How Do You Unwind After Your Gigs? By Alex Walsh
I played a gig last night and it was awesome! Amazing! Inspiring! A dream come true! The kind we all live for!
And then it was over and I went home. I didn’t realize how jacked up I was until I was in my living room and had put all my stuff down. I was tired but wide awake. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t know what to do.
The gig was a songwriter’s in the round at the Bazaar Café. The Bazaar Café is in the Outer Richmond District of San Francisco and a mainstay of the singer/songwriter scene. It’s an all-acoustic listening room (no p.a.), and it sounds great. My last few shows there have been reasonably well attended, but last night was off the hook crazy. The place was so packed we had to start 45 minutes late because the café staff was so backed up. This was a very happy problem! Wow!
There were two other songwriters onstage with me, Liz Riley and Tom Gewecke. A songwriter’s in the Round is a show where we each take turns playing our songs, and improvise playing and singing on each other’s songs. I had met Liz at a Peter Case songwriting class last spring at the Blue Bear School of Music in SF. We hit it off and decided we would do a show together at some point. Liz knew Tom and suggested he play with us. Songwriters in the round are fantastic when the other musicians have some chops. I had never played with either of them before, and I had just met Tom that night, so I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I had an inkling it was going to be a good audience when I saw the response from Liz’s friends on our Facebook Events Page. 21 people said they were going. Impressive! But I didn’t want to get too excited because you never know.
When the show finally started the room was electric. With a crowd that size, everything is magnified—at least from my prospective as a performer. Jokes are funnier (because laughter is infectious), dramatic moments at ends of songs where you can hear a pin drop are more profound (a room full of people focused on silence is very powerful!) and grooves are a little funkier (maybe that’s just me). I opened the show and got the crowds attention and then we went around four times and finished our first set. I was very entertained—these guys were “better than I thought”, to quote Eddie Alley.
At the break a lot of people wanted to know if we had rehearsed for this. They were amazed when I explained that this was our first time playing together. And I was surprised that they were amazed! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that what we do as musicians is not something everyone can do (maybe that’s the next blog). That’s something I need to work on—putting value on the skills I’ve developed from my talents.
The second set was even better. By that time a few people had to leave (it was a Sunday night after all), and the room was comfortably packed. The laughs kept coming and the music took on a life of its own. We were asked to play an encore which is always heartening, and we each walked away with some good tips. It really was a magical night!
And then it was over and I went home.
It was only 10 o’clock! And I was starving.
But it was too late to go out again. So I made some popcorn and tried to unwind by watching TV. I thought about doing some work but my mind was racing and I couldn’t concentrate. I replayed moments from the gig in my head, even talking to myself out loud as I went over what I said to the audience, or what I could have improved. When the popcorn was gone I made more. Then a sandwich. Pretty soon it was 1 am. I had to get up and go to work so I forced myself to crawl into bed.
Next time I’ll plan my after gig experience a little better.
So, how do you unwind after your gigs?