To the Future!

The Futureheads, London Astoria, 29 November 2008

The Futureheads, London Astoria, 29 November 2008

Effectively back from the dead following the misery of their second album poor sales/record label drop, the Futureheads have spent 2008 reclaiming their spot as one of the Britain’s finest alt-punk-pop outfits. Third album This Is Not The World, released earlier this year, was an absolute return to form for the band and demonstrated to anyone who cared to listen (including Radio 1’s controller, for the first couple of singles) that the Sunderland four-piece had decided to play very good songs very fast again.

With almost an excess of breakneck new tunes, this collection of shows in fact marks the release – already – of a brand new single. And when they launched into it, mid-set, it was clear why it warranted a tour all of its own. I wouldn’t be like this if you were here it a 2.5 minute kidney punch from the band, basically to say, If you haven’t already noticed, we’re back and we fucking mean it.The Futureheads

But the ‘problem’ faced by the Futureheads became immediately clear upon arrival at the Astoria: At least fifty percent of the crowd was made up of fans in their mid-to-late twenties, and this was confirmed the next day, when a quick visit to the band’s Myspace revealed only one fan comment about the show.

In this new bottom-up music industry model, a band requires a hardcore of 15-18 year old fans in order to start selling out shows, start playing bigger ones, and start surviving. They need people who don’t have to get up for work the next morning to jump on Myspace/Facebook/Twitter/Etc, sweaty and excited, the moment they get home from the gig, to tell their friends and the world about how great the band they’ve just seen actually are.

This is less of an issue for bands of a strictly alternative genre, who are competing for airtime/music press column inches with other bands that will, like them, never be played on the Chris Moyles show. But a band like the Futureheads perform music that should be appealing to this age group and who, when it comes to a play on Zane Lowe’s show, or a slot at Reading Festival, are competing directly with outfits like You Me At Six – a band who spend as much time trying to look pretty to their burgeoning (predominantly female) audience as they do writing songs.

Yet if the Futureheads can keep going like this – keep releasing killer records and building continual momentum on the strength of the songs alone – then it will be a victory for every band in the country that puts substance over style. As they returned to the stage for a four-song encore, which included the irrepressible Area and an even-faster-than-usual rendition of Broke Up The Time, it became obvious: Great music, passionately performed, will always trump haircuts.

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6 Responses to “To the Future!”

  1. I was there and I loved it. They put so much effort into the set that it felt like I was the one jumping around on stage all night.

    BUT, and I think it could be a very big BUT for The Futureheads. There were far too many fans in their late twenties and a not so small group of fans in their forties. I have nothing against the older generation attending ‘young’ music, but could it be possible that they are the fans that would be reluctant to spend £10 on an album?

    Isn’t it more likely that younger fans, with more disposable income, would go to their local HMV or iTunes store and pay for the music? I know when I was younger, I was buying roughly 10 CD’s to my dad’s 1 – thus being a much more valuable fan to any band.

    This could be the reason behind the injustice that The Futureheads are experiencing.

    Let’s hope it changes. And fast.

  2. i think maybe that older people just dontt buy as many cds as young people, my dad has a big disposable income compared to me but he just doesnt get as excited. Wish i saw this gig agree that new singles awesome

  3. Im 17 and i love the futureheads! Saw them last time in london was wicked

  4. Firstly – it was indeed an awesome gig. I’ve seen the Futureheads 10 times since 2004 and this was the best I’ve ever seen them play.

    Now then. I am the “wrong” side of forty. I have seen around 75 different bands/artists this year – almost exclusively ‘young’ music, incidentally – and I spend far too much money on CDs, downloads and limited 7″s.

    My younger friends and work friends spend a fraction by comparison – many never actually buy anything, they just illegally download it.

    To suggest that having an older fanbase “could be the reason behind the injustice that The Futureheads are experiencing” is way off the mark Lewis.
    I know loads of people around my age that love the ‘heads, but whenever I enthuse about them to my younger friends, they dismiss them as “one-hit-wonders”, “not cool anymore” etc etc

    As the article to which we are responding suggests, it is the shortage of young fans that is the Futureheads’ problem.

    I think you might find too, that a lot of the younger fans that would still go to a Futureheads gig, would do so because of their reputation as a great live band – but wouldn’t necessarily buy their music.

    It saddens me to say this, but I think the problem is that, to many people, the Futureheads simply aren’t seen as “young” music anymore. Sad, but very possibly, true.

    For what it’s worth, I have bought everything the Futureheads have ever released, from the Nul Book Standard EP to Walking Backwards – and will be buying I Wouldn’t Be Like This If You Were Here.

  5. I never went to this gig. I wanted to go but I had just spent all my money at New found Glory at Brixton, who were shit. Fucking waste of my 25 GBP. And I got a text today from Charlotte, who thought I was another Charlie. Realy weird. But I digress…. future heads forever

  6. Well said Stephen ! I am also the wrong side of 40 but I love this band. Saw them in Glasgow last week and they were immense. To be honest, I have always thought that the problem with their popularity was down to the way that the band were marketed in the early days and that is the fault of their old record company. This current album is by far the best in my opinion and it just goes to show what can be achieved when you go it alone. Looking forward to new material next year.

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