After the gig

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I don't know why it came into my mind, but at the last minute I decided to do a comedy set. That meant chucking many of the songs I'd rehearsed and substituting some I hadn't rehearsed at all.

I dropped "Blue Skies", "Feelin' Fine", "Basket Case", "The Alligator Song" and "The Light. I added "Laundry & Lint", "Only Wanna Screw", "Big Bottom", "Wish I Were an Asshole", and Dennis Leary's "Asshole". In the end, it looked like this:

  • Laundry & Lint
  • Bring on the Rain
  • Works Department
  • Backing up is Hard to Do
  • Only Wanna Screw
  • Big Bottom
  • Comfortable Things
  • Wish I Were an Asshole
  • If You Don't Play
  • Asshole

That's half the songs replaced, but that's not disaster territory for me. If I've rehearsed a song enough in the past, it will come back to me as I play it. It's like dominos in reverse: each line sets up the next one. I barely know what the line is until I'm about to sing it. It works even in a song like Asshole, with two rants as well as the rest of the song.

There's something lost and something gained by flying by the seat of your pants. When you know the wings could come off at any moment, that gives a certain energy. But when you're completely confident, when your body knows what it's doing and can finish the song without you, that lets to focus on making the performance great.

Bits of this performance went over better than others. "Only Wanna Screw", "Backing Up is Hard to Do", and "Big Bottom" got laughs. Myke said he liked "Works Department". Marcus Walker played on many songs, which definitely raised the level of the performance. It was funny, because I deliberately hadn't asked Dominic or Sarah von Riedeman to play with me. The Best of the Open Stage made me think of solo singer-songwriters, so that's what I decided to be when I played there. Then half the guests showed up as duos.

Having a good audio memory has been a blessing and a curse. Because I quickly memorize a part, I don't need written music very long. So I've never learned to read it quickly. But in the local music scene, people are expected to run from memory. And how could I have pulled last night off if I wasn't good at that?