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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ayrshire Calling - Kilmarnock Dirty Weekender

Over the last few months there’s been a great deal of local talk about how realistic it is to deliver original live music events in Ayrshire.
Much of it has been less than positive.
It would be easy to dismiss the naysayer contingent as glass half empty miserablists, but are they really prophets of doom, or merely individuals calmly assessing the landscape and making an honest appraisal?
As usual the truth may lie somewhere between the polar opposites.
If anyone was to lay claim to Ayrshire being bereft of talent or having an audience for it, then that would be a blatant lie, but equally would it be true to say that the area has enough music fans to support anything other than small club sized gigs?

Of course some may point at the sold out Kasabian show in the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock as an example of healthy support for live music in Ayrshire, but does that really hold up to much scrutiny.
This is a band with huge UK wide success, a band who are headlining this years Glastonbury festival, and one who are playing three Scottish venues that are a fraction of the size that they normally would as they want to road test the material from their new album.
The event is as far removed from the norm as we could consider.

I would even question how many tickets were sold to locals?
(Check Gumtree and the like to see how many non-Ayrshire residents are selling tickets)
And even if a great deal were purchased by locals could we then maybe ask ourselves how many of those who did secure a ticket will be attending anything else all year?
Are they the type who seek out new music to listen to, or do they lean more to going to see the big acts in the big venues with their gig going calendar marked off with Hydro and SECC events and an appearance at T in the Park thrown in to pad it out?
In short do they lay down safe, but expensive bets, when considering what entertainment options are out there for them to indulge in?

Basically I am saying Kasabian is an anomaly.
The success of their show says nothing about Ayrshire and everything about the bands pull.

Similarly the recent gigs by The Darkness, Glasvegas and Enter Shikari can’t really be put forward as examples of Ayrshire providing a ready made pool of music fans that can be dipped into either, as all three acts have a pull that extends far beyond the ‘shire itself.

So if we exclude these events then what are we left with?

Would it be fair to state that in general what the Ayrshire public want is karaoke nights, tribute and cover bands playing, and maybe going to see a mate play for a couple of quid in a bar?

Or is that a harsh take on it?

None of this is to say that locally we have no music fans, no one who is willing to take a leap of faith and see what is on offer.
Of course we do.

It’s more to do with asking if we have enough to support anything larger than an event in a club that can hold a couple of hundred.

The answer will probably be provided in a few weeks when the annual Dirty Weekender festival winds down and the organisers consider how much of an artistic and financial success it has been.

The event in its totality already has a rather large mountain to climb.

Apart from the issues mentioned when asking if we have a large enough music fan base to dip into, there has been a run of obstacles to success thrown up that have been beyond the control of MFM who are promoting the event.

Shortly after they announced the dates, and started drip feeding the line up to the public, it was announced that Radio One would be having a three day event on the same weekend in Glasgow featuring everyone from Kate Perry to Kings of Leon.
For a local promoter that is a nightmare announcement, and the thought that the competition couldn’t get any worse must have crossed their minds.
But then it did.
The Kasabian show was announced with their performance being days before the Dirty Weekender kicking off, and then tickets for Prince went on sale for a show in Glasgow the night before the festival.

So in one week what we have is Kasabian followed by Prince and then at the same time as the Dirty Weekender pretty much any chart topper of the last five years playing.

Click on image to enlarge.
It’s a situation that could be described as a David fighting Goliath one, but to be more accurate it’s more like a David forgetting his slingshot and bumping into ten Goliaths who have been drinking all day and fancy a game of football with his head.
The odds are certainly stacked up against the Dirty Weekender, but there is another angle that people in Ayrshire should consider here.
That angle is that if the Dirty Weekender suffers a devastating blow with people failing to provide enough support then it could be the death knell for events of this stature in Ayrshire.

It’s been a long and always uphill trial for MFM to get from its humble roots to where it is now, and all that work hangs in the balance.

Those of us who live in Ayrshire may be about to lose something far more than just a weekend of live music here.
If it goes then so does the 2015 event, and with that hammer blow it will stand as an warning that may put off others trying to make a positive change to.

Do we want that?

I don’t, but I’m bracing myself for not getting what I want.
Only the support of the people of Ayrshire can really turn this around.
I think it’s worth making the effort, if only to secure a future for live music in Ayrshire, but the reality is that it is down to you.
Even if Kasabian, Prince or Radio One weekend tickets have been secured it is worth trying to get to something so that we can all be part of sticking one in the eye of Goliath.


