Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 27th, 2011, National Underground GIG OF LEGEND

All this past week, I had imagined all the way it could possibly go wrong: No ride, no equipment, snapped strings, even death. I started the week with the intent to practice one song a day. Sure, I slipped up a couple times, but mostly I was feeling confident come Thursday night. Staples had a bunch of stuff on sale, so I bought 100 CD sleeves and discs for around $20. Setlist was all planned out, my backing tracks were coming together, and I was on my game.

By Friday, I woke up wishing I had one more week.

I started burning CDs that morning, and even then I had only ended up with a lot of 10. After a light dumbbell workout, my shoulder started hurting a bit, and still felt kind of loose. Then I practiced a bit more, thinking that even if it was all I did until we left, I'd still embarass myself.

By around 4, I'd realized I had been in all day, and have yet to get out. I still needed to get some supplies, like strings and a connector cable for my laptop, but before I left, I had a crazy idea: ALBUM COVERS! I burned all these CDs, why not paste a proper label over them? Even print out a track list in the back! This was a big boy gig, and Xenu Damn It, I was going to treat like one!

Of course, after all this, Dad reminds me I still have to pick up my brother in time for work AND put gas in the car. Having no time for this bullshit, I head to the gas station near the Staples, open my wallet, and find that I left my debit card at home. It was about 5 when I left home again, and I had to drive to Douglaston to pick up my brother by 6.

As if that wasn't enough, the second I pull on to the expressway, it's stop and go traffic. So I'm sitting in the car, sweating profusely because the window's open and I'm not moving, panic sets in, and let out a long, guttural FUCK! to no one in particular, really stressing to feel that painful rumble in my throat. As the shit gets in, he asks me "What are you so stressed about?"
"I have a gig tonight."
"That's 5 hours from now"

Then he tells me that I have sand in my vagina.

We go out, get dinner, and I finally get my cable. I'm feeling pretty good as more people start to confirm that they'll be there, at least from what friends and family told me. I needed at least 5 to play, and 10 for the full 45 minute setlist. Here I'm thinking I might actually make it. Up to 5 minutes before we left I was pasting labels on my CDs. I think they came out OK, all things considered.

There was still one song I was weak on, "Pass The Class". I was trying to listen to it on the way over, but I could focus. Every time the second verse rolled around, someone in the car would speak up, and I'd miss my cue.

When we got there, Dead City Anthem was on stage. I liked them. At first this woman took over on guitar and was singing country-esque stuff, and then the drummer and her switched places, and then the set got a more alternative bend. My favorite part was when he busted out a near-perfect Bono impersonation.

While this was going on, I decided to chat up a couple people. This one girl was there with her friend to see Band Of Young Saints, the group that was going on next.
"We're here to see the John --- Experience" she said.
"Wait, is that what they're called?" I asked.
"I don't really know what they're called, I just grew up on the same block as the guitarist."
"Who are you here to see?"
"I go on after them."
"Well, I guess we'll have to stay!"

Then we talked about Willamsburg for a bit, and then Band Of Young Saints went on. While they had a "familiar" sound, it was a sound I could really get into, and I danced along with the rest of the audience during their set.

After their last song, panic creeped up again, and I prayed to myself that these people would at least stick around. I had no backup strings, little experience, and a hell of set in front of me. I put my laptop on the snare drum, and hooked up guitar. The Band decided to stick around, if only out of courtesy for using my amp.
Everything was all set up, and I clicked on my first planned song of the evening, "Force Of Nature".

It came in quiet, too quiet. The sound guy came over and looked at it, then went into the back. I looked out into the crowd, and all I could make out were silhouettes in the blinding light. This actually worked to my advantage, and killed all sense of stage fright. Still felt awkward about the whole "Laptop Not Working" thing.

I didn't want to stand around waiting for the problem to be fixed, so I thought of a fun song I didn't really need back up for:

The crowd started cheering as I went into the opening riff. And some parts I could hear someone saying (not singing) the words along with me.

After that was over, I decided to reassess the laptop situation. Since it was plugged into the PA system, I figured that was the problem, so I streamed the sound through my amp directly, but it still came in quiet. Then I realized it was plugged in the wrong hole. With that fixed, I went into


Then the rest of the setlist:
HOLIDAY (****)
STACK O' LEE (****)
The intro I messed up bad, and forgot half the words, but once it got going, it seemed to be a real floorfiller.

I skipped "Pass The Class", and went into
RADIO DAYS PT. 1 (*****)

I introduced this song as "a song about a cop with an axe, who doesn't take shit from anybody". One of the silhouette said, "Wait, Axe Cop: The Song?" loud enough for me to hear. He didn't know me, but he at least recognized Axe Cop, and that gave me a little boost into this.

When it was all over, I shouted into to the mic "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I AM THE RHYTHM BASTARD, THANK YOU, GOOD NIGHT!"

The woos were sparse and empty. I looked past the lights and saw my parents, my friend since high school, and the woman from earlier and her friends. That was it.
"We stayed for the whole thing! Good show!"

It was all I needed. I gave her a CD with the hopes she'd find me again.

Why was this The Gig Of Legend, you ask?

One, it was AWESOME!
Two, there's no proof of it. My parents brought the camera, but didn't record a second as it would "look dorky".

Then again, legends are what keep hopes alive.

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