Blog Home
Written By
December 01, 2013

Lessons From a Year Playing Live

December 01, 2013

My overarching personal theme for the last 12 months has been playing out, live. In the last year, between club and bar gigs, various festivals, benefit shows, private parties, live podcasts, and open mics I have played over 35 or more time -- and have learned a few lessons along the way that I thought I’d share.

Lesson 1: Read the Fine Print
January - Elbo Room (Chicago)

In January of 2013, Swig trekked all of the way to Chicago in the freezing cold to play our first out-of-town gig at the Elbo Room, in support of a national touring act. Each of the band had a few friends in Chicago that came out, and there were even a couple Indy fans who made the trip up to see us (gotta love them!) Our set went over well, and all-in-all it seemed to have been a success...until the headline act. Essentially, we paid (in gas, food costs) for the “privilege”  of playing with a national act. Ugh.


Lesson 2: Kids Are The Best Audience
March - Hoosier Dome (All Ages)

In March, we played a show at an all ages venue, called The Hoosier Dome — not to be confused with the old home of the Colts. Swig played with other local bands ‘Be Here Now’ and ‘Byrdhouse Sound’. What made this show so memorable was the all-ages aspect. Several of the musicians playing happened to have kids and/or younger family members who’d never had a chance to see their parents play.  My own sister and her niece and nephew came — the first time anyone in my family has come to see me play. That was pretty special. Plus, seeing everyone else’s kids play and dance and jump around with such abandon was incredibly energizing and inspiring. Way better than some of the stand-in-the-corner, too-cool-to-dance crowds we typically find.


Lesson 3: Better to Cancel Than Suck
April - Beale Street

Back in April, I developed a severe case of ‘tennis elbow’ in my left arm from playing bass so much. As bad as it looked (it was swollen so badly they called me ‘Popeye’ for a day or two), Swig had a show lined up at Beale Street, and I didn’t want to disappoint my bandmates or fans by cancelling the show. I figured I would just suck it up and grin and bear it. Boy was I wrong. I am not sure if it was the pain meds I took (yes, prescribed for me by my doc)... or maybe it was the rounds that friends kept buying, but by the time we went on — last band of the night, of course — I was a right mess. Come to think of it, I am quite sure that I completely transposed the bass lines of a couple of our songs… ha) --- lesson learned, never again!


Lesson 4: The Show Must Go On
July - Beer Friday Live

In July we played SmallBox’s own Beer Friday Live. We set up in the basement of our new building and kicked off the live performance/podcast with a handful of songs from our EP. Then we segued into a short interview with MFT’s Jon Rogers. After the interview, we had just started to launch into a last set of songs when Brian’s amp blew up. We heard a loud pop and then could smell the distinct odor of burnt wiring. Whoops!! We joked that it’s not a real rock show until something blows up… ha ha ha. After awkwardly standing around, trying to figure out what to do next (technically we still had 20 minutes or so of the show left), we knew that ‘the show must go on.’  I stepped up to the mic and hammered out couple of solo songs — ending the show with true professionalism and grace under pressure.


This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: Document your year in photos. Did one photo encapsulate your year? Maybe it takes a gallery. And don't forget to caption, describe, or or document what made an image so important. Let's see those photos!

Related Posts

Aug 26, 2016