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Guerrilla gig

A guerrilla gig is one in which pop musicians (most often punk rockers, for some reason) descend on a public place to give an impromptu performance. They tell their fans about it by text messages and other electronic media. It hit the news when a group called The Others staged a 30-minute gig in a London Underground train and then in the lobby of pop-music station BBC Radio 1. The technique is clearly borrowed from the flash mobs of 2003; the name reflects a variety of other anti-authoritarian techniques that we’ve heard about, of which the best known are guerrilla gardening (cultivating public ground in an urban location where one isn’t authorised, as a political statement), guerrilla architecture (in which designs are created to subvert conventional ideas about the form and function of buildings), and guerrilla marketing (gaining public notice through unconventional methods). Guerrilla gigs certainly fit this last model, since one aim is to get publicity for indie bands that aren’t signed to a record company.

“The strength of this movement is in its community,” said Imran Ahmed of New Musical EUpress. “Gigs can be organized in a matter of hours. The venue, time and any fee will be communicated via message board, text or blog; the community then congregates at a place beforehand and then all head down to the guerrilla gig together.”

Wired News, 4 Aug. 2004

If you believe all you read, the streets of London are currently paved with amps and speakers awaiting the latest guerrilla gig by some band of charity-store-clothed individuals who always claim to have just played with The Libertines/Babyshambles (delete as appropriate) and are going to shake up rock just like the Sex Pistols did with punk.

The Independent, 11 Sep. 2004

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 11 Dec. 2004

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 11 December 2004.