Last week we talked about recording, so this week I want to talk about the flip side, playing live! In front of people! It’s kind of weird to imagine these days, but I’m pretty sure that used to be a thing.
I guess my first live show was in elementary school…I played piano and sang the Carpenters’ “Close to You” to my third grade class. That was pretty awesome, but after that it was just the dreaded recitals that my piano teacher hosted every six months or so…those things were miserable. (Even worse was the Certificate of Merit program where I had to play in front of a solitary judge, that was just pure torture.)
But playing drums in a band and making the rounds of the dive clubs in Orange County was a lot more fun. At least that’s how I remember it, though I also have memories of dropped sticks, wayward bass drums and the endless trips back and forth to the car to load and unload my kit. And there was that time that they cut the power to the stage about halfway through our set…I thought we were actually having a pretty good night and that maybe our singer had tripped over a cord or something. Nope, the management just had enough of us.
After our band broke up, I was happy enough working on music by myself, but that meant no more live shows. The one exception was about five? ten? years ago…my brother-in-law and I have an occasional noise project, and we played in the tiny basement of his art gallery in Chinatown. The room was only big enough for about ten people, but that was the first time I’ve played to a full house since those stupid piano recitals. And unlike Mrs. Stockwell’s house, we had smoke machines and stage lighting…it was pretty sweet.
I don’t know what live music is going to look like in the post-pandemic world, and I’ve never figured out a way to bring my solo stuff to the stage, but I’d really love to play live again. Maybe one day I can play the skins in some lounge lizard act or something…who knows?
So let’s hear from the rest of you! Tell us about some of your favorite moments on stage, or some of your horror moments from the road!