After a year and a half of not playing shows, our band played at the Cavern last night. The night went by very quickly and I'm still trying to collect my thoughts. To be honest, I felt we had a great set with no major slip-ups. Sure, there were some bum notes, forgotten lyrics and dropped beats, but the point was we came out strong and played well. This kind of satisfaction in a show like this has been a long time coming.
When I was very young, I thought it was cool to be up on a stage playing for adoring fans. When I actually started playing instruments like the drums and guitar, I realized that I enjoyed playing more than anything else that came with it. Sure, it's nice to play to a large and responsive crowd, but I've always chosen to focus on the people up on stage with me and how we play off each other. I've played to two people and I've played to 200 people and it's always been about the chemistry between me and my bandmates.
What's so strange about practicing for shows and playing them is that no matter how much you practice, it's never going to be the same as playing in front of people. In the case of Ashburne Glen, we practice at a moderately quiet volume level. When we play live, we play much louder and are way more intense. Weird things happen, like extended outros and a third verse with no vocals, even after you practice hard to get the songs down. It's what you do with the weird things that test your confidence and your improvisational skills.
I've played in bands before where it felt like there was a desire by other band members to get noticed (either by friends or A&R reps). That has never been a goal of mine and it wasn't a goal last night. Sure, we played to a lot of friends and a lot of people we didn't know, but the point was that we played well together. Whatever notice we receive afterwards is a nice extra pat on the back. I won't lie; it was really cool of Mark Reznicek (formerly of the Toadies) to come up to me, shake my hand and tell me I played well. I was pretty flattered by that.
Even though I had a very early morning wake-up call this morning (3:30) and a concern that I wouldn't wake up on time, I was glad I stuck with playing and focused on the fun factor of playing a show, regardless of time slot. While I was playing, I wasn't thinking of the infinite possibilities of what could go wrong nor whatever woes have been really challenging my patience as of late. That's the freeing thing about playing music; time doesn't really exist in its traditional form. Holding together a shared bond is special and means more than how we were paid, who forgot what or whoever had to leave as soon as the set was over.