Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rock of the aged

My band played a wedding this past weekend. Like most of our gigs, we got it through our lead singer, an energetic Englishman named Gary. In the workaday world, Gary sells offshore banking products, meaning that a reassuring number of his clients are rich Brits. This comes in handy when they engage in onshore activities like getting married, because another product Gary can sell is RePlay, his and my cover band.

The gig took place at a horrifying pile of a hotel just south of Prague called Dum Atis, a place that looked as if its architect had taken some bad acid while thumbing through the collected works of Gaudi. Regardless, the happy couple (or their families) had spent enough on the decorations to make the interior look nice, white and wedding-like, and the event felt properly Grand and Important. We came on about an hour after the best man gave his speech, immediately following a weak set from the hired DJ.

Wedding gigs? A best man and a boring DJ for openers? Applauding the lucky girl who caught the bouquet?

Adulthood happened to me at some point in my life, because as a musician you don't get much more adult than playing in a wedding band. When I was young and still had a little fire and vision, I hated the idea of wedding gigs, hated the idea of cover bands, hated the idea of selling out. Anyone with any talent at all should try their hardest to pour that ability into an enterprise that was fresh and original, thought I. Does the world really need another cover of "Satisfaction"?

Actually, it does. Music, after all, is entertainment and fun, and if someone's idea of entertainment and fun is to hear "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for the 900th time, then dammit, go ahead and play it for them. People whose hobby is music can and will sniff out the different, new and original. There's always enough of that stuff around. For all the other times in life, there are bands like RePlay. After all, think about it: when you throw on an old CD at home, is it always something you discovered last week on the radio? No, it's usually one of the albums you've been listening to for years.

It's nice to finally come to terms with Cover Bandage, because it means I can relax and simply have fun playing in a opposed to worrying about its musical direction or whether the bridge I wrote is long enough. With RePlay, we rehearse a little (ideally) then I show up and play a gig. These songs are now familiar enough that my fingers find most of the right notes without too much struggle, and I only occasionally have to glance at the well-notated cheat book while playing. Meanwhile, I get the satisfaction of people moving their asses to my bass and Henri's drums, and singing along to what I'm playing. Not to mention hearing the sweet noise of rising applause as the audience demands an encore (this actually happens. Honest).

Besides, I'm not gifted enough to carve out my own unique niche in the world of music. I'm at best a collaborator, an idea guy, the skinny bass man with a good riff or two. I was never destined to set the earth on fire with my instrument as a player or a composer. My talent, such as it is, reached a plateau years ago. These days I'm just happy to be there, playing someone else's music and giving the crowd what they want.

And man, I sure like those encores.

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