Student nights and survival of the fittest

Wednesday 23 September 2009, 12:24

Adam Walton Adam Walton

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150 years after Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' you could argue that this is natural selection/survival of the fittest on an economic and cultural level. And, for Welsh bands who sing in English, there are no subsidies or grants for the bands or venues to fall back on. They do live or die according to the number of people coming through their doors. There are no programmes or strategies to ensure their survival.

Why should we care whether or not a few flea-bitten venues or slack-bottomed musicians 'survive'?

Well, first and foremost, popular music - and the related industries - are an unparalleled breeding ground for young, creative talent. Young musicians and songwriters rely on young promoters, web designers, sound and lighting engineers, technicians, graphic artists and DJ's to help them spread the word. It's as finely balanced an ecosystem as any in the natural world. Remove a couple of venues or bands from the food chain and all of those who are reliant on them suffer, and maybe fail.

And it's this kind of initiative and these kinds of skills that help drag an area like North Wales out of a recession - even if the end result is rarely a successful, indigenous band.

Also, looking at this ecosystem from a purely musical point of view, if only the 'fittest' or the most popular did survive and prosper, our musical culture would, I fear, soon evolve into a nightmarish hybrid of Lady Gaga and Happy House, maybe with a bit of Kings of Leon sewn on for those who like to kid themselves they're flirting with the 'alternative'.

So, it's very good that our towns and city (!) are once again bustling with students, their overdraft facilities and their patronage for leftfield music.

Not so good if you end up living next door to them, but we'll let that pass for the moment.

The student population are as close as we get to a subsidy for new and live music. In acknowledgement of that fact I'd like to thank all of the students newly-arrived or returning to colleges and universities in North Wales and the border areas for their continued support of new Welsh music.

Which is ever so slightly pompous of me.

But it's a heartfelt sentiment. Now, get out of that student union bar at the first opportunity, and hit your local venue.

You'll be welcomed with open arms, concessions on the entrance fee (probably), cheap drink offers (possibly) and some fascinating sounds (definitely).


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