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Real Time

Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2007

Seattle dB Festival performance with Harold Budd
The show isn’t meant to start yet, I’ve just come onstage to switch on all my equipment and tune up my guitar, but my presence generates applause and the lights go down. Silent anticipation from the audience as the sound of my heart beating faster resonates from the stage. Everything seems to take an age in this silence, then, what the fuck?…..My computer has just did a ‘blue screen of death’. Oh dear, it’s going to be one of those concerts.
It never fails to amaze me that I fall for Harold’s charming, confident, nay, cavalier attitude towards soundchecking and getting all the tech bits just right. He seduces me into believing that everything will be all right, as indeed it usually is, but tonight I have problems.
Standing on stage with your computer rebooting is sort of like standing onstage with no trousers on. I mean, it’s reaaallllly embarrassing and I’m no Brian Rix. I can’t really make this funny. My laptop slowly comes to life, I start the first song. Minutes have past. What the fuck? It’s done it again, another blue screen. I imagine all the shit my friend ken will give me for not using a mac. This is now reeeeaaaallly embarrassing. I ask the audience if anyone from Microsoft is there tonight, it being Seattle and all. I sense myself becoming Brian Rix. A few people laugh. Fuck it, where’s Ken. Ken, please come on stage and make it work. I think, fuck it, I have to do something so I start to play the guitar while Ken comes on stage and tried to remedy my problem. I’m making up some nice improvised tunes with my looper which is working while he messes around with my laptop and says things in my ear like, ‘dude, you really should be using a mac’.
No, I really should be using a band.
I play guitar for a few more minutes making stuff up and feeling, rather inadequate, when ken does his magic and makes my laptop work. I play some of my songs. Well I play for about half an hour and at a certain moment Harold appears at his piano and joins in with what I’m doing. Nice. I play for a bit and then discreetly fuck off. I sit backstage for a while having a panic attack, consider leaving the building but the dressing room window is two stories up and if I jump out of the window, I know I’d land in a dumpster or something, it’s that kind of a night, so I opt for going to watch Harold play, which is, as ever, quite breathtaking and very inspiring. I wait until he plays a certain chord and then rejoin him on stage and play with him for half an hour or so. Just a moment or two before we finished I started to feel relaxed. Then just as quickly, it was all over. We were very nicely received by the audience and I wanted to thank them all for showing a little empathy, or at least not pointing and laughing while I was onstage with my trousers down.

5 Responses to “Real Time”

  1. mateo

    ah another fun anecdote, written wonderfully again; but… the only thing that’s gonna resonate is ‘should be using a band.’ oh puh-leez let it be so, let it be so! *visions of some monster beautiful blend of like C/T and Mahogany*

  2. gary

    I’ll play bass! 😉

  3. Leigh M

    Robin you really should be using a Mac! 😉

    Leigh, Reading

  4. Blake T. Honeytwin

    I hate when that happens! lol We just did a show last week and I had a program freeze on me as we were soundchecking, and I thought it’d be a scramble to go completely instrumental! It managed to start up right before, and I didn’t go mental. lol

    Joy and Bliss,

  5. Mac

    Robin, thanks for that, I always wondered what to do if the laptop fails at a gig; To the extent that I invested in a Boss BR600 – digital recorder, which was dead cheap. And after the novelty wore off it is thoroughly excellent for wav placement, and used in conjunction with a laptop, sorta provides a back-up, because you could always have your backing on compact disk cards in the player…

    Otherwise, I guess I should also get a mac…

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