Sunday, December 11, 2011

Get thee behind me, drummer

When we play an event that features multiple bands, it's typical for the organizer or venue to provide the sound equipment. Speakers, for instance. Or microphones.

Last night's Gift of Love benefit did us one better, though. They had everybody use the same drum kit, which was on a raised platform at the back of the stage. This meant much quicker loading and unloading between sets—good for the audience and convenient for the bands. It also made things ... interesting for Ron and me.

For those of you just tuning in, Cinder Bridge is a duo. Ron plays drums. I sing and play keyboard. In general, we perform side by side. At first that was pretty much for aesthetic purposes. The standard setup in which the drummer sits behind everybody else looks kind of odd when "everybody else" is just me:

Ron the Drummer watches Susan's back

More importantly, though, communication becomes difficult when we're stacked that way.

Take the set list. If there's an original song we especially want people to pay attention to, we often put it after a cover that everybody already knows. In this case, we had our big message song, "Everybody Knows About Me," right after the Rolling Stones' "Miss You." But everyone at Gift of Love was really into "Miss You," and I felt weird about plunging them right into a very slow, very depressing tune.

Normally when this kind of thing happens, whoever wants to change the order glances over at the other person and says, "Let's play [name of song] next." Sneaking a look back at Ron, though, I realized there was no way to convey the information either quickly or inconspicuously. So I turned back around and went into "Everybody Knows About Me."

Then, during the first few measures of our fifth song, before I started singing, the guy who organized the event came over and told me they were running late, so this would be the last thing we played. There was no way Ron could hear him, and no way for me to tell him what was going on. Nothing to do but keep going.

None of this turned out to be a real problem. The audience applauded for "Everybody Knows About Me" longer than anything else—some people were actually slow-dancing to it. And the organizer came up immediately after our de facto last song, thanked us for coming, and announced the next performers.

Still, weird. How do larger bands deal with this? I felt like we should have walkie-talkies or something.

* * *

Thanks to Don Martin for taking the photo, and for letting us pilfer it.


Lori said...

I wish I'd reacted quicker. I should have gone up to the mc and told him we all wanted to hear an encore. But you handled things with style. I for one was impressed that you kept on playing while he was talking to you. And someone from the audience said "She sure seems to be enjoying herself." So kudos to you both.

cinderkeys said...

Thanks. I should have paid more attention to how long the other bands played. I have no idea if we were the first to be cut short or not. Then again, we had no idea when or how long anybody was supposed to be playing but us, so that might not have helped.

I was definitely enjoying myself. It was sad to leave the stage.

DeppityBob said...

I would have come up with a different caption for that picture. I leave it up to your experience with my vast repertoire of semi-filthy comments to guess what it might be.

Captcha word: "polypot." I'm working on that one, too.