Howdy readers. It seems too long since last we met. I could ply you with the usual excuses (things are really hectic right now, I got a new job, we’ve been camping with no access to technology) but they are, you know, excuses. Surely it’s not that hard to write something semi-regularly and when I first started blogging, one of the key things that the how-to guide on the internet said to do (I don’t do much in life without first consulting the online oracle) was to make sure it WAS regular.
So this brings me to “The Pledge”.
I solemnly swear that there shall be a new blog post every 2 weeks, every Sunday night (or there-abouts).
It’s in the diary as a recurring reminder, so therefore it will happen. Now I’m not making any guarantees about length or quality here- but I’ll endeavour to keep things interesting and fresh.
Which brings me to the core of THIS post. We’ve recently had a couple of gigs, one at Ric’s Bar and another at The Bench in Cleveland and I thought it might be interesting to enlighten people as to what actually goes into getting ready for a show. I’ll focus on Ric’s as an example. So take a deep breath, try to relax and let’s begin…
Personally, much like a boy scout, I like to be prepared (but hopefully not molested. Maybe). Gigs, camping, conference presentations; there isn’t much that doesn’t benefit from a bit of preparation. So we usually like to work a couple of rehearsals in the week before the show. I’m also a big fan of the dress rehearsal the last practice before the gig- so full suit/cocktail dress, shoes, tie the whole deal. In the words of so many of my junior football coaches- train like you’re going to play (but I’ll also take any excuse I can get to suit up).
Usually, we’ll all have been at work all day, probably getting slammed. You might think this isn’t ideal preparation but in reality it’s a huge help to my nerves. Distraction is key here; if you’ve got too much spare time to think about things you’ll get worked up and probably not in a good way. And no matter how many gigs we play, the nerves are still going to be there but I’m slowly learning to embrace them.
- Load the Car: There’s a lot of beautiful things about being in a 3 piece band and the amount of stuff we DON’T have to cart around is one of them. Having said that, everything we use on gig-night has to be disconnected, folded up, taken down the stairs from our spare bedroom/rehearsal room/recording studio and loaded into the back of the station wagon (HUGE fan of the wagon by the way. Do yourself a favour and get one, sedans are for suckers). And while there’s not TOO much in the way of gear, what we do have is goddamn heavy, so I’m usually pretty spent and sweaty by the end.
- Sort Out Dinner: I’ll start with a disclaimer here, I am and never have been in the employ of Philips Corporation (although I have enjoyed your sponsored company golf days and electric toothbrushes). We recently got an Airfryer and MY GOD- what this thing can do to frozen chips or homemade potato wedges is amazing. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside (also an apt life analogy for myself) with next to zero oil and all under 20 minutes. We will definitely be getting a lot fatter after this purchase…Our singing teacher says that you should eat at least a couple of hours before showtime and try to avoid anything too milky/gassy so delicious home-made wedges go down nicely (even with nerves involved).
- Venue Load In: THIS. IS. PAINFUL. So even if you make it unscathed through the peak hour city traffic and manage to pull into the tiny driveway without taking out any pedestrians you’d better hope that the gate is unlocked. Which it wasn’t. So that means getting Liv to jump out and run down to the venue to get the key while I do laps around the block in peak hour so we’re not blocking the footpath. Once you get into the driveway you’ll then be told that you can’t take your gear the direct 20 meter path through the back because there’s building work going on and you’ll have to go ALL the way around through the Brunswick street mall and though the front doors. Lucky most our shit is on wheels.
- Stage Setup: At Ric’s we like to use our electronic drum kit due to the sound issues (a tiny stage directly in front of a wall does not a happy acoustic make). DO NOT USE THE HOUSE KIT. Unless you’ve got a whole spare roll of gaffer tape. Seriously, that thing is more gaffer tape than drum kit. Use at your peril unless you’re some sort of Indian Deity with 8 extra spare arms to hold your drum kit together while you’re playing. The setup part is usually one of the easier steps in the process, just a matter of finding spare power outlets and trying to plug 100 different cables into the right spots. And praying that you remembered to bring all of said cables (because if you don’t Reece will let you know about it for the rest of your life). Then you have to move your car because you can’t stay in the loading zone.
- Drink Water: This is very important. Like most things in life, vocal cords like to be well lubricated and hydrated and load-ins tend to be a sweaty business. I usually cart around a big 1.5L bottle with me and go through pretty much all of it in a night.
- Meet And Greet The Support Act: We were very lucky to play with Junior Arcade at our last Ric’s gig and even though we’d spent a lot of time conversing through email I’d never actually met the boys. Happy to say that they were lovely and very professional lads and it was great getting to know them.
- Do A Soundcheck: If you’re lucky enough to get one. Or at least a level check to see if everything plugged in.
- Support The Support Act: This is so under-rated; the number of times in my Twist Oliver Twist days that we’d be the support act and never actually see anyone in the crowd from the other band was very sad- you took the time to seek us out and book us so why not at least make an appearance? Happy to say that Junior Arcade put on a great show and we were delighted to watch.
- Put Your Gameface On: I like to start doing my vocal warmups about 20 minutes before we start (so apologies to Junior Arcade, I missed your last few songs). This probably isn’t very rock and roll but I always find a quiet corner to make ridiculous noises in and make sure that I’m ready to go for the first song. It makes a HUGE difference. Also, get changed and suit up (apologies to anyone that saw me standing in the corner in just my jocks, there was no way I was going to get changed in those toilets i.e.: “the sea of piss”).
- Rock Out: This is probably the easiest part. Once you’re up on stage doing what you love doing time seems to just fly by. This is honestly one of the places where I feel the most comfortable. Here’s a pic of us doing that- Reece seems to have been possessed by Satan though. Probably part of his pre-show ritual…
- Pack Up: This part also sucks. It’s slightly counteracted by the adrenaline but that wears off pretty quick. I usually like to try and sneak a quick drink in after we finish playing but one of the saddest things is having all of your friends and family there and not being able to hang out with them because you’re too busy packing all of your gear up. Especially when your sound guy/bartender/dishwasher is eager to pack up and get out ASAP. So by this point you’re physically exhausted and all you want to do is get the car and drive into the little load-in lane. But of course some arsehole’s parked his ute there and so you have to park over the footpath, completely illegally and blocking all of the foot traffic with your hazard lights on while you bust your arse loading all of the gear THE LONG WAY ROUND back into your car and praying that some bastard doesn’t decide to nick something on the way past.
- Get Paid: It’s not much but it helps cover the ever increasing gear bills
- Remember To Pay The Support Act: Also very important. Not a great start to the relationship if you forget.
- Go Home: It depends on where and when we play but most night gigs in the valley see us home at around 12:30am. This particular gig we were all lucky enough to be working the next day. And have a major job meeting/interview with the HR Manager and MRI in charge booked in at 10am. Rock and Roll.