So that just happened
If you decide to play you have to know that you can’t win them all. Gigging is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes you get that scrumptious morsel of a gig that is like the perfect combination of flavors that is uber tasty and brings a smile to your face. Then there are those times when you get a piece from the box that is all of the things you wished people wouldn’t combine but fully understand the intentions were pure but the execution was lacking. Those good pieces make lugging all your gear over the mountains and threw the woods so worthwhile because it’s like playing for the Ewoks after a battle on the forest moon of Endor. Those not so good pieces are like being trapped in the oven in the witch’s cabin at the edge of the Fire Swamp.
One outlet to feed power to a PA system, multiple amplifiers, and instruments that require power isn’t the ideal situation but can be overcome by some ingenuity. The PA showing up at the venue a few hours after the performances were scheduled to begin thus throwing the whole schedule in the toilet is a bit more challenging. If it’s a good PA you put on a brave face and deal with the circumstances that are beyond your control. If it’s an ancient system from 1984 that sounds like a bag of cats being dropped from the top of a very tall building it’s not looking good and someone is stealing your mojo. A microphone would be a big help if you can get the PA to sound like one cat in a bag being dropped from a building instead of a baker’s dozen. In that scenario you’ve turned those lemons into lemonade. That however is if and I stress if there was a microphone at the venue.
Not to worry though, the stage manager has worked out the kinks and pulled up on the stick to save us from hurling into the ground from 40,000 feet. Unfortunately there is no Sully Sullenberger in this story and the plane went down. Yes there was no stage manager trying to pull things together and get the show back on track. The performers were left to their own devices to make sense of the thirteen cats falling to the ground, aka the ancient PA system, thus compounding the chaos and burning the house down where the toilet was that held the performance schedule as everyone had to come to terms with the situation and try to figure out how their set could be pulled of under the circumstances.
Surely the staff at the venue would step in to assist the drowning performers. They would act as a willing and able partner that could relieve some of the burden. But alas as nice as the staff are and the fact they were blindsided as well by the disorganized mess that was Saturday they could do nothing more than apologize for the situation and admit there wasn’t anything they could do because they don’t regularly have live music at the venue. Sigh!
Sometimes you just have to roll your sleeves up and make it happen despite the obstacle course that stands between you and your performance that in most cases was a multiple hour car ride away. We’re professionals and every kind of distraction has happened or will happen while you should be concentrating on putting on the very best show possible for the people that came out to support the live music.
Oh the people. The come to the venue, get a refreshing beverage or six, and support the performers since they willfully attended an original music festival. That will make all of the nonsense bearable. They’ll be engaged and give the performance a good listen. Or they could just stand at the bar and ignore the fact that people are performing all together. They can be annoyed that people are bringing their gear into the venue to play for their enjoyment at an original music festival. You still have to make the show count and play like it may be the last time you’ll be able to regardless of the situation or snarky comments.
I normally try to find the best in any situation as negativity just isn’t my bag. The night wasn’t a total loss. A lot of the musicians worked together to get things back on the rails which is always an awesome thing. Musicians understand the struggles of performing and pitched in where possible to reduce the suck in the situation for people they had never met. Despite everything that went wrong we still got to play. Even though the mood was sour the entire day the tape revealed we had a good set. This was just one of those times that make you appreciate a gig where things go more according to plan and you actually have fun doing the work that goes into performing.
I’m only expressing my critical observations in hopes that festival organizers will realize the quantity isn’t better than quality and to shake off the sour. It would be better to have fewer stages and bands with quality PA systems and competent stage managers than a train wreck that leaves the venue, performers, and public disappointed and less likely to participate in the future. I love the idea of festivals bringing different people and players together. To me the point of music is to bridge the gap and get people out to have fun for a little while as there is plenty of boring responsible chores and monotony that awaits us all. Plans can always fly out the window and despite the best efforts and intentions we all fall short at times. It is prudent however to learn from past mistakes and refine the process to do things better in the future in lieu of hoping outcomes will somehow magically be better without addressing the problems and disorganization of previous efforts.
The page has been officially turned and you will hear no more from me on this topic. We’re prepping for our next date at the Peacock Room on 10/18 w/ Bengali 600. Help restore our faith in live music performance and come out groove ready because it will be an organized funky jazz and afrobeat audio buffet. Beats will be served promptly at 10pm or somewhere there about.