There’s no local crew here to help us load in. The gig is upstairs, but thank f— for the lift. It’s a push of around fifty yards from the bus to the wee tiny lift. You throw a few pieces of gear in, dash up the fire escape to push a button, watch the lift rise, get the gear out, and wheel/carry it to the stage. Do that many times.
The in-house crew don’t feel like helping us lift anything. It takes a while to get set up and ready. Remember yesterday I said something about a working rhythm, a routine? Yeah well…tomorrow we’re supposed to set up on a boat.
From a photograph I saw, this floating nightmare looks like a lifeboat. Speakers strapped to gunwales, amps squeezed in behind the drum kit. It’s no place for any roadie who wants to do something slick and professional. This is like hipster busking.
The space is tiny, much smaller than any small stage we’ve fitted on already. We need to pare down. We need to work out a solution today, pack accordingly tonight, so that when we get there tomorrow, we cross-load into a van, praying for two things:
1) the organisers have given us enough information
2) we’ve done our homework.
This stuff stresses me out. I suppose it’s ego. It’s hard to erase the picture in my head. Fighting a losing battle. The degree of difficulty isn’t supported by the result. The effort doesn’t pay off. You’re going to end up losing. Sure, if it’s life-and-death…go down fighting. But this is a struggle between good gig and bad gig.
To a seasoned musician, a bad gig is when things sound awful, the equipment dies, no one shows up, or you forget how to play the songs. Roadies can only help in the first two instances. If we give the band a fully working stage (even if it is tiny) and dependable tools, they can work wonders with a crowd. From a roadie standpoint, a bad gig is one in technical disarray. Call it organisational feng shui. If your sixth roadie sense is telling you something’s out of place, you can’t ignore it. Things need to gel technically. It’s a matter of physics. Time and space. Objects moving from A to B. And this ain’t Star Trek, this is the low-tech world of rock ‘n roll. Traditional physics laws apply: two objects can’t occupy the same space. My gut tells me unless we change our approach, the musicians aren’t going to have that fully working stage.
Between us all we’ve enough experience to make just about any gig work. We’ve got a bus to sleep in, and a trailer filled with the beating heart of a big rock show. (Hint hint, we even have acoustic guitars.) Every day we make things work. But this is what I see in my head, in bold neon letters: Big rock show on tiny boat can’t happen. To me it’s simple physics, impossible to ignore.
‘Chill, it’s just music.’
I felt like handing over a set of keys and saying:
‘Okay then. These open the trailer. All your music’s in there. Fit it in a tub.’
By the time this gets published, the silly boat gig will be over. It’ll be interesting to see if my prediction is correct. And I do predict we’lI get there and realise we’ve brought too much stuff. Ash will have to play like they did in 1993. I remember those days. Rough ‘n ready rock ‘n roll.
* * *
There was a development after the show. Bear in mind first, the plan was to take the following to the boat:
drum kit in cases, hardware and cymbals, combo amp, three guitars, two basses, a bass amp, an 8×10 speaker cabinet, microphones, a wireless in-ear rack, a few tools, some accessories, a drum carpet, some loose shite…and I think that’s it. Now get all that…not in a van…but…taxis.
Have you ever tried to get an 8×10 in a taxi? If you don’t know what an 8×10 is (pronounced eight-by ten), imagine this: you’re four feet tall. You’re quite fat. And you’re dead. It’s the size of your coffin. Now get your fat, rigor mortis arse in a taxi. And bring a drum kit. I’m laughing as I type, imagining our little gig on a boat painted by Dalí. I picked a terrible time to stop drinking.
The two local sound and lighting guys ‘helped’ us load out. They pushed a few items to the door and one guy said ‘I got it this far, it’s all yours now.’ It was snowing. Fifty yards of thick, slippery slush. Thanks for all your help guys.