Festival vs Gig: why the gig reigns supreme

Music is a wonderful thing, without which I’m not sure how I would cope in many situations. Driving along in my car, belting out whatever’s playing off my phone is one of my favourite pastimes these days. However, there’s a real difference between music and live music. Live music performed well has the ability to give you shivers up your spine and goosebumps along your arms. Even through speakers it has the ability to transport you elsewhere when you imagine physically being in the space where this music is coming from. I love listening to live music but unfortunately I have to make a confession. I am 24 years old and I have never been to a festival. “Why?” I hear you cry, “Festivals are great fun and so varied.”

Much more intimate

This is the argument I have thrown at me every year when I decline yet another invite to T in the Park. I can’t deny it wouldn’t be fun, but to me it’s so different to going to a smaller gig that I just don’t have any interest in going. To me, the smaller, often much more intimate setting of an indoor gig is what attracted me to go and see a band live in the first place. That and living in Scotland, the lack of rain when you’re indoors is a huge positive for me.

There is an indescribable feeling you get when you’re in the same room as your favourite band, regardless of the size of the room. It’s that strange but brilliant mixture of utter excitement and total suspense. And that’s what attracts me to gigs; I worry that feeling would be lost due to the huge openness of a festival. The first gig I ever attended was McFly in 2005, and to this day I still remember being totally awestruck at the realisation that I was in the same room as the best band I had ever heard. On that day, something clicked in my head, I had had my first taste of live music and I wanted more.

Guaranteed to like who you see

Gigs definitely give you musical variation, although granted it’s not on the same level as a festival. Support acts are usually similar to or very much liked by the band you paid to see. You’re guaranteed to like the band you’re watching at a gig, whereas at a festival perhaps you had to pick between two bands and opted for one who weren’t actually as great as you had hoped. At a gig you can often get the chance to network with the support acts, meet the bands, speak to those who have been travelling throughout the country with the band and get an idea of what life on the road may be like.

Travel to and from gigs is usually significantly cheaper because you’re sticking closer to home than you would be at a festival, you’re parking for a limited time or only getting the train a few stops away. And Glasgow at night after a gig is something else, it’s an experience that I am so glad I had the opportunity to have had during my ‘gig days’. The whole city seems to buzz with excitement and possibilities for the rest of the evening.

Shared passion

At a gig you’re likely to meet groups of people who share your passion for the group or artist on stage. At festivals, friends of mine have gone to see an artist purely to be able to tell anyone who listens, “I’ve been to see…”. Imagine standing in a field next to someone, swaying to the music, you’re listening to your favourite band and the person next to you only knows half of the chorus of their most popular song? Although this could be a fabulous conversation starter when you whip out your iPhone (which is on low power mode by the way) to tell them all about their previous albums, you should be enjoying the live music instead of trying to educate someone who’s possibly not even paying attention.

In July last year, I saw Ed Sheeran live at Wembley. The gig was practically outdoors but still had that little bit of roofing that would have protected me from any rain, and it still gave me all the goosebumpy overly excited, suspenseful feelings of any other gig I had been to, even though it was on a much larger scale. Yes, maybe I should experience a festival at some stage of my life, but for now it’s definitely the intimacy of gigs all the way! 

Which do you prefer – gigs or festivals? Join in the debate and let us know in the comments below!