When you think of concerts, you think of nationwide tours by a world renowned band. You think of arenas, filled to the brim with excited fans, and merch booth upon merch booth. As you picture it in your head, you can almost feel your eardrums shattering with the combined volume of the music and the crowd. There’re laser lights, on stage theatrics and your mind is blown away as you try to put your attention onto everything at once. It’s a wonderful mental image.
But there’s also the type of concert where the band isn’t famous, and there are only a handful of people there instead of a hundred. Instead of a big arena, the venue is somewhere where the music might only serve as a background instead of a main attraction. This might not sound like a concert at first–a few of you might even be scoffing right now, trying and failing to connect the word “concert” to a little show like that.
When it comes to local music, there’s not that much excitement. Even if somebody does know a really good local band, they might just shrug it off because, you know, it’s only a local band. What people don’t realize is that, more often than not, local bands are the diamond in the rough of music. The bands are excited, gearing to go, and totally in love with what they’re doing. That’s only part of what makes going to local shows so great. Whether you go to a local music festival or a local bar to see a band, there are so many things that make local shows great.
Number One: The Sense of Community. Odds are you don’t know any local bands unless your friends are in one. And their music might not even be your cup of tea. The most common way that people hear of local bands is through word of mouth, or just by going out somewhere and happening to see the band live. With the right venue, right atmosphere, and the right band, it only takes one show to turn you into a fan. You go to more and more of the band’s shows, and after a while, you start to recognize all of the audience members.
It’s no coincidence that you only know of a local band if you’ve seen them live or if you know someone who’s in a band. It’s a very tight-knit community, filled with people who genuinely enjoy the music and are willing to see them time and time again. You may never see any of them outside of concerts, but whenever you do see them, it’s this instant connection thanks to the music. You feel a sense of community, a sense of belonging. No other thing is quite like it, and that sense of community is going to be part of what keeps you coming back for more.
Number Two: Ease of Access. They’re called local bands for a reason. More often than not, local bands are only booking gigs that are one to three hours from the town that they originate from. Even if they do travel further away, they’ll always book plenty of gigs right there in their home town. So you don’t have to worry about traveling hours away to the bigger city, not to mention hotel rooms and other expenses that come with it.
Local bands book actual, small venues all of the time; but it’s a lot more common that they’re just playing at bars, restaurants, parks, and any other type of establishment that allows live music. This means that instead of booking your tickets for the concerts months in advance, you can just head on over to wherever they’re playing and jam out for as long as you’d like.
Number Three: Doesn’t Hurt Your Bank Account. There are times where you’re going to have to buy a ticket to see your favorite band. But even when you do, it’s nowhere near the $60-$200 dollar affair that big name band tickets can be–and that’s without any additional expenses like food, transportation, hotel rooms if needed, and, of course, the merch. For different establishments, the policies vary, but if you’re going to a bar or restaurant to see a band, the polite thing to do is order a few drinks or get a meal. Depending on the place, this can get pretty pricey, but if you’re wise about where you go and how much you spend, it’s still a lot of bang for your buck. And most of the time, if these places have live music than they’re probably going to understand people hanging out a while after the check arrives too.
Going to a local concert means not having to deal with hotel rooms. But you do have to deal with the merch. Most of the time, there’s no single item there that’s going to be over $50. CDs might be $10, and t-shirts might be $20 depending how much of the band’s own money went into making the merchandise. But it’s always guaranteed to be one of a kind – and worth an absolute fortune for when that band does make it big.
Number Four: Feeling Like You Know a Celebrity. Okay, the gig is over and the band is winding down. Or they’re taking a break after their first set. Unless it’s super late or they have another place to go, then they’ll always hang around at the venue for a while and even talk with some of the people that came out to see them. That sense of community extends to the band members, too, so most band members always make that effort to communicate and talk with the people who take time to see them.
If you ever get the nerve to go up and talk to them once or twice, or come to more than a handful of gigs, then you better believe that they’ll remember your face and name. After all, nobody really takes local bands seriously lately. And the biggest thing to the members of the band is that people actually like their music. This might be a little bit different if you knew the band before they were famous–but even then, at one point or another, when a whole crowd is rocking and jamming to your friend’s music, you’re bound feel a tiny bit like you know a celebrity.
Number Five: The Feeling Having Found Something Special. You have all of the CDs and you know all of the words to all of the songs. You might even own a t-shirt. You know the band members by name, and there’s no hesitation at all in your voice when you go up and say hi. You might even hang out with them outside of concerts. You know all of the regular concert goers, maybe not by their name but by their face, and you have regular catch up sessions in between sets. And it doesn’t matter what happened in your horrible week or what’s on your mind; all that you need to turn your mood around is to plan out the next time you’re going to catch that local band’s show. There’s nothing like it in the world–and there might not ever be after this band.
And no, not everyone is going to understand. But they don’t have to. Local bands have always been–and probably will be for a long time–incredibly underrated. If the people around you are talking about which Green Day tour was the best, then they’re not going to understand your stories about that band from Small Town, USA. But all it takes is talking about it, spreading the word, and dragging a few of your closest buddies to a local show to change a mind.