Friday, 2 January 2009

Gig Review

I've just quickly dashed-off these posts on the bands' forum about our previous two gigs. They're a little rushed, wordy, a bit confuzed and maybe a little one-sided to be sure, but yeah... at least there's something out there about how those previous two live shows went.

"The Night Before" @ The Kelso Hotel (Bathurst)
Saturday 6th December 2008

We had a marvelous night playing together - in spite of an almost farcical situation where the motto "If anything could go wrong, it will!" applied!

We played our first set to an almost empty room - which was fine by us, as it gave us a chance to try some bits and pieces we'd been working on together, and to lay back and have a nice long melodic jam, while no-one was around at that stage.

They were all in next door... let me explain... originally the pub had happily and eagerly booked us to play in their main function room, and it would be filled with 150+ Xmas party-goers. No worries. At the last minute, the person who'd booked the actual function decided they didn't want a live band (even tho the pub begged them to let us play there, and as it was a "warm-Up' gig for us it wouldn't have cost anyone any money...). But no... we set-up in the smaller bistro and, while being quite a more 'compact' playing area, there was still enough space to set things up for us to enjoy ourselves and have some fun playing together.

We didn't start until after the speeches next door had finished (which must have been coming onto 9.30pm) when we started playing. After a good long 45-minutes, we took a short break.

That's where the technical trouble gremlins started kicking-in.

Firstly one of Matt's guitars wouldn't tune-up properly, as one of the machine-heads broke on him (that's an extremely rare thing to happen). Not to worry as he quickly grabbed his spare guitar, and we pushed-on happily enough.

Not long after, for some inexplicable reason, Matt's Marshall amp went 'pop' and died - just like that! We all thought it was just a blown fuse (again, another very rare thing to happen), but upon closer inspection (and after a flying helpful replacement arrived in next-to-no-time), we all realised it wasn't just the fuse.

No worries... we set-up my red Epiphone guitar amp on top of Matt's, which he plugged his pedal-board effects into. So yeah... we were able to use what we had to make do and get 'on with she show!' Which we did.

Matt was surprisingly unflappable at both of these amazingly-bizarre technological hitches. In all of my years of playing have a rarely seen a guitar amp blow a fuse on stage... it was just 'one of those random things'. Matt just kept going, which I thought was mighty good of him not to get stressed, anxious or self-conscious.

Julian and I just smiled and kept playing thru what was something we'd experienced before in live music situations... sometimes the best laid plans all go kaput, and you just have to make do with what you have. No worries. On with the show and all that... dagnammit, it was still fun anyways.

A handful of people had come along to watch us play, which was encouraging. Then, for no apparent reason - we lost all our lights! Taking yet another quick break, I tried to trace the unexpected fault... only to discover that due to some very strange short somewhere somehow, the bulb on the OHP had blown, causing everything else on that seperate lighting power circuit to crash as well. Very mystifying. Tried changing leads, plugs, lines... I simply couldn't get any of the lights going! Very strange!!! Luckily Julian had two small par-38's shining onto his kit (from a seperate circuit the stage power was running off), so we played a pretty-minimal lighting show for the rest of the night!

It wasn't a big issue, really. These are the kinda things you really want to have happen and experience in a "Warm-Up" gig. So, while not quite going according to plan, things were still going positively all the same.

By then people had started coming in from next door to come and watch the band... needless to say, we quickly got things going again, got 'em up dancing, and kept 'em up dancing for the next our and a half straight.

That's what little fun gigs like this are all about... bugger the setlists, just keep the people dancing and entertained happily. Hot, sweaty, fun in-your-face live music with an appreciative crowd.

And by everyones' feedback - they loved it!!! "Why weren't you in playing next door?" we were asked on a few occasions... at which the bar manageress came-in and helpfully explained it wasn't supposed to be at all like this - we were supposed to be playing in the big room! They could have danced all night... alas they started shutting the bar at midnight, so we couldn't assure the crowd their dance-inspired thirsts could be quenched! Hahahaa.

