Don’t Ask Me To “Support The Scene”

The above is a term which tends to get thrown around quite often in the Irish metal scene. It’s a rather simple and understandable statement seeing as we are relatively isolated from the rest of Europe. But does it really hold any weight in 21st century Ireland? Up until relatively recently, bands were reluctant to play over here due to the costs of playing on a small island somewhat off the beaten track from mainland Europe. This has changed in recent years however as more and more bands decided to include Ireland in their “European Tour”. While this was going on, the Irish underground was still ticking away week after week regardless of whether or not some international band decided to visit these shores.

When it comes to local gigs, as was mentioned to me, you can almost always predict who will be in attendance. The same faces are always in attendance more than 90% of the time. This is the same in most places around the country that have a local metal scene. These people are the ones who keep the underground scene going and they are to be somewhat commended (if you’re into that kind of thing) for their dedication. But this is also where the problem arises.

Some of these people, the minority I might add, tend to develop a somewhat of a holier than thou approach when it comes to local gigs. This is where our wonderful “support the scene” nomenclature comes in to play. They are vehement in their belief that the scene must be supported. While this is an understandable position to uphold it is not understandable to expect people to go to gigs just for the sake of going to gigs. The most recent example of this was Winterfest in Cork and the ensuing “discussion” (here) that took place and is currently taking place on Metalireland.

Some people were shocked at the lack of attendance by local Cork “metalheads” and the fact that there were more people from outside of the City at the gig than locals. As expected this is where the “support the scene” phrase popped up again. It is almost a heretical statement to say that you didn’t attend if you are a local resident and one can almost feel the looks of disapproval aimed directly at them once they even so much as hint at their lack of attendance. Regarding myself, I didn’t attend for one simple reason. I didn’t want to. Now that isn’t a rather complicated thing to understand but some people insist on making it complicated.

Again one can almost feel the looks of disapproval and accusations of being a “false” which in itself is as hilarious as it is stupid. People such as myself don’t go to gigs for rather simple, uncomplicated and valid reasons. They don’t want to and/or they can’t afford to. In my own case, monetary reasons don’t come in to play. So the other reason we’re left with is that I simply didn’t want to go. It wasn’t apathy, lack of dedication or any other litany of completely fallacious accusations which tend to get strewn about the place. I just didn’t want to go and the main reason for this was….*drumroll*….the line-up.

I had no intention of paying €55 for the “privilege” of seeing a bunch of Irish bands and some international bands over the course of 2 days. If you want to, fine. Go ahead. But as soon as someone, such as myself, mentions that they didn’t go, instantly, the “support the scene” phrase is brought up once again. There are those who insist on the “scene” being supported blindly and unquestioningly. This is not how it should be done. Any scene, no matter where it is, should be supported on its own merits and not just for the sake of supporting it. It may not make many gigs financially viable but since when have most “metalheads” been interested in only the financial aspects of things? Granted there is no harm in wanting to break even when organising a gig but surely demanding attendance of locals is where the line must be drawn.

Frankly whenever I hear the term “support the scene” carted out, I cringe. To me it represents an elitism that is all to present in the metal scene in Ireland today. The so called elders of the scene demand that it be supported without question and without any due thought. The “troo metalheads” can do this if they want. I on the other hand will remain a critic. I will pick and choose what gigs I want to attend on the merits of the bands playing and simply nothing else.