Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Of Colons, Ankles and Guitar Shows: The Big Pig Gig

I am currently recovering from my band's latest venture: the 2012 Pig Roast.  This is a huge neighborhood venture that runs for blocks and features three (alleged) musical acts (we headline).

Last year there were about 350 people.  A preliminary count has this year at about 500-600 people!  This year featured popcorn, cotton candy and slushie machines in addition to the usual fire engine, arcade, and enough food to choke an entire county.  The only thing missing was a rabbi to bless the pig.

I got there early to check things out and was met by interesting news: one of my band members had a painful intestinal flareup and another broke his ankle.  Yes indeed, this was going to be a typical show. We were thinking of changing our (highly variable) name to The Infirmary.   Further, we're going to purchase our singer a wheelchair, helmet, and training wheels, in case he has to walk anywhere else.

The sight of our singer was truly a sad one.  A grown man, sitting onstage on a stool, with his casted leg on pillows on another stool.  But the show must go on, right?  Trying to get this fellow onstage was a full band effort.  We had to set up his guitar and amp too.  There was rampant speculation that he broke his ankle just to get out of setting up and tearing down but I prefer to believe he's made of marshmallow and simply broke it stepping off a curb, as he explained it to me.

The stage was bigger (unlike our pay), which was good, as we were bigger (and older).  We got everything set up in good time, with help from good friends and relatives.  It looked almost professional.  My absolute favorite was the forgotten cymbal stand.  Someone brought a lamp out of their house and they attached a cymbal to it.  Brilliance in action.

The grill items were the first up and a wonderful breakfast.  Entertainment started with the burgers and dogs, via the perennial opener, a very entertaining fellow who was actually plucked from a train depot somewhere.  Next up was the actual pig, along with a 17-year-old acoustic guitarist with his own songs.  He would have gone well had we not noticed him putting his water on our keyboardist's Very Expensive Synthesizer.  "If I see a ring, I will shove that water bottle....(etc)".  For some reason there was a small gaggle of small children dancing onstage.  They had no business being there but no one seemed to care, least of all the kid with the guitar.  I thought they would have made excellent footballs but they weren't onstage during my set.

It was a personal best day for me in that I forgot almost nothing.
Except for sunblock - OUCH.  It still hurts.  Serves me right for leaving my house.

There was a pie-eating contest for little children, much to my wife's dismay.  She wanted to join in.

Shortly thereafter it was time for the Old Fellas to take the stage.  And take the stage we did.  As we were just about to start the first song, the singer's guitar failed to make sound.  I figured we were off to a great start and we were.  Seconds later my amp refused to make sound, for no apparent reason.  After much cursing, screaming and redface, we were into the first song.

[Mental note:  Don't rush out of the gate and use every ounce of energy on the first song, lest there be no energy left for the rest of the set.]  So naturally I ran out the gate like I was on fire, leaving little for the rest of the songs.

In spite of the occasional equipment malfunctions and human malfunctions, we were very well-received.  Also well-received was the nuclear green construction tshirt that I located for the event.  My wife said people kept walking by and commenting on it.  You'd think they had never seen a shirt that glows before.

Young kids were applauding old rock and roll.  People were happy to hear Hendrix!  A few coworkers showed up and were amused/amazed to discover they have a rather animated guitar player in their midst.

All in all it was a great feeling and two great sets.

Philly weather sucks in general.  Most pig roasts have temps in the high eighties with humidity in the high nineties.  We got very lucky in that the temps were in the low eighties with humidity in the high nineties.  Since I'm highly mobile onstage, I sweat like a faucet.  Between songs it was a rush to wipe the sweat out of my eyes and suck down cold water.  Later on I discovered the slushie machine, which made being onstage more wonderful.

A totally unbiased observer (my wife) said I was on.  I'll take that.

After we finished, it was dark.  Takedown was painful, as we have no roadies (or groupies).  My equipment put on at least fifty additional pounds while it was onstage.  The definition of depressing is a car in the driveway full of equipment to be unloaded after midnight.


Since this was a huge outdoor gig, I brought my monster, the Marshall half stack.  Guitars were the pukeburst Strat, the Historic Les Paul, and my first Strat.  For the first time I got through two long sets with one guitar.  No strings or other breakages.

Effects were Voodoo Vibe --> Dano Compressor --> Dano CTO1 Overdrive --> Boost --> Rocktron powered talkbox.  The boost was new - can't remember the brand but it had the cutest Japanese graphics.  It worked out well for solos as the amp was set slightly dirty.

For once I got no complaints about band members being able to hear me.  I'm the only guitar player in the entire East who isn't too loud.  Perhaps the entire US.  It is said that volume is inversely proportional to talent (but I make no such claim).

And hey - how was the Philly Guitar Show this time?
Well, since you asked... some idiot forgot to write down the date and managed to miss it.

Hey lefty - how's the new band?
Great, thanks!  I have to learn four complete sets of material by July 4th with only one band practice.
The first gig should prove..... interesting.  We're playing a large swim club.  If anyone pisses me off, I'm throwing a toaster into the pool.

some old dudes

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