(This post is a little different from my normal ones. It's kind of some stuff that has been on my mind. It is not edited perfectly or entirely professional, but it comes from the heart, so enjoy)
There's something to be said when you can play a show in front of a bunch of people you care dearly about, and watch their faces light up as you perform for them. Now you would think this is a standard reaction being you care for these people, so they care for you. This is not what I mean...
Playing in front of a bunch of people you don't know is undoubtedly scary. But playing in front of a bunch of people you know, is even scarier. The reasons behind this are simple:
1. You will always see these people, you know them personally.
2. They know all of your songs, or are at least are interested in seeing you.
3. When you mess up they know, when you create something new that sucks, they'll tell you.
4. You become stuck trying to impress people that may already be impressed.
This puts needless pressure on yourself. Instead of preaching to the converted, artists need to learn to perform as if everytime was their last chance to leave an impact. If I don't walk off the stage exhausted then I know I had a bad show. That is how I feel personally, you may not agree. The passion has to be there. Even on off nights, which do occur, if you give it your all, you'll get props for doing your thing.
On the flipside you know when you have a good show. There is a certain vibe to the crowd that lets you know it. You can feel it from their energy which in turn supplies you with the extra push to persevere. It's that certain applause after a good song, or that screamed out "hell yea" that lets you say to yourself, "Self, we did great tonight." Those feelings are obviously very hard to write down, but if you are reading this and you know the feeling, then subconsciously give me a thumbs up...(thanks).
One night that stuck out for me particulary, was a show Process of Fusion (my band), had a chance to play on April 30th. To be quite honest I don't know all the names of everyone who played, all I know is that the electricity in the room that night was buzzing. I want to focus on three acts that struck a chord with me in particular: Spread the Rumor, Nick DePalo, and my band (POF). (Sorry to anyone I don't mention. Everyone did their thing that night, but these gave me the wow factor).
It is not my business to go into detail, so here is the gist of it. Recently Spread the Rumor has had a few minor setbacks. They had to cancel some shows, and change the lineup around a bit, but they are coming back! I would like to consider STR to be one of the three bands that my band has grown up with. The others of course are It's Not Over and EveryNight Drive. It seems we are all destined to play the Cup together every weekend, and one day take over the world with our music etc. etc... Anyway, STR that night was different to me. Although they were short a drummer, they never seemed better. They were spot on, and I really admired their performance. I always knew what they brought to the table, and I always had "mad" love for them. But on April 30th, this time it was different. Hilary, Katie, Sabrina, and Valerie, you guys are fearless and amazing at what you do. Never stop ever! This is an order from your big loveable friend! I stood there and sang along like a champ to everything you threw our way. Thank you for putting on a lasting show.
Next, Nick DePalo, DUDE! You were the man that night. To quote Manny of END, or George of INO, or both at once "That was dope". Nick performed an acoustic set that was mostly interrupted by the chatter of his friends in which he made sure to return the dialogue. One of the things I liked most about his performance, was the intimacy of it. When he took a seat on stage, everyone gathered around him campfire style and just sat there all eyes on him. When Nick started playing everyone sang along, clapped, laughed, and had a great time. Nick did what we as muscians sometimes become afraid of doing, impressing your friends and not being so serious. He went up there and had a fun time. I remember running to Pat (bass player and singer of my band) and saying, "Dude, do you see how cool that is. Can we do an acoustic show tonight too!" Of course Pat and the rest of the band shot me down, but I'm glad it went that way anyway. Nick had the spotlight now. Nick if I could give you any advice as a friend, you need to do acoustic sessions and shows. It is a calling that not many can pursue.
Lastly, I want to talk about my bands performance, which wasn't perfect by the way. We had a couple screw ups along the way, but we did our thing. I was kind of nervous because we were playing two new songs, and one relatively new song. Only two songs from our album were being played. The second song we weren't sure of until the end, when the crowd picked it for us (very cool by the way). We were in a room filled with all of our closest band buddies, what would they think of the new songs? Would I remember my words? Could I nail my screaming parts, and not embarrass myself again? Would I mess up the keyboard part or knock it over like last time? Would Brain finally take over the world? I wasn't sure of any of these things, especially the last one.
We opened with the first new song "Moment of Clarity". I was tested in the beginning with screaming, I did it! I fumbled words here and there, but it was mostly good. The crowd gave a great response. Next was our "classic" "Mutiny". During this song is when I noticed this night was going to be one of those unforgettable nights. Because the crowd was a little smaller, maybe like thirty to forty people, it had the intimate setting. Even better, was those thirty to forty were our friends and knew the words. They sang along with us on every chorus, rap verse, bridge, you name it. I saw the video tonight, and watched my friend Manny hoist up my other friend George onto his shoulders just so he could do the rap part with me. It was awesome! Friends, family, bandmates, I love you guys, and thank you for giving me a rockstar moment. The next song was "Connections" followed by the new one "Lights in the Sky."This was the one I was nervous about. We had just finished it days before, and I was playing the keyboard. The beginning was rough as we made a few mistakes, there were some pitch problems throughout, and the ending was a bit sloppy. With all those things happening, the song still felt so right. The response after the song was positive, our friends didn't fail us. Of course we are going to work harder to perfect it, but thanks to everyone who saw it and applauded.
After all this, I guess what I'm trying to get at is, being in a band does not make you better than anyone. Whether you are the worst musician in the house, or the greatest on the planet, there is no hierarchy. We are all striving for the same goals show after show. We are all there to do our best, and put on a performance all the while doing something we love. It takes a lot of guts to get up on stage and pour your soul out in front of a group of people. I remember the huge amount of stage fright I had growing up, and to be on stage now is something I never thought would happen. Never stop reaching for your goals. Always strive to be the best whether you're the lead singer, the roadie, or the guy/girl who takes the tickets at the door. Do what you love, and never let anyone tell you that you can't. Music is: a gift, a curse, an art, a dream, a vision, a goal, a passion, and a life. You only get one of those things, so don't blow the opportunity.