Gig Of A Lifetime

January 2, 2010
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The house lights go down. Immediately the crowd of 20,000 goes up in a massive roar, shaking the building to its core. I can’t believe we’re really playing to a sold out house at Madison Square Garden, we’ve really hit the big time I think to myself as my guitar technician hands me my dad’s old bass and I toss it over my shoulders. I run my left hand up and down the neck getting used to the extremely thick strings that are so foreign to me. I nod to my guitar, sitting off to the side shooting a look of dirty jealousy at the bass, as my band mates and I walk past our roadies and onto the pitch black stage. I signal our lighting technician who shines a single spotlight down from behind the stage, silhouetting Eben in a heavenly white light as he starts to strum out the first chords...

“You guys are up, no soundcheck!” The stagehand yells. “We’re gonna hafta do it live!” I find myself staring the concrete backstage wall of the Latchis Theater as my day dream is torn to shreds.

“Son of a bitch,” I mutter under my breath. There’s no way this is going to sound good.

As I walk to the stage for real, I put on the heavy old bass and run my right hand along its body; feeling every scratch and every ding in the lacquer finish. My hand slides its way over the metal bridge and onto the strings, plucking out an E and then arpeggiating the chord in a deep and rumbling compliment to Jacob’s high pitched first chords as they swim to the ears of the audience. As the song builds from verse to chorus and back again, the adrenaline in my body starts pumping, pushing me towards the end of the song. Looking back towards Mike behind the drum kit, the four of us hit the final chord as a fluid entity.

As the chord evaporates, a roar goes up from the audience, inviting broad smiles onto our faces. My co-musicians Jacob, Eben, and Mike all look much more relaxed as I pan across the entire building. I look out towards the seats and quickly realize that I can’t see much. The bright spotlights mask most of the theater, only allowing me to see the first few rows of people. I scrutinize every inch of these first few rows splayed out in front of me, observing everybody, and quickly come to the realization that the gleam and sparkle in every set of eyes is thanking us for our music and asking for more. We gladly oblige. Executing one of our signature instrument switches, I hand Jacob the bass, and running across the stage, grab my cherry red Gibson Les Paul and fling the strap over my head.

As we make our way through Eben’s old song “In Town” I can again feel my adrenaline start to rise. I can sense the guitar solo winding its way through the words towards my hands. As the solo kicks in my instincts take control. All of my surroundings disappear and all I can sense is the music; how my notes fit over the voicings that Jacob and Eben are playing on the bass and guitar. I build with the drums, reaching the climax of the solo with the highest note I have played up to that point. Accompanying the note is a tingling sensation that travels up my fingers and arms and into the very core of my being. I am the music. I look around at my fellow band mates to see them all smiling ear to ear. Jacob and Eben are both bouncing with energy as they watch my fingers move from fret to fret; string to string. Everything is clicking.

As I slide out of the solo and back into the song, the audience erupts with cheers that give me butterflies. They’re all cheering for my solo! I realize as I gaze out over the theater.

My daydream no longer seems so farfetched to me; everything is coming together as I imagined it would. Looking to my right, my eyes fall upon Jacob and Eben as they carry the song through to the end. Eben laughs a little in recognition of my massive guitar solo, that he now has to follow, as he continues on. He shoots a quick glance at Jacob to make sure he is ready with the vocal harmony part and proceeds to watch Jacob meander over to the microphone and sing “And the buildings collapse and the memories die,” in perfect major harmony as he stares intensely at my dad’s bass around his shoulders. As we coast through the rest of our set, the tingling morphs into a welcoming warmth that takes up a permanent residence in my body. It ebbs and flows with the music, energizing my solos, and making me feel like I could play forever. I can almost see the notes coming out of the amps and swirling around the theater like a light flurry caught in the breeze.

The final flurries come to rest on the shoulders of the crowd as they erupt in thunderous applause. We all lift up our instruments in thanks and place them on their stands as we take one unified step to the front of the stage. We take a group bow and give humble yet thankful waves as the audience cheers their approval and thanks. Then, as it dies down, we leave the stage in unison. Just like in the music, our exit is a fluid motion: a line of four guys making their way out of their biggest show to date.





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