Amazing reverential Gig

reverential Gig in PhillyAs I posted recently, reverential had our first gig with the new line-up last Friday. I was a little nervous about the technology behaving itself, and this was to be the first time we’ve played this set in front of people.I’m happy to say that we couldn’t have had a better night: there were a few small things here and there, but for the most part everything was perfect: the tech, the playing, the sound, and the crowd. Especially the crowd. They got right into several of the songs, and their response talking with a lot of them afterward was really warm and positive. We definitely made some fans: a few said they’d been on the website and noticed where the next gig was, and they said they’d be there. The organizer of the coffeehouse loved it, wants us to come back, and said he’d tell all of the other area organizers about us.

And so it begins! I’m really excited about where this is all going, and I’ll go on record here as saying this is the beginning of something big.

Live Music and Technology or, “You came in *that* thing? You’re braver than I thought!”

Ah, the joys of being a tech geek and a musician. There’s nothing better: so much wonderful technology out there for making music. Infinite possibilities in infinite combinations. One can spend more time playing with the technology than actually playing music (a danger I must constantly avoid). But it’s so much fun, and so very satisfying to coax amazing, warm sounds from the “soulless machines”.

And then you decide to play live. Whether there’s an inherent anti-social tendency in these machines, or just shy and nervousness, things can and do go wrong. And the effect is amplified when they’re in groups. I know this for two reasons. First, the band I’m in only has two members, and we have a lot of gear to compensate.

The second reason is that the band I’m in is about to start gigging for the new year, and as this is the first official gig with this incarnation (last year the band had 5 members), we had what could be considered a “dress rehearsal”: we tore everything down from our practice room, packed it all in vehicles, drove to our church, set everything up on stage there, and ran through our set. I had more problems that day than I think I’ve ever had: stuck notes on one keyboard (MIDI issues), computer problems (OS crashes that nuked the configuration of my music software), and controllers that flat-out refused to do anything. The most interesting problem was in the aftermath of the crash. My music software has a configuration option for “CPU protection”. The idea is that if the CPU load goes above a certain threshold, settable as a percentage, the music software will stop processing things. Undesirable in a live setting, but better than the machine crashing completely. Unbeknownst to me, this got reset from it’s normal value of 90% to 0%. I’m trying to figure out why nothing is working (everything in my live rig goes through the computer at once point or other), but looks normal. That took a few minutes.

There are those who will point out that if the “dress rehearsal” went badly, the “production” should then go really well, and I’m still optimistic, but when you’re placing yourself in the hands of your technology, in front of people (oh, and did I mention that a lot of people we know are going to be there?), you have to prepare for the possibilities, and, well, I have to confess to being a little bit nervous.

I am glad we did this, if only for the fact that now I have a better idea of how things could go wrong. What’s interesting about this goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning: notice I didn’t once talk about the music itself; my nervousness stems from the technological uncertainties, not that I’m playing music in front of a crowd. If I was sitting at a piano all night, it would be completely different. It’s all part of the fun, I suppose. I’ll be sure to do a follow-up after the gig to let you know how it went.

The Story So Far (a.k.a. My Poor, Sadly Neglected Blog)

OK, so I noticed that it’s been the end of September since I’ve written anything in my blog. Oops. And that’s not for lack of trying – there’s 5 half-written posts in my drafts section, which I never completed for some-reason-or-other. And that’s not because nothing has been happening – quite the contrary. Part of the problem is that I tend to get caught up in a (mostly, I suspect) irrational need to ensure that posts are chronological (“I can write about the thing that just happened, because I haven’t posted anything about the other thing that happened just before it!”). And the snowball just gets bigger, until, like now, I decide I’m going to do something about it, there’s a flurry of 3 or 4 posts, maybe 1 or 2 after that, and the vicious cycle repeats.

This would be the part where I mumble something about it being the beginning of the year, and resolutions, and making an attempt to do better, but I’m not going to do that. Actions speak louder than words, and all that (which means you’ll probably soon be deafened by the silence resulting from the aforementioned cycle beginning another turn).

Anyway, the story so far, in particular order (that chronology thing):

* reverential bought a new sound system: a Bose Cylindrical Radiator Loudspeaker, and a JBL subwoofer, which sound amazing.

* I got a piano: a Yamaha Clavinova CLP-230. An excellent practice instrument for the lessons I started back in September.

* I attended the USENIX LISA conference in December in Washington, DC. At the conference, I was able to meet Cory Doctorow and have him sign one of his books for us.

Oscar* We lost our cat, Oscar, as due to a series of problems that came on pretty suddenly, we had to put him to sleep.

* We saw Thomas Dolby (with BT) in concert at the World Live Cafe in Philadelphia, and got to meet them afterwards.

* We went down to Little Rock, Arkansas for Christmas to visit Michelle’s parents. As they’re looking to retire in the next year or two (back to Canada), this could have been the last Christmas at their AR house.

Well, I think that hits the major highlights for last year. reverential has 4 or 5 gigs already lined up for this year, so there’ll be lots more news there, along with live photos of venues we play and gear! And there’s a few other things that I’m saving for separate posts. Enjoy!