I’m not going to try and offer a blow-by-blow account of gigs with the Filthy Spectacula, Kindred Spirit (full band) and the Kindred Spirit Duo over the last four weeks or so (or indeed over coming months). Suffice to say they have been many, varied but all on their own terms successful.
One thing I want to pull out as a particular satisfaction of mine though is winning audiences over that aren’t predisposed to love us.
Of course it’s great to play a gig with lots of people knowing the band, knowing some of the songs, expecting a good performance and going in set up to have a great time. In some ways those are the easy ones.
But in some ways it feels like more of an achievement to start from scratch, largely unknowns to the audience, and get them on side. It happens (to some extent) frequently doing duo bar gigs, where most people aren’t there for the music at all frankly and if they are it’s not for us specifically – it’s always nice to win some people’s attention away from their pints, banter or the footy on the big screen and feel like you’ve given a performance rather than background music.
It’s also a frequent, though far from universal, condition for both originals-led full bands – with their unconventional line-ups and, in each case, casual overspilling of genre boundaries, audiences often have little idea where to place us, and all unsigned originals acts spend a lot of their time playing to people who’ve never heard of them, notwithstanding repeat bookings at some loyal venues, a handful of dedicated fans and the Filth’s growing presence on the steampunk subculture circuit.
A particularly striking example was the last Filthy Spectacula gig. We were playing a scooter rally in Oxfordshire, first up of the weekend’s live music (there were something like five other acts over two nights). Two band members’ partners were there, one couple had come especially to see us, and the organiser had booked us. I don’t think anyone else really knew who we were or what we were going to do (and it hadn’t been particularly advertised when music would start either). We started our set to about ten people including the above ‘followers’ and the sound crew, and having been the one to get the gig my heart sank.
But as we played on people drifted over from the adjoining bar area, and from the camping across the field. From largely awkward reserve, the mood of the mods, punks and bikers under that stage marquee started heading towards lairy energetic appreciation (in broad daylight, before 8 p.m.!). We must have finished the set to a good 50 people, many of them getting well into the collective silliness of a Filthy set and a turnout as strong as the tightly-drilled punk covers act that followed us, and I lost count of the number of people congratulating us, talking up the set and indeed parting with hard-earned cash for our merch. It became a classic Filthy Spectacula gig – from starting off looking like a washout.
So keep your eyes on our upcoming gigs pages – because summer is busy gigging time, and you never know what a gig can end up like with one of these acts playing.