By Tom Godfrey
I attended a number of different music events during the completion of my Arts Award. I regularly go to live music gigs in Bristol as an audience member and have done so for the past few years. However, its only whilst doing this award that I started to think more critically about the experiences that I was having whilst attending live events and shows. I took the opportunity to see as many different artists and performers as my commitments would allow whilst I was at Subsonic as this was a great opportunity to compare the different shows and see things I perhaps wouldn't normally have the chance to experience.
The "Rave Tent" at subsonic was really cool and one of my favourite events. Everyone was really into the vibe and atmosphere and it was relaxed with no tension and everyone was there just to share the music and mood. I was quite young to be at the festival as I was volunteering but I felt really calm and relaxed to be in the company of so may other like minded people. The tent lighting was good and I started to see it with a more critical and educated eye, understanding the limitations of having to set up all the equipment in a limited time. It utilised small festival lights and exploited the use of colour and dynamics which were accurately co ordinated with the audio. It was creative and original and went well with the music and atmosphere and this is partly why the experience stood out for me. The music was quite bassy with good rhythm and tempo and whilst the underlying melody was secondary to the overall theme this worked for the audience and for the purpose of the venue. I liked this because it is how I tend to compose my own music as baseline and rhythm are the foundations of my compositions. The range of ages was broad and as one of the youngest there I enjoyed sharing my passion for music and developing love of visual design with people I didn't really have anything else in common with. The DJs took turns spending 2/3 hours or so all night and whilst the theme of the tent had a common thread the different interpretations of the individual DJs gave the venue an interesting vibe and the occasional change of pace kept the energy of the audience high. The thing that stood out most for me was the way that people mixed with no trouble or tension and how creating a relaxed atmosphere through sound and light can help to control and encourage the right kind of feelings, attitudes and behaviours.
The other main event that I had the opportunity to see was DJ Leeroy Thornhill. Previously with the band "The Prodigy" and also a Rave Dancer, he now DJs at large events all over the world. Whilst his previous work was before my time it was a great opportunity to see someone with such experience live. His varied background as a keyboardist, dancer and composer was evident in his DJing and his confidence and ability enabled him to work the crowd and adjust his sounds accordingly. He was a real crowd pleaser and it was clear that this is a driving force in his work and his ability to create such a good vibe goes beyond self indulgence. He also used his body language and physical presence to work the crowd which was interesting to see as it made me realise how important it is to be a holistic performer and not just work the decks and the sound. I was really privileged to be working the lights for some of his set so that gave me an even greater insight in to his performance. We didn't use any pre set lighting design so I had to work creatively and think quickly whilst running the light show.
Having attended these events with a dual role as both Lighting Technician and audience member, it has influenced and changed my ideas and aspirations for the future. I was secure in my thinking about wanting to be in the events and music industry but I now thing that I would like to look into Lighting design more and perhaps by combining the lighting and the sound this would give me more of a competitive edge. The lighting just seemed more fun and appealing and I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. It may be more achievable to gain experience as I now have some good connections which will help me to gain more practical experience. I fully intend to continue to help out at events and will take the opportunity to see as many performers as my schedule will allow. I have also put myself forward to help out with college gigs and events and will make contacts with the degree students and those students studying music performance. I have plans to volunteer next summer at festivals and hope that by combining my formal training in sound and practical experience of event lighting this could be an exciting career path for me.