Living in the centre of Glasgow, buskers are a commonplace, especially on the weekends. There is always a weird and wonderful variety of musical talent on display on the streets, from noisy drumming groups to solo artists of all ages. The most common seem to be teenage boys and their guitars doing a variety of covers and sometimes their own material.
Busking can be a fantastic way to gain exposure, with many artists now taking advantage of the social media trend by having self-promoting signs with them as they sing, directing people to their Twitter/Facebook/Soundcloud pages. That’s not the only sign of technology – many of them now perform with microphones and amplifiers in an attempt to be heard amongst the bustle of the city centre.
Whilst I would generally call this a good thing, it can be a bit irritating as you try to manoeuvre through the hoards of people on a Saturday afternoon, unable to hear yourself think over the ten different Ed Sheeran covers blasting from overloud amplifiers, surrounded by thirteen year old girls. Sometimes you can’t even hear them sing because they’re drowning themselves out with their guitars.
It’s these types of artists that I can’t help but feel are victims of The X Factor generation. Whilst it might not be totally fair to say, it can come across like these artists are busking to provide footage for their audition tapes and I can already hear their sentimental speeches about how hard they’ve worked to fulfil their dreams of being the next Harry Styles.
It’s not all bad though. Sometimes you can find a real gem as you wander by. My personal favourites are a saxophone player who can be found playing a few evenings a week, as well as two accordion players who only appear sparingly on the occasional Saturday afternoon.
These acts are my favourite because they are unusual and understated. These are the kinds of acts that don’t have to rely on amplifiers and microphones to be heard, instead they use their genuine talent to attract listeners, and they are often very successful.
NOTE: All images are my own.