what I’m getting at is that it doesn’t matter if there aren’t many people turning up all the time, but as long as the people that do turn up go away feeling like they witnessed amazingness then the promoters work is done. Next Moogie Wonderland: FISH DISCO on the LV21 ship. Come dressed as a fish and dance around sea-based art.

  7. Nice article, but I think it’s difficult to pin-point the problems on anything specific.

    These are the ramblings of a 36 year old, father of two, mortgage owning punter here and a TEA Concerts regular (i.e. me).

    I tend to pick and choose which local gigs I attend, and it has to be said, it’s generally because of a known headline act. This is very much the driver for me getting out, because of financial and time restraints. I’m sure there are a lot of other people in a similar situation. And whilst, as you say, 4/5 quid to see three bands isn’t a lot of money, the cost of a night out is inevitably more than that. That is no fault of the promoters or the bands, or even the venues. That’s just the nature of the beast. You ask what people are doing on a Sunday night that stops them going to a show? Well, maybe nothing, but I dare say they’ve probably been out Friday and/or Saturday night already and another night on the beers isn’t THAT desirable

    Saying all that though, the headline acts that have got me out and about have generally had very strong support bills of local bands. And, as a result of seeing them, their names are now on my radar. I’m much more likely to head out to a Stuart Turner, Pity Party, Balance Lost or Es Muss Sein show now that I’ve seen said artists supporting. And if I go to one of their shows, who knows? I may discover another new local artist I was previously unfamiliar with and the knowledge gradually trickles down.

    This is a very personal summary, by the way, but I’m sure there are other like-minded people in and around Medway, and this will, hopefully, benefit the “scene” in years to come.

  8. It is very hard to pin-point any specific problem or even solution. As someone who falls into all three categories of the “Scene Trifecta” (nifty), I think its a bit of a vicious cycle. Punters complain about lack of gigs. Bands complain there aren’t enough places to play/promoters. Promoters complain there aren’t enough people going to gigs. I’m not saying this is definitive, just a loose idea based on what i’ve heard people say. There are gigs. There are bands. There are fans. Its just the venue that ends up causing the issues. And getting people to the gig. I think some experiments in low-fi marketing and different ways to promote gigs need to be looked into. Evolution not stagnation.

    Also…collective sounds cooler 😉 I kid, I kid! I’ll name drop anyone, very little shame here.

  9. I think there are practical elements being overlooked here.

    When I was putting on shows a few years ago I learned a few tricks regarding medwaydians. Many people get paid on the last weekend of the month, this obviously influnces when they go out. Gigs between the 25th of one month to the 10th of the next month always do better. Also, putting gigs on any other day than a friday or saturday is an uphill struggle at best.

    Also, promoters should communicate more (something that TEA and TPSP do well). For example I could have watched a fair few medway big guns about 10 times over the last three months. Sometimes for free, sometimes for up to 7 quid. Why would a fan pay to see a band they saw for free last week? And there are about 3 bands in the world I would go see that many times in 3 months, with medway gigs I tend to wait for the best full line up.

    TEA, TPSP and motherboy book a lot of out of towners, this is great. Have patience as this sort of thing takes a while to build up a reputation.

    As for venues, get a generator and make it interesting. Hand of Stabs put on a gig in the woods recently. Granted they only gave map coordinates as directions so I ended up riding around the kent countryside in a storm all day but hey, I’ll never forget that gig and I didn’t even get there!

    These aren’t hard and fast rules and I’m no expert, but keep on trucking. Medway music is in the best state it’s been in for over 5 years and has a promising future thanks to the promoters/bands mentioned (and omitted) from this thread.

  10. Interesting article and comments too. I think TPSP, Tea and Motherboy are superb, their committment and passion really come through with some of the bands around there really is something bubbling here in these towns (read my Medway Visions articles on here).
    In terms of getting people out there seems to be one problem. Most people who go out to see bands in other towns are students. Forgive me if I’m wrong, I don’t know the demographic of the shows put on in Medway, but it does seems that the student market are not coming out here.
    There are probably countless reasons for this, and, as I say, I might be wrong, but certainly when I have manged to get out and about (yes, I’m also a busy old father these days) then I don’t really see too many young folk.
    Having said all this, Natasha is bang on the money. Many of us are working hard, working together and, mark my words, these days will be seen as the start of something big. As I said in my first Medway Vision article, there is something happening here, I’ve lived all over the place and Medway has something special going on. Keep working, keep dreaming and most of all, lets keep working together. Independent doesn’t mean alone.

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