Venues… The pride and joy of a musicians life? I think not!
This post will focus on a range of venues that I’ve played at, attended, failed at and also been paid at in my recent musical life. I say recent due to me only finding that music is brilliant since I was half way through 17, these are the venues I shall be discussing in my blog:
– Kidderminster College’s Theatre
– LG Arena
– L’Opera Italian Restaurant
Kidderminster College’s Theatre
Well this is my most comfortable of the three seen as though I attend the college and I’m used to the setup and way the theatres handled. These are the things that add to how I perform and my stage presence, I’ve done around 6-7 shows now but I’ll be conversing about one in particular which is “Quarantine,” This show is a theme based show centred around a zombie apocalypse and songs that have the same sort of aura about them. Some of the hits on this were;
– Toxicity – System Of A Down
– Killing In The Name Of – Rage Against The Machine
– Creep – Radiohead
– You Make Me Wanna Die – The Pretty Reckless
– Judas – Lady Gaga
So there was a well rounded set list with a variety of tracks, I’ve only added five but we as a class had a set of around 12-15, so let me get into the setup of the performance. We had 2 Laney amps + 1 Laney bass amp with the vocals being hooked up to the couple of grand P.A system, the drums had around 3 crash cymbals and 2 rides turning it into a ridiculous piece of equipment which we will soon learn to regret. As an extra too we had prosthetics added to our faces as we dressed as zombies and had extra skin which we threw at the audience to add to the theme and kind of creep them out, so on with the performance…
After a series of performances from other pupils it had fallen upon my group to sort of shake things up in order to keep the enthusiasm of the audience in our favor, so in the pitch black we start slurring our voices and walking with broken legs (zombies) and grab our instruments, with a massive open D chord combined with a smash of drums an twang of the bass the introduction to Rage Against The Machines – Killing In The Name Of we’re pretty much bouncing off the walls due to the fact that the guitar lines are so simple it gives the opportunity the exaggerate a performance. Then comes along the bass line which is D to Eb which builds suspense for another hard hitting riff which we execute perfectly and still keeping the performance strong and at a high level of energy and enthusiasm (I think it’s safe to say the audience were captured and that we were enjoying ourselves)
The next venue I shall discuss is the LG Arena in Birmingham, The pictures are just examples, the one on the right is a stage that is set up as the thousands walk in and have to be sat in an area for around an hour before they get ushered into the arena. This is where me and my fellow singer at the time supported One Direction and performed to around 1500-2000 people, the stage is spacious and the P.A system is quite expensive and the quality good too, the setup was just him singing and me with an acoustic so we were going to need to something special to attract the attention of everyone. First off, the sound engineers were very friendly and supportive which is a first and we helped them set up their gear as we wanted to cement a future placement, so as we waited around, the contact (Charlotte) starts messing with her Ipod playing constant chart music as thousands of girls were all checking out the stage.
On with the playing and my heart was racing as there were a carpet of faces and heads, I looked down and played my first 7th chord for John Newman’s “Ordinary People,” and then realized “Oh, this is easy, yeah let’s kick it up a notch,” so me being a “Not the average beach guitarist,” starts whacking out different chord voicing’s, rhythms and melodies as the vocalist gets more comfortable he also starts altering and improving the feel for songs. The audience’s reaction is phenomenal as we only played a 7 song set we were very much welcomed by the thousand and I assumed they thought we were famous, hence our great reception! honestly I wouldn’t mind playing for pop artists if it meant arena gigs as they really cement your ambition to play music. One of my best gigs to date and the difference between this and the college one is that this was purely foreign, we had no one that knew us that was there we purely had to showcase that we were pretty good to get them on our side. Quite a challenging objective but we somehow achieved it!
Last venue of my outrageously long blog post shall be my most recent of gigs (which I’m still currently doing as a regular gig) and that is playing as a background jazz band for an Italian restaurant. Now after doing this like 5/6 times the place really feels like regular work now but I’ll be discussing our first gig when it was just me, my guitar, amp, P.A system and Rosie.
So we had a deadline of 2 weeks to get a set list of 20 – 25 songs all of good quality so we could be the background music to improve the feel and all round atmosphere of a new Italian restaurant, as I got there the owner shown me where we were going to play in the next 2 hours… honest one of the tiniest spaces ever as we set up the equipment we barely had any room to play but then again made for a new experience. So on with the playing, as the tables started filling I put the reverb on the mic and guitar to add an effect and hopefully make us sound a lot better, the first 3 tracks had no applause and were of mediocre quality, we were nervous… very nervous!! Then again it was a “Background Noise,” gig so we continued to play at our best, we come to “My Funny Valentine,” in which we played brilliantly and the vocalist really nailed every section, after playing the last chord I hear “Bravissimo!” shout from the bar, the whole restaurant cheers and smiles at us as if they had been saving their applause for something special. The next 10 songs up to the break were played to a higher quality due to our confidence being lifted from that specific song, as we got to the break the tables were fully filled and the customers all wanted to chat to Rosie “The singer,” I’m never bothered about the aftermath of we playing as long as I know that I played the a high standard. We come back and the crowd are captured by every chord, every vocal line and every note that was played, me and Rosie look at each other and start rustling up the songs and become a tad more hedonistic with what we were playing. Also a great gig! The difference between this and the rest is that this is a lot more intimate, the crowd are eating so the song choices have to be very quiet and passive because you really don’t want to spoil their evening, also this is a paid gig which is very important.
Paid gigs add a certain amount of professionalism and pressure to any gig, you want that money and you will up the game. The objective set has to be met as well as bringing extra so that you cement your next future opportunities, as my story of the three venues comes to a close, just a note to say that I’m still playing at the Italian place, it’s brought many opportunities for me and Rosie in which we still thrive to become better. Plus there all paid gigs… which is nice!