But boy. It turned out basically how I expected it too. Can't say I'm disappointed.
So lets back up.
OUR SINGER IS 2HRs LATE
A MuTECH performance is never without a whole range of technical difficulties. First it was the USB hub crashing due to overload. Our course techie saved us by retrieving a powered USB hub for us. Then we had the crazy delay running through our system for no apparent reason. Simone managed to fix this too, and we continued on. And while these challenges were tedious, they didn't make us stop and go 'we may have a serious problem-- we can't perform'.
Our singer being two hours late made us do that though. Jake was in Brisbane all day for his internship, but when it struck 2.30PM when he was supposed to arrive at 1PM we started to get concerned. This singer, according to Simone, was always punctual and this was out of character.
Luckily we managed to get contact from him at the two hour mark and he arrived. While this wasted potential practice time (act two was set up first for tests, and we were in act one) it did mean he didn't have to wait around so much. And we did manage a brief practice, which illuminated some more deep rooted problems in our approach to the singer, but again, more on that later.
Our official sound check and rehearsal then went fairly well with the only thing being majorly detrimental being the soft foldback, which sadly wasn't really fixed for the performance despite us notifying it. But ah well. It happens.
ATTACK OF ZOMBIE MODE
Performing is a funny thing. From my last post, you know I had my concerns and was quite anxious about how we would go. But when I was on the bus heading into uni earlier that morning, I managed to put things in perspective and calm down, helped greatly by the fantastic overcast weather. This was it, after all. This was the end of my course. After this, we came into the home stretch. So I shouldn't have been scared. Couldn't. No, no matter how it went. Because this was the last chance I had to play with friends in this kind of environment. And I loved performing. I do love it. So I had to give it everything I had. And when the performance came, something strange happened.
I go into something called zombie mode when I'm put under stress. It's like the ultimate get shit done activation in my mind, where I can block everything out and focus on the task at hand. And I felt it come upon me while I waited in the audience for the first group to end, knowing I was up next even though that fact hadn't exactly clicked yet. And it was like my mind split in two.
There was part containing my thoughts like:
Then there was the part controlling my body.
That was the part that had me standing once my friends finished their performance, and had me walking down to the piano. I remember thinking, while I sat on the bench waiting for Simone to look back at me for confirmation to start, "what the hell am I doing?" I had no idea. But my body did. All my practice of this piece, and performing in general, was engrained in my muscle memory. All I had to do was hit play-- or for Simone to look back at me and start-- and I would begin. And I did, and no one knows how proud I am at that opening and my ability to match Simone's suspended chords that she brought in fairly irregularly as she mixed at the same time. We weren't supposed to match (never practiced to, really), but I made it work. Hey! It's the small things.
AH, THE SINGER!
Remember how I was talking about my sins yesterday? Well, this was another one. Jake, the fantastic man, needs direction. He needs someone to say 'this is how it goes' and drill it into him. Sadly this fact wasn't taken on board when practising. Instead my group wanted to let him 'do his thing' (which he was not sure of), saying 'just do what you want, we will follow you!" Dangerous words.
Jake may be a great singer, constantly performing, and in the last year of his Popular Music bachelor, but that doesn't mean we could just rely on him 'getting it'. No, we needed to have sat down at the piano with him and drilled in his notes, instead of relying on his ability to just follow along and pick it up. He needed those notes locked in.
I guess we were too busy worrying about ourselves, that we didn't fully put ourselves in his shoes.
It wasn't until that last practice before our sound check that it fully clicked in my mind what we had to do, and didn't do. Unfortunately. By then it was too late.
Also, because of this approach, I was never given explicit time-- and realised too late that it was something I really needed-- to teach everyone my 'tells'.
When I compose/play, I embed heaps of little tidbits alerting other performers, and the audience, that we are leading into something new. For an example, in the opening, before I switch from one broken chord to a more complex one, I don't play the last eighth note. It's small, but noticeable. You feel it. There are other things little motifs, and rhythms, and of course general crescendoing, or decrescendoing. It's a way of conducting without visual signals, and something I've been attuned too due to years of band work for all kind of positions and instruments. Maybe, like everyone expecting Jake to 'pick it up', I expected people just to notice these things-- or atleast feel it. But I'm getting side tracked.
OOOH - I MEAN FIRST VERSE
We were going so well, until our 8 bars of ooohs became 4 and we suddenly launched into the first verse. Luckily the high hit (which I use in the oohs) led well into the first verse. But when I looked back on the recording, you can see Jake look at Simone and I for direction and us heads down focussed. My bad.
What happened after that was an interesting improvised version of our piece as choruses were suddenly added, and sections suddenly changed. And I was having the time of my life! Where's the fun in just hitting play and going through the usual motions? Yes, it was a bitch to be suddenly thrown in the deep end. But it wasn't that bad, and seeming I'm not that bad either, it really wasn't anything to blink at. You just went with it, and had fun bullshitting your way through. Which I really did. It was great to make this a challenge, and actually have to perform.
I do have to own up for nearly bringing my solo that Simone created in too early, then rushing it a little when I got to it (poor Simone). Jake then brought the chorus in when the instrumental was supposed to happen, but it kind of worked so that wasn't a matter. After that, I improvised the heck out of the ending, and it was over, and I was walking back to my seat not sure that had actually happened, or having any idea about how it went. But it was over, and my mind was yet to catch up.
ABOUT THE VISUALS
From watching that video, I'm sure you've noticed the lack of visuals which we seemed to have spent so much time on earlier-- another sin. Turns out, another group took our idea and actually did something with it. Turned out pretty awesome, too, to be honest.
But by the end, we had to cut visuals. It had to be something set from day one that grew with the project, except we just didn't get to that point. We never did. And we couldn't have something detracting from the performance. So bye bye to that. Ah, well. C'est lavie.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT
We've come to the end. This is it. We're done. And boy it's been fun. Do I have regrets? Naturally. Have I learnt things? Of course. But that's all part of the experience. And out of all of it, I guess the fact I miss performing is the most notable. I don't compose near enough, let alone perform. I guess that is why we did this in the first place. A final time to perform with the MuTECH gang. I'm sad to see it end.