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Nostalgia: the foundation of venue heritage

With many of us spending quarantine at home, and the most spare time since our school days it is no wonder that nostalgia is rife. Spotify recently reported a 54% increase in searches for ‘oldies’ or ‘throwback’ since the lockdown, with a surge in nostalgic playlists.

Music from the ’60s,’ 70s and ’80s have all seen a spike on the streaming platform, and websites such as ‘Nostalgia Machine‘ aid in sparking these memories. This trend even goes beyond music, the BBC will show the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony this summer for example.

But why do we embrace nostalgia? Put simply, in psychological studies nostalgia is seen as comforting in times of distress. We associate music with memories, the majority of those positive. The same way we look back at a photo, music is a transporter and what strengthens this connection to the past is individuality, with every song having a different meaning to each person. Thus embracing nostalgia, is re-living a segment of a personalized timeline surrounded by the culture at the time.

Whether that be through fashion or lifestyle, recent bands are embracing nostalgia within their scene. Take Yungblud for example, growing up in the peak of the emo-scene. His sound and style is a true throwback that he has re-woven and taught a new generation of this era.

Memories constructed through music or visual take us back to a place. Songs take us back to gigs, memories are made within a show. There is always a sense of history not repeating itself twice, songs may never be performed in that way again. Take sporadic cover versions for example. It’s up to chance. Now, when venues are closed for the foreseeable, we look back, at those unique experiences.

Nostaligia is not necessarily a bad thing, if viewed constructively. The basis of living somewhat in the past helps us to protect what was important and what built contemporary society. When we apply this to music venues, we could look back when a generation truly changes, but as identified in the last few years, this would be too late and the cultural fabric would long be gone.

Luckily, streaming platforms and archival content on Youtube, aides nostalgia. In no other time in history have we been able to re-live to such an extent. You can re-live an entire set and even share memories within comment sections, layering and layering the experience. The problem seems to be though, that history starts at a certain point and with certain characteristics attached. Plaque’s exist when the artist has deceased or has achieved ‘x’ amount of sales. Protecting in this manner ignores the many, and the ongoing lo-key beat of the music scene.

Arctic Monkeys early tour poster, nearly all of these venues are at risk of closure.

As part of Music Venue Trust’s #SaveOurVenues campaign, venues have been sharing content linked to nostalgic shows, early Arctic Monkeys content have made a regular appearance, to highlight the venue’s importance in history, but also to the present. This is a time to embrace nostalgia, the recent history and heritage of venues are the foundations for their survival.

Dan’s Gig Nostalgia: I’d say Foals are a band who are so tied to their live performance, seeing them countless times last year really cemented that. Prince, who I was lucky to see before he died in Leeds is a very powerful memory. The rest take me back to school days, waiting for hours outside the Carling Academy in Birmingham or meeting Hayley Williams in HMV Leicester, all felt like colossal moments in time.

Will’s Gig Nostalgia: Ska Wars – Capdown. Always takes me back to the first Slamdunk festival in Leeds Millennium square. The line up generally consisted of the Fuelled by Ramen label movement (Fall out Boy, Hello Goodbye, Hush Sound etc), so Capdown really stood out. Rage Against the Machine – Testify at Pinkpop 2008, I think it was the first European show of their reunion, so people had descended on the festival site from around the world. I thought my ears were going to explode, the anticipation and atmosphere was incredible! The War on Drugs – Red Eyes, Manchester Apollo. The song takes me right back to when I first heard it, travelling down the I5 road in the Pacific North West, Mt Rainier in the distance at sunset. When they played this in Manchester it took me right back and it was our first gig with a large bump (now my daughter) so great memories, you could say it was her first show!

In the coming weeks we will be sharing content from some of the last true scenes, 00’s Indie and Emo. Key touch points for nostalgia. Understanding a movement that spread across music, fashion, film and most importantly, characterizing venues.

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