Third Gig Blues (and a day off)

Ah.  Well you know, if you don’t have bad gigs then what do you have to compare the good ones to?  But perhaps “bad gig” is a little strong.  Actually there were some amazing moments.  Lots of them.

You have to be able to laugh at yourself.  That’s first and foremost.  With that in mind, my night started horribly in that I had seen the set lists earlier in the day and realized that one of the sets started with Horizon Line, which uses a drop D tuning.  (The low E is tuned down to a D… makes D chords fat as hell.)  And so about ten minutes before the start of the set I was scrambling… changing clothes, putting in contacts, getting my ears in… and I thought, Oh!  I have to tell Trey (our guitar tech amongst other things) to tune my guitar to the drop D.  Which I did.  Ha.  I’m ahead of the game!

And so we walked on for the first set, and then the count.. one, two, three, four…. and the band kicks into Another Door!  F#CK!!  Horizon Line starts the second set!!  So now, I’m in the wrong song, with the wrong tuning, and the intro to Door is one of those one meter on top of another meter sections, so I have no idea where I’m supposed to be playing.  Hell-lllo!!?!  It’s hard to worry about making mistakes when you start with a massive CLAM on the very first note!

Things can only get better, right?

And they did.  There was some great jamming.  We did Peel and Spock’s Brain which both came out awesomely!  And Take It As It Comes, one of the new originals Mike and I are writing, and that came out great as well.  Lots of good stuff.

But by the end of the second set I was tired.  I think the crowd was tired maybe, or maybe I was projecting that.  We ended the second set with a couple of rockers, How Many People Are You (another new M & S original) and Dig Further Down and, for me anyway, it was like pulling teeth.

But you know, it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.  I’ve learned my lesson about that.  It used to be that if I had a bad night and people would say, “Great set!” I’d be like, “Um, no.”  But I’ve had enough experiences listening back to nights I thought sucked only to realize they were pretty good.  It’s all so subjective!

So yesterday we had a much needed day off.  It was a chill day that included a BBQ and a little bowling… 🙂

And today we play in St. Louis.  I think I have an idea on how to improve the sound of the guitar.  I’ve been being kind of a purist about things in that I haven’t done any EQ or compression on the guitar sound in my in-ears, the idea being that I want to know what it sounds like out front as much as that’s possible.  I would hate to have the guitar sounding like butter in my ears and like crap out front!

But I need the thing to sound good so that I can play the way I want to.  Did I make the helium comparison yet?  Imagine you needed to convey something deeply emotional… only you’ve just inhaled helium.  That’s what it’s like to play guitar without the right sound… it just doesn’t express the way it’s supposed to.

And so my idea has to do with panning.  The way I have my mix currently reflects my perspective physically, with Robert’s keys panned right, Craig’s percussion panned hard left, Mike just a little left, but my guitar and vocal dead center.  Mike mentioned to me yesterday that he originally had me and Robert panned right because that’s where we are physically, but he moved me to the left but also put the guitar reverb to the right, and he said it sounded great!  So that’s one of the things I’m going to try.  It will be mixing the band how I would mix an album rather than reflecting the physical reality.  I think that will help get the guitar sound out of my face.

I have to give a shout out to our crew here.  None of this stuff would work if it wasn’t for them.  They start setting us up while I’m still rolling out of bed and they are taking down long after the last notes ring.  And the entire time they are there helping to create this amazing thing.  There is just SO much technology and creativity overlapping here which requires considerable effort on everyone’s part and our crew does an amazing job of getting it altogether and tolerating us musicians at the same time!  Much gratitude in their direction!

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