Performing While Sick

My streak of playing solo shows while sick remains unbroken! I’m nothing if not consistent.

Performing while sick is something every musician deals with. It’s easier when I’m just a guitar player - I can chill in the background, maybe two step a little and essentially disappear into parts I can play standing on my head. As a solo performer it’s harder, but my approach remains the same.

When I’m feeling under the weather during a gig, I never address it on mic. The thing is, people get it - everyone gets sick, and by offering a disclaimer you’re affectively saying, “Hey, that experience you thought you were gonna have? Nope. I’m taking that away from you.” People come to shows to be entertained, and that’s still our job, regardless of how congested we are. I remember catching a show by Daniel Johns (singer for Silverchair and a host of awesome solo projects) where he had a terrible case of laryngitis. He just went for it, vocal cracks and all, never addressing his being sick once. It was an inspired performance, exponentially more so because it was clear he was hurting but everyone still had permission to relax into the performance. 

So, I don’t say anything to the audience directly about my being sick, but I do have several cups of tea next to me. I find that sends a nice subliminal message of “Yeah, I’m under the weather, but it’s fine, let’s have a good time.” And, of course, we’re all capable of more than we think - I almost canceled my performance yesterday at Castoro Cellars but instead played four 45 minute sets. Take that, upper respiratory system!