Forming a one-man band – Take 2: Auditioning for myself

Strap in and get comfy, folks…I’ve got a lot to share with this one!  I had considered breaking this up into two separate posts, but thought otherwise.  So here it is, in its entirety.  Enjoy!

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Following my last performance, I was a little wary about whether there would be any more to follow-up.  However, it wasn’t long before word got around and people were intrigued by what I had to offer.  After getting through the nerves of playing in front of people for the first time in years, I decided that it would be fun to make a little series out of this idea.  A concert mini-series of sorts.  A “tour,” if you will.  (Although I doubt that I’ll actually leave my premises.)  Let’s call it the Living Room Concert Series.  It has actually been pretty fun coming up with more ideas on how to wow my crowd.  This time though, I definitely outdid myself and may have even gone a bit overboard!  I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but honk honk…ya know what I mean??

I started out with the idea of at least maintaining the same production quality of my first attempt, and was really trying to blow it out of the water.  After months of planning, I started the process by making some e-flyers and sending them out to my new “fans” that had expressed interest in witnessing my greatness.  (I’m trying to be modest here, but sometimes it’s just so hard!)

eFlyer - *Content has been edited to protect sensitive information*

From there, my theme came into focus.  Since my last playlist was tailored more for a crowd in a bar, I decided to bring the barroom to my living room.  I cleared out the coffee table and rug to open up the “stage” and “dance floor” a little more.  I put out a bowl full of nuts right next to an ice bucket full of IBC root beer (I’m not a big drinker, but thought some pub-style snacks would be a nice touch).

(Root) beers & nuts

It was finally time to get my stage set up.  I placed all my equipment where I wanted it, put out the gimmicks, and ran all of the wiring.

See those wires? No fire hazard here! Pictured above: Audio stand with laptop connected to surround sound, fog machine and laser unit directly beneath that, pedal board and multi-colored light bank on the left side, amplifier in bottom right corner, red beacon light on speaker tower above that.

I ran a quick sound check to make sure my levels were good before breaking out my concert wardrobe.  Similar to last time, I decided to go with a bit of a hipster-type ringer tee-shirt that says “Quit work, make music.”

Up next: the gimmicks.  I know you’re dying to find out what tricks I had up my sleeve for this edition of my Living Room Concert, and I don’t think I disappointed.  I included all of the gimmicks from the first show, and why not?  They were already lying around, so might as well put them to good use, right?  In addition to the cowbell, orange-colored general stage lighting, strobe light, and red beacon light, I added my wireless transmitter so I could move freely around the room, a black light (that I found out at the last minute was very underwhelming!), multi-color flashing light bank, fog machine, and laser unit!  I learned last time just how hot it can get in our living room standing in front of lights and rocking my heart out, so this time, expecting more body heat from a larger audience, I was a little more prepared.  I fully anticipated using the ceiling fan, but didn’t want the lights to ruin the mood, so I replaced them with a black light bulb…and as already stated, it was a bit of a letdown.  I had planned on using a colored gel for the strobe light this time, but with the multi-colored light bank, I liked the effect the plain white strobe had with the other lights.  I strategically waited to use the laser and fog machine until last to save the effect for the climax of the show, but I tried not to wait too long so that I could get plenty of use out of it and make it worth the effort of setting it all up.  Mission: accomplished…at least as far as I’m concerned.

Gimmicks galore - Light show

I was also a little more prepared for the timing of my playlist.  Last time, I plugged in my laptop to the surround sound, pressed play, then played along, leaving me zero time between songs to tune, get a drink, etc.  This go around, I burned my playlist to a disc and added a 5 second buffer between songs to afford me the valuable seconds to adjust gimmicks, re-tune my guitar, wipe the pouring sweat from my face (gross), and get a drink.  I didn’t rely on foot-switches as much this time because of how much of a pain it turned out to be last time.  Since I opted to go with my motorcycle boots, I didn’t have the most ankle dexterity, and it made tap dancing on foot-switches quite difficult.  It’s all about learning and adapting, people.

My audience showed up en mass right on time.  Their choice of wardrobe was fantastic, as they were invited to dress for the occasion.  (Invited, encouraged, required…whatever.)

The crowd's all here

As already stated, I needed a little time between songs to be able to tune.  Like last time, I tried to keep the tuning of my playlist pretty simple, so I stuck with standard tuning, but with a brief venture into Dropped D tuning.

Playlist:

“Paint It Black” – The Rolling Stones.  I have a much more metal version of this song performed by Judas Priest, but for the sake of my audience I went with the original.  This version is also pretty easy and served as an excellent warm-up.  The lead riff is quite simple and the chorus is just downright fun…even if the subject matter isn’t.  I toyed with this one a little and kind of played my own adaptation, but stayed relatively true to the original recording.

“Down On Me” – Jackyl.  Quite possibly the most underrated metal band ever.  Any band fronted by Jesse James (Dupree) and can feature a chainsaw solo in their repertoire is okay in my book…and there’s a breakdown to help get the crowd involved!

“Livin’ After Midnight” – Judas Priest.  I don’t have anything to say about this song.  This set list included a good deal of metal, so why not include the forefathers of the genre themselves?  Rob Halford is an amazing vocalist and this song is simply a good time.  Period.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister.  This is one of the first songs I ever learned how to play all the way through, including the solo.  This was included in my first band’s (Controlled Substance) first set list.  Notice how I threw in there that I know the solo?  Picking up on the importance of that little fact yet?  Since it is a staple of everything I do that is related to music, I added a little cowbell to the breakdown following the solo.  The only dilemma I had with this song was whether I should use the original, or the slightly more raucous version by Bif Naked.  The deciding factor came down to the high quality awesomeness that was Twisted Sister’s strong suit…their music videos!

