It’s a question that will stump most people, a question which can leave you speech- and clueless: tell me, what’s the best gig you’ve ever been to? As clichéd as it may sound, to try and single out one gig as my favourite of all time is a real challenge, especially as anytime I see a band live it just seems to elevate their music to new highs. That said, it can work in the opposite sense too – a band that might be average live, but gods in your esteem, can have their performance glorified just to keep that perception alive.
Another thing to consider is the context of the gig; some gigs are just exactly that, an in-out performance which satisfies in a general sense, while others are the results of spontaneous decisions which lead you to one of the greater nights of your time. And the venue – the difference between seeing your cherished group play to a crowd of 10s on some obscure stage in an unknown festival and seeing them in a crowded, stifling basement room is undeniably important to the experience. There’s a real weight to this decision and for that reason it’s not one to be taken lightly.
So then, to the choosing. Already there’s a number of contenders springing up in my mind, each outdoing the last (pedestal anybody?), confusing my convictions. The fact that this question is bringing back floods of memories of the gigs I’ve attended is just the ideal proof of the value of live music – it’s a plethora of experiences which succeed in providing genuinely happy memories. The winner of this particular contest though is Submotion Orchestra and their gig at Joiners in October of 2011.
At the time, I had no idea who they were, what they sounded like – I was about as blank as a slate could be walking into that dingy Southampton club, but it was hands down one of the best musical experiences I’ve had the privilege to witness. Anybody who’s familiar with this band will join me in acknowledging just how impressive they are – an orchestra of contemporary style comprised of brass, bass, drums and vocals which combine to lull you into hypnotic, trance-like movements.
During those 45 minutes I was blown away by the wall of sound that they were able to create, essentially disproving the notion that house, dubstep, electronica or anything like that can only be created on a computer. Added to that were the haunting, charming vocals of their lead vocalist, Ruby Wood – it stopped me in my metaphorical tracks. They rolled through their debut, Finest Hour, playing it to a room that couldn’t have had more than 100 people in it and yet everybody there was in their own isolation, absorbed in the sound and moving with it.
Few things can bring people together like music can, and to have witnessed such an occasion where everybody is visibly connected in that moment, soundtracked by such a talented group of people, I consider myself forever fortunate.