If anyone needed any proof that mainstream popular culture is dead and buried then all they need to do is look at the lineup for this year’s Jools Hootenanny.
Ok, so it was always a little dull, but this year it takes dull to new depths.
Not that the artists are necessarily bad, but it used to be a bit of a Smörgåsbord with most people finding something to get excited about, but this year it looks only marginally better viewing than Mrs Brown’s boys.
This morning I was having a flip through facebook and saw a tabloid with a story about a woman who was disgusted by Aldi’s high prices and has switched to Asda. Being a glutton for clickbait I read the article, seemingly although Which and many of their readers reckon Aldi is the cheapest, this woman thinks Asda is cheaper, but didn’t cite any examples.
Having killed a few brain cells reading this tripe, I returned to Facebook where it suggested that I comment on a popular post about Joe Rogan so that I can “get noticed”.
When you stop and think about it, both social and traditional media are just surrounding us with absolute tripe every day, wasting our time and killing our creativity.
I used to be a fan of the BBC – the idea of being able to take the risks that commercial broadcasters can’t afford to, always seemed like a good idea.
After all, most of the 70s and 80s tv programs nostalgists bang on about incessantly – Fools and Horses, Black Adder, Minder and so on, absolutely bombed on their first showing, and took 2 or 3 series before they started to gain audience share. When there were only 3-4 channels and budgets were high, even ITV would take risks, but with more channels than ever competing for audience, never has the BBC been more needed, nor has it ever neglected it’s responsibilities more.
Of course, likewise with Music, Pulp took about a decade to make the big time, without people like Peel supporting their early work, they would never have been around to create the later classic material.
I did hope the new music show on 6 Music with Deb Grant and Tom Ravenscroft might work, it’s OK but there’s something missing.
Anyway, with a gig to promote in a few weeks, a great band but not many people know them, I had a look through the BBC Radio Merseyside schedules to see if any of the DJs play songs by local bands and or touring bands with Liverpool gigs this week – but no, program after program just churns out chart pop. Ok, you need a bit of familiarity to anchor an audience, but if it’s just playing the same crud that national stations are playing then why are we paying a license fee for “local” radio?
Seemingly getting a song on the 6 Music playlist needs a high level plugger with access to their DJs, for which they charge around £10K per song plugged. Is it any wonder that nobody takes a chance on anything really “out there” and we get the same old same old? No wonder I haven’t listened regularly in over a decade.
If the BBC won’t take chances, then commercial networks certainly won’t, so what will push the culture forward? Or is this it? The past recycled forever more?
The lack of oxygen given to new bands is showing in attendances, with the additional pressures of the cost of living crisis affecting audience, bands, venues and promoters alike. Costs going up, attendances going down.
I feel like we are at a real Crossroads. Social media and traditional media aren’t going to get any better, in fact they will probably get even worse. If we want decent entertainment, we need to make an effort to go out and discover it for ourselves. But the clock is ticking, and once grassroots venues are gone (and 1 is closing every week) and the last promoter willing to take a risk on shows gives up, these options will be gone forever.
I don’t see the situation improving any time soon, so if you want better entertainment, we need to go and look for it whilst we still can.
Skating Polly 20th-28th January 2024
Their first visit to the UK since the launch of their 6th album Chaos County Line last summer.
People tend to think they are good on record, but it’s when they catch them live they realise how amazing they truly are.
If you get a chance to catch them live – don’t miss it! They play London / Bristol / Cardiff / Birmingham / Manchester* / Edinburgh / Glasgow.
(Live Music Pix c0-co-promotes Manchester with Glasswerk and Moonfrog).
Dlina Volny 21st – 24th January 2024
Having played in countries including Mexico, Poland and Lithuania, this is the band’s first UK tour. Whilst you may not be familiar with the name, you will be more than familiar with their influences such as OMD, Depeche Mode and New Order.
They play London / Newcastle / Manchester and Liverpool.
(Live Music Pix promotes Liverpool).
Band To Watch
Having caught what was only their 2nd ever gig, to say I was impressed was an understatement. Now with a drummer added to the lineup they are likely to get better and better.
A band you really must catch live.
Festival Of the Year
September 2024, Clifton Downs, Bristol
With so many festivals competing for attention it can be hard to choose which ones to go to.
For me though, one that stands-head and shoulders above the others is Forwards.
So many festivals have identikit lineups but Forwards always stands out from the crowd with having interesting lineups, in a beautiful part of the country, with a superb atmosphere – safe, yet exciting.
With no less than 4 Mercury nominations (including the winner Ezra Collective) the bookers clearly have their finger on the pulse.
Bristol’s newest music festival, Forwards, will return to Clifton Downs in 2024 to once again harness the power of live events and bring people together for incredible music moments, inspire positive change through social initiatives and create space for discussion and debate. Forward’s is at the forefront of leading sustainable festivals, with the aim to reduce carbon emissions, all while collaborating with local businesses.
Accessibility is also at the heart of what makes Forwards tick, with the festival in 2023 partaking in a world-first trial helping visually impaired people experience the visuals and music with a specially designed headset. The headset beamed the footage from the cameras around the stage directly into the user’s vision to make sure all could enjoy the festival.
2023 saw the legendary Erykah Badu and Aphex Twin headline the festival, with stand-out performances from Raye, Gabriels, Bonobo and Confidence Man. Forward’s signature Information Stage brought Munroe Bergdorf, Liv Little, Grace Campbell, Goldie and more to lead panel discussions and debate on current social topics and events. With its diverse and unrivalled line-up, it’s no surprise that festival-goers are counting down the days for the 2024 line-up announcement.
And on that note, Happy New Year to everyone, let’s hope it’s a good one!