The Pub wants us to come back and play again, so yeah... as a "Warm-Up" gig it was fruitful in the regard. Even with all the electrical and technical faults that seemed to fall out of the sky, I'd say it was a good night.

For Julian and I, twas just another good fun night as an opportunity to play together. Matt was so hyped-up afterwards that he was still wide-awake with his adrenaline-pumping at like 8 the next morning! Strange cat! He said that was the very first time he'd ever played anywhere where people got upto dance! Needless to say I was shocked at his admission... this was a pretty low-key affair for Julian and I, and that's why we were able to lay back and enjoy it. Hmmm... different strokes for different folks.

Later that week I plugged-in all the lighting exactly the way I had on the night, just to see what had failed... apart from the blown OHP blub - everything else worked perfectly! Go figure!

"The Night Before" @ The Park Hotel (Bathurst)
20th December 2008

Twas just the Sunday before at a band meeting, where Matt walked in the door and just started talking for 45-minutes straight without pausing for breath... Julian and I sat there with our mouths agape as he basically told us he'd decided to quit the band.

There was no real dramas... I just think Matt has undergone some rather large life-changes lately and simply wasn't coping with the normal expectations relationally or musically in a working band.

Just six days out from our first official 'paying-professional gig' as a band (after 18 months of baby-sitting him to reach this point in the bands' life...), and he just walks away from it was pretty bad timing, to say the least. We agreed together that we'd cancel the gig and let the venue know in the morning, to give them plenty of notice.

To cut along story short... within a few hours, Matt had talked himself back around into thinking all was well and he could just jump back into the band, as if nothing had happened. Well... things don't work like that in a relationship, you know?

He was a good egg, tho, and conceded that we should do this one last gig together, "as it was the least he could do for Julian and I."

OK, no worries. We were happy with that. The one thing we've always enjoyed doing is playing together. So any chance to play with him would be a good opportunity. Let's go out with one final last hurrah!

24-hours later, Matt had so convinced himself (just talking himself around it in his head, basically) that he should be able to just simply slip-back-into the band was a shoe-in as if nothing had changed or happened... needless to say when both Julian and I were politely less-than-excited at this prospect, Matt totally lost his cool (and all sense of perspective) and started saying some of the most bizarre, horribly personal and abusive things against us, that Julian and I were on the verge of tears as a result of his reaction. I know I was.

Then he started getting really snarky about money... and that was just the icing on the cake for us. Money's never been an issue between us... but all of a sudden it became a huge stumbling block for him. Look, it was just an excuse for him, for something to focus his un-foccused frustration at. I knew that, but geebus - it really hurt what he had to say. Very unfair. Very.

It's not easy to watch a well-loved friend unravel in a big-way right in front of your eyes...

Anyways... this isn't talking about a really good gig that eventuated anyways, is it?

So, within 36/48-hours, Matt had changed his mind three times about wanting to do this gig with us. We would have been happy to do it with him (as we are old friends and there's no hard feelings really, you know?). but no... he wouldn't even return calls... until some drunken ramblings late during the week on answering machines begging for forgiveness... poor bugger. He was so disappointed with himself.

I rang Julian and suggested, "let's do this gig as a TWO-piece anyways?", which he readily and happily agreed to. Very freeing, very relaxing, very spontaneous fun. We love playing together, and we've been playing long enough to know how we work together, so it wouldn't be a drama.

We did try to invite Matt to come along and have a play, but I guess foolish pride kept him away in the end. Poor bugger Sad

The venue was happy enough to have a live band playing, and were even willing to play good money. Having just a two-piece (Julian on drums, myself on vocals and guitar) wasn't an issue for them.

We turned-up with plenty of time to casually set ourselves up for the show. There was even a riser for the drums, and we set-up around that. For the first time, the visual data projection slideshow was able to be set-way-back in the room, glowing right across both of us in a really large scale... it looked a-maze-ing! We did a quick sound-check, then sat-back and waited for the 9.00 kick-off.

