I DO NOT predict a riot… a take on the music scene in England
Posted on December 13, 2008 by yankeebean
Anywhere you go, there are bound to be differences in what your job is like. If you’re a doctor in America, you spend your day fending off prescription-related-freebies and working healing-retail. But if you’re a doctor in England, you might spend your day fussing over budgets and being not-too-friendly (since such an attitidue is often met with COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT levels of suspsicion).
I (much like peaceful yorkshire), am a musician. A pianist, in fact. I’m classically trained, but I play more modern music. I make most of my living doing session work in my home studio and occasionally performing live with local bands.
I played a show last night at a University bar (which turned out to be a school canteen… glam). I’m not complaining because I really love to play… I can usually just go to my happy-place and play for the love of it. But I couldn’t help but leave the gig thinking about how different gigging in the States is…
And the biggest difference is (SURPRISE!) the people! ‘The punters’, ‘the crowd’, ‘the scene’ – THE ENGLISH.
Now now now, this will not be another opportunity to rip on the English. You might not be able to tell, but I really like English people ‘at the end of the day’. But when you’re playing a show, the ‘I’m-going-to-appear-underwhelmed-no-matter-how-much-I-love-this-show’ attitude is MENTAL! I can see in people’s eyes when they’re enjoying the music… it’s like there’s an enjoyment-alien trying to bust outta their chest, but it just can’t get through. And it makes it flipping hard work for the muzo’s on stage, jumping around like caffeinated monkeys just to keep the seemingly-non-plussed masses looking in the right direction.
Sometimes at shows (when the bands I’m playing with let me have a microphone on stage… fools!!) I actually give English crowds a lesson on how to react to music if they want to show their appreciation. It helps them to loosen up and stop taking themselves so freakin seriously. We go through the following pointers:
- How to clap loudly – and for longer than you might think is required
- How to make appreciative sounds – such as ‘woo!’, ‘yeah!’, or any positive exclamation that springs to mind
- How to ‘bop along’ – how to move to music including – tapping your foot, drumming lightly on a table, nodding your head in time to the music, or (if you’re a real renegade) wiggling slightly to the music (of which the official term is ‘bopping along’)
- Smiling – yes, that’s right… SMILING. I have taught crowds in the past that SMILING is a good way to show you’re enjoying yourself. Unbelievable…
The thing is, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up English. I grew up in a family of loud-volume and constant hand-waving-while-talking. My family are not a shy people. What would it be like to grown up with ‘reserve’ and ‘sensibility’ wired into your system? I can’t even imagine…
My enjoyment alien lives his life constantly hanging out of my chest like some kind of twisted Muppet, cheering and grinning constantly at everyone and everything.
But, although it means I have to really work for it, I don’t mind guiding the English through the subtle art of expressing enjoyment at gigs. It’s for the greater good!