Monday, December 10, 2012

Musicians Who Hate Watching Live Music


Crowd types I've played to:

1) No one
2) Next to no one
3) The bartender and the one friend I least want to be there
4) A few of my friends using their cheers to try to double their numbers when they are the only people filling 25% of the room
5) A few of my friends drowned out by drunken frat boys who to their credit cheer wildly at "A Thousand Miles"
6) Friends forced in to whispered commentary by their proximity of the stage
7) A lot of my friends talking/eating/drinking/having a good time who stop their socializing to cheer wildly at the end of each song

The crowd I played to Tuesday night at Knitting Factory was entirely new. I got the lucky right-before-the-educational-panel slot, when everyone was ushered in from mingling in from the front room to be seated in folding chairs and LISTEN. And listen they did until they could close each song with a golf clap. I had about two friends in the audience (sorry promoter) so they weren't there to turn the tide. Not much energy to feed off, just me alone on stage with Elliott, staring past the blinding lights to the silhouettes of musicians silently reciting their elevator pitches so they could storm the panelists after I was done. I didn't feel like entertainment. I felt like a hurdle for these people to jump through.

I'm already pretty shy and networking-averse, but there's not much that sounds worse to me than being the next person in line trying to sell her music to an "industry player." So I barely spoke to anyone. Haha. We'll need to get over that. The shy, sensitive "poet" types don't get very far these days.

Neither do artists without funds, as evidenced by the band who brought $20,000 worth of equipment to play a 5-song set. But that's another story for another time. :)

What is it about musicians that keeps us from enjoying someone else's music? Part of it is that we see the other's flaws, yes. But also I think we're all terrible at living in the moment, particularly when there's a chance to promote ourselves coming up in 30 minutes. We're all about the future, the next step, the bigger concept… not today, this note, this moment.

I wonder if my anxiousness when listening to other musicians is a symptom of the larger problem that makes me sometimes snap out of performing headspace mid-set and worry about the number of people in the room, whether they're having a good time, whether they feel like they have to be polite, etc. It's just really hard for me to stay in the present moment when my music is involved.

Maybe learning to listen attentively to someone else's songs and enjoy them at face value will be good practice for living in the moment.

Found my first resolution for 2013! :)