Even tho there were just a handful of 'regular' punters there to begin with, we were able to quickly relax, enjoy and just play. I mean, whatever music we threw at each other, we just ran with it and had some fun with it, keeping it entertaining and musically exciting. Julian is an absolute dream to play with. The freedom to do practically whatever you want to do as an instrumentalist is just fantastic. I mean, I even threw a few short original ideas at him, and he just went with it - all totally unrehearsed or unprepared... just playing in the moment. I couldn't help but laugh when the punters watching applauded at the end of each segment!

Julain has been wearing some special earplugs when he plays live. The volumes of some of our last efforts (whilst not dramatically excessive, I assure you!) were starting to affect my ears. It's only because I'm not 19 anymore, you know?

So yeah... julian thoughtfully presented me with a pair of these special acoustically-controlled earplugs for Xmas (thank you!!!)... these cut-out most of the loudness without affecting the actual tone or sound quality. So yeah, you can still hear everything easily without it being very loud... and that's what you want to save your ears from, when you're playing amplified music for four hours straight!

Why didn't I have a pair of these things years ago??? Simply because they didn't exist when I used to gig all the time! Dayum!

We ended-up playing 3 x 45' sets. Really good feels, lots of good grooves. Twas really "Money For Nothing" as we ran thru songs from the list we'd prepared, dropped songs we just didn't feel like playing that night, and happy played songs we'd never even played together before... like stuff I hadn't played on guitar for like 20 years! But it was really easy, once you're in that groove, and a few people are up dancing, you can just keep going. It's easy, not boastfully, but it's just like laying in a groove and going with it.

Even some of the punters started yelling out some requests... we had a thankful round of drinks delivered to us more than once after having a go at some Led Zeppelin and even Black Sabbath spontaneous rave-ups, that actually sounded quite good - even as a two-piece. We kept the punters happy... and as far as the venue management is concerned, that's all that matters.

We finished off a 30-minute set, running thru the last wham-bam pub rock'n'roll songs together, and finished with an old AC/DC song. The punters loved it!

Even over a slight hiccup with the venue about the money (they did pay us what they'd agreed to), they assured us they wanted us back again. When we told them next time there'll be a three-piece, they were very excited.

When Julian had spoken to Andrew (who we'd jammed with about 2 months ago briefly) that there was a gig in just a few days time, Andrew said unashamedly that if he didn't have a prior family engagement for that night, he would have happily, easily and simply walked-in and played with us cold, just like that!

Now *THAT'S* the kinda modest self-confidence we like to see in a fellow player! He would have done it, too - and easily. No stress, no dramas, no ego, no continual need for self-assuring and affirmation...

As someone said in passing, "So... why do you need Matt, anyways...?"

It's amazing how quickly it feels like packing-up after a great night like this. I think I was out the door with the last load of equipment just after 1am! Home was literally 5 minutes away, for what I am so greatful for.

So yeah... that was the first time in like 15 years or something that I'd played just electric guitar in a rock'n'roll live band - and I loved it. We both had people come up and woah and splutter over our equipment... you don't boast about your gear (no, you don't!), but yeah... people could just TELL that Julian's kit and my guitars were extremely noice pieces of machinery... I didn't have the heart to say that my green gherkin guitar cost me all-up only $800, not $4,000! lol

This gig was a really good experience for us. We knew we could do it - and we did - easily. Not as some proud ego boast, but simply because we've been playing situations like this (where you've just gotta go in there and *do* it) for years, and it felt very natural for us.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how we develop our new sound as we start playing together as a three-piece with Andrew. He's very enthusiastic, but totally proficient, reliable - and humble. He loves playing music for the sake of playing music - and for us, that will be a huge breath of fresh air.

Bring it on!
Peas be with ewe
Mal :)

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  1. So glad you were able to get your gig done, despite all the gremlins in your equipment.

    I'm really happy to hear that both gigs were a success and that you will have a 3rd person soon. can't wait to hear how you all sound

  2. Thanks. We just love playing... doesn't matter where or when. It'll be refreshing to have a new person in the mix who shares the same viewpoint again :)

    And yes, we're aware that a new person brings a different dynamic into the sound... I think it'll be for much the better :)