We’re in the final days of July 2021, and here in the UK, most restrictions concerning lockdown have been lifted, the Government leaving it to “personal choice”…and to the view of many people, a slightly fucking scary leap into the unknown.
/Repeater/001.1/Experiences of Women at Gigs
/Repeater/001.2/Experiences of Women at Clubs
/Repeater/001.3/Experiences of Women as Performers
/Repeater/002/Lessons and Questions from Twenty-Two Years of Gig-Going
/Repeater/003/Is Fan Entitlement a Problem?
But I’m not going to be ranting just about lockdown, or the lack of it, though. I’m more bothered about what it means for the music I love, and for the near future, how I interact with it.
Since my last “normal” show in March 2020 (Marika Hackman at the Forum, Kentish Town on 05-March, in case you were wondering), I’ve seen three shows. One was a test event at the Clapham Grand last December (Teeth of the Sea), a local artist in a pub beer garden in Hythe in May (Nick Kelly, also known as Duck Soup), and then Nadine Shah at the Barbican last week. All of these were, in one way or another, “distanced” shows – indeed the Nadine Shah show was also livestreamed, and happened on the night before restrictions were lifted.
What was interesting about that last show was that masks were apparently mandatory in the venue – and indeed enforced when there weren’t many people sat down – but later arrivals ignored such advice. Frankly I wanted – and for the most part, did – to pay attention to the show and fully enjoy a show I’d waited so long to see, but those noisy people without masks behind me…got to me a bit? What happened if, despite being fully vaccinated, they’d been the reason that I’d been ill? (I haven’t, mind).
It made me think. Again.
Over the past year, like seemingly every other DJ I’ve known, I’ve been livestreaming, a lot. I’ve had a number of regular livestreams, that have had reasonable numbers attending, but by no means the large numbers some others have had. But then, I’ve never chased numbers in what I do. According to my Twitch stats, since I began livestreaming sets in May of last year, I’ve streamed for over 205 hours. Most of it has been a lot of fun, I’ve resurrected a couple of old nights, and started a few new, and been liberated in playing music I wouldn’t have been able to play at club nights where dancefloor is king – not to mention had a small core of regular listeners that had genuinely felt like a community.
But as I head into August, next week will see my last livestream for the foreseeable (/A Certain Shade of Green/003 will bring the curtain down on Friday 06-August). It’s taken a lot of time and commitment, and irrespective of whether numbers are reducing or not “attending” (which they are), I need a break.
What do I do instead? That’s the big question. Do I want to go clubbing yet? Or to not-distanced gigs?
No, I really don’t.
I appreciate that newly-reopened clubs need numbers. I really, really do, and that others are leaping in, keen to resume what happened before. But am I mentally ready to go to Slimelight’s new events yet? Do I want to head to something at The Ballroom, or Kolis, where people might get into my face, people I don’t know too well, who for all I know might not be vaccinated yet, and might be avoiding telling people that they have got COVID?
Yep, that’s something we’re going to have to deal with. And right now, I’m not taking that risk. What would have been the next likely indoor event, Infest, has already confirmed that for most of us, it is going to be online again this year (a decision I completely respect and agree with, and yes, I’m preparing a contribution to it again this time around, but I’m not telling you what it is), but there are a couple of gigs in September that I have in my calendar and frankly I’m crossing my fingers that I can go to.
Something my mind has to accept is that there will be an element of risk to any social event I choose to do. No matter how vaccinated, how many tests we do, it is entirely possible we may miss something and someone may be infected. This is a mental barrier that I’m sure many of us are going to have to deal with.
Life has changed, and for the foreseeable, this is something I’m intending on finding ways to deal with. I’ve perhaps enjoyed a break from an ever-full calendar of live shows and clubs – my life has changed, for a start, now I no longer live in London – but I do want to do some of it again.
I just don’t want my short-term and medium-term life affected by people who don’t give a fuck about others.
The tl;dr? Get fucking vaccinated, and consider other people before thinking you have all the answers in thinking it’s all an overreaction. If you still think the latter, fuck you.
*Also, with apologies to LCD Soundsystem for repurposing one of their song titles to something vaguely relevant.