Soundcheck #5 – Just Goes To Show…

In the week of writing the following article, I played three gigs, self-censored, hung WAY over and went “oh…right”.

Gig #1: In the basement of a bar with a silly name. I knew almost nobody was coming to see me, I assume partly because they’d never heard of it and the door charge was a bit steep. I was also nursing an horrendous hangover.

Gig #2: Not, as I first thought, in a little inn somewhere in deepest Ayrshire, but outside in its lovely beer garden. On a sunny day. Near a stream. Free entry. For charity.

Gig #3: In the 13th Note, one of my favourite Glasgow venues, sharing the bill with my partner-in-crime Andrew Lindsay and the excellent Julia Doogan. Judging by the event page on facebook it would be well-attended, partly thanks to the student discount on the door, I expect.

Let’s start with Gig #2. (Hey it’s my article, I’ll mess around with time if I want), one i’d been particularly looking forward to: a chance to stretch my wings and play to people who had never heard me before. Outside of my own comfort zone, my city. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the venue I was confronted with an obstacle to my performance. Several, short obstacles, running around with their faces painted. No, not carefree midgets: they were CHILDREN. As I understand, songs with stories about a man who once shat in a washing machine and the effect of too much alcohol on the libido aren’t entirely suitable for kiddies, so I was forced to drastically alter my setlist. I cut half the songs and replaced the remaining expletives with radio-friendly alternatives, like “flip” and “pretty”.
As a result, I was extra-nervous. Also, not many folk were listening. It was early in the day and to be fair, I was only really needed for a bit of background music. I made some silly mistakes and never really got comfortable on stage. I was glad when it was over. An experience gathered and a lesson learned.

Now Gig #3 I was REALLY looking forward to, as I love the 13th Note and I knew I’d be able to fill my set with as many expletives as I liked. While it was a good gig with some great musicians who all performed brilliantly, it wasn’t as busy as was anticipated. But hey, who really wants to go out on a rainy monday night? You’d miss The Bill, or something. Some of the folk who did attend however, were guilty of the crime I mentioned in my last edition of this column, and as for my actual set, I think it went down well, judging by the reaction afterwards. Onstage however, I didn’t get much back from the audience and the atmsophere felt a little stilted.

Oh dear...

Finally, the dreaded Gig #1. A gig which I knew almost nobody was coming to. A gig in a basement with mirrored walls and leopard-print seats. Hungover as FUCK. The only gig I’ve ever played where I didn’t have a drink before, after or during my set. Minutes before I was due to go on there weren’t even enough people in the room to allow me to dedicate each song in my set to a different person.

Fine minutes before going onstage, the crowd was getting pretty rowdy...

One minute to go. A friend shows up! And he’s brought his friend! My audience has doubled! I shake their hands warmly and take to the stage just as the other acts return and take their seats along with their respective friends and girlfriends. I’ve gone from playing to four people to a respectable crowd. My songs go down great. People laugh in the right places and any talking is relatively quiet. The atmosphere is exciting and my incredibly hungover between-song banter even stumbles towards coherence and the odd laugh. I leave the stage and immediately sell a few CDs and badges. Folk shake my hand and tell me they enjoyed my set. Afterwards the promoter tells me he’ll give me a gig anytime I want one. So #1, the one that looked like a surefire disaster turned into one of my best gigs of late. I even had enough money to buy my missus lunch the next day. I had provided for my partner, and with music no less! All thanks to a gig almost nobody came to.

It just goes to show, you should never judge a gig by its cover.

This article originally appeared on


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