Friday, March 26, 2010

Open Thread Friday: Your First Gig

So on Monday, my band is embarking on a six week tour of the U.S.  We've been playing since 1996, so it's not a new experience by any means, but it always makes me look back on those early days with a mixture of fondness, laughter, dread, and embarrassment.  

Our first gig was a mini-festival of mostly unknown bands in Indianapolis, Indiana called "CircuitFest" (perhaps appropriately misprinted as "CircusFest" on the tickets).  The venue was an old theatre that looked like no one had done much upkeep on it in decades.  Paint chips hung from the walls, exposed wires dangled from the ceiling, and the room was pretty much a giant, concrete echo chamber.  A terrible venue for live music.  But we didn't know any better.  I don't know that I can give an accurate count of how many people were there.  I want to say 75, but I'm sure the fog of nostalgia has artificially inflated that number.  Not a bad showing for 5 bands no one had ever heard of, at any rate.  Speaking of which, that's what the marquee on the venue read: "5 Bands".  Even the venue knew no one knew who we were.  

After the show, we decided to get some booze and have a party back at the hotel.  Being that this was the first time we'd all met, we didn't really know who was with who.  So when we climbed in the van and this excitable, long-haired guy got in the van next to me, I thought nothing of it.  As we drove out of the venue parking lot, it became clear that this guy was blasted out of his mind.  This wasn't just drunk, this was that extra something special that makes it clear as day that someone has been hitting the drugs pretty hard.  I don't remember what it was specifically that he said, but it was all loud, odd, and not the sort of conversation you have with a van full of strangers.  I think he asked us if we were 'cyberpunks'.  All the while, all of the rest of us in the van were completely silent, uncomfortable, and thinking to ourselves, "who the hell brought this asshole?"

When we arrived at the hotel and got out of the van, some of us managed to whisper to one another, "Who is this guy?"  Before long, it became clear none of us knew this guy.  He was just some random wasteoid who climbed in our van.  I think we later learned he was a friend of the boyfriend of one of the singers, but at the time no one knew him.  Immediately, the mission became to ditch this guy.  I don't remember who came up with this brilliant scheme, but someone suggested that he go buy some more beer (because clearly he needed to be more wrecked).  He did so cheerfully, but forgot to ask what room we'd be in.  Mission accomplished.  I often wonder what happened to that guy after he realized he had no idea where he was supposed to go. I bet he had some adventures that night.

So what was your first gig like?  Did weird things happen, or was it totally unremarkable?  Do you remember the show itself (I don't)?  Spill the beans!


mangadrive said...

Not the 'first' gig, but I remember the first gig that was flyered and was actually made a big deal for one of my metal bands back pre-electronic days. I was very particular about my guitar sound. I'd go to pawn shops and buy weird stuff to create something that didn't sound like the next guy. I had a full stack made of Marshall cabs and so forth and a hell of a lot of pedals. It would take me a while to set all this up on stage even. So we ran our sound check and everyone was happy. Right before I go on one of the sound guys tells me "Killer chops bro, I gave you a little something extra on the stack"... I have no idea what this means, but it apparently its stoner/surfer for "I Just completely decided to fuck with every single knob on your amp head because *I*, the guy not playing guitar on stage in front of 500+ people thought it would sound better". I grab my axe and I'm doing the badass metal face.. I hit the E string about killed the front row. I finally got the feeling for the sound about halfway through the first song, but I had to play about an hour with a sound I hated. I hope karma is in order and that guy is working graveyard at Waffle House right now. The show was a success. It booked us more gigs, but from then on I was pretty demanding about 'if you touch my stuff I'm coming over the board and turning knobs in all fairness'.

Toadflakz said...

First gig was at a venue that used to be an abattoir (still had the hooks in the ceiling and the tiling with tilted floor going to a drain, plus various pickled bits in jars all over the bar). We'd organised a large party for the night and a band we'd open for and about 200 people showed up on the night... The stage was huge and everything started late (as they do). Luckily our sound setup was really simple - backing track on CD and vox. We had almost no time for sound check beforehand but we'd been preparing for weeks and our sound guy had been involved in each of the practice sessions so he knew our setup like the back of his hand. We played our 5 songs to huge applause and everyone left before the "headliner" came on (oops). They retired from gigging shortly after that... Wierdest part of the night was that some hot-dog stand dude decided that considering the size of the party he should literally have 1000 hotdogs available for people to buy. Dunno why. Apparently he only sold around 50...