How to organise an all ages gig when all anyone wants to do is sell alcohol

26 June 2018

November last year a bunch of highschoolers decided to gather all of their friends and put on a big gig. They called it the Big Gig and that it was, with eight acts, five hours of music and a massive, enthusiastic crowd who were surprisingly interested in forming conga lines.

Next weekend sees the much anticipated return of the Big Gig featuring a different but equally big lineup, a new venue, and a boost to audio and lighting situation, all of which should add up to an even bigger turnout according to Alex Cochrane of Bark Like a Dog. He’s organizing it this year with Ayden Crowther-McCaughan of Sugarcoated Bullets.

So it looked like the previous one went pretty well?

A lot better than we expected yeah.

We’re hoping for an even bigger turnout this year. We’ve got Koizilla and Bathsalts on board, because it was originally just school bands but as we’re getting older we’re trying to change it from just being school bands to being taken seriously with bands in NZ and in Dunedin, and it’s sort of like a halfway point where we have some good well known adult bands and some teenage bands, so it’s just sort of a middleground and then we hope to continue it.

Did you have any issue with the last one?

I think it went pretty smoothly. We had a bit of a problem with rubbish, there was quite a lot of mess left behind, but apart from that everyone behaved, everyone had fun and there weren’t any upsets.

Apart from adding non highschool bands what else are you doing differently?

I’ve got friends at Strawberry Sound who are helping us out and last year they just brought in just what was left lying around but this year we’re getting some bigger PA’s, some moving heads, lots of lights, so trying to do a bit more of a full on production. So I think in part we’re going to do it as like a sponsorship with Strawberry Sound, maybe put some logos somewhere, just supporting local businesses and everything. And I think just kind of making it a proper thing that continues to happen and try and make it more solidified rather than just a one time event.

Is there any funding or is it just you guys?

No it’s just all through us, and ticket sales.

Are the bands getting paid?

Yeah we split the money equally between all the acts.

Yeah because I noticed the price has gone up from last time?

Yeah last time it was a gold coin donation because we didn’t have to pay for anything, whereas this time we have to pay for the venue and we also want to pay the bands because we’ve also got adult bands we don’t want them to have to waste their time for free. We definitely want to help them out, even though it’s not going to be much it’s something.

Why the new venue?

The Attic just wasn’t available at that time, Lee just said it wasn’t a good time. And I know that last time because of the mess left behind that was a bit of an issue, that wasn’t our division but there were other people involved who’s area it was and they didn’t sort of do it.

We hope to do the next one at The Attic because it’s a cool venue.

So how many people have you got organizing this one?

For this one it’s just me and Ayden, because last time it just ended up being us anyway so we decided it’d just be better.

I noticed that of all the bands only one of them has women in it?

That was only really a coincidence really, nothing we thought about. It’s just these were bands that we know and Painted Blind were sort of only added in after because we were going to do less bands this year, only five or six, because we thought maybe it went a bit long last time, it was sort of like five or six hours of music. But we decided to keep the same number because we had this offer and we thought why not add another act and they’re a bit different, a bit of folk rather than all the rocky stuff.

I mean we’d like to have more female bands involved, but I dunno, for us there are just not many that we know.

But do you sort of think… Because there aren’t many all ages gigs, do you think you sort of have a responsibility to try and be as inclusive as possible?

Yeah. Well anyone that asks to be involved we normally say yes unless as at this point where we have eight bands and we don’t really need any more but we include anyone that wants to be, another band that we’ve got playing Liam Boyne he’s just someone I knew at school and he just asked if he wanted to be in.

So if any female bands asked we’d be more than happy to add them in.

Yeah because also the venue is the Women’s Pioneer hall right? That’s a bit ironic…

It is a bit ironic. That was the only venue that was willing to have an underage show, nowhere else was available.

Why’s that do you think?

I think it’s to do with them making money. We did look at U Bar and for them of course all of their money comes from bar take so if they close the bar there’s not really much point in them doing it. And for us to make it worthwhile for them we can’t fork out the same amount of money they’d make from the bar.

So live music is kind of tied to alcohol sales…

Yeah which is a bit sad that it sort of has to be, but I understand why it needs to be for those venues to stay open.

Have you faced any other challenges organizing it this year?

I mean there’s a lot of organizing that’s gone into it, and a lot of advertising in particular just to get everything out there for everyone to see it. The only thing I think we may have a problem with may be noise because the venue we’ve picked this time is very central, it’s just outside the octagon. It’s not going to be ridiculous stadium level volumes but hopefully there won’t be any complaints from the neighbours… Last time we did get a complaint from the bar downstairs from The Attic.

So who are the new bands playing?

Liam Boyne, he’s a solo artist, he does acoustic singer songwriter stuff. We’ve got a band called Haven who are from queenstown, they recently came second at the Central Otago rockquest finals. We’ve got Koizilla, everyone knows Koizilla in Dunedin, they’re absolutely amazing of course. They’re a great band, personally probably my favorite band in Dunedin. And we’ve got Bathsalts who are another great band who are really good and the rest of the acts are the same from last year apart from Painted Blind, they’re sort of like indie folk acoustic stuff and they came second in the rockquest here. They’re out of school now but they’re doing well.

What do you think about Dunedin in general, is it a good place to grow up as a musician?

Yeah definitely, I mean if you’re into more alternative music I’d say in particular yes, there’s a quite prosperous indie scene here and there has been for years and years. I’d say it’s definitely a great place to grow up but I feel that as a band you can get successful within Dunedin but I find that living in Dunedin it’s hard to branch out into the bigger world from here. We managed it with one of our songs, it did quite well, but no idea how it happened it was just sort of a right time right place kind of thing. It’s definitely still possible but I think it’s a lot harder if you choose to stay here because all the people like APRA and all the music things are in Auckland.

Yeah you had a song that did really well?

Yeah, we got to number one in the itunes rock charts and number 26 overall genres..

**Wow… **

No idea how it happened. We expected like these guys and few others to maybe listen to it and then people just started sharing it around. I think the thing we had on our side is that we’re young and I think people expected to listen to it and for it to be really shit and people listened to it and were like oh it’s not actually that shit.

Anything else to add?

We just want people to come and see the bands, and support local music because I think definitely with teenagers in Dunedin they don’t support local music as much. There’s definitely a group that do but especially at Taieri college my band’s the only one that are interested in it and everyone else is like radio pop music and stuff, so hopefully people can come and appreciate local music.


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