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On the Importance of Eye Contact…

OONA at Silverlake Lounge

nerves before a show… concerns like, what if this wigtape won’t keep my dress up? why is this band member being short with me? where did i put my tambourine? what if my mic is down for that first big note i want to reach you with so bad? did we rehearse enough? did we rehearse too much? is anyone out there? and on and on…

But you get onstage, and you see these souls shining at you, and your mic is on, and so is everyone else in the band, and it’s one breathing organism of unified chaos, of harnessed harmony, and once you’ve got through two songs and are dropping your third, your trepidation fades… you start to see more faces, more smiles, more eyes, more souls, and feel your own expand inside you…

halfway through the set and you see someone singing along, because they know the words. you see pride and excitement, or maybe just your own reflected back at you. you’re building a tension, a strength, and if you fumble it holds you up, keeps you on the horse, if you fall off it boosts you back on, and if you start to lose someone out there you do your best to bring them back. but we’re not falling off, oh i felt a danger in that solitary moment i had backstage, there’s always the risk because a what is a stage but a pedastal, cliff, a mirror… i’m not so humble i can’t trip, nor am i super anything, just patently vocal and a born ham.

the second half of the set always comes too soon, and i try to slow down the passage of time by remembering small things, like seeing the other band’s merchant prick up their ears, or my homegirl’s boyfriend jumping up and down six feet tall… just try to make every moment on that stage count because the songs are more important to me than any other conversation i might have tonight, and because it’s a privilege to play for you, always. i’m feeling so good, like we’ve built this thing together, the audience is the show i am watching, and it characterizes each show as much as a costume or a broken guitar string. it’s real, you were all smiling friday night, and my worries backstage seemed so silly, trivial, frivolous compared to this emotion we are having…

but we’re the support band, and since the opener started late, we’re flagged off early. what heartbreak – a big ole room clapping and chanting for ‘one more song’, i am backstage i can feel the floor vibrating, it’s a precious and real moment, one we rehearsed 10 hours in three days for, indeed one we’ve rehearsed 3 years for, and the club owner jumps onstage and shouts at us to get our cursed gear off the stage, the great irony of which is that of course the whole night is backlined, so there is no gear switch for the next band, so of course there would have been time for another song….

it’s ok. we’ll do it again, we always always try to put on a show worthy of you putting your hands together, worthy of your voice, and your ears, and your hearts.

the club’s in the business of making money, not music, booze not beauty, i get that. but i will say this: when we play at your club, the club is part of the experience, indeed branded into the experience for everyone present. if any band has earned an encore, which you can measure in sincere crowd response, you have an opportunity to link yourself inextricably with each person’s unique experience… not bad for your bottom line.

the heart is a uniquely strong and vulnerable thing, and it is not to be toyed with. i will, of course, continue to wear mine on my sleeve, and your feeble attempts to batter and bully it will be thwarted by our strength and love.

thank you all for coming, reading, listening, sharing, and being part of this journey. in strength & love,

June 29, 2010 | Filed under Live Performance and tagged with , , .

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2 Responses to On the Importance of Eye Contact…

  1. Jamie says:

    Beautifully written. One day soon you will have your support band that will follow you across the globe and the club owners will be thanking you.

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