Saturday was a rare night of me being out and about and not being involved in organising a gig or reviewing a band and so I found myself having a few beers with friends in The Rolleston. All very innocent, but wait. The band for the evening were AKA, a cover band no less. Still nothing major going on. What was odd was that three separate people asked me what I was doing here, after all I hate cover bands, don’t I? The first comment was fairly tongue-in-cheek but the other two seemed levelled with a certain amount of underlying bitterness. It made me stop and think about how I portray myself via the Sounds Around Town column I write for the Swindon Advertiser, which is were these comments obviously have their birth.
To put the record straight. I don’t hate cover bands, I have total respect for anyone who gets up on stage and entertains, in whatever field that may be. I understand the economics and supply and demand nature that makes them a popular and safe bet. My occasional jibes at their expense can be seen more as a dig at the venues and promoters themselves and their lack of imagination which results in the same few bands playing some places almost monthly.
If I do favour original bands in my writing it is due to the fact that it is easy to enthuse about something new and original. Original bands have the ability to create Damascene moments that stick in the mind and so inspire future writing about that band. No matter how good a band’s rendition of Brown Sugar is at the end of the day it’s never going to match up to something borne out of a bands own creative juices.
I’m in the lucky position of being free to go to a lot of gigs, a lot of people don’t have the time or money to do so and so when they can afford a babysitter and have a rare night out I fully understand why the tried and tested option to go and watch a cover band will win out over some avant garde Tibetan trouser jazz band.
As for the bands, a lot of them play covers as it is the only way to make money as a live band. Maybe if you had gone to their gigs and bought their album when they were still ploughing the original music furrow, venues might be more inclined to book original bands. Just a thought.