Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Summer in the City
Months of organising, planning, pulling out hair, persuading Tom that some things are very important and some things are not at all important, recording music, making CDs on which to store and sell said music, finally led me this weekend to driving to London to actually do all of the things that had been organised, planned, etc, etc.
On Friday we had a day for the tourists, looking around some of the famous landmarks. This went alright, but it's certainly something we'll tweak or totally change next year. Moving around is always a problem at gatherings in groups any bigger that 20 people, and there were a few spots of rain. But everyone was pretty excited to see each other and that feeling pretty much superseded everything! After food the majority of the people who were left went to a pub that we'd been to after some other gathering. Not that I'm an alcoholic, but that was definitely the best part of the day. It was the first time I could really relax and talk with friends old and new, just like we were normal people that saw each other all the time!
Friday night went on very late, I didn't sleep much and so I was pretty drained by Saturday, but we managed to get to Hyde Park not too late. The gathering was just big enough to attract the attention of the police, but fortunately nothing came of it. We had talked to the council beforehand to check. So I played some giant frisbee, met some people, sold some CDs, signed some CDs (lol), played the biggest game of pass the parcel you've ever seen in your life and drew on some postcards, but unfortunately after that I had to leave to go sound check for the evening. I really didn't want to go because it was all so nice and chilled out AND SUNNY! I can't even tell you how thankful I was for the sun that day because that could have fucked everything up and it was totally beyond our control!
But anyway, I had to go so I did. Went to The Luminaire and met the guys who would be running things, they were both really nice, helpful and good at their jobs, which are all things that I'm very happy to find in people I work with! So I checked sound, then met Greg and got him to start checking some sound, then I went back to the hostel and slept for a bit! Sounds like something I would regret with all the stuff that was going on, but that hour or so saved my life.
I got up, ate, had some red bull and got to the venue. I was in equal parts, surprised, relieved, excited and scared when the bouncer almost didn't let us in because it was 'packed'. A 300 capacity venue, packed before the first act had started! The fear was for the possibility of people coming from the gathering and not getting in. I'm hoping that didn't happen but have no way to know. I've convinced myself that it will have been alright because with people getting trains home throughout the night all you'd have needed to do was get a drink downstairs and try again in half an hour and I'm sure you'd have gotten in.
As Tom and Mhazz played I began to realise that I hadn't practised my own songs in months, which got me ridiculously nervous. I never usually get too nervous before gigs, and big ones like this I find easier than small ones because it reinforces the idea that you have the right to be on the stage! But I think that was the most nervous I've been since passing my driving test. I even had to miss half of Greg's set (and I fucking love Greg Holden) to remember words and learn songs. I literally had Tom (Prod) on ultimate-guitar.com on his phone finding out how to play that Julia Nunes song 20 minutes before I was on stage. Mr Milsom helped me out by walking in after Greg finished and saying something along the lines of 'He was so good, I would hate to follow that!' Oh nice one, brilliant!
Of course this was all my own fault for going to Malta for three weeks and then having to finish the CD in the week I had back in England, leaving me no time to play through the songs.
But anyway I got on stage and played untitled because 1) it's one of my most recognisable songs, and it's good to start with something people know, and 2) I could play it in my sleep so I wouldn't forget the words! After a couple of songs I finally started to relax. Not only had the nerves of backstage faded away, but the stress of organising was a distant memory. I was just a musician again, on stage with a great audience and a confidence in my abilities no matter how little I'd practised!
It turned into the best gig I've had (from my perspective anyway!) I remember little things like Sophie holding up the card to the audience telling them to sing 'Ahhhh Ahh Ahh Ahhhhh' during the Nunes song, sharing a round of whiskey with some people I don't think I knew in between songs, watching drunk people dance... I won't name and shame Mhazz at this point because I'm too nice.
I'd only written about 30 - 35 minutes worth of songs down on a set list and then I just asked what people wanted to hear. Those last 10 minutes were probably my favourite, I made it though the songs well enough to keep the flow, but there were little things that made me laugh, for example Cheekychen shouting out his version of the line 'I'd have to fall for a singer', which is of course, '... for a minger!'
After my set people were very nice, but then they usually are - it's not like youtube- this real life thing! I'll have to wait and see the footage, but I felt it went pretty well and the audience really responded so I think it was good.
The rest of the night was just fun times, drinks with friends and hanging out until we got kicked out, laughing at stories of a certain male friend who was apparently standing in the women's toilets, "swaying", or at Myles' text explaining that his absence was due to him being at a rave in a car park, which Jon's iPhone told us was an hour and a half's walk away. That was lucky because I was packing up my stuff to go meet him and that would have meant bad times for Sunday!
Even so everyone was pretty tired on Sunday, something that we had foreseen and thus hadn't really planned anything solid. It turned out to be a nice enough day but nothing particularly interesting happened so I'll leave it there.
So the weekend finished with no major catastrophes and a lot of positive feedback. Literally the day after I got home I was discussing next year with the other guys and we already have a facebook event up. We must be crazy.
Still, one of the best weekends ever.