October 2, 2009

It Was A Sports Bar


I guess after the monumental high that was the Vinyl Cafe show, it's good to be reminded that not all gigs run smoothly.

Last night's show was a good example of how things can go awry, even when the people organizing things are lovely. Can I blather on for a while? M'kay.

I only tend to take unpaid gigs when the benefits seem to outweigh the lack of cash. I need to feel that there will be a good crowd, good publicity, a good cause, or free drinks at the bar... Something to make it worthwhile. I also pay the people in my band, so if there is nothing good coming from a free gig, then I'm simply out cash. I can't afford that.

This gig last night was a freebie, because it was a benefit, and also because it looked like it would be good exposure for me. I hoped I could sell a few CDs to cover the cost of paying Brian, and maybe help cover the cab ride home with all our gear.

Now I can tell you about how things went wrong:

First, we got lost getting there. Terribly lost. We knew the name of the building, and the room number, but that didn't seem to help. As with most campuses, U of O is confusing and badly designed. We finally found the right building and hopped in the elevator. Do you know where it took us? OUTSIDE. We took an elevator to nowhere and had to go back to where we started.

Anyway. We finally found the bar. It was a sports bar, and the hockey game was playing. There were tables full of drunk jocks. I've got nothing against jocks, but have you ever played a gig when a hockey game was on in the background? I have. I don't recommend it. Not only will nobody listen to you, but you will also get the shit scared out of you when the whole bar shouts "YEEEEEAH!!!! GOOOOAL!!!!" in the middle of your chorus.

So we sound check, and people start showing up for the benefit. We're still at about 80% jocks, 20% feminist philosophy students. The sound is very basic, but I'm assured it sounds great out in the bar. I have no idea, because there are no monitors. The bar is still pretty tame at this point, so I don't think the lack of monitors will be a problem.

I was wrong about that. Once we started our set, the jocks got loud. Really loud. With no monitors, I couldn't really hear myself play, and I had no idea if Brian was managing or not. The feminist philosophy students were hiding out near the back, but I think they were listening.

I guess someone scored in the hockey game, because all of a sudden, the tables erupted with a cheer so loud that I jumped a bit and moved my hand too quickly against the banjo strings. Ow. I looked down, mid-song, and noticed that I had stuck myself with the end of a string and was spouting blood.


I finished the song, but just barely. Thankfully I was able to keep the blood off the banjo. I wiped my hand on my set list.

We finished our set, and I bought both of us a beer. I was really hoping to sell a CD at this point, because the night had been a bit of a crap shoot. No such luck. I got a lot of shy smiles from the people who were listening, but they were obviously too scared to come say hi in person. I don't bite! Come say hi, please! Okay, maybe I bite, but not if I'm meeting you for the first time....

By this point I'm out the beer money, the money I used to pay Brian, and the money for the cab we just called. Plus I'm bleeding.

Two good things came from last night, other than being able to meet some nice people and support a good cause.

1. I was given a chocolate pussy pop by someone from the women's centre. As I've mentioned here before, I love those.

2. On our way out, we were invited to play a gig at Cafe Nostalgica, paid and everything. So somebody must have been listening.

I know these things balance out... I've had it happen before. I've certainly played worse gigs. I think I'm just tired and wondering how I managed to come out the other side poorer and more exhausted.

Tonight I'm supposed to go dancing, and I hope for the sake of my friends that I can squeeze in a nap first. This weekend promises to be much more pleasant than this past week, so here's to looking forward!


On a separate and painful note, my leg/foot/hip problems are getting so bad that I'm going to make a doctor's appointment to see if I need physio. My hip was so sore yesterday that I actually limped to the bus stop. Fucking hell.


Milan said...

Sorry the gig was such a disaster. I can't imagine trying to play the banjo in a hockey bar. Just being inside one is plenty uncomfortable for me.

Hannah said...

"Not only will nobody listen to you, but you will also get the shit scared out of you when the whole bar shouts "YEEEEEAH!!!! GOOOOAL!!!!" in the middle of your chorus."

That is terrible and begs the question why they would hold that kind of concert in a sports bar knowing that rowdy, drunk men would be there?

XUP said...

Well that all totally sucks, except for the part where you got a paid gig out of it. Why would they organize a benefit in such a venue?

Milan said...

Not to be too much of a stickler, but the unwanted hockey noise _raises_ the question of why they thought the bar would be a good place for the gig.

'Begging the question' is something very different: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beg_the_question

Stella said...

Milan: I think you and I have a similar aversion to sports bars.

Hannah: I have no idea why they paired the event with a hockey game, but had I known, I may not have accepted.

XUP: The paid gig should be fun, whenever it happens!

Milan: You geeky geekface! I'll show you a begged question!

Shawna said...

Ugh. Trying to play folk music over a hockey game, or general loud rowdiness is positively heartbreaking on stage. I'm sad to hear it happened last night :(

1. if you have the misfortune of entering yet another sports bar in your life, for any reason, let's make sure to go together and dole out the beatings with our fists of fury?

2. let me make it up to you with a delightful, attentive crowd at the Cameron in Nov?

Bob said...

Nostalgica should be a MUCH better venue for your music.

Ah, the glamour of being a musician. Where do I sign up?