Last night I was at the SOLD OUT Melting Vinyl Nick Mulvey show at Brighton Komedia. Due to some parking issues I arrived a few minutes into the support artist’s set but as soon as I arrived I was supremely disappointed – not with the music but with the audience!
Now support acts know the score: the majority of people who come to gigs are not usually too interested in hearing and unknown voice over unknown music and understand that a lot of people may even see them as getting in the way of the main artist, which is of course ridiculous because most acts wouldn’t play longer than an hour or maybe 90-minute set so without the support gigs would finish too early.
The problem with the audience last night is that they had no respect for Sivu, the support for Nick Mulvey on his UK tour, who released his debut album a week ago. As a performer, you play all kinds of gigs and learn to take the rough with the smooth, but a sold out show is a great opportunity to get some new fans of your music and the audience wasted their chance to hear him by talking in non-hushed tones throughout his entire set. I was stood towards the back of the closely-knit crowd and all I could really hear was the occasional pleasant sound, under the torrent of mundane conversation from the audience. Surely if you had no interest in seeing and hearing the support act play you would either a) show up in time for the main act only (stage times are always available online before the show), b) wait around in the bar area or c) stand towards the back of the venue if you want to have a chat and at least let the people who want to hear the support do so.
That said, here are five good reasons why you should check out the support acts at shows:
1. It’s free! You’ve already paid for your ticket. It’s like being offered a free cookie when you buy a coffee. Why wouldn’t you want a cookie, unless you’re on some kind of sugar-free vegan music diet.
2. The supports are usually picked by the artist/label/promoters and they generally know what they’re doing. I’ll admit that I’ve seen some pretty terrible support acts in my time, sometimes a mismatch of genres and sometimes just inexperienced performers, but on the whole I’d say that most support acts that I’ve seen of late have been on the strong side of pretty good. If the artist has picked them personally then odds are that you will like them, if you have similar music tastes to the artist, which is quite likely as you like their music.
3. There’s always a bigger fish. The artist who you are seeing will undoubtedly not be the biggest fish in the pond (a few exceptions onviously) and they will at some point have been a support act for somebody else, and possibly still are for larger gigs. For example, Nick Mulvey who sold out the gig last night was recently the support for Elbow for their gig at The Roundhouse in London, as part of the iTunes Festival in September.
4. Stay ahead of the curve. As REM said, “Everybody Supports, sometimes”. The support acts of today are the festival headliners of tomorrow so who wouldn’t want to keep ahead of the bell curve and be the guy or girl who always has recommendations for their friends for great new music? Plus, in the early afternoons at summer music festivals, it’s great to have an ace up your sleeve of somebody you’re seen play before to check out on a much larger stage.
5. Meet and greet. Almost always, support acts will stick around for the gig, handing out flyers for another show or selling their merchandise, but mostly just to have a chat with anybody that wants to. It’s always nice to say “Nice one” if you enjoyed their set and I think it’s a cool story to tell friends that you met the support and he/she/they were really friendly.
So if you’re going to a gig and you’ve never heard of the support act before, I’d strongly suggest giving them a listen and you never know, they might be the favourite band/artist that you’ve never heard of.
For those of you unable to hear last night, here is Sivu:
Here are three gigs coming up for the rest of the month with some of my favourite support acts in tow. Check them out. You won’t want to miss them!
Folklore Sessions @ White Rabbit – Tuesday 21st October – 8pm – FREE
The second acoustic showcase hosted by Jacko Hooper, one of Brighton’s premiere folk singer-songwriters, who often supports touring artists in Brighton including an upcoming support for James Blunt at The Brighton Centre on November 28th. These sessions include acoustic sets from three hand-picked artists plus a set from Jacko himself to finish off the night. This month’s line-up is folk storyteller and songwriter Dom Prag, the effortless vocals, guitar and occasionally harmonica of Sam Jordan and front-man of Brighton-based band Time For T, Tiago Saga. With half hour sets from each performer and a guaranteed quiet audience, this is a great chance to hear some quality stripped back acoustic music. And it’s free!
Dave McPherson @ Upstairs at Pav Tav – Thursday 30th October – 7pm – £7
InMe frontman Dave McPherson has to be one of the world’s busiest songwriters around! Having completed his The Good People Movement: 365, writing a song every day for a year back in 2013, he is still gigging with InMe, as well as doing a lot of solo functions and performing with his new project Centiment. Having not played in Brighton for a little while, it is great news to have him back with an impressive selection of supports performing as well!
Rise Of The Ziggurat is a self-confessed bedroom producer, who is not a regular live performer so it will be a special treat to hear him play.
Ed Mann is by far the best flamenco guitarist that I know. He’s also a top chap and writes some great songs too.
Chris Marsh is an honourary Brightonian, born and raised in Kent. He recently supported Wille and The Bandits on their Ireland and UK tour and has strong vocal hooks to counterbalance his slick guitar skills.
Gazz Marlow plays with Dave McPherson as InMe’s lead guitarist, but also performs solo too! With a very strong set of originals and cool covers, it’s always a pleasure to hear him perform live.
Normanton Street @ The Haunt – Friday 31st October – 7pm – £5/3 adv.
It’s been a long time coming, but Normanton Street‘s new EP, Much Respect will finally be unleashed to the public on Friday 31st October with their launch night at The Haunt this Halloween. The guys are going in strong with a stellar line up of support including local pop-rock-fusion group WolfL
ung, London based Northern Soul revivalists New Street Adventure, who will be bringing down the full band, following the release of their debut album ‘No Hard Feelings’ on Acid Jazz this month and Time For T, their local compadres with their fresh self-titled album just released and available to buy at the gig. Definitely one to bring a bit of extra cash to because all of these bands will change your life.