Part Two "The First Gig"


"Thanks for the loan of yer amp, mate!"
You've joined a band. You've rehearsed a few times. You know all the chords to 'September Gurls' but not necessarily the order in which they're played. Your girlfriend thinks you're brilliant (but she'll learn). You think you're ready to gig. This is a bad idea. No, it's A VERY BAD IDEA. The scenario normally runs like this - one member of the band has a mate who is in another band. They're playing in some gruesome nightmare of a pub next week and they're stuck for a support band. (Or more to the point they're stuck for a drumkit), and they thought it would be a nice gesture if they gave you the opening slot. This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense because they know that, as crappy as they are, following you would be a bit like The Who following Daphne and Celeste. Anyway, you accept and the night of the gig rolls around. The following things will occur:

All your mates will turn up. Not to cheer you on in your moment of triumph but to skulk around by the bar and snigger at you. At no time during your set will they clap or cheer (unless of course, you fall over or snap a string and then the roars will be deafening). They will not dance.
Someone will take photographs. Not of that exquisite moment where you leaped in the air whilst pulling of the most difficult Jazz chord in the world, but of that slightly less than exquisite moment when you were picking your P.V.C. trousers from out of the crack of your butt.

That really dramatic pause in that aching ballad three quarters of the way through the set will be somewhat spoiled by the drummer's crash cymbal falling off its stand and rolling down the stairs.

You have one four note solo. You will screw it up. Your mates will cheer at this point.

Your electronic tuning device will not work, resulting in you trying to tune by ear whilst the drummer of the headline band re-enacts great tank battles of the twentieth century on your band's drumkit, which of course, he has now broken.

All your carefully rehearsed, pithily witty, Oscar Wilde-esque stage banter will be forgotten and the best you will be able to manage is a mumbled "Cheers" in between every other song.

Whilst you are singing a heart rending song of undying love dedicated to your girlfriend, she will be in the loo with her mates, laughing at your sexual inadequacies.

In many ways, playing your first gig is rather similar to your first sexual encounter - nervous, amateurish fumbling followed by embarrassment and apologies with a lingering feeling of disappointment combined with almost existential feelings of detachment, failure and futility. But at least after a shag you don't have to carry a bass amp down three flights of stairs…