We’re playing a gig in London a couple years ago, and I’m having a rough night. The backline (the on-stage equipment- amps, drums, keyboards etc) has been put “through the trenches,” as our cheerful and vaguely criminal promoter puts it. More accurately, my amp’s held together by duct tape.
Throughout the show, each of us experiences blow ups, intermittent power drops, electric shocks, and the combination of jet lag and one too many pints of the black stuff the night before makes me want to punch Santa Claus in the face. Yes, it’s so bad that I want to will a fictional character into existence for the sole purpose of inflicting upon him physical harm.
In between exasperated glances at our production manager, who’s dealing with his own technical issues, and singing waaaaaay off mic as to not be shocked into unrecognizablity, I notice a young couple in the front row dancing, singing every word and sweetly kissing in between verses. They’re blissfully unaware of whatever technical issues are happening on stage- this is just a great night out. I realize that the worst thing I can do, despite threats of involuntary electroshock treatment, is pull these people out of their moment.
Really, the show’s about this couple, and everyone else who generously paid real money for a ticket. It’s 100% easier not doing a thing than doing a thing, and these people chose to see us. Suddenly, my duct taped amp sounding like a farting baboon’s funny rather than professionally embarrassing. I take out my in-ears, share high fives with the front row and begin dancing. Badly. The smoke from my beleaguered amp’s highlighting constellations of dust inside the stage lighting, and I appreciate how lucky I am to be here, making music with my friends and for these beautiful people.
We performers have rough nights. Any number of things can go wrong at any time, and it’s easy losing the forest for the trees. No one will remember, or even notice, a shitty amp, but they’ll certainly remember the smile on your face, or your throwing a tantrum on stage. It’s on us as musicians to takes ourselves out of our heads and appreciate the gig from the audience's perspective.
I’m thankful for:
That writing this every morning allows me to reflect on where I’ve been and what I’ve learned along the way.
Focusing on doing little things every single day rather than chasing orgasmic, earth-shattering career wins.
Dude uses industrial chain as a guitar strap.
January 11! It’s real good.