Busking in Brighton: Why The City is One Of UK’s Greatest For Street Performing
by Jay Cohen
Jay talks to the Ren Gill of The Big Push on what makes Brighton such a special place to play in the outdoors, the benefits of busking, and why you should try it.
Two years after the start of the biggest pandemic of the century, which left millions in the UK longing for a return to their normal lives, one thing many can agree on missing the most is live music. This rings true especially in Brighton, a city which has always been considered a pioneer in Britain regarding creative arts. But it is not only music in live venues that slowly returned to the city, but also the music in the streets. With Brighton being considered by many as the UK’s busking capital, there is no better place to find amazing creativity and talent just by going outside. This includes electronic, rock and roll, folk, psychedelia, and just about every genre on earth.
Leading the way for indie busking are The Big Push, a four-piece band which thrives on street performances. “There’s a total freedom to it” tells Ren Gill, the group’s vocalist and guitarist. What started off as a main source of income very quickly became a leading passion for performing on the streets: “You can play whatever and bring happiness to people you’ve never met before.”
Over the past few years, the band has become an internet sensation with regular videos of performances being uploaded onto YouTube, with spectacular appraise to certain covers such as “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones and even reggae hits such as “I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley. And there are few places as good as Brighton in allowing musicians to perform without the worry of purchasing a busking license, something which is a common frustration for musicians in many other cities around the UK.
“Busking has definitely influenced my performance skills” says Ren, speaking of the value of busking to his development as a musician, “I feel freer because I’m so used to playing in front of strangers”. Along with the benefits that busking brings to its performers regarding the development of their confidence and the ability to share their creative efforts, it is found to be just as beneficial for the general wellbeing and happiness of the population, by creating cultural experiences and safe spaces for residents and visitors alike.
Unfortunately, considering the climate in the UK, street performing isn’t always possible due to the unpredictability of the weather. On average, almost halfof the year is spent in rainy conditions here, and this is something which can most certainly affect buskers’. “You’re at the mercy of the weather,” explains Ren, “and shopkeepers who want to move you, if you’re making too much noise.” he adds, another issue which is common when performing on the busy streets of Brighton.
The energy which performers can show in this city is unparalleled, with it being nearly impossible to avoid the sounds of live music on a clear sunny day. As a musician, there is no better place to share your passion and hard work with an accepting and jolly crowd than Brighton. “Enjoy it!”, adds Ren in a message to anyone who looks to start their busking journey this coming summer, “It makes other people more comfortable when you’re comfortable, so play the songs you love to play.”