Monday, April 14, 2008

Music To Get Concussion By

At the gig last night there were about nine singers who were to perform with the house band. The venue was small with two floors, although the upper floor was more like a mezzanine. It was narrow with a spiral staircase curling up through the middle. There were plants, pictures on the wall and brightly-lit fish tanks throughout. The band was set up on the upper level in a room with a glass panelled roof. Round tables were placed throughout, chairs angled towards the musicians, with just narrow gaps for people to move around.

Some friends had been going to come but it was a Sunday and people had to work the next day. I didn't push it, ten pounds is a lot of money to most people I know. Anyway, sometimes it's easier to just have to worry about the performance without having to concern myself with whether other people are having a good time or not. Upon arriving yesterday, though, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I would have liked to have a conspirator with me, someone to share the nerves with and whose face I could rely upon to be friendly. On the other, ten pounds really is a lot and it seemed unfair to guilt my friends into coming. When I arrived, though, I felt suddenly very alone. I was exhausted already, having been in the studio the day before and then partying until four in the morning. I felt like my reserves of confidence had been tapped out and I was more than unusually intimidated by the crowd.

The place was packed. Full of loud, confident people with friends. People who had a sheen of wealth about them, who are all either beautiful or just have that expensive glow about them that confuses the eye into suspecting they might be. I stood in the corner, having waved my arrival and been handed a glass of wine. The room was warm and the windows were already beginning to steam up. I sipped at my wine. Another girl was singing so I listened with interest, occasionally pressing the cool glass against my face to ease my burning cheeks.

A woman was sitting with her friends at a two tables right next to the band-area. Those two tables and fifteen chairs she had reserved seemed to take up a considerable portion of the room, small as it was. She smiled warmly at me introduced herself to me as Carmella, one of the other singers. I was relieved to meet a friendly person, and began to feel more comfortable. Slowly the fifteen chairs began to fill up as her friends arrived, shrugging off coats and bags, acquiring drinks and sitting down.

Within ten minutes of my arrival the place was heaving. Not a spare chair in sight and people crowding to fill the space around the furniture. As the temperature rose I felt my cheeks growing pinker and longed to sit down.

Eventually it was my turn to sing. I stood and took the microphone after I had been introduced ("the jazz party débutante!") and, after turning to the band, started to sing Black Coffee. I stood straight, looked into the faces of the sheened strangers and felt myself relax.

Almost immediately some more of Carmella's friends arrived. Standing less than two feet away from me they clattered in, talking and shifting chairs about with a screech. Carmella herself stood up and began loudly directing members of the group and seeming to try to rearrange the whole seating arrangement. I was jostled and stepped on numerous times, singing all the while and attempting to see through to the people who had been watching. The chatter exclamations continued as I struggled to be heard through the noise and seen through the bodies. I tried not to glare too obviously at the interrupters and Carmella bustled around the table, handing out wine glasses and welcoming people extravagantly.

They sat and quieted down eventually. By the end of the song I could once more see the people to whom I was performing, but I felt angry to be so ignored so I think I over-sang the rest of my set. It's difficult in those sorts of situations (it was not the first and I am sure it won't be the last) to keep the anger out of my voice. It went well on the whole, but I just felt that the rudeness was inexcusable, particularly coming from another performer. It wasn't my gig so I resisted making a sarcastic comment asking everybody pointedly whether they were finally sitting comfortably. Perhaps I should have done.

When I had finished I went to the toilets, and saw that my cheeks were scarlet and I had an attractive-looking heat rash creeping across my chest in a sinister fashion. Positioning my hair to try to hide it, I took a deep breath and stepped back into the foray, resolving to talk to people and make friends. I lasted about another hour, getting increasingly hot and tired. I also managed to crack my head hard on an air-conditioning vent whilst standing precariously on a chair, causing most people around me to embarrassingly check whether I was alright and leaving hot tears welling up in my eyes. After that I just threw in the towel and went home, leaving the rich and heat-immune to their party.

It was an interesting sort of gig. I'm glad I did it, but it was quite stressful. The recording on Saturday went really fun and was in a great studio, so my high from that has not yet quite ebbed, despite being back in office temp costume today (the most important accessory for which is my patented "Mask of Boredom").

Each gig is different. Some are unexpectedly great, but at other times it just takes one person to take the shine off the whole thing. I don't like having to fight to be heard, and I don't like to over-sing as a result. Neither do I enjoy hitting my head dramatically in public whilst standing on a chair, but I suppose these are both things that just sometimes have to be endured.


Anonymous nuttycow said...

Dare we ask *why* you were standing on a chair?

5:00 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Nutty Cow - Doesn't everybody just stand on furniture at regularly timed intervals throughout an evening? No? Perhaps I need to re-visit my Book Of Etiquette...

(I couldn't see the singer because there were too many people so I decided to be inventive, then quickly regretted it.)

5:31 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Nutty Cow - Doesn't everybody just stand on furniture at regularly timed intervals throughout an evening? No? Perhaps I need to re-visit my Book Of Etiquette...

(I couldn't see the singer because there were too many people so I decided to be inventive, then quickly regretted it.)

5:31 pm

Blogger Badass Geek said...

I can't avoid hitting myself in the head whilst in public. It seems to be unavoidable, mostly due to my lack of coordination and a large head.

3:52 am

Blogger Ys said...

ahh no i'm sorry the gig got ruined for you. that girl sounded incredibly rude. was it deliberate? maybe you could take heart that she was so threatened by you.

why is it when we're feeling low we always have to embarrass ourselves in public? it's so unfair!

4:00 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

I hate those uncomfy moments where you feel out of place and not at all at home and it just doesn't get any better. Sorry about your noggin. That is the worst especially when you're already feeling out of sorts. Cheers to getting thru it, love.. I'm sure you sounded lovely and perfect as usual. I look forward to the day I get to hear you in person! xo

9:46 pm

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Ow, your poor head! I was looking at the pictures of the singers on your post below and trying to work out which one is the silly rude mare. Any hints?

12:56 pm

Blogger Curly said...

You're right, they are things that have to be endured and you can chalk it all down to experience and roll on...

I like the idea that there are thousands of rich people wandering around who have bought heat-immunity cream. (I imagine it'd be cream, rather than a pill)

12:44 pm

Anonymous Dave said...

Don't give up! Go into events assuming that no-one is going to listen and then if they do, it's a bonus! I do open mic nights every week - if the talking is too loud, I just play louder songs. Eyeball the loudest person and ask them what they want you to sing. Make a fuss of them and they might shut up.

10:45 am


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