This has been playing on my mind for a while now, as I’m sure it has for many other music lovers in Lincoln. The main music venue in this city is the Engine Shed, which opened its doors in 2006 to a wide range of artists…or so we thought. The first bands to play (of which I took notice) were Embrace, The Zutons and Shiny Toy Guns. Sadly when the Engine Shed first opened it was an 18+ venue and I was not 18, thusly I was denied entry.
As of late however the gigs are now 16+, which has allowed more fans to attend the gigs and more bands to play (knowing there would be more people, especially in the age range they aim for). However, all these bands have been commercial indie tripe which are being passed around the Radio 1 playlist like God know’s what and therefore becoming popular without actually trying.
When the Engine Shed started booking bands on a regular basis though I did attend, mainly to support my local music scene. In the space of a few months I had seen The Hoosiers, Scouting For Girls, The Script, Reverend And The Makers, The Black Kids, Kate Nash, Cage The Elephant and The Pigeon Detectives. Not really a wide selection of music there by anyone’s standards, all of the aforementioned bands have been overplayed on both BBC and commercial radio which apparently means they’re going to be amazing live…sadly not.
Personally I’m not a fan of commercial indie at all (mainly bands emerging in the past 2 years beginning with ‘The’) and the shows I saw at the Engine Shed confirmed my stance on the genre. Admittedly some of the bands were good and the crowd got going for it, but it was never anything out of the ordinary. The usual forté of a vibrant frontman running around everywhere whilst the rest of the band stand still for the fear they might get noticed by the crowd.
Since the starting of regular gigs at the Engine Shed, there has been a constant barrage of indie band after indie band infecting the stage with their unbearable ‘new take’ on the genre, which somehow sounds like everyone else. Bands which have appeared recently are; The Kooks, The Ting Tings, The Charlatans and other such bands beginning with ‘The’. There have been some ‘alternative’ bands though in the past 2 years which such as Deftones, Cooper Temple Clause and Feeder. I attended the Deftones gig which was majorly underpromoted (the tour date wasn’t even on the t-shirts on sale at the gig) as such the venue was just over half full. Yet if a Radio 1 posterchild is given the opportunity to headline then their posters will be all over the city of Lincoln like a tropical rash.
The mere idea of an ‘alternative’ band must somehow scare the ‘powers that be’ in charge of the Engine Shed and will only book indie bands as they know it will sell out and therefore make a profit. The population of Lincoln is around 100,000 and the capacity of the Engine Shed is 1,500 – I’m sure if they book a popular band that is not indie then tickets will sell. Bands such as Enter Shikari, Pendulum, Gallows, Klaxons and other such artists could fill the venue many times over – but probably will never get the chance.
I was most excited when the Taste Of Chaos 2008 tour was announced at the Engine Shed for November this year, but was cancelled in Lincoln due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. After 2 years of waiting some metal bands were going to play Lincoln but it got cancelled, and no-one seems to know why. I knew many people who bought tickets, including myself. I was ticket number 700-and something which must mean it was nearly half sold out months before it was due to happen…but nevertheless it was cancelled.
So overall it seems that the people in charge of booking talent for the Engine Shed are scared of not selling the venue out, so only book bands which are played on the radio more than 3 times an hour every hour for months on end until the general public finally give in and start liking the band. Personally I feel the bookers for the Engine Shed should at least give it a shot booking a big non-indie band, if it fails then fine I was wrong that Lincoln isn’t just full of indie fans – but there is still only one way to find out…book someone else!