Butlerism: How to Review a Gig

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Everyone who reads my live reviews always asks me the same thing; “Why do you still write these inane live reviews? Are you some kind of fucking moron?”. And well, whilst my mother asks a good question, I can’t hold onto these secrets any longer, so I’m going to tell you just how I go about reviewing a live gig, how you can, and how you can better enjoy your live experience. Or you can just tell me to fuck off. I’m pretty used to that.

Pre Gig

Gig day… it’s gig day. You’ve been thinking about this gig for months, days, weeks, seconds or not at all if you’ve totally forgotten about it. Why are we talking about this? This bares no impact on my review, apart from that time I went to see Royal Blood, forgot my ticket, had to run back, despite having the worst hangover ever. Got called handsome by a drunk woman, got handed a beer by a drunk woman, on the stipulation she could go on my shoulders, upon taking that beer, I smiled, said “Sure” and slipped into the moshpit.

The main takeaways from here are; do not forget your ticket, make empty promises to strangers, have a few beers, but not too many, to get you into a warm and cosy mood for the evening.

Pre Gig, But This Time, You’re in the Venue

I’m 24, 25 in two months. I still get very, very bored, very, very quickly and cannot stand around waiting, because that’s boring. At this point, it’s a good time to start playing up, loudly shitpost people and remind yourself of funny memes. Also best to enjoy this with another beer. Seriously, the standing around waiting between bands is the worst thing ever. Time moves much, much slower but you don’t want to sacrifice your spot in the crowd. Unless your friend, who is me, is 6’4″ and is the size of a household appliance, you can get through crowds pretty quickly. Sorry to everyone who’s stood behind me.

Support Band

Depending on who the support band is, I’ll either give them a shout out or not. Every band was a support band once, so it’s always a good place to find new bands to listen to, or even, for bigger marquee gigs, see a few of your favourite bands in once place. Like that time I saw Nothing But Thieves support Muse. That was great. The takeaway here? Everyone will break your fucking heart eventually. Sometimes however, I either miss the support bands because I’m in traffic, exceedingly lazy or drinking a beer. It’s just the way things work when you’re an adult.

The Actual Fucking Gig!

My favourite part! There’s nothing more exciting than the music cutting, the lights dimming and the scream as hundreds, maybe thousands of people all welcome their heroes for a thousand different reasons. If you’re reviewing a gig, it’s good to read the room; what’s the atmosphere like? Is the air heavy and full of anticipation, are the crowd really into it, or just a bunch of pretenders? If you’re into it too, the moshpit is always the best place to enjoy a gig.

Not when everyone tries their hand at it though, so you’re having to struggle to get an obese 50 year old named Keith up off the floor, despite the fact he’s made letcherous comments to all the girls in the venue, but the pit rules are the rules; no body down. Then he gets angry you creased his Ralph Lauren shirt. Keith sweetie, you’re at a hard rock gig, why are you dressed like you’re presenting the accounts to the board of directors? You dick. Stop it.

With that, if you see sexual harrasment at gigs, please alert your nearest security member, scary looking front man or take matters into your own hands and chin the bastard. Gigs should always be for love and peace, but performing an impromptu tooth extraction on a creep is always on the money.

Also, if you get chance, read the band’s mood. Are they having a good time, or are they wishing they’d never come to Birmingham? Birmingham crowds are really good actually, London crowds are a bit wanky, but so is everyone in London, so I guess the two go hand in hand. Manchester are a good laugh too, same with Liverpool. Basically if you go to a gig past the Watford gap you’re going to be mugged or unappreciated.

Don’t just list out a load of songs, list out your favourites, the new ones, where the passion was, what the crowd absolutely went bananas for and be critical if you have to. But the most important thing to remember is to let go, report live from the pit, use all five senses to enjoy the gig. Arcane Roots played their gig in the pitch black, but their ethereal, strobe based attack made them one of the best bands I’ve seen live.

Festivals

Drink a lot of beer, see people you fucking hate, because who doesn’t love a hate fuck? I guess the same applies from the above. Let go, get a bit drunk, experience everything around you. The crowd can turn a bad gig into an amazing one, and vice versa. Comment on what else you did during the day or the week, how hungover you were, some of the weird and wacky folk you see around festivals.

Really though, you’ve just wasted your time, yet again reading another one of my articles. Sorry.

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