It used to be a sign of a great live gig when you left unable to hear anything but the ringing in your ears that could go on for days.
Now it seems music can be too loud. The Foo Fighters’ set at the Tennant’s Vital Festival in Belfast this week didn’t rock everyone’s world.
Some neighbours of the Boucher Road Playing Fields complained the “noise” was so loud they could hear every beat of the drum while one woman claimed her windows shook, despite her house being a mile away.
It’s adding volume to the decibel debate that was sparked in London last month when Bruce Springsteen’s duet with Paul McCartney was cut short at The Boss’s Hyde Park gig because the curfew had been broken.
In an interview afterwards, Steve Van Zandt of Springsteen’s E Street Band wondered if rock and roll was so out of fashion that no one recognises it as being important anymore. Angry fans were riled up even more when Snow Patrol were allowed to break curfew at the same venue just days later when they played on the night of the Olympics’ opening ceremony.
I’m in two minds on this; obviously people are entitled to peace, but isn’t complaining about noise near a venue that’s used for gigs the same as someone living near the airport getting annoyed about the sound of planes overhead? Live music IS loud – that’s the point. If you can’t feel the drumbeat pounding in your chest or the lead singer’s every note resounding in your head, then you’re not feeling it.
You know that cheated feeling you get when leaving a gig where there were sound problems? Well if it ain’t turned up to 11, then it just ain’t worth it! Obviously not everyone shares this view, and it’s not just the neighbours of the Foos’ gig. In the US, a woman is suing pop-squeak Justin Bieber for $9 million, claiming she was left with permanent hearing damage from screaming fans at one of his shows. If Bieber is brought to court over this, could someone please add ‘crimes against music’ to the list?