Reviews are an art form all on their own. A good review should say more than just ‘I liked it’ - it should really pick apart something you’ve seen, let your readers know whether it’s really good or really bad and why. Reviews are a great way to inform others of your opinion on what a performer/performance is like. Rants and Bants has some great tips about how to express your opinions, over here.
Reviews are also something you have to do as part of your Arts Award if you’re doing one. So, with that in mind, here are my handy tips to help you write the best music event review out there!
Top tips for writing a music event review
Focus on quality over quantity
As much as you loved the event (or hated it), you really don’t need to go on about it! Reviews should be short summaries of what you saw and what you thought of it, so keep it short and sweet. Don’t make it too short though, otherwise, it’ll feel very underwhelming and frustratingly unfinished. It needs to be clear and easy to understand, with just enough information to get your opinion across.
Structure your review
Ideally, reviews are best kept to no more than three paragraphs max. To help your reader understand you should include things such as:
- What you saw - single artists? A festival? Whether it’s an artists’ own concert or a big show can make a difference to how the artist comes across.
- Information about the artist and their music - Is there any wider context that’s relevant to know? For example, is the artist someone who used to be in a band and has recently performed solo? Are they an up-and-coming artist? Is their music style similar to anything else? This can help your readers to understand the context of your review and your opinions.
- What you liked - The sound quality? The way they performed? Was there any theatrics? Try to think about why you liked what you liked and avoid just saying ‘I liked it.’
- What you didn't like - Same as above! Think about what something might not have worked and what they could have done differently.
- What you thought of it overall - It can help to give it a score or star rating. Would you see it again? Would you recommend others to see it? Who would like this type of music event? Sometimes it helps to say ‘If you like XXX, then you’ll like this!’
Remember to plan your review before you start writing. Good reviews are roughly 300-500 words long, but don’t think too much about trying to hit the word limit - it just adds a bit of formality and clarity to your review.
Now that you know how to write your review, it’s time for the event! There are a couple of things that are good to focus on for your review:
- Performance - how well was the artist(s) in terms of engaging with their audience and entertaining the masses? Were they awe-inspiring, or were they trying too hard to impress? Why do you think they appeared that way?
- Music (obvs) - how did the music sound? If you’re seeing an artist that you currently listen to, how well did the live version compare to the studio version? Did it sound better, the same, or utterly pants? Is there anything you think could have affected the sound?
- Staging/location - did the environment suit the music being played? E.g. was it too loud for the club/venue? Was that folk band a little bit too quiet playing in a field?
- Audience reactions - how did everyone else react? Did they share the same reactions as you, or were you the only person liking/hating it? This helps to alleviate the bias slightly and reminds the reader that your review is just your opinion so that people don’t take it as an official fact or try to disagree with you (as the internet does…).
- Enjoy yourself! - Of course, you don’t have to be analytical all the time! You need to relax and have a good time to make it more memorable, otherwise, it will be a dull experience for you if you get too analytical while everyone else is having a great time.
Top tip: To help you with the review, make notes before, during and after the event. This will help with remembering key points about the show and give you something to talk about, or you’ll end up racking your brain for an hour trying to remember what happened. You could even make notes on your phone or use a Dictaphone straight after the event while it’s still fresh in your head.
You may hear this a lot in school or college (unfortunately), but it's really handy to have a different perspective or a second pair of eyes on your review - to check spelling and grammar, check if you need to add more or less, question any biases or let you know where you need to expand your thoughts. Having a friend, college, or parent look over your review can help to see if it is readable from an outsider perspective. If it looks good to them, then it’ll look good for your readers too.
If you and your peers are 100% on-board with your review, then it’s time to upload it! There are plenty of blogging and review websites to upload to, but I personally recommend using Voicemag.uk for all things blogs and reviews (a cheeky bit of promo). You can check out other reviews here and see if anything sparks your critiquing mind!