Human Soundwave Company

This was a nice one.

Originally I was supposed to me MCing this night. Then Veronique decided that she wanted to do more nights at the same time that I thought that MCing this particular venue wasn’t for me. This left tonight in a sort of limbo, since I hadn’t booked it and she went ahead and booked March, forgetting tonight, and it was left sort of blank.

When I met her last week at the Kashmir Klub, she said she didn’t have an act and I said that I’d do it if she wanted, since (karmically at least) if someone was going to have to play to an empty room because the night hadn’t been promoted at all, it should be me.

I arrived at about nine o’clock, and the last few floorspots were going on, so I got to see the mighty Dave Russell. After the break there was the first main act (who was very good, but whose name I can’t remember. Curse my cheap, plastic memory! Perhaps someone can remind me, and I can fill it in here retrospectively). The poet hadn’t turned up. Veronique played a song, hoping that she would just burst dramatically through the door. But she didn’t. So I went on earlier than expected.

I started with Little Games and took it from there. My fingers seemed to behave themselves for the first time in public since I came back from Italy. Occasional glitches, but merely corroborative detail to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. As it were. Since I didn’t have to worry about my hands, I could check the energy in the room – fairly positive, except for a (possibly foreign, non-english speaking?) couple to my right. I couldn’t tell whether they were enjoying it or not, and I certainly seemed to lose them during the introductions. Although this might have been that they didn’t enjoy my jokes.

It’s interesting the disparity between the looks on people’s faces (or at least my ability to read the looks on their faces) and their actual attitude and energy level. If I looked at the audience I began to wonder what they were thinking, reading their facial expressions as potentially bored or hostile or similarly unsupportive. Not look at them, try to feel the energy instead, and I got a completely different picture. There were gaps in the energy – for example the foreign couple (who left after about half an hour, and the gap in the energy disappeared, which suggests some negativity on their part, although perhaps they have a foreign energy, the language of which I do not speak), the fact that the room was not packed, anyway – but outright negativity would cause a disturbance that can disrupt positive attention coming from other quarters. For example, the relatively small, isolated amount of negative energy at the VAC a couple of weeks ago drowned out the genuinely supportive, positive energy that was coming from the rest of the room. On of my Tasks seems to be to learn how to deal with this without flinching.

Because I went on early (and because the poet never did turn up), I played a longer set than I normally would at this venue. When there isn’t a particular time limit, I can relax into it. I played a lot of the stuff that isn’t yet recorded – Mr Wrong (which went fine, no riots this time) Obvious or 100 Horses – which makes me feel more confident about the new stuff I’m trying to write at the moment. Of the rest, I noticed that only the essential Iodine came from Plucked, otherwise it was Where Did It All Go Right?, The Secret Agent’s Dream, Sensitive Boy, Comforting Lie. The usual gang of reprobates. So perhaps I’m leaving the Plucked material behind (although Steve Beaver, a percussionist I’ll be working with, has done some work on those songs, and made them interesting to play again, so we’ll see).

Upward and onward.

I do enjoy doing longer sets, though, and think that I’m a better act while doing them. Given two or three songs, or half an hour, and I tend to stick to shorter, more reliable songs. At forty-five minutes to an hour I can add in more unusual material, play with the structure more. However, given that I lack the talent for attracting groups of people to see me, I can’t really demand huge quantities of time.

Which suggests several things that I can work on – either addressing shorter sets as ends in themselves, or getting better at attracting Bums On Seats. Or both. Or some other option, that I haven’t realised is there, yet.

The gig left me feeling warm and euphoric, despite the fact that it kept me up well past my bedtime. I have noticed that the headline spot at the Soundwave is a Charmed Place, that bestows positive vibes on many people who play it, and as such is actually an honour to play. A particular honour on a night when I was not rushed to finish the set (because of the normal weight of floorspots at the Soundwave, such temporal luxury is an especial treat)

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