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Placard: On gigs on headphones

This weekend we did a gig at a headphones festival called Le Placard - the basic idea is instead of having loudspeakers, everyone brings a pair of headphones and plugs in, so the gig is "silent" in a way.

Spoonfight playing at Placard

I'd never even been to a headphone-session before, let alone played one, so I didn't really know what to expect. It's surprising really, there were things I'd predicted but things I hadn't predicted. A couple of thoughts:

  • It's head music only. Head music is fine but we make booty music really... and when you've got headphones instead of PA, there's nothing to shake your chest or make you feel like the music's anywhere except inside your head. Made me think about the importance of those physical aspects of a lot of music.
  • There's two separate worlds: the one with your headphones on, and the one with them off. You take your headphones off when you need to talk to your mate, or go to the bar, whatever - so you're flipping in and out quite a lot. And when you flip out, suddenly there's no music, there's just a room with some people not saying anything and some people over one side with some equipment of some sort. Weird.
  • As a listener the gig feels quite intimate, because headphones make music feel really close up, inside your head, you can really listen to the fine detail of the music. But oddly enough I think the opposite is true as a performer: there's a bit of a distancing effect from the crowd, less of a feeling of communicating directly with them, kind of because you have less of a direct physical sense of what they're experiencing. Kind of hard to put into words.

Anyway it was a fun gig to play as well as to be at, including one performance that was beamed in from Australia, the performer chatting with us on instant messenger while performing...

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