We’ve all been there. Anyone who’s ever held a bass, guitar, pair of drumsticks or a microphone on stage has felt the sting of an almost empty room. I’ve played and witnessed countless shows like this. Sometimes they leave you feeling empty inside, while other times, if you play a killer set and you have the right company, they can be some of your fondest memories of playing in a band. I’ll kick this off with a few examples of my own:
- A band I played drums for, This Gun Smiles, joined Destined for More and Phaetasm for a show at Classic Roxx in Cheektowaga, roughly a block from my house and we rocked out for each other as if we were playing in front of 50,000 people. This was circa 2003-2004 and back then, I was just entering the scene, so I really looked up to a lot of other local bands. Threebelow, Phaetasm, The Fall of Progress and Sons of Azrael were chief among them, so if I ever got into a situation to play for only the members of those bands, I had the mindset of playing a national gig.
- Another one I can think of from the same time period, was a Dan Klaes show at The Cruise Inn (another This Gun Smiles gig) with Threebelow, maybe Phaetasm and a band from Washington DC called Bodyfarm with an amazing female harsh vocalist. It was another “bands playing for bands” scenario, but with talent and camaraderie like that, it didn’t matter. I just remember always leaving those shows with the mindset of being a heavier band the next time we returned to the stage to try and keep up those other acts. Nothing seemed more important, at least not to me.
- Years later, Jeff Wacker had Aspired Infliction (a band I played guitar in) at the Moose Lodge in Tonawanda for the first time in January of 2012. This was the first time I met the guys in Murder City Outlaws, and while it was really us playing for them and few other cool cats, it got us in touch with MCO, people who would be like brothers to us for the remainder of our time as a band and straight through to the present. Not to mention, AI had plenty of shows where it felt like we were playing solely for Robert Superfan Rogers and it was never not awesome. Sometimes just knowing there’s that one person out there who’s super into what you’re doing is enough.
- Currently, I’m doing vocals for a melodic death band called The Last Reign. There are two TLR shows that I feel fit this bill. The first was in September of last year. It was our demo release show at Broadway Joe’s, which was supposed to be with Chris Amott’s band, Armageddon and a band from California called Ascension. Well, those bands ended up being super late to the show and were turned away anyway because of poor attendance. Really, it ended up being The Last Reign and Orius playing for each other. But once again, I can’t say I had a bad time. In fact, I had a great time. I always rock out as hard as I can if I know the Orius boys are watching. It goes back to what I was saying about camaraderie and “the right company”. An audience feeds off the energy of the band at shows, but the band also feeds off the energy of the audience. I’ve rocked out for bartenders, sound guys and light guys just because I knew they were having an awesome time. The other TLR show I’m going to bring up was a show at California Brewhaus in Rochester with Age of Shadows in November of last year. I’m not sure exactly what the paid head count was, but I distinctly remember these 4 thrash kids in denim vests just rocking out to us the whole time and keeping the energy high for us. Since then, I see these same kids all the time at shows and I always say what’s up.
That’s about enough from me, but I’d really like to hear from you guys on this subject. I know too many people in bands to not be able to keep this going. Greg DiPasquale, Brian Pattison, Mike Deitzman and of course, Vick, are regular contributors here, but I definitely want this series to be an open forum. Send me some awesome stories on this subject and let’s reminisce! Thanks for checking this out!
Photo credit: http://www.bluelionphoto.com