Stevie G: We need joy of music to lift us

The hunger for music and events remains as strong as ever, but the overall outlook has change in the post-pandemic era, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: We need joy of music to lift us

No matter the circumstances, music provides an important outlet for those who want to express themselves

The music scene has obviously changed a lot in the last number of years, and in the post-pandemic era this has become very apparent.

The hunger for music, gigs and events remains as strong as ever, but the overall outlook has certainly changed.

From what I can see, everything is very much event driven. Big appointment events such as festivals or gigs cost a lot of money, and even before the pandemic, it was obvious that weekly parties were finding it hard to compete.

The days of weekly club residencies are largely gone, though they do exist in some areas and venues. The ones that do exist in 2022 seem to be free entry, with the promoters and venue owners taking the hit on the door in favour of a busier night. Charging at the door is pretty hard for a weekly specialist event, and this is one big change from previous eras.

It’s fair to say the game has changed forever.

The long campaign for later licensing laws finally seems to be successful, so maybe clubs might become viable again soon, but at the moment there’s not much on, bar commercial parties.

As we look forward into 2023 we can see that these trends will probably continue. The big festivals are announcing line-ups even before Christmas and with a well-documented cost-of-living crisis being added to a ridiculous rental and housing situation here, it’s obvious that pockets are not that deep anymore. Those running things are trying to incentivise early purchase to help balance their own books, but they are also aware that things will probably get worse in the new year. It is a potentially bleak situation but it’s imperative that music survives.

In times of recession, music has traditionally become a creative outlet that can sometimes be at its most innovative at the worst times too. This has happened historically across the world after big stock market crashes going back to the Wall Street crash of 1929. The music industry boomed soon after and it should be remembered that in more recent times lots of the great punk/hip-hop/disco and dance music was also born out of hard times. The modern club scene owes a lot to those who created something from nothing and necessity often brings innovation.

No matter how bad things get music will provide an important outlet for those who want to express themselves. Much of my focus here is on gigs but long before an artist takes to the stage they have committed part of themselves to the process by writing or producing or playing music.

I spend a lot of my daytimes working with young people from various backgrounds creating music and sometimes even the act of writing or creating anything is important for our self esteem. If it eventually gets a release or played on radio or at a gig that’s great, but music can be a release too and this goes for the listening of it and also the creation of it. It’s also why I think we need to see more music projects funded but that’s a story for another day.

I talked last week and a lot in previous months about the need for spaces where people can create music and the current disaster with regard to housing and rental means that it’s tougher than ever for people to get a break here too.

The lack of houses even for rent means more people are living at home, and only the privileged minority can practice playing loud music at home. And obviously not everyone has the luxury of a roof over the head either. Performance spaces are necessary too and this is why I used the Marina Market as an example of a place that sometimes provides this.

It would be great if music people here had more outlets to perform their music, and it would also be cool if there were more non alcohol events here too.

One such event has traditionally been Junior Cert night, and most recently those who received their results (after a huge delay five months on) had no music disco where they could go to that night to celebrate.

This is just one example of how things have changed and how young people have less options than before. They will enjoy themselves nonetheless, but the culture of going out to music events is something that teenagers have always enjoyed, and hopefully, there will be much more options for them in the next few years.

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