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live music escapades without the budget hangover

With the festive season behind us, Christmas spent eating your own weight in pudding, and New Year’s celebrations that you can’t seem to remember, it can be difficult to fathom any kind of social life associated with all things live music, particularly with the drain on finances that it seems to bring. Never fear. With bands touring relentlessly and a festival every second week, it is possible to stay up to date with the gig-scene while still being financially prudent (like you promise yourself every new year). Here are a few things you can do to get your gig-fix on a student budget:

Volunteer
Like most major events, organising thousands of festival punters can be difficult, if not impossible without people with good intentions and some spare time. For a couple of hours of your time, ripping tickets or ushering people throughout various locations, you can generally gain free tickets to festivals and events. Most festival websites provide information for prospective volunteers. If the idea of volunteering at a festival encountering new people seems daunting, do it with friends, or make some new ones on the way. Not only will you be working to good music, (unlike my café job which was eerily similar to standing in an elevator for 12 hours on end), you can accumulate some good karma along the way. 

Planes, Trains and Carpool Lanes
For the hike to camping festivals, be smart about your travel. Flight services to and from major airports tend to increase dramatically after ticket sales for events. If you really have your heart set on a festival, buy the flight tickets a week or so before the tickets go on sale. This is of course at your own peril, knowing that tickets tend to sell out. Get all your friends and work out a system to increase chances of securing tickets. If not, most ticketing agencies have resale facilities up until the event. If the lineup for a festival is as good as last years Splendour-bender, I would happily go through the traumatic hours buying flights and festival tickets again.

If you can handle a longer trip, you can look to save more money by taking an interstate train. If you insist on driving, many festival websites provide carpooling connections. You can test your singing or put undue pressure on the volume button in your car. All in exchange for two-for-one petrol station comfort food and a share of petrol money. Not only will your new carpool friends have similar music tastes, you can stand to save money on petrol and do your bit for the environment.

Invest in the Future
Stay up to date with the local music scene. Most bands trying to establish themselves on the gig circuit frequent local venues regularly, meaning that pub nights and exhibitions are easily attainable. These nights will generally only set you back $10 give or take, which are probably a lot cheaper than some of the drinks available at the venue. Not only are they grateful that you’ve actually turned up to their gig, there’s also a chance you’ve stumbled on something amazing. And wouldn’t everyone like to say that they saw ‘x’ band in a bar with the capacity of 200 people, BEFORE they got famous?

Street Gigs
Secret shows, guerilla gigs, busking. Call it what you like, but many bands play surprise shows in obscure areas to the delight, or the disapproval, of various onlookers. Whether it’s through deciphering vague clues, following your favourite bands on Twitter and Facebook for announcements, or simply lining up for hours, it is relatively easy to experience an intimate gig. For free! The likes of Florence and the Machine, Angus and Julia Stone, British India, Little Red and Amanda Palmer have been known feature in past Australian gigs. You may even strike it lucky. In 2010, The Strokes played an eighteen-set gig (featuring no new material) for the first time in four years under the alias of ‘Venison’, to the delight of 500 lucky punters in a small English venue. Needless to say I was a little devastated. If you happen to be at another Strokes secret gig, be sure to pass on my marriage proposal to Julian.

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