Queuing in the cold, frothy pints being partially spilt, can’t-scrub-off entry stamps, pockets full of old ticket stubs, the lingering smell of second-hand smoke, someone else’s big head in the way, the sudden sweating, pangs of euphoria during your favourite track… any of this reminding you of gigging? Maybe this isn’t the prettiest of pictures I could paint, but it certainly conjures up an image of nostalgia for me. After all, I’ve been longing for a gig since 14th March, when I somehow managed to see Circa Waves before Coronavirus had its merry way with our livelihoods and bank balances.
But while this all sounds very reflective, do we have to feel sombre? Are gigs gone for good? What would the situation go on to be for live music if it couldn’t be hosted in the same way? Will we be restricted to drive-in gigs? Do we just treat gigs as business as usual, with mask-wearing and hand-washing thrown in? Will we have to keep our distance in a crowd? How the hell do you socially distance in a mosh pit?
All these questions are valid, and they’re on the lips of most frequent gig-goers. However, thanks to lobbying government and pushing the campaign forward, £1.57 billion has been successfully pledged to the arts, cultural and heritage sectors to help preserve jobs. This also aims to help out artists and venues who rely on gigs and want to hold them.
It’s fantastic news, at last, but should we be sceptical? What will the government’s funding actually do for the community of artists and musicians? While this remains to be determined, and rumours about VAT-free ticket prices are enticing, it’s worth being hopeful for now. The ghost of gigging past may simply be densely populated venues, as this cleaner, more hygienic ‘new normal’ that we’re developing is tidying up our society. This could be exactly what saves arts and culture from sliding down the pan. It could be the brilliant bailout that we’ve yearned for…