I don't know why I'm writing this, but after seeing a lot of things recently I wanted to concisely organise my thoughts in some way. Yesterday, my favourite band Enter Shikari announced a UK tour for early 2015. In amongst the dates were the regulars (London Roundhouse, Cardiff etc) and one or two not-so-regulars (Middlesborough, Wolverhampton). A few weeks ago, Deaf Havana announced a UK tour for December that took in a lot of B and C towns (i.e. not the major places). In both cases, people were happy with the dates, but a lot of people were moaning and expecting these bands to come and visit their cities on every tour (mostly because they live in the main cities - Birmingham etc). Birmingham is a 15 minute train ride away from Wolverhampton (I know, I've done it many times before), yet fans couldn't be bothered to do it and expected the band to come to them.
Even after playing an (approx.) 10,000 cap headline show at Alexandra Palace in London in February, the deluge of complaints against A Day to Remember about their November UK tour were about the lack of a London show. I really don't understand why fans couldn't look at that fact and think "They played a massive show in February, it's unlikely they'd sell another out only a few months later" or even better "They're obviously visiting towns that they don't normally get to - that's fair enough!".
It's this entitlement, this belief that as a fan of a band or act we deserve something, that I feel is killing a lot of the passion and excitement of modern day music.
Take for example, a release. Every time a band or act releases a new song, track or album, there are people who always comment "It's not [past album] though, isn't it?" or "This is such a change in sound, what sell outs!". They never take into account that (most of the time) the musician has written the album that they want to write (of course there are acts that are dictated by record labels and management) and therefore this album has a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears in it.
Imagine if you had spent weeks creating something that you loved and were extremely proud of. You showed it to the people that support you and they just wanted it to be something you had created in the past. How soul destroying must that be? Why should the fans expect a band to make a certain type of album? I understand to some extent that the fans allow the growth of an act, but surely if they're making the same music time and time again, they're not going anywhere? I guarantee that if the anti-new-sound fans came to a new release with an open mind, they might actually enjoy it and like it. However, of course, that's not what they think they deserve. They want their favourite band to make their favourite album again...sigh.
This also spills into the live element of music. With every tour announcement I see, there are fans (who all live in the UK) that moan about the lack of a show in their major town. There are people in Scotland, Ireland and Wales who are missing shows in their countries (which is fair enough - a London, Manchester and Birmingham date isn't exactly a UK tour, is it Linkin Park?). I also understand that to some younger fans, travelling to shows is unsafe and expensive (unless you can talk your parents into it).
However, it is also the most exciting part. All through my teenage years I had the opportunity to travel to new cities, different places and fresh venues to watch my favourite bands play. Train tickets would cost about a tenner, a Travelodge was another tenner and then maybe a drink or two. Why not save up and make a weekend out of it? Instead of spending your money on absolute rubbish and treat yourself every so often to a show in a new city. Bands spend all their time in a van/bus travelling to each town to play a show, why are fans too lazy to hopping on a train or bus or coach and explore a new place?
No fan deserves a show in their town. No tour can go to every town or city in the country. If a tour doesn't come to where you live, it's no-one's fault. You should never expect anything from your favourite musician(s), except the opportunity to enjoy the music or shows they create.
However, I've also noticed it from the other side. I've witnessed bands (on a personal level too) who have dropped the people that have supported them from the start, and only spend their time on the big-shots - the people who will keep them comfortably where they are. There are bands who come onto stages to play shows and just play it for the sake of having to play the show. These bands expect fans to be there every time they play - and it's lazy. If you're a band or an act who is getting into music for any other reason than you love it, then shame on you. Lazy musicians who think they are entitled to a fanbase lose their passion and become boring - really boring. I've witnessed shows where I wish I hadn't been there simply because the band had got too lazy and wasn't putting on a performance.
I saw Foo Fighters a few weeks back in a venue that held 600 people tops. They're one of the biggest bands in the world, and it was easily one of my favourite shows ever. Dave Grohl even said they were doing it because they loved playing shows to fans - there's a band who haven't got lazy.
I guess what I'm trying to say is - from both sides - don't feel you are ever entitled to anything. If a band wants to make a certain album or tour in a certain city, it's not up to you. You should feel lucky that your favourite band is still playing and support them in other ways (buy a shirt, their new CD etc). On the flip side, bands should never expect fans to be there. You should work for them, earn them, play the toilet circuit a million times and then they'll stay with you for a long time to come.
This is why I feel that lazy fans and lazy bands are killing passion in the music industry, why bands are splitting up left, right and centre, and why I feel that they are only a handful of bands that are keeping the rock scene alive.
Of course, I may be wrong and I'm open to debate - feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @LaurenceHebberd. If you don't agree with me, that's great - I may have just got my thoughts in the wrong order!