  1. As someone who is also promoting a festival in Irvine on the same weekend it us concerning. Talking to Mainy the other day regarding the Freckfest HAC gigs having poor turnouts doesn't make for good news.
    Established big name events are always going to win sadly. I'm happy to take the dregs but is it just me who notices everybody and their granny from Ayrshire seem to get to TITP, Big Weekend, Murrayfield, Hampden and even Stone Roses in Manchester? These people hardly ever support local music.

    1. Johnny, who are you referring to as "the dregs" ?. With that attitude it is no wonder people don't support your gigs.

    2. I think it is very clear that Johnny used the term dregs as in the context of of the market place.
      He could have said the crumbs from the table.
      It wasn't a slur on those who attend the shows, unless of course it was chosen to be taken that way.

      Interesting that your profile was created this month and you have read only one article.
      I used to get comments like this often.
      Some anonymous poster taking a word or two out of context as an excuse to have a dig that was rooted in a personal issue rather than any content upped.
      It would make it a more positive environment if people refrained from the practice.

  2. They do, or a certain type of music fan does.
    Often they are the same people who consider a band has no worth until they are huge.
    You could have played them Kings of Leons debut album and they would have asked what that shite was you are playing and then with a few hits under the belts of the band they are happy to throw cash at a stadium gig by the same folk they claimed where shite.
    It just means that they follow success rather than talent.
    Everyone else thinks the band are good so ergo they are.
    No one has heard of them so ergo they must be crap.
    The Freckfest promoted show that I was at was great entertainment.
    The sound was fantastic, the venue fine, the support act were very good to.
    Yet there was probably less than twenty at it on a friday night.
    This turnout for an established artists says more about Ayrshire than it does his talents.
    A fiver for a name act who has had hits and global recognition.
    What more do people want?
    I did click on the ticket link on both the HAC and the Freckfest sites, but neither gave the option to actually purchase tickets and that may have had an impact.

    Who knows.

  3. Unfortunately the general pubic are content to sit in pubs/clubs in a comfort zone listening to a cover band throwing out tunes they know or are familiar with. Being an original is far more intense and the out come for most bands is to remain in absolute obscurity. Unless there is a general attitude turnaround not just in Ayrshire but across the whole United Kingdom towards struggling original artists it will always be the same. Bands from here who play infront of an average attendance of say 15 people can go to the continent and play in front of crowds of 1500/2000. Where as most people are content to sit in front of their T.V and watch X Factor/BGT and the voice........GO FIGURE!

  4. I think it is harder now than it has ever been to break through and grab some exposure.
    I commented recently about the main stage line ups of the forthcoming Hyde Park Gigs.
    Apart from The Vamps on the boyband/girlband night the youngest act to grace the stage is The Enemy who have been together for around nine years.
    I think that shows the dearth of investment in the last five years has led to nothing new making it to the big stage.
    There was an article recently - I think it was in the Guardian - talking about how there is so little risk being taken by major labels that all we have to look forward to is a future of every weaker facsimiles of what has already been tried and tested getting promoted to us.
    Sad really.

    I also hear on a weekly basis that there's nothing good out there anymore when what the person saying it really means is that they don't hear anything that impresses them on the radio or on the television.
    If they went to a few gigs in clubs they would soon realize that there's loads of talented people playing obscurity knocks.
    If there was television shows like The Tube on the television, or breaking talent shows on the radio, then maybe that would change, but as it is there does seem to be a large amount of people who would claim to be music fans and then only key into an act when they become famous and not a moment earlier.
    Obviously I don't mean everyone is like that, but when you stand in a large venue watching a fantastic support band with another twenty people for the crowd to magically swell to capacity minutes before the chart topping act play then what else can you take from it?
    If the support then has a hit then the very same people will be back for the next tour and doing the very same thing to the support that their new bestest band ever has supporting them while possibly oblivious to the fact that they could have seen the head liner before.

  5. Good on the guy for giving it a go and bring the best bands just under or on the radar on the bill i think its a spanking bill and my band wouldve loved to play it and we wouldve brung a mob as always but were to late in submitting i have been given tickets for one big weekend ..bit. to be honest would rather attend this if you need a dirty rock roll band who kick it all the time everytime ..hit us up until then i wish the festival all the luck in the world shy weans get no toys ... Heed down.and fists up in about it dirty weekender :) all the best to friends in fatherson ..tijuana bibles and evil edison who will rock your world for sure