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Sunday
Feb132011

Interview with Londonears.com

LIVE MUSIC MONTH SPECIAL!

Furthering our commitment to live music, Liberation Frequency caught up with Richard Stenning, founder of Londonears.com

Londonears acts as a one-stop hub of gig listings for the Capital, including who's playing where and how much it'll cost you to go.  Fantastic for checking out some of your favourite artists or for stumbling across something new.

How long has Londonears been running, and why did you start the site?
It’s been about 6 months now but the news has only started to be spread since the turn of the new year.  I’ve always been a big fan of live music and find it a real pain trawling through extensive gig listing sites to find those that I fancied.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  I used to create a Spotify playlist of gigs that interested and send it round to friends in [the] hope they might get out, they rarely did but it became a bit of a hobby for me anyway.  I wanted to learn web design so thought it made sense to publish the list.  Trawling through the big lists still is a pain, but it’s nice to know making I’m making it easier for a few other people.

What is it you think people engage with in live performances?
For me, it’s about hearing music as it’s supposed to be heard; the way it was made.  I don’t believe it should 'bring people together' or any of that crap – gigs are supposed to be watched in silence!  It’s nice to get an opportunity to hear some of your favourite music through a good PA too, everything is enhanced.  It’s also great to visually see the bands in the way they wish to be portrayed and often gives you a better understanding of what they’re trying to do.  I also really like the feeling of not being as distanced from the music which is why ideally I prefer to watch bands in an intimate setting rather than a 1,000+ capacity venue.  Well, all that and it get’s you out dun’t it!

What are some of the best undiscovered venues for gigs in London?
My favourite is probably Café Oto in Dalston – it hosts new and legendary acts from around the world and although their lineup is often more than verging on the experimental, the atmosphere is great. There is no stage, just nice wooden candlelit tables for that jazz kinda vibe.  It has a great selection of bottled ales too – something you don’t see enough of in venues.

I’m also a fan of the run down places; Brixton’s Windmill consistently has pretty good lineups and not far away Stockwell’s Grosvenor pub has a shoddy little back room that has recently started getting some good bands, mainly thanks to one of Londons best DIY promoters; Upset the Rhythm.  There’s a good little basement venue called The Nest (previously Barden’s Boudoir) in Stoke Newington and CAMP Basement in Shoreditch is pretty good too, if you like it trendy and sweaty.  If you’re looking for the next big thing over here from America then White Heat put on a good club night at Madame Jojos in Soho every Tuesday.  I guess a little place to look out for would be Artch in Bethnal Green - It’s a gallery that’s been around for a while now but only very recently has it started putting on decent gigs.  Tickets at all of these intimate venues cost around £6.  A year later a number of the bands will be playing much bigger places for £20+.

Do you think that declining album sales has had any effect on people that are still willing to go to gigs?
I don’t think so.  The live music scene seems as vibrant as ever.  Seeing live music is never going to suffer in the same way the internet has influenced album sales.  You can’t replace the experience of watching a band with a blu-ray or avi file.  If anything, technology has helped the live music industry through better quality sound systems and improved visuals. Whilst the music industry is not as profitable as it was, that hasn’t phased people’s interest in music.  If anything, the internet has encouraged it and opened up people to wider things.  The large venues may suffer somewhat but smaller ones seem to be revelling in this and, as a punter, there is so much more variety out there now in performance. As far as I’m concerned, music as an art form is as good as ever.  As a business? Bah, to hell with that.

LF's live music month is all about celebrating great live music experiences - care to regale us with one of your own?
I once lost my shoe when I was a teeny bopper after crowd surfing at an Ash gig and recently heckled ‘HBO’ over and over at a Marnie Stern gig for reasons unbeknown to my sober self, but they’re best forgotten.  One of my favourite experiences was a couple of years ago at a Chinese festival (InMusic), held in Inner Mongolia.  Aside from the headliner Tricky, a friend and I were pretty much the only westerners there. We got a little excited and managed to spark a stage invasion (only because we were the only ones that could understand Tricky’s requests).  We also managed to get about 30 members of security to join us in a dance – they’re not nearly as strict out there as people think you know.

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