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An Ode to the Hometown Gig

The local music venue is the beating heart of any town or city. It goes relatively unnoticed, maybe even unappreciated, but it is a crucial part to the very being of life.

There’s a particular beauty in the local music venue, for each person, it may be different. Not just in terms of the physicality of the venue, but the connection that has been built between the self and the four walls.

The memories that it holds, the movements that feet have traced, the people met, the conversations laughed about, and the tingling rush of nostalgia, all flow through the veins of a venue.

The venue is a rite-of-passage and the experiences there range from as tender as the first kiss, to the frenzy rush of the opening tune to a favourite song after the first one drink too many.

The local venue is best defined by the sly smile of a secret that slips across the lips when you walk past.

Sipping my second Sailor Jerry and coke (yes to ice and lime, please) I casted a glance around the room. Upstairs at Firebug, Leicester, surrounded by people still drunk from Christmas two days before. Alone, I made a pathetic attempt of making out that I was waiting for a friend to return from the loo, maybe they’d gone for a smoke…

Every person in the room had turned down a night in front of the box, wiggled out of their retail fold creased pyjamas and defrosted the car to support a local band’s farewell. The band was Linear, and the only person I knew in the room was the frontman who was rushing around, shaking hands and hoping that nobody would ask why he was drinking Guinness. Doctors’ orders, no carbonated drinks. Sucks.

I’d claim that a local venue breeds local talent. But that doesn’t do any justice at all to the glorious nurturement that they provide. If the local venue is the heart, then local musicians are the blood. Pumped out in ‘I know you can do it!’ stage time, companionship and a couple of free beers – straight through the bodies of the local music fan with a “you can pay me back when you’re rich and famous!

So we all stood in that room, high on those four years of Linear. I wasn’t alone at all. For some, Linear were a support act who were caught on a whim, for others they were the lads who rehearsed loudly next door. They were sons, childhood friends, old bandmates, work colleagues, and the sound of a specific period in a life or two. Everybody there shared a felt-tip scribble on the back of our hands, a sign of paying a fiver for entry, and a hometown.

Everybody there shared memories of Linear, and tonight was another.

With the local venue and the local artist, there’s an unbreakable connection. It’s almost tangible, that connection of intimacy that surges through the shared rooting. A place. We are all guilty of slating our hometowns to the ground, but when a local artist stands on the local stage, all of the dust is blown away. In harmony, the crowd sang back lyrics that wouldn’t quite mean the same to anybody else.

When the likes of the Stone Roses and Adele find their way back to play their city’s local stadium, I feel that the other three of Charlie Bucket’s grandparents would kick their way out of bed for the chance of getting in. For the hometown show is the place to reminisce playing to three people and an actual dog in that pub down the road that lost its license. Imagine being at that original show.

I once met a guy whose sister let Adele borrow her lippy in the loo at her first ever gig. The venue? He couldn’t remember. It was long shut down.

Adele or Linear. Both started in local venues. Love them or lose them. Attend them, or lose all bragging rights. I love you, local venues, local artists, and your hometown shows.

Words by Tanyel Gumushan

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