5 October 2012

On the dilemma between staying in and going out

The other day I was out taking photos of a gig. It was the middle of the week, late at night and I was waiting around by myself for the first band to play. While I waited I wondered why I never see any of the people I work with during the day out at gigs. I might see one or two people I know when a big international act comes through, but generally not at local shows.

I started to wonder if maybe it was me - perhaps I should be staying home at night, watching TV, making sure I was wrapped up in bed early, ready for the next working day. My thoughts continued to the conversations I hear at my day job; what happened on last night's reality TV show, how contestants are faring on cooking shows, the latest sports results and so on.

That's when I had a sort of realisation (these aren't uncommon for me when I'm waiting around for bands - the last one is recorded here). These people are spectators. Their lives seem to revolve around watching other people doing things from the safety and comfort of their own homes, while I'm out participating in things as they happen. That to me is important - how many people will remember who won a rugby game in ten years time, or recollect how they felt at the time? How many people will think back with fond memories about the time they saw someone bake a winning cake on television? But how many people can still remember the first time they saw a band, or the feeling they got when their favourite band played in their town?

That realisation put to rest any doubts about being involved in the music scene. Rather than being a passive witness to scripted entertainment, I can participate in something spontaneous and creative (and hopefully document it at the same time), something I'll remember long after an episode of a TV show, or the final score of a game have been forgotten.

I'm not saying that I don't watch TV, or have nights where I choose to stay in and do nothing productive; I have plenty of those. But I don't let a TV schedule dictate my leisure time, and I make sure that I get out and see some live entertainment at least once a week - I would regardless of whether I was photographing or reviewing.

I guess the underlying moral this week is that life should be about experiencing things yourself, and it'd be a shame to look back one day and realise that you spent most of it living vicariously through a box in your living room, when you could have been out experiencing something real happening in front of you. So next time you're sitting at home about to change the channel to another show, why not make a conscious choice to find some live entertainment.


  1. Gigs would be unbearable if everyone was taking photos. Therefore most people there are spectators much like those at a sports game or live cooking demonstrations (they have those, right?).

    Live entertainment has risks and doesn't work in every medium. A live novel would be an excruciating event. In fact other than music, sports and theatre, it's hard to find regular events and those are of variable quality.

    I guess if NZ started to have world class actors, musicians and chefs performing regularly with amazing material and my financial situation and schedule allowed for me to partake regularly I'd probably be quite happy.

    So I guess I agree with you. Sort of.

    1. That's an interesting point you raise, and to some extent I agree. But at the same time, you are a participant by the very nature of it being live music, regardless of whether you're taking photos or reviewing it, or watching. It's something being created live, in front of you, without room for editing after the fact, or redoing it if a mistake is made. And I think that's what elevates it above television or pre-recorded entertainment.

      And NZ has plenty of bands, actors and chefs who do amazing things, and it's not always when, or where you expect it. Some of my most enjoyable gigs (and meals, and shows) have been those where I had low expectations, or didn't really feel like going there, but went and was blown away by it. How many times have you sat down to watch a TV show, local or not, and been completely disappointed by it? Or spent the equivalent of 3-4 gigs on a movie, and wondered why you wasted your money afterwards. Yet a lot of people baulk at paying $5 or $10 on experiencing a gig, or a play.

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