In week two of the mid-semester break, I made a very impromptu decision to go to Melbourne, to watch a band. Koi Child had been on my radar for about a month by that point (and with a whole string of shows coming up later this/early next year, it’s about time to get them on yours), the Fremantle-based 7-piece funk-jazz-hip hop crew having had their single “Black Panda” and upcoming album produced by Kevin Parker. With a free schedule from work and a family visit long overdue, it seemed like the perfect excuse to get out of Canberra for a few days.
Going to a gig in Melbourne on my own, being the only Canberra rep in a room full of Perth expats and Warner Label execs was a little intimidating to say the least, but the band and the crowd made everyone at the sell-out show feel like they were at their respective homes. For a group with such a polished, punchy and musically brilliant set, I thought they would have no time for a small-town boy like me – the instant assumption being that they either had a full schedule for the night, or that they had more important people to see. Yet a small comment to the band’s keyboardist at the bar after the gig, about my trip down to catch their set, led to hours of conversation with the group, from which I learned more about the band than any interview could ever get across.
For years, I had been glorifying every band and musician that I saw play. I couldn’t help but to be star struck whenever I passed artists in the pit at festivals, some of whom I knew every word to every song in their set. Having heard them on the radio, brought their albums, watched their videos on Youtube, I thought that they were all something else that I could never become; that their immense talent had made me somehow not worthy of associating with them. To some extent I was right – I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s no way I’ll be racking up that attention any time soon.
But, that doesn’t make those who have that attention totally inaccessible. What people often forget, when being star-stricken by these artists, is that outside of music they are ordinary people just like everyone else. Even at festivals or gigs, their success and genius as musicians doesn’t change the fact that they are, in all other respects, people at festivals or gigs. Groovin The Moo is a perfect example of this: when The Doctor (Lindsay McDougall) had a DJ spot last year, he was more than happy to come and have a chat mid-set about how the festival was going, playing with Kingswood, his touring schedule with Frenzal Rhomb. Had I not been high on the post-Kingswood vibe, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to even wave to him mid-set, yet we talked like I would have to my friends who I went with to see him.
The year before, a friend of mine had a chat with the gods-among-men of Tame Impala after their spot at the signing tent, before their set in front of a 10,000 strong crowd. Even though they have such a platform and attention of the whole world, they were willing to take some time off to talk. While naturally he was excited to see them, this didn’t change the fact that they were, in the context of not yet getting ready for their set, festival-goers just like the rest of us there.
Glorify these musicians. They are not like the rest of us. They have earned their mantle in the upper echelons of our society, doing that which so many aspiring musicians (myself included) dream of achieving – playing fucking good music to lots of (usually very drunk and very sweaty) people. However, while they deserve nothing less than upmost respect, always remember that, just like you and me, they are people. Regardless of profession, they still have to pay taxes, vote, breathe, eat. So in your admiration, don’t treat them any differently to how you would your friends that you went to the show with – you’re bound to be better off for it. And don’t let the fact that you aren’t doing what they’re doing discourage you from doing it – music for the sake of music is vastly better than music for the sake of being popular. Do what you love, and love what you do.