Twas the night before gig night and all through the… awe fuck it. There’s no clever poem here or prose but anyone who is or has ever been in a band knows that the night before gig night is like like a really fucked up cross between Christmas eve and the stress of packing the night before leaving for a fucking cruise. I don’t know what it’s like for touring bands but for those of us who do gigs on a predominantly local level, gigs are a big fucking deal.
I played for the first time in front of people back in, I believe, 1987. I was in 8th grade and St. Benilde Elementary School. It was my kid brother on drums, my friend David on bass, Eddy on guitar, and me on guitar and vocals. We signed up to play the talent show. We rehearsed a few times and we didn’t even have a name. We were introduced as, “a rock band.” We got up on stage in our cafeteria and played “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone.” It sounded like a very unsure Sex Pistols playing it note for note like The Monkees version. It was fucking horrendous. A bunch of kids laughed at us but some of the kids (and a few girls) came up to us and told us they thought it was cool.
I don’t remember at all what we talked about or felt as a group (we never played together again) but I remember after that moment that I always wanted to feel that. I wanted that rush, that excitement, that feeling of nervousness to the point of nearly puking. You know? Tapping your foot nervously and pacing around. To some, this must sound absolutely horrible but to me, it’s one of the most magical feelings you can ever feel. It’s better than sex, better than alcohol, better than any high you can imagine. From my first taste of that, it’s all I ever wanted and that’s why over 25 years later I still do this.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because tomorrow night my band Collins Drive has a gig and every night before a gig, I remember that first time. It’s like the first time you ever have sex. It may not have been the best (or far from it) but it’s a moment that you never forget. I think about that moment and I smile as I work through my packing list and gather my tools of the trade. Guitar picks? Check. Capos? Check. Setlists, mailing lists, band stickers, guitar stand, mic stand, amp, whatever else the fuck I need to make it through a gig? Check, check, and motherfuckin’ check. As I pack my things and get everything lined up, the memories of past gigs fill my mind and have me smiling. Metal gigs, solo gigs, folk/rock gigs, more solo gigs, and bluegrass gigs, it’s a stroll down memory lane that serves as a reminder as to why I love doing this so much.
Gig day, now that’s a whole other story. It’s literally like waiting for your Disney Vacation to get here. You find yourself doing everything you can to not think about it too much and do as much shit as you can possibly do to pass the time. And then when the dreaded load in time arrives, you lug all your shit into venue, bitch about it with your band, and talk about how kick ass it would be if we could have roadies. Your time is finally there and you feel your heart in your throat. You walk up on stage, suddenly have this fear that you’re going to forget all the songs and once you hear that first round of applause after the first song is over, it all dissipates and in the blink of an eye, it’s over. This is where it gets hard for me. So here I am having been riding on this ethereal high only to come crashing back down to earth.
No matter how many times I do this, it never gets old. It always feels like the first time over and over again. The excitement, the stress, the energy, it’s all there and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. With that being said, I better get ready for the show tomorrow night! Hope to see y’all there!!!