Playing music live for an audience is the most interesting of pastimes. This past weekend Cosmic Debris played twice. Friday night we played for two and a half hours in a small club in Little Rock. This is a place we love to play. The room is small, but just the right size for our crowd. It always sounds good, and a lot of my friends were coming out.
Alas, Murphy’s Law would reign over the evening. Brian, our sax man, was twenty minutes late due to an unfortunate key inside the locked car incident. This put us off of our game. Also, it was our first time to play together in well over a month. I, personally, stank. I made all manner of mistakes. My guitar tone was awful, I forgot how songs went, and I even stepped on my cable and unplugged my instrument during an important part of a tune.
At the end of the night, Luke (our lead singer) said to me, “Is it really worth it? You have a family just like me. Is it worth it to be away from them every weekend if we are just going to embarrass ourselves?”
And I did not have a good answer for him. So I thought about it. All night Friday and all the next day, I considered that maybe I was too old. Maybe I had missed my chance. Perhaps I was fooling myself and wasting time that I could be spending on more important matters.
Saturday night we were scheduled to play for four hours at a large, former strip club in a nasty town where we would just as soon not go. We booked this gig because the money was good. There were no expectations of anything but a night of hard work in a smoke filled room, with a moderate paycheck at the end. By the time we arrived and started setting up, I had decided that we needed to set an intermediate goal for ourselves. I told the other fellows in the band, “Let’s just use tonight to get back in the groove. Let’s relax and stretch out. We need to remember how to play with each other. If it sucks at times tonight, and they never ask us back here, then no big deal.” After all, I thought, the important gigs are in Little Rock. This one is a glorified rehearsal.
Well, to spare you the details, Saturday night we played perhaps the best we have ever played together. We were musical, experimental, tight, exciting, and entertaining. It came very naturally. All of the solos were new and unpredictable. Everyone had an amazing time, and we came away totally rejuvenated.
So now I will tell you the really weird part about playing music. The only comments I got from the crowd after Friday night’s show were positive. I convinced myself that they were just being nice, but the fact is, people seemed to really enjoy themselves and the place was relatively full for the entire night. Saturday night, after playing my little heart out and improvising some of the most emotional and intense guitar solos I have ever mustered, this is the comment I got from an audience member: “Nathan, you should really turn your guitar up some more next time. I really could not hear you at all on your solos.”
So who do we do it for? Us I guess. Is that bad? No it just can’t happen any other way.