“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” – AC/DC.  A lesser known song from this group, but just as electrifying and guitar-driven as any of their smash hits.  This song is also featured in the movie “Empire Records” which is always a plus.  “Save the empire!”

“One” – Creed.  I know, I know.  It’s Creed.  At least it’s not Nickelback…not yet anyway.  Don’t focus so much on the name of the band though.  Think more about how good of an album “My Own Prison” was when it was first released.  Before people got sick and tired of Scott Stapp.  This was a perfectly decent song, and it helped me pad my set list a little.  It added another track that people know, tacked on a few more minutes to the show, and gave me another opportunity to act like I can play lead.

[Link to “One” video]

“Island In The Sun” – Weezer.  A tribute to GOOD Weezer.  Before they took a nosedive with tracks like “Beverly Hills” and “Pork And Beans.”  It’s almost disgusting really.  Back to the point though – this song is fun to listen to, sing along to, play along with, and I know the solo.  <—  There it is – the deciding factor.

“What’s This Life For” – Creed.  See above…minus the lead part, since there is no solo in this song.

“Slither” – Velvet Revolver.  With all the metal this show had to offer, I couldn’t help but notice that there were no Guns N’ Roses songs.  While technically this doesn’t qualify as a true GNR song, essentially that’s exactly what it is.  It may not have Axl Rose “slithering” in front of the band during the video (see what I did there?), but it sure does have Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum.  And it substitutes Scott Weiland (from Stone Temple Pilots fame) slithering in front of the band during the video…I can handle that!

[Link to “Slither” video]

“How You Remind Me” – Nickelback.  I already know…lame.  I can’t, and won’t, defend this choice…I’ll only explain my reasoning behind it.  I had some songs in line that turned out to be in the wrong tuning, so I had to get rid of them.  In order to keep my runtime from shrinking, I needed to add a couple.  This one is extremely super simple.  I learned it before Nickelback was Nickelback.  If you remember, this song is the one that sent them sliding downhill.  However, I learned how to play it before it was played to death by overzealous DJs across the country, leaving a very bitter taste towards Nickelback in music fans’ mouths everywhere.  It was a necessary evil for this show.

“Closing Time” – Semisonic.  I know what you’re thinking again: this set list is so much more lame than the last one.  And if I was creating a set list for a real rock show I wouldn’t argue the least bit.  But for what this is for, I have to disagree.  This was a strong move on my part to tailor the show to entertain the people who were there.  And, as you may recall, I remembered that I know the lead riffs for this song which is a guarantee that it will make an appearance in the playlist.  However, more accurately, I THOUGHT I knew the lead riffs for this song.  Turns out the way I’ve always played the piano solo is totally not right.  The quick fix would be simply to play the rhythm part, and pick up the lead riff when the guitar comes back in.  Unfortunately for me, there is no rhythm underneath the piano interlude.  SO…I could either try to figure out the correct notes for the solo or write a rhythm part to play along with it.  Luckily, it turned out that the wrong way I was playing the solo wasn’t too far off…a couple quick adjustments and I was back on track!

[Link to “Closing Time” video]

Shot of the night!

Encore:

“E-A-D Medley” – Various artists.  While in the band, we discovered several songs that use the same chords in the same progression set to almost the same beat with almost the same strum pattern.  The bad news is we never went any further than that.  This time though, it was up to me to do whatever I wanted.  There was nobody else I had to run a vote through.  So I installed my recording/editing software and got to work.  I started with some classic Neil Diamond – “Cherry Cherry.”  From there it transformed into “What I Like About You” by The Romantics before ending with “R-O-C-K In The U.S.A.” by John Cougar-Mellencamp (with a couple of ventures back-tracking into the aforementioned songs).  I tried to include the media so you could hear my efforts of combining the tracks, at LEAST until I got a Cease & Desist order from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) anyway.  I thought since I’m not profiting from it, and no song is included in its entirety I should be okay.  Turns out, without paying a fee for an upgrade, I can’t post audio files.  However, if you are interested in hearing my efforts, please feel free to email me a request.

“Keep On Rocking In The Free World” – Neil Young.  This is the song that my old band closed every show with.  Seriously, is there a better tune to end a concert?  The correct answer is no, and if you were thinking of another song, you were wrong.  But good effort.

Signing autographs

Following the face-melting show, I signed autographs before we made our way single-file, because safety is key – no Great White situations here, to the backyard where an audience member pulled out the pyrotechnics, and put on a bit of a fireworks display with some leftovers from the 4th of July.  Man, it just kept getting better!

[Link to pyro video]

[Link to fireworks video]

This one got pretty complicated and I started to worry myself a little the week leading up to the performance, but overall I think it turned out to be pretty entertaining, if not overly complex for a one-man stage show.  “How could I ever out-do all of this?” you might be wondering.  I’ve already got plenty of ideas and themes, don’t you worry about that!  I can promise this – the next one will be completely different.  Stay tuned in…until next time.

Interested in attending/participating at my next show?  Email me your request and we’ll see what happens.

Thank you, that is all.

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6 responses to “Forming a one-man band – Take 2: Auditioning for myself

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