22 July 2011

You pay 10 bucks to see me, on a 15 foot high stage

SPIN magazine posed a question recently to their followers on Facebook – what bands formed after 2000 could possibly go on to sell out a stadium of 95,000 people? I think it had something to do with the size of the stadiums U2 have been playing?

There was a lot of debate on the topic, with no one really coming up with any worthwhile contenders, although plenty of older bands were named, although ineligible due to the “after 2000” caveat on the question.

And that, for some reason made me happy.

Sure, there’s something about cramming into a stadium with 94,999 other people, hoping that you’ll actually be able to see the band (and not just on huge jumbo screens), waiting an hour to buy overpriced beer and then missing the band starting because of the queues to get back into the stadium. There is the atmosphere in those venues, the feeling of being part of something huge, part of a community - I’ll give stadium shows that, but even then, is it any better than a small show?

The last big stadium show I saw was AC/DC on their Black Ice tour. Admittedly that was only in front of 40,000, so a small show anyway buy stadium standards, but the disconnect between the band and audience was obvious. Pearl Jam in front of 45,000 also had that hollow feeling to it.

As an audience member, I want to feel a connection with the band performing for me. Music shouldn’t be a one way form of entertainment, like watching a movie is, and I don’t think you can get that transfer of energy from audience to band, and vice versa, in a larger venue.

The best gigs I’ve been to have always involved seeing bands in small venues, typically bars or halls. Even seeing bigger name bands in these sorts of venues is preferable to seeing the same band in a much larger, less intimate venue, even if the band could easily fill a larger venue.

Maybe I haven ‘t gone to enough big stadium concerts, or perhaps the bands I like don’t perform as well in larger venues, but I’d be interested to see if others feel the same way. Are the days of big stadium rock over?

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