ARE STADIUM SPECTACULARS ALL THAT SPECTACULAR?

May 26, 2015

Eloise Derrett

1dOn the 14th of February, I saw One Direction at Etihad Stadium. I had been really excited for ages and my friend and I had a complete blast. We had decent seats, we were on time, we had eaten and we had plenty of water and Gummy Bears. Hyped up on sugar and excitement, we were going crazy before the boys were even on the stage. It was a great night, don’t get me wrong- I loved it, but I can’t stop myself from thinking about how it could have been better.

From the opening acts, I couldn’t understand a word that they were singing. When McBusted were talking to the audience, all you could hear were their voices echoing around the stadium. You could hear some of what they were saying but not all of it. When One Direction finally came on stage, you could only distinguish each word if you knew exactly what the lyrics were, otherwise it was just echoes and screams.

There were a few things that I have mixed opinions about, like the graphics display. Behind the boys on the stage there was this magnificent display of animations and lyrics- it looked great. But because of this display, there weren’t any screens showing close ups so if you were sitting a fair distance away, you couldn’t see the boys. You missed out on all of the antics and “little things*” they got up to on stage and all of the funny “moments*” that they shared.

As I was mulling over this all later, I couldn’t help wondering if the concert was actually that fantastic. I couldn’t really see or hear them, which were the reasons why I wanted to go. It made me wonder if it would have been better to see them at a smaller venue, like I did when I saw 5 Seconds of Summer at the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda. The Palais holds exactly 2,896 people, which is tiny in comparison to the 59,000 people in attendance at 1D. There were no screens at The Palais and I was sitting up the back but I feel like because of how little people were there it was better, because it seemed more of an intimate gig than 1D. I was also comparing it to solo artists I have seen, like Ed Sheeran who toured recently. All of the attention is on the one person, not on whoever is singing and a graphics display. Ed Sheeran performed at Rod Laver Arena and the attention was solely on him, nothing else- just him.

What I am really questioning here is if we are getting our money’s worth from the concerts we go to. It’s kind of a given that each time an artist gets bigger and more famous, they play more shows to more people at bigger venues. But is it better to see an artist at a small hotel or theater than a massive stadium or arena? And even then, are we getting our moneys worth from these shows? The tickets are expensive- even more so if you don’t enjoy it. That question has been playing on my mind since One Direction, because I don’t know the answer. I went to see and hear them perform but I didn’t really get either of them. I had a great time and from what I heard, I wasn’t the only one. But I still didn’t really feel satisfied. I had gone with the intention of hearing them play and I didn’t get that. Now, if we’re talking about getting our money’s worth it really depends on if you are going to hear an artist perform or watch a theatrical performance. And sometimes, you’ll enjoy a concert more if it is at a small hotel venue, or a festival than maybe a large venue like a stadium.

L Etihad looking good with Robbie fans

One more thing that could have improved the concert in all areas would have been if the roof were closed. With the roof open, the sound just went up into the sky and the acoustics in the stadium weren’t very flash. These stadiums are designed for sports- not for concerts so the when the roof isn’t down, the sound has nothing to bounce off and it just bounces back into the sky, rather than being contained. And eventually, the sound will lose energy the more it has to travel, so the key is to keep quiet or to use a smaller venue. Or, as done at these venues, you could make everything really loud- that always works.

I guess what I’m really asking is, are stadium tours and concerts really successful? Are they achieving the purpose of letting artists play to larger amounts of people than other venues? Or is it just not worth it? You be the judge.

*Just a little bit on One Direction humour there 🙂

– Eloise Derrett

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