I haven’t gigged for a while. To be honest, I’ve been kind of uninspired by gigging. In a way that I find hard to describe.
Not as a performer, actually, but as an audience member. And I think it might be down to the fact that the main time I perform now is in the Bastard English Session. And when that session really works I find it so much more enjoyable than gigging. Maybe that’s why every gig gives me this odd sensation of… ‘shouldn’t there be something more?’
Here’s what the session is like:
(Thanks to Cassi P for this clip!)
In case it’s not clear, it’s kind of a free-for-all. There isn’t that barrier of ‘performer on a stage’ and ‘audience in seats (or standing twenty feet away holding pints of beer)’. The line between the audience and the performers is… kind of non-existent. And that allows for a kind of energy that I really struggle to get in a gig.
But wait. I don’t want to get too poetic here. Because I also think that ‘transcending the barrier between performer and audience’ is kind of bollocks. There are definitely gigs where the band is on stage and the audience is… in the audience, and it is still amazing. Bellowhead’s final gig is one such example.
But I find those gigs rare. And I want to try something else.
What I really want to try is… basically the Bastard Session, but smaller and more intimate. A small space, with a few musicians, playing to each other. Joining in when they feel like it. Going off on tangents. But crucially… not simply performing a recitation. Which I feel I’ve done too much of. Learning something by rote, and then just repeating it in front of an audience and hoping to remember it right.
I saw an Jack White interview a while ago where he said he didn’t use a setlist. And I thought: of course you don’t. You’re Jack White. And that’s just… the most Jack White thing.
(STOP BEING SO MEALY-MOUTHED, WHITE – SAY WHAT YOU REALLY MEAN!)
But… like so many things that Jack White says, once I’ve thought about I eventually conclude that… that’s actually really thoughtful and astute.
He said that playing a good gig meant reading the crowd, and reacting to them. That’s something we all do in the Bastard Session, but I hardly ever do it in gigs. And the gigs that I have played with only the loosest of setlists have tended to be the ones I enjoy the most.
So anyways, I’m going to try something new.
I’ve asked a few friends to come and play a gig on my boat. We’re still finalising logistics. And it might not work out that well. But if it does work, hopefully we’ll video it and it’ll go up here, and there, and everywhere. And if it does work, I’ll ask different friends, and hopefully keep doing it.
Why on my boat? Because it’s a small space, so that naturally limits the number of people who can be involved. But also it’s a space that has lots of instruments in it already, as well as recording kit. So hopefully the sound should be okay.
I dunno, we’ll see.
Let’s hope it’s the start of something.