My feet hurt…my back is a little sore…my fingers hurt…I’m hungry…and I’m really tired. As I write this, it’s 2:32 am on a Sunday morning, and I just got home. Yes, this is what I do for fun. This is my hobby, my part-time job, my favorite thing to do.
This is what it feels like after a gig.
Even though it looks like fun, and trust me, it REALLY is, gigs can take a lot out of you. If you put it into perspective, you can see why. First, let’s take a look at the time commitment. We always get to a gig at least two hours before we’re scheduled to start to set up equipment, tune guitars, and get everything ready to go. Some dates, we get there a little earlier. After the gig, which is usually four hours, we take about an hour to an hour and a half to tear down. So tonight, that meant that I was at the venue by 7 pm, and left a little after 2 am…a total of 7 hours. The workday at my corporate job dictates that I be there 7.75 hours per day, but I get a lunch period in the middle of it. So if you look at it in terms of hours, a gig is just about like an average workday, without a lunch period.
My average workday at my corporate job consists of me sitting in a cubicle all day writing on a computer. VERY seldom is there any heavy lifting involved. With a gig, there is a great deal of heavy lifting involved before we even take the stage. We travel with a big white truck full of sound equipment, and it’s not light. There are speaker cabinets, amps, mixers, lighting, etc. PLUS we have our own equipment to unload and set up, which for me, consists of an amp, two guitars, a briefcase and guitar stand. Setting up the equipment takes a considerable amount of time and energy, all the while trying to calm your nerves about your upcoming performance.
Then there is the performance itself. I stand for four hours with a 15 to 20 pound guitar strapped over my shoulder, and any performer will tell you that singing takes a lot of energy. The mental exhaustion comes from concentrating on playing everything right, going along with the rest of the band in case someone decides to do something a little different, and being aware of how the crowd is reacting to your performance. During our 20 minute break between sets (most bands take three breaks per night…we only take one) we occasionally relax behind the scenes, but most likely we go out in the audience to talk to friends or fans to get their opinion on the performance. Oh yeah, that means only one potty break during the performance as well.
That last half-hour can sometimes seem to take forever, but finally, our sound man hits the recorded music marking the end of the show. We go out again and chat just a bit with friends who attended, but they soon leave to make their way home. We turn around to see an entire stage full of equipment that has to be disassembled, packed and moved back onto the truck. Remember, this is pretty heavy stuff, so no matter how much energy you put into your performance, you need to save about 25 percent for teardown. After everything is packed up, then you can make your way home…a place you haven’t been for about 7 hours.
So why do I still do it almost every weekend, sometimes twice a weekend? Because, for me, being onstage is one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing that people are having a good time listening to my music is a rush for me, especially if I have friends there. And no matter how the crowd is reacting, no matter how many of the same people we see every weekend, no matter how many times we play certain songs, my friends in the band and I always have a good time.
I hope to see you there next time.