Today, I’m going to break away into something different. This last Thursday, I played a show with a new band, and this was our very first show (we only had about 6 practices all together) so we were pretty excited to play. Thursday night shows bring a pretty limited crowd, but I always said that one show is worth about ten practices, and every chance we get to play the sooner things tighten up.
The week leading up to the show, I spent about one to two hours a night/day practicing the set using my guitar trainer, and things were feeling good and natural. I have a tendency to crash if I’m thinking or anticipating sections, so the more muscle memory the better (for me). I even threw in a two hour practice pre-show to get things limbered up.
We were set to play first and after getting the gear set up began the ‘hurry up and wait’ stage. This usually involves two cans of PBR tall boys and various funny discussions with the band and the other bands. Finally, it was time to rock. First song went fair, but literally, the next six songs or so, I was the biggest shit bag on stage.Â Literally, when the song started, I would momentarily forgot how to play the riff and would somehow recover and limp back in or just hose the riff and come back in after screwing up the start of the song. This of course, started a snowball effect with my confidence and the process of over thinking which leads to more errors and slop. Frankly, I couldn’t wait to get off stage. Luckily by the last two songs, I finally got my head out of my arse and was able to play those fairly well.
Getting off the stage, and hearing “That was awesome” and “you were great” from the wife and other band members including the other bands, etc.. just made me feel worse. I knew it was shite, and I know they knew it was shite. So why am I fessing up this lame story that I seriously would like to forget? Simple, I want to learn from it…
– how do you guys prep for shows?
– how do you not overthink while playing
– how do you guys recover from disaster mid-set (mentally, emotionally, etc)
The things that I noticed if I could go back in time. Warm up prior to getting on stage (10 minutes) I normally do, but for some reason I didn’t this time. Since this was the first time we were on stage, our line up from the practice space was completely different, and now I realize how much visual and audio cues I need instead of ‘knowing’ the songs like I thought I did. I need to secure my cables better (our front man accidentally pulled my instrument cable out of my board 3 times). That didn’t help with the fiasco as well, but again, these are things to learn.
Oddly, the leads were okay for that night. The easy stuff.. was failure.
So why ‘Guitar Zen’? As a hobby I was involved with competitive pistol shooting (you know I’m from Montana right?). Well in that circle you hear a lot about shooting zen. You know.. like bow and arrows.. “be the arrow” stuff. It’s basically related to one chance.. one shot, and how to be in the proper mental state to ‘succeed’. Chocking is huge with shooting, lots of pressure for the moment to perform at your best. I definitely can see the relation with that and guitar.. and to anything for that matter. I didn’t really make the connection until Friday morning mulling over what happened. Any guitar zen tips for me? Comment below!