At about midnight on Saturday Gina and I were having some issues.
At that time we were on the third song of our full-length, fully-electric Arcati Crisis set at Fergie’s pub.
Actually, we were about four minutes into trying to start our third song, my one-minute and six-second tune, “Glam.”
In case you are bad at rock math, 4:1 is not a very good prep-time to play-time ratio.
On the left side of the stage, one of Gina’s two lowest strings was a hair out of tune. On the right side of the stage, I was playing the opening riff to my own song in the wrong key (which sorta made Gina’s ever-so-minor tuning issue a moot point).
Even in the moment I was struck by the Alanis-Irony that after six months of preparing for our big electric debut we were having the kind of rock-stoppage that regularly felled us a decade ago when we were acoustic teenagers, all while our brand new drummer looked on, bemused.
That’s rock for you. You can practice all your high flying solos and set up an awesome effects chain, but rock has some basic requirements to fulfill and one of them is playing in the same key as each other (unless you want to play more experimentally and/or with a lot more distortion than we do).
You don’t think about this stuff when you watch a pop band play their new single on Saturday Night Live. They have guitar techs. The drummer has a click track in ear so they can cue samples. One of the guitarists is actually playing into a midi sequencer so it doesn’t matter too much if he’s a hair out of tune. And on every chorus the singer is doubled by a ten-track, four-part harmony pulled right off of her record.
That shit is way above our heads.
Of course, if one of them forgets what key the song is in they’re still in trouble, so I suppose what I’m saying is Gina would do fine on Saturday Night Live, but I would be immortalized in my own Ashlee Simpson moment.
But not really. Because I am a freakish perfectionist, and we had played all of these songs hundreds of times already, and we already played an awesome sneak preview date and teaser set and two awesome songs, and I was not about to let me forgetting for three measures the song was not actually in F ruin my night.
The upshot of this story is that the gig was awesome. The whole “Glam” snafu was barely a blip. On our third try we just started the damn thing, and after the eight seconds of dischordant intro all of our issues were over. We proceeded directly from that into a raucous debut of our cover of “Moonage Daydream.” Then we played Gina’s brand-new “Song for Mrs. Schroeder” for the first time, and turned in pitch-perfect versions of “Apocalyptic Love Song” and “Love Me Love Me Not” to end our first set.
I even hit the little hammer in the last verse of “Love Me Not” I had missed in our last few rehearsals.
Over an hour later we closed the night by launching into one of the most awesome, hard-rocking versions of Gina’s seven-minute epic “Brother John” that we’ve ever unleashed.
When it was over we said thank you, doled out sweaty hugs to our friends that had hung around until last call to catch every song, and got paid.
And then I drove a car inside of the Philadelphia city limits for the first time ever – at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning – and I didn’t even kill any drunk douche bags on Walnut.
In sum, the “Glam” incident barely even ranks. I’m only devoting precious digital column-inches to it as a reminder that the stupid crap that happens to me in the middle of a show only has to matter if I let it.
Otherwise, it’s eight painfully out-of-tune seconds out of a three-and-a-half hour gig, and that is a really effing good out-of-tune to awesome ratio.