Monday, May 21, 2012

Failing Spatial Relationships [or Gig Report]

My band got to play its favorite club on Friday.  It's our favorite club because it books us and it's practically at the end of my street.  It's also across the street from The One True Pizza, which never hurts.

The band makes a point of arriving at least two hours early so we can set up.  Using New Math<tm>, that allows the six of us twenty minutes each to set things up, plus thirty seven minutes each to complain.

Unfortunately the band got its math wrong and used all fifty seven minutes (each) to complain.  Because we were setting up differently than the previous time, there erupted four different conversations about how exactly to set up.  Since the owner said something to the effect of `set up THERE', I chose to set up THERE.

This was not sufficient for my esteemed cohorts.  They got out their fung shui manuals and proceeded to argue about the right way to set up.  Another set discussed their Vision for our setup.  Yet another had a Bad Feeling about the location.

After I damn near carefully set up the p.a. system, they asked me the best place for the speakers.  I suggested exactly where I put them.  Two minutes later I watched them moving the speakers.

I had to fetch my wife after sound check because for some strange reason, she didn't want to sit there for two hours and watch us debate where to put the drums.  Aside from her choice in men, she's a very wise woman.

Unfortunately it was getting rather close to sound check time and most of us weren't set up yet.  My agitation level had passed the roof and was headed for the clouds.  It was an easier night for me because only one pedal and a guitar string was giving me trouble.  When only two things break, it's a light night.  I travel with a small army of gear because everything breaks.

By the time we achieved fung shui and the karma was exactly right, we managed to eke out a song to check our sound.  I rushed to get my wife.  She was on the step and when she saw me, she did the only thing she could: she walked back inside the house.  My wife is not a girly girl and she doesn't generally keep me waiting.  As the car clock indicated it was 8:33, the band was supposed to be three minutes into its first set (had we discussed a starting time).  I made this point rather loudly to the wife when she reappeared.

Things looked no different when I returned.  While it is not advertised, we specialize in Milling About, and we were doing our best.  Shortly thereafter, we launched into our first set.

In retrospect, nobody is entirely sure what happened during the first set.  What didn't happen was a good band playing together.  Much speculation has gone into this.  I think our percussion department was actually playing with the band at the bar down the street.  Others were playing to their own internal drummer.  I'm not sure, but I might have been onstage with Hendrix at Woodstock, messing things up.

After the set, I chose to make my one positive statement for the year: good thing we brought the crowd or we'd be TOAST.  The optimists agreed.  But I hate optimists.  They're the kind of people who say `we had some problems but it could have been worse'.

My wife was under the weather so I had to take her home.  This was complicated by my arch enemy: seatbelts.  I maintain that seatbelts are only good for three things:

  1. holding your dead body inside the car after a crash
  2. preventing you from reaching your cell phone
  3. stopping the car door from closing
Suffice it to say the neighbors must have thought there was a satanic entity loose in the neighborhood from all the noise.  And in the three seconds that I turned around, Marshall the Cocker got into the kettle corn.  Again.  This was his third bag.  Between that and the tissues, the dog loves his fiber.

The second set went better, but only in the sense that there were no overt train wrecks.  It's kinda sad when something is better because it wasn't as bad as the previous try.  At least we all seemed to be playing with the same group in the same location.

Speaking of playing with, we seemed to have forgotten our stage manners.  Between songs, we appeared to be playing with ourselves and adjusting our trusses.  In other words, it took rather long to get to the next song on the list.

We were partially saved by our youthful exuberance.... we manage to appear to be having a great time no matter what happens.  We were also partially saved by the singer's daughter, with the voice of an angel (and the body of something further south).  Once we convinced her boyfriend to remove his hands from under her shirt, she joined us for some serious rocking.  I told her not to come to class unless she brings enough for all of us.  I spent the next hour running from her father, the singer :)

My outlets somehow managed to situate themselves in a place convenient to the bassist's feet.  He was bumping and grinding to the music, simultaneously turning my amp and effects off and on.  It took me a while to catch on to this effect, which seems much funnier now.

I have some sort of back issue that gets really bad with standing.  This makes being in a band a rather painful experience.  My wife, the genius, recommended that I carry aspirin and take it before the pain sets in.  She reminded me of this all week, which will indicate to any of my loyal readers that I forgot the aspirin.  By the end of the second set, I thought I might have to be carried onstage and sit in a chair (I'm normally very active onstage).  Fortunately the adrenaline overcame the pain and we made it through the third set.

What continues to surprise me is the reaction to Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix songs.  People seriously liked them.  I never would have thought so....

I somehow managed to get my stuff into the car (it had put on serious weight since I brought it in) and limped on home.  Two ibuprofen and an hour later, I was erect (so to speak) and off to sleep.

Next up is a huge block party and pig roast in June.   I often say I have two bands: one that comes to practice and doesn't play well or know its songs, and one that shows up to gigs and plays wonderfully.  I sure hope the good one comes to the block party.


  1. Who wouldn't dig Beck and Hendrix?
    Any videos of you guys on You tube yet?

  2. It's reality that you don't play too much of that stuff in clubs. It was a pleasant surprise and might have had something to do with the audience being friends and relatives. And our age :)

    Fortunately, I don't appear on video or in pictures. I'm kind of like a digital vampire that way.