Would you go to gigs on your own?
By Imogen Goulding
Short answer: yes. Call me crazy, but I do — regularly, in fact.
It all started when I moved to Leeds. While I was packing up my stuff ahead of getting into my flat, I remember listening to the LaFontaines for the first time. So, it was only right that I went to see them at Oporto, the same month I got the keys. And because I wanted to go so much, it seemed futile to run the event past a friend that didn’t quite mirror my enthusiasm, so I went alone. Easy. Hassle-free. Sorted.
That night, I realised that what I stand for generally applied to gigs as well: if you want something doing, do it yourself. It’s a no-frills code to live by. While we tackle forging new daily routines in lockdown amid the Coronavirus pandemic, doing things for ourselves is becoming more prevalent.
Way back when, seeing the LaFontaines was just the start. My solo gigging days then saw me among a ten-strong crowd to see up-and-coming UK grime artist, Flohio, at Headrow House months later. The best part about intimate gigs like that? How personalised they are. I even got a hug from her! Insane. Never washing that jacket.
After that, I befriended two cheeky musicians while seeing the Amazons, had my mind blown by the enchanting Benjamin Francis Leftwich gracing York Minster, danced a weeknight away with hip-hop legend Oddisee, saw Strange Bones give it some welly and WAY MORE. Don’t even get me started on Loyle Carner. Dreamy.
I really have been to almost countless gigs on my own now. Would I stop? God no. A lot of tickets don’t cost much, so it even makes trying out new bands worthwhile. You’d also be surprised which ones can knock your socks off when you least expect it.
So, why don’t people tend to entertain the idea of going to gigs alone? In this day and age, we’re used to instant gratification. People fall into the trap of quantifying their appeal to others by how many likes or followers they can attain per post, per account, on social media. It weighs up as a form of rejection if you only receive a handful of likes — it means people find you dull or disinteresting, or they even just hate you a bit, doesn’t it? These are all the warped — though seemingly founded, to many — fears of our generation. But you don’t have to play victim to that — by not depending on friends, a partner or even colleagues, you can go it alone and do what you want. It’s certainly selfish and definitely wonderful. It might be an eye-roller, but you get out what you put in.
But what about festivals? I hear you ask. Those are a bit different. They’re social constructs and it’s all part of the fun and excitement to attend a festival with others. I’d go as far as to say that, no, it’s not ‘weird’ to attend a gig alone, but it is maybe just on the border of being bizarre to want to do a whole, multiple-day festival without pals. Sure, you’re bound to make some, but many would perceive that a gamble. Back in January, I went to a day-long alt rock and grunge festival at Belgrave, and even that had thumb-twiddly, waiting-around moments. Festivals are probably where I’d draw the line on going solo. But you're off the hook this year, anyway...
e social element of gigging can’t be beaten, its undeniable. I’ve been to all sorts with friends — namely Live at Leeds and Bonobo. I wouldn’t have changed a second about taking my brother to Danny Brown and Run the Jewels gigs either. But all in all, going to gigs on your own isn’t something to be scared of — it’s something to embrace. At least that’s how I feel. You’re there for the music and to be part of a crowd of like-minded individuals, even just for a short set. Nobody said you have to be rooted to the spot and look bewildered — take your phone, get some shots of the act, have a drink if you want. Just enjoy it.
So, after all is said and done, and some normality resumes post-Coronavirus, you might feel like saying yes to things is more important than ever. I know I'll certainly be buying tickets for tonnes of gigs once we're free.