The Pale Imitation Festival – Half-time Report

Pale Imitation Digiflyer

Soooo… we’re half way through the bill of the Pale Imitation Festival by now, with five gigs down and four gigs to go. So has it been the glorious dreamland of commercial abundance that you were all sure it would be, or the black hole of financial disaster I feared it might?

Well, sadly, the numbers for small capacity DIY gigs like this mean that for all this has been about as successful as I dared imagine in terms of attendance and sheer fun, the financial side of it has hardly been overflowing with bounty for us. The bands have all been paid, some above their actual guarantees, and we’re probably a whisker ahead in cash terms, which is a huge relief. I don’t mean to burden you with the kind of behind-the-scenes details which you would probably all prefer remained just that, but umm… well, I guess a lot of you come here to see the music industry curtain twitched aside from time to time. Seventy people is what we need to break even on each gig, and while a couple have been a little under that, two have been at capacity and another well above that magic number so the figures are pretty healthy, if not exactly lucrative.

I’ve been really pleased with a couple of things about these shows too: the support of the local gig-going community, which has been ace, as well as the number of people I really don’t recognise at all, which at least seems to imply that was well as having the support of our existing audience we are at least slightly helping the bands to reach a new one.

There wasn’t really anything I wanted to achieve with these gigs, I have to confess, apart from wanting to see the shows myself and simply not wanting to fail. I’ve struggled with the Festival in the past, and with trying to promote gigs in the face of its tornado of shit, and it always rankled me that I felt unable to go about my work in my own city because lots of tourists wanted to come here and get shitfaced for a month. So in a way I suppose I wanted the Pale Imitation Festival to be my own little act of defiance – for my own benefit as much as anyone else’s – as a statement that we didn’t have to just be chased out of town for the entirety of the month of August. And it seems we don’t.

When we finalised all these lineups Rob, Neil, Bart and I did tell ourselves that there was probably going to be at least one catastrophe amongst the shows. It’s not so much about the lineups as it is about the fact that at some point we were probably bound to get a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances, and one of them would go badly. It’s not happened yet of course, although it still could, but in general I’m really happy with how this has gone so far – sufficiently so that I have purchased and reckon we might as well have another go next year. Why the fuck not, after all.

And while we’re at it, here are this week’s gigs, with the full lineup available here.


The Leg: screaming mentalists, with equal parts deranged lunacy and pop inspiration. Zed Penguin: swaggering, lo-fi indie-rock.  Numbers Are Futile: thrummy electronic soundscapes, with hidden pop gems.


Malcolm Middleton: a solo set from the patron saint of depressive introspection.  Ian Humberstone: lush, gentle folk-pop.  Now Wakes the Sea: glorious, halting miserablism.

This one is a smidge more expensive than the other shows, but it is still covered by the season tickets. Also, we have a reciprocal deal with the awesome Papi Falso, whose eclectic nightclub spectacular directly follows this gig: if you go to both, then you will get a pound off each show.