Okay, I know this blog seems a little ridiculous and mildly gluttonous but, I performed my debut show on the weekend as Neither Could Dylan and I want to remember as much as possible from it.
Plus, I recorded the entire set and that’s really what this is for – to share it with you!
I landed the gig by reaching out to a music venue on Instagram which honestly, is a little weird but that seems to be the new way of doing things. Or I guess it’s been this way for some while but before, we’d do it from Facebook or Craigslist posts (when I was first sourcing gigs as a teen, it was mostly through Craigslist).
I was pretty pleased just to land it at all because it’s weirdly challenging to find gigs as an acoustic solo act. Everyone wants full bands now and.. I’m still working towards putting mine together.
I actually thought it would be a lot easier this way because to me it makes such logical sense to kick off most gigs with a solo acoustic artist – we’re easy to deal with, it’s just us and 1 instrument typically and we don’t require much outside help as a result.
But this gig also reminded me why bands are so coveted.
The original show line-up was myself, Cat and the Queen, Adam in the Bayou and Coming Up Milhouse as I mentioned in my pre-show blog post (check it out to listen to some tunes by all of ’em), but unfortunately on show day we got word from Cat that they wouldn’t be able to make it.
This meant our orignally planned 30minute set had a bit more flexibility, so I quickly ran through a couple songs I hadn’t planned in a while and added them to my already pretty condensed set and allotted myself a little breathing room.
My set list:
I took public transit to get to the gig from Vaughan – the old faithful 165 picked me up and took me over to Steeles and Jane where I grabbed one of the 32’s down Jane.
All in the trip took just over 2 hours door to door and cost about $8. I don’t exactly recommend carrying two acoustic guitars on public transit, especially the 32, because boy was it ever crowded and uncomfortable, but I didn’t have access to a car and you gotta do what you gotta do.
Speaking on that – it felt marginally silly bringing two acoustics BUT the fear of snapping a string mid set (despite having restrung a week ago) was too much to bear for me, because of the way I’d structured the playing of these songs, losing just one string actually would make a big impact on the sound. I figure it’s better to always play it safe and just have a back-up on deck ready to go instead of having to potentially quickly restring and lose valuable stage minutes. When you’re playing with a band, it’s way easier to manage a mid-set restringing because you don’t lose the entire sound, so this is something I plan on making a regular habit for myself as a solo performer.
Did I mention this was my first time playing solo at a show? I really wanted to limit the potential issues at the front gate.
On that note I was stoked to have been offerd a proper sound check by sound-tech Wes at the venue. A luxury! I remember the first time I ever had to run a sound check back when I was like 17 and I was way nervous even for that (so you can imagine how nervous I was for the show itself, ha), but, I felt pretty comfortable running through “Quiksand” quickly and Wes was clearly on top of things.
I’m not at all used to hearing myself perform in this way yet, through actual stage monitors and all that, so it was a real treat for me after basically only doing random livestream performances on Twitch and Zoom over the last year.
If you missed the show, for your viewing enjoyment and my embarrassment, you can view my set in full on YouTube here:
It wasn’t without a couple hiccups but all in I think I managed any errors as well as I could have – I’m not even certain any of you watching would be able to point them all out (feel free to try!). The worst part of it for me? During my very last song, which I wasn’t even sure I’d get to, a terrible itch crept into my throat as I got underway. Too late into the song to reasonably stop and sip some water but too persistant to get away from entirely. Ironic since in “Champagne Birthday” I talk about.. exactly this – an itch that persists.
I almost didn’t record the set, feeling too weirdly out of place being the only person who arrived solo and being mildly nervous about it all to begin with, I didn’t want to set up my camera and have people be all, “wow, really? For the ‘Gram?” but I really did want to have a copy for, well, historical reasons. I wanted to be able to watch it back both to re-work the set, think about how I can better showcase these songs and to see how much or how little I improve over the course of the next year(s). And I’m glad I did because watching it back, parts I in the moment thought I goofed terribly don’t actually seem so bad.
But there’s definitely some room for improvement.
Eventually I’d like to get an electric-acoustic so I can move around the stage because it felt a little too static to me to be more-or-less stuck in one spot for decent mic-pickup. But I was mostly concerned about doing well vocally on this one and just not forgeting any lyrics so, mission accomplished.
But more than wanting an electric acoustic, after watching Adam in the Bayou and Coming Up Milhouse perform afterwards, I cannot wait to get a band back together to really give these songs the treatment I think they deserve.
If you’ve heard my full-band recordings you know that they’re a completely different animal than what I was able to present at Tail of the Junction on my own – which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy performing them acoustic (I actually enjoy it a lot!) but, I know it’s a completely different experience with all the other instrumentation in the mix. So hopefully I can get that rolling soone rather than later.
After the gig I trekked down Runnymede to grab the subway home because I had to fill up my Presto card (really gotta remember to carry some coins on hand next time). It ended up being a fun ride over to Spadina because I ran into sound guy Wes taking the same train (“rockstars still take the subway?” He said when he pulled up behind me 😂) and we got to chat about music and gigs along the way. Great dude.
If you made it out to the show, thanks again for being there – it was a lot of fun!
If you didn’t, hope you enjoy the archive recording and maybe I’ll see you at an upcoming show.
‘Til next time.