The venue is small and quirky, and we chose it because it has kudos with teens, being in Manchester’s hip and trendy Afflecks Palace on Oldham Street. It ticks the box re being a working gigging space, with PA and recording facilities. We hired it to include recording of the final gig (which you can see footage of below) and which John the owner facilitated.
A really nice atmosphere. John and Gina the owners of 3MT were welcoming, helpful and present throughout. All the PA, amps and mics were provided by them. The venue is small and funky and right in the centre of town. We were able to hand out leaflets to passers by about the future open sessions too. John recorded the actual gig at the end of the session and we filmed etc as the day went on.
The young people were enthusiastic about being part of the event. Most had an idea about what they wanted to perform and I left it to the tutors to organise how things went – I just asked that those who were not busy who watched the people who were rehearsing from the tiered seating to be sensitive to their shyness as they may feel a bit exposed.
The rehearsing went well although another keyboard would’ve been good as we only had Rachel’s and she needed it for working out chords etc.
There was enough space for a group of this size and the equipment provided was perfect.
The amount of time was just about right – friends arrives around 4 and the gig started at half past and ended at 5.20.
Great support and applause for each performer from the audience.
Real party atmos at the end, although YPs dispersed immediately and Rob had to run after them for their feedback.
I kept my eye on the generalities/meeting YPs from taxis/finding lost YPs abandoned by taxis/getting water/biscuits/talking to parents/helping tutors with issues etc – and connecting things/people up. Staffing levels were good and everyone was busy and focused.
Overall, this event was really successful because those who attended really did do a gig, in town, with an audience. Each performer behaved professionally and rose to the occasion. And it was recorded ready for the radio next week.
Dylan actually came to an event – and played!
Reem came saying she wouldn’t sing – but she sang solo (All of me) AND she made friends with Katy B and Marika.
Abdullah managed to mix well and performed his beats to great acclaim – the Burnage lot got up on stage to dance, the audience clapped when Abdullah clapped.
Katy B and Marika arrived separately because they fell out about a fortnight ago – but they made friends as well as making friends with Reem.
Katy B and Marika performed their drumming together too.
Stuart, Dylan and Connor performed their own stuff AND they collaborated with Foday and Josh who wrote a rap to perform over ‘Heart-shaped Box’.
Lisa performed a cover and one of her own pieces – again getting over her nerves.
Emanuel rehearsed as much as he could but kept getting moved off the piano because Rachel needed it to use it for other performers – but then once he’d managed to rehearse a bit he realised that he hadn’t really prepared – JG explained re getting together with a singer in the weekly sessions if he wanted someone to perform with. He seemed to really take this in. He opted not to perform but I think he is now clear about what we encourage him to do each week – work as a team etc.
The logistical aspects were slightly nightmarish as ever due to:
inadequate prep time – only a few days to prepare this session as venue only agreed recently
- late confirmation of rates of pay for tutors caused misunderstandings and complaints even the day before the session
- no time to prepare the tutors re how to get the performance together
- little time to contact YPS to remind them by letter/email.
- little time to ring and confirm with YPs on the day
- little time for Rob new youth worker to get up to speed with YPs and what was needed
- no time to sort the taxis out properly
- last minute promo
cheap phone – deeply unhelpful re trying to reach YPs or be reached by parents, tutors, taxis, other workers etc and therefore a safety risk – communication is paramount on these days.
unorganised contact lists – painstakingly time-comsuming trying to get info out to everyone, esp with short time available for planning etc
lack of enough advance information for tutors
– not easy to plan with tutors once they’re at the venue (YPs, noise, distraction and their own assumption and mine re how things should go); pay issue added to stress and uncertainty at last minute; Trying to reply to their text queries on the actual morning when trying to organise YPs, taxis, venue, promo materials, supplies etc was unnecessarily manic.
unreliable taxi-drivers – drivers leaving YPs on distant streets meant me running around looking for them and them being uncertain and poss at risk; drivers refusing to take YPs for inexplicable reasons meant stand-up row in street outside venue and poss risk to YPs
Everything was quite smooth once the tutors had got into the swing of it and the YPs had started to rehearse. However I caused a bit of a stir because there was a frazzle point – caused by lack of communication – Rachel and Chris were getting the running order sorted (and Rachel was trying to get chords together and rehearse with YPs) while I was grabbing an opportunity for Reem and Katy B to do a duet with Michael accompanying on piano. My motivation was – the girls had made friends for the first time and Michael, who normally only messes about, had actually come to the event and played the piano, and I’d noticed he’d played All of Me – the song that Reem and Katy wanted to sing. So I thought it was a great opportunity for collaboration. What I didn’t know was that Rachel was already feeling a bit stretched and didn’t like the idea that the YPs could just expect to perform on spec when she’d been trying to get them to think about their performances at the weekly sessions, without a great deal of success. There was a slight disgruntlement form both Chris and Rachel because of my interference to which I responded – ‘let’s try and be positive not negative’ because I was also a bit frazzled at that point because of trying to solve other issues. Rachel was annoyed and went out for a breather. But we talked it through and it was ok.
Go round to Kings Taxis on the day if poss and make sure they know what’s happening.
Confirm venue times with venue the week before.
Give venue owners an outline of what we’re aiming to do.
Check exactly what equipment the venue provides
Ensure petrol in car – and change for carparking
Give tutors info re venue, their roles, times, rates of pay, our expectations, carparking, breaks/food, at least a couple of days in advance.
Bring another keyboard
Give clear instructions to the tutors in advance.
Designate roles as much as poss re who’s compering, who’s taking pix, who’s pulling the performance together etc.
Once I’d handed the responsibility over to the tutors to sort the performance out – don’t then add impromptu things.