We’ve had a crazy summer! Over the past 2 months, Gig Buddies members from across Scotland have got stuck into 5 fantastic festivals, and have seen everything from upcoming comedians, local cult bands, world class circus, to punk rock royalty. Throughout this mammoth blog we’ll tell you all about our very hot day at TRNSMT, our wild 4 days and nights at Doune The Rabbit Hole, a mad month of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festivals, then a joyful end to it all at Connect Festival. Along the way we’ll here from Gig Buddies members from across Scotland, and our friends who helped out and joined us along the way, all with lots of photos. Enjoy!
We kicked off our packed summer schedule with a trip to TRSNMT. Our friends at DF Concert helped us give away 6 tickets across the weekend, but we also managed to grab a handful of tickets for a group of Gig Buddies to come along on the Saturday. We saw loads of bands including Wet Leg, The Snuts, The Strokes, and friends of Gig Buddies, Retro Video Club.
Here’s what coming to TRNSMT meant to Don:
“This is the best thing I’ve done for ages. I want to go out and enjoy myself, instead of being stuck in the house all the time. The times my support work doesn’t allow me to do something like this. I usually only get support until 10pm. My support finishes at a certain time, and for what I want to do, they can’t do it. Gig Buddies helps me do what I want to do. Gig Buddies has the time for what I want to do. That means a lot to me. Today I went to TRNSMT, and I feel fantastic.” – Don
Our music festival streak was just getting started though, and later that week a group of 40 Gig Buddies members, volunteers, and friends of the project set off for a weekend at Doune The Rabbit Hole. This was the biggest event we’ve ever taken part in, and it was a long journey to get there. A few days before the festival, Sam, the Gig Buddies Project Manager, posted a blog about what going to the festival meant to him. It’s now been seen by over 4000 people! You can read it by clicking this text.
We asked Kev how being part of Gig Buddies helped him to access the festival:
“It’s helped me an awful lot, I’ve made a lot of friends. I don’t feel like I’d be able to do that without gig buddies. With my mental health problems I just never wanted to leave the house, and if it wasn’t for Gig buddies I don’t know where I’d be now. Gig Buddies aren’t just friends, they’re family. They’ve helped me through a lot.” – Kev
Colin had never been to a music festival before. Here’s what he made of his experience at Doune:
“I was nervous because it was the first time I’d been to a music festival, and camping and staying over. I’d been to gigs before but I was anxious about what it was going to be like. If it hadn’t been for Gig Buddies I probably wouldn’t have gone. My wife and I came along as part of the group which made it much easier. Because I’ve done it with Gig Buddies I’d now feel comfortable and confident organising that myself. If I had a couple of friends to go with I’d do it with them, and thanks to Gig Buddies I do have a group of friends. It felt good and safe being part of the Gig Buddies community. Utah Saints was a great show. It was just amazing. The dance music was just brilliant. I liked Boney M at the end as well, that was really good. Tidelines was another favourite band that I got to see. It felt great to see some of my favourite bands. I find it hard finding out when and where people are playing, and Gig Buddies helps me stay connected with that. I loved every minute of it!” – Colin
“I love Gig Buddies, I’ve never looked back” – Michelle
“I’m so happy that I’ve been able to do this independently” – Mike
“This is my first time at a festival and I’m absolutely loving it” – Charlene
We were also to pleased to be able to catch up with Paul Richards, director of Stay Up Late, bass player for Heavy Load, and founder of Gig Buddies, who joined us across the weekend.
“A great bunch of people! I had some lovely conversations with the buddies who it was obvious were having a rare old time.” – Paul Richard, Director of Stay Up Late
Paul hosted a talk about Stay Up Late and Gig Buddies at the festival, which several Gig Buddies members spoke at. Joseph had this to say about his 4 years with Gig Buddies:
‘I got involved with Gig Buddies, because for me having autism and learning difficulties is quite challenging for me to go out to music events. I joined Gig Buddies, I’ve been a member for 4 years. And to me, no matter what disability you have, everybody has the right to go to a music festival and have a good time. The difference it’s made to me is that I’ve made a lot of new friends and I got introduced to a volunteer, we’ve been to a lot of gigs together. It’s the best decision I have made ever, and Gig Buddies is forever in my heart. If it wasn’t for Gig buddies I wouldn’t be here, the project has helped me massively.’ – Joseph
Doune The Rabbit Hole was a fantastic experience like nothing we’ve ever done before, but our summer was just getting started.
August is Festival time for Edinburgh. The Edinburgh International Festival plays host to world class music, theatre and dance, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world. We’re lucky to be friends with both festivals, enabling us to offer a whole month of amazing shows to Gig Buddies members, completely free. This year we we’re able to offer 14 group events.
Michelle came across from Glasgow for 3 show:
‘I liked the shows, loved them. I loved getting out and about. I only ever come to Edinburgh for work, so it was nice to come across for fun. I feel like I’m getting my social life back again. I’m meeting new people, and making new friends. I saw The Dolly Parton Story, Sunshine on Leith, and Lost Voice Guy. He had us in hysterics all the way through the show. I’d seen him on TV, but never live. It was brilliant, I loved every bit of it. Gig Buddies helps me see things that I wouldn’t see. If I wasn’t involved with Gig Buddies I wouldn’t go to things like the Edinburgh Fringe or music festivals.’ – Michelle
And it wasn’t just group shows we went to. Our relationship with the Fringe Festival means we can offer our members individual tickets to any Fringe Festival show. Kirsty came along to some group events, but also took advantage of the ticket offer to see some shows with her partner:
‘I got to see Ezra Furman, I liked that it was banging music. Me and my partner got tickets through Gig buddies to see Reginald D Hunter, it was my first time seeing him and I really enjoyed it. I really like getting out to places. If Gig Buddies wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be seeing my friends or getting out to so many gigs.’ – Kirsty
As the Edinburgh festivals came to a close, we still weren’t done. Our friends at DF Concerts had invited us to their next music festival, Connect. They kindly offered us space to run a Gig Buddies information stand, and gave us 2 pairs of tickets each day to give away to Gig Buddies members.
At the information stand we spoke to all sorts of people from across the UK about our work and how they can get involved. It was fantastic to see so many people coming up to us who already knew who we were and had heard about our project. Several people signed up on the day to volunteer with Gig Buddies and we can’t wait to see them out at gigs with our members! We also gave away DIY tote bags and loved seeing people’s creativity.
Across the weekend we got to see fantastic live sets from John Grant, The Twilight Sad, Self Esteem, Little Simz, The Chemical Brothers, and Gig Buddies favourite Idles. This was the third time this year that we’ve seen Idles. Dev, the bass player in the band is a great supporter of Gig Buddies:
‘I am proud to be a patron of such a wonderful project as Gig Buddies. Live events are something every single person should be able to enjoy and the importance of that should not be understated. We should all be able to stay up late if we want to.’ Dev, Idles
It was great to have Gig Buddies members along for the weekend, getting the chance to discover new music, or catch their favourite act:
‘I’ve just seen Lewis McLaughlin playing Summer. It was life changing.’ – Coby
Connect festival was a lovely, relaxing way to end our busiest summer ever. We’ve been to 5 fantastic festivals and given away £15,590 worth of tickets thanks to the support of our incredible arts partners. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.
When I’m with Gig buddies, I feel like I’m where I belong. – Joseph