Friday, September 7, 2007

It's a Drummer's Life (Shakin' that Arse - Pt 2)

After the fun of Saturday Mimosa had another gig to play on the following day. It was a wedding reception, our first such gig and we all felt a little bit apprehensive. It's one thing to play in dodgy clubs and festivals but a wedding reception is different; we had to be at our best and we had to do all we could do make it enjoyable for the audience.

We had been chosen by the bride and groom after they had seen us play at a club some months ago. It was quite an honour to hear that they had listened to about 10 bands before they heard us and decided immediately that we were the correct one for the job. We'd been given a schedule for the evening and knew we had to abide by it, turning up late and hungover for a gig at a smelly club with no punters is all well and good and par for the course for the average musician, but for someone's wedding it wasn't a viable option.

So we were at the venue at 4PM as instructed so that we could set up and sound check by 5.30, when the happy couple would arrive. At 5 o'clock we were pleased with our progress. Everything was set up, there was problem with a couple of the monitors but it wasn't a big one, and we were ready to soundcheck and run through a couple of songs to warm up.

At 5.01 I, as well as several other members of that great funky band I'm in, had a heart attack. The bride and groom had arrived at the venue, half an hour early. What to do? We were faced with two choices, or three if you include the one about packing up quickly and doing a runner; we could either stay quietly in the background and wait until 8.30 to start our set, risking the possibility of bad sound and its consequences. Bear in mind we are an 8 piece band so there's a few instruments to be balanced to ensure we do sound ok. Or we could go ahead and soundcheck, albeit briefly, in front of the newly weds and the few guests who had arrivied with them.

We went for the last option. We all felt very frustrated that we might piss off the couple, our employers, but we felt that we had stuck to the timetble they had supplied and a soundcheck was essential for us to sound good, as well as the fact that the couple had arrived early. Of course, the rough game plan we had beforehand; to run through some of the songs in their entirety, the ones we hadn't practiced for a while, became a total non starter and we did our soundcheck as quickly and as professionally as we could. Then, off we went, to wait around for the 3 1/2 hours until we were required to play.

At 8.30 we took to our stage. We were to do 2 sets, both of about 45 minutes, and we planned on a slightly more mellow first set and a kicking dancing type of second set. As we started a few people began to dance. This was nice and positive and more people began to join them and boogie away. I felt a great sense of confidence and assurance in our playing. Perhaps this was to do with the fact we had gigged the previous day, perhaps it was influenced by our increasing maturity as a band, perhaps it was because of all 3, perhaps my counting isn't that good after all.

I don't know. But we finished the set and went to our little room to wait for the resuming of festivities. By 10 PM we knew that the guests would be very drunk, the atmosphere would be more relaxed and the music would be more lively.

You know, I noticed something about wedding guests, women specifically. It's the fact that many ropey looking women get dolled up for a wedding and end up looking quite nice as wedding guests. It's like a day at the races, they put on a glamorous dress, some make up and a push up bra and they become a different person. And often, this different person wants to flirt with the chaps in the band, occasionally even with the drummer. This whole "drummers being sexy" thing is a bit of a revelation to me and I'd be grateful if T, or someone who subscribes to the idea could attempt to explain it to me.

We're clearly different to the other musicians. A bit like a goalkeeper in that we're part of a team but we play a very individual role within the team. But why do some women go for drummers? Is it the physical thing, in that they know we're all capable of rhythmic movements all night long? Is it the fact that we sweat and exert ourselves for a long time for pleasure? Is it that fact that we're experts in controlling the movements of our body, from our fingers to our muscular legs? Or maybe it's the way that we're pretty damn good at making one part of our body do one thing while another part does a totally different thing?

I really don't know, but I can't see why any of these qualities would be in the least bit attractive to some middle aged woman, dressed up to the nines and out to have a good time. These things mystify me.

But our second set really kicked some arse. We were in fine form and so was the crowd. Sometimes it's bad to analyse these things too much, sometimes analysis tears them apart. But this was just fun, pure and simple. We had virtually the whole throng up and dancing for about an hour solidly. Debby, our singer, was in fine form, the band was as slick as we have ever been and I know I played solidly. We made some mistakes but we're good enough to deal with them without a train crash.

We all enjoyed ourselves, something that I've come to learn is a huge factor in how much the audience enjoys the band, if the band is smiling and laughing and looks like it's fun there's an infectious enthusiasm about it. There were people dancing as if dancing is going out of fashion. There were grandparents and grandchildren dancing together and the generation in between was too.

I got a big thrill as I looked up at one point and saw a club full of moving bodies and thought that it was my groove that they were moving to, it was me who was giving them the rhythm and the feel to dance to. Of course I didn't want to dwell on it for too long or I would have missed a beat or shat my pants or something. But, as I've said before, there's not much better feeling than knowing it's us that were making the people dance, our songs, our music and our playing.

At the end of the set the room emptied quicker than you could say "you're not allowed to smoke in here now so you have to go outside for a fag" and we were left to take our stuff down, the drummer's bane. We did that and melted into the night. There were some thank yous, some women to be fought off, or not, as the case may be and there was the routine of work the next morning.

I had a band practice with the covers band the following day too, followed by another Mimosa practice the next evening. I love it though.

The whole gigging for little money, setting up and lugging around a drum kit, getting knackered while playing and having to learn new songs.

I wouldn't swap it for the world.

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