An Ode to Live Music

It’s a Friday night, percussive blasts punctuate the shouting between friends. Beer is bought and shared, as are cigarettes and joints. The wall of sound is almost deafening and the sheer talent of the people you know is very impressive. 

The work week is just a bridge to the weekend, where the revelry happens again. Loudly and proudly we wage war on the peace and quiet of our sometimes desperate lives. 

The music sparks adrenaline, anger, frustration, pain, grief, sorrow and sometimes it is just noise. Beautiful, dissonant, discordant noise. The sets are over, but the revelry is not. The night does not fade away. Instead, my friends and I retreat to a jam hall, which is a home away from home for musicians to practice and hang out. We party, we drink, we muse and we think. 

Having to spend time away from these places can be indescribable to non-musicians, but I can say it is painful and depressing to many of my fellow musicians. 

The camaraderie of the group is somewhere between diehard and inseparable. Learning music can be like a trade in that older and more skilled players will teach the less experienced techniques and playing styles. The jam hall and the weekend concerts we play embed and strengthen our friendships and playing abilities. 

It has been almost two years since I last saw an in-person—living—music performance. I am a staunch music lover and metal head, and life without live music has not been the same—it feels tiring, boring and bland. Life has felt empty since the silencing of the drums. The rush of melody and soaring solos, the ebb and flow of bass tones backing the crunchy riffs punctuated by the screams and warbles of an energetic or eclectic singer. 

I long for the return of live music but the venues which music can be played at are vanishing. Chainsaw is gone, as is Starlight. The Boathouse turned the metal and rock community out, shifting their focus to strictly acoustic music.

The list of venues shortens and the response from the city and larger government entities seem indifferent, if not negligent, of the issue. Music is important to more than just me—it is important to all cities that host live music at venues. Music helps people of all ages find acceptance. Studies show that social gatherings are good for people’s well being as they enhance feelings of community. 

Music is a haven for people who are part of marginalized communities, who feel unsupported in their daily lives but have secure friendships through the community of music.

The jam hall only exists to provide practice space, and without places to play shows, a practice space becomes irrelevant. Without proper venues for entertainment people, businesses, and the community will suffer a loss. Ironic that the loudest of us will fade out in a manner so quiet and sinister.

These venues don’t just host my friends and I—they host cultural acts, hip hop acts, comedy routines and many more. They serve as an experiential stepping stone for people pursuing a career related to music or audio engineering. 

Our society decided a long time ago that good food goes with good drink and good company. When we all gather, we go to places like pubs and bars, and I don’t know about you, but I prefer the pubs and bars that have musical acts. One thing the pandemic taught me is to keep close that which you hold dear.

For me, there are many things that fit into that category, as I’m sure is the case for most people and I include live music venues as dear to me—keep their well being close to heart and contact your ward councilor and local members of parliament to invest in communities by assuring venues for musical performers will continue to exist and be accessible.