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Combatting social anxiety through live music.

Written by on February 7, 2019

Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s a common problem that usually starts during the teenage years. For some people it gets better as they get older, although for many it doesn’t go away on its own.

It can be extremely distressing and have a big impact on your life, but there are ways to help you fight it. As someone who, thankfully only occasionally, suffers from it, I find live music helps a great deal, not only with my social anxiety, but also with my occasional bouts of depression and low self-esteem.

“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain”. (Bob Marley, Trenchtown Rock)

There are many venues in Newcastle that put on live bands, from small, 100 capacity venues, to the massive 11 000 capacity arena. Some smaller, lesser known venues will be mentioned as I can understand how massive amounts of people can make you feel nervous and uncomfortable.

Venues in Newcastle that I find great for small to medium sized touring bands and local bands just starting to make a name for themselves include:-

The venues listed are all between 100 and 600 capacity and cater to many different styles of music; indie, rock, metal, pop, hip-hop, folk and many other sub-genres so whatever your taste, there will be something for you.

As a music lover and gig goer of three decades, along with spending nearly two decade working in music retail I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but my main loves are punk and reggae/ska. Genres that lend themselves fantastically well to small, intimate shows where the audience consists of like-minded individuals.

I believe that smaller shows attract people who are willing to acknowledge and talk to strangers who are into the same music they are. Something as basic as a band t-shirt can instigate a smile or a nod of recognition from someone who shares your tastes. This can lead to friendships building and people to share your experiences and thoughts with, even if it is just through social media when seeing others post about issues that may affect you too.

Personally speaking, I have met many fantastic people through mutual love of music over the years, people from hundreds of miles away who I keep in contact with twenty plus years later, people I can arrange to meet up with over a beer or two, and also becoming friends with members of bands who I have gone to see. I can also confidently say, if I didn’t frequent small gigs in Newcastle, I would not have met some of my closest friends, including my partner.

Going to gigs benefits my mental health so much. When I can lose myself dancing to a band I love, it is such a great feeling, not caring or thinking about any issues that are going around your head at that moment in time.

“There aint nothing purer in this world than when mistress music just takes control”. (Jaya The Cat – Forward)

I urge anyone to scour listings or Facebook pages or groups for any bands that you like who may be playing nearby. Local culture magazines Narc and The Crack have excellent features about smaller bands and monthly listings for gigs happening in the area. These magazines are free and are distributed around various bars, cafes and venues around the city so are a great way of getting information.

In addition to seeing great bands live, you could also get into other bands who are playing as well as increasing your own confidence to interact with other people, which can go a long way to easing your social anxiety. I wholeheartedly recommend live music to help to combat any mental health issues you may have.


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