The Show Must Go On

About last night… Last night, the road took me, Matt Nasir and the crew back around to Columbus, Ohio. We had a pretty eventful day and show, and I wanted to put the story down for the record.

The venue booked was The Basement – a 300 capacity room in the basement (natch) of a complex of venues. We arrived overnight on the bus, wandered off to find breakfast, loaded the equipment in in the rain and started setting about the daily business of putting a show together.

About half-way through our soundcheck (a daily ritual that becomes more perfunctory as tours roll on, naturally enough), an explosion of noise came through the ceiling, drowning out even the loudest noises we were making with our current acoustic, duo setup. It turned out there was another show in the mid-size room above us, a rescheduled event. The volume coming through was such that our show was basically impossible.

It’s important to note that I don’t hold anyone particularly to blame for this; there can be mix-ups at the best of times, and with everyone scrambling to try and repair the live music infrastructure as we begin to entertain thoughts of life in a post-covid world, well… It’s difficult. Nevertheless, after a few minutes of trying to pretend it’d be fine and we’d muscle through and not be precious about it, it became clear that we had a serious problem for the evening’s plans.

Now we come to the part I want to tell you about – my crew. On this run, we have Dougie (production manager and live sound), Ryan (backline and guitars) and Tre (tour managing). I’ve been on the road with these three for years, and I know they’re good at what they do, but yesterday afternoon they proved that in spades, and also showed why crew are so vital (as well as so skilled).

Whilst I was in the middle of having a minor sense of humour failure about the whole thing, Tre declared that “there are no problems, only solutions”, and the three of them set about finding one. The other room in the complex is the big room, Express Live (where I’ve played a bunch of times), but it’s currently slightly up on bricks, being refurbished and so on. Plus putting 300 people in a 3000 cap room wouldn’t really work. But there was space on the floor, and Dougie had located various piles of staging and PA equipment around the backstage.

So it was than in 90 minutes flat, the three of them found and built a stage, found and wired an entire PA (with monitors), set out bike racks and signage to get people into the venue, through the bar area and into the gig, worked out some makeshift lighting, and put an entire show together. In the event we were good to go, soundchecked, Nathan Gray as support all checked as well, by the time doors were originally supposed to open, and the show went ahead as planned. I’d even say that the euphoria of success made it a better show than it might otherwise have been.

A lot of people (probably including me) would have given up. A lot of people would have had no idea how to make a show happen given the materials on hand. But my crew didn’t do that; they soldiered on, got the show running, and enabled me to do my job. I am drowning in admiration for and (if allowed) pride in their work, and I know I’m lucky to have these people as both my crew and, more importantly, my friends.

So, raise a glass to the crew. The last 18 months have been rough across the industry, but it’s these folks who have suffered most in some ways. If they’re doing their job right, people at the shows barely know they’re there, but trust me, without them there’d be no shows to speak of. All hail the crew, support WeMakeEvents.

The show must go on. Asheville tomorrow night!

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