The purpose of a support band varies depending on the size of gig you’re at. If you’re at a big mega arena gig the support will have been chosen in an optimistic bid to justify the insanely expensive ticket price you‘ve paid to either the venue itself or HotTix429 on eBay. To this end they will have at least one song you’ve actually heard of and, if you’re really lucky, one you might actually like. As the only thing the audience cares about is hearing from this band is the hit, the time when they’re not actually playing this track will be largely spent desperately attempting to maintain interest by asking the crowd if they’re looking forward to seeing the headline act and demanding that they scream enthusiastically to prove this. In his head the singer will edit out this banter from his memory of the event and will instead remember the excited cheers as following on directly from them playing their forthcoming single, which will strike him as odd later when it only reaches number 62 in the charts and he has to go and ask his old boss at the bus station if there’s still an opening for a cleaner.
At the other end of the scale, at the sort of venues where there’s barely enough room to park a bike outside, let alone a tour bus, the support bands come in a different flavour. And, unless your taste buds tingle at the thought of sucking on unwashed t-shirts, it’s not a flavour you want to linger on for too long. These bands are chosen partly because they can be guaranteed to bring twenty odd mates along with them, which hopefully makes the gig look a bit more packed and more suited for a headliner who were recently named one of the top fifty bands who will definitely, honestly, more than likely, probably, possibly, might well if the wind is in the right direction, be big this year, although to be honest there is no promise of this gang of feral youth hanging around after their mates have played. Or, indeed, once the rider runs out, and it’s the fact that the band are happy enough to be paid in crates of cheap lager, rather than actual money, that is the main reason why they’re chosen to be first on the bill.
These sorts of bands are normally fresh faced, even if their clothing isn’t similarly fresh, and still being slightly naïve they happily wear their influences on their sleeves. Well, we say on their sleeves, normally they might as well have “Until recently all we did was play Oasis covers and nothing else” tattooed on their forehead which would save the rest of us having to sit through half an hour of proof of this depressing fact. If you’re unlucky the singer will intersperse the godawful trudge through the derivative furrow that they’ve decided to call home with what he reckons to be banter, but will be nothing more than the witless, charisma free babblings of someone whose destiny is not to be on stage, but who could barely muster up the skills required to be working the merchandise stand. If you’re really unlucky they’ll throw in a cover, which is always, without question, an indiefied version of a pop song, and equally without question, will always miss the point of the original so much that they’d have covered much the same ground if they’d just taken out a copy of the CD, placed it carefully on stage, lowered their trousers and shat all over it like an incontinent budgie.
Some support bands go on to make it big, most return to the obscurity from whence they came, nursing an air of bitterness about how they could have made it, despite only having a vague idea what ‘it’ actually is, but all get to experience the rush caused by playing to a room full of people, all far more interested in chatting to their friends and getting drunk instead of listening to them pour out their heart and soul. Given that for most of these bands even T’Pau’s Heart and Soul contains more heart and soul than their entire set, they should really be thankful that they’re not being paid much attention. After all, if the audience actually gave them the time of day there’d be a noticeable spike in after gig lynchings, and we wouldn’t want that, would we? Well…