When I was acting…back in the day…I loved it! I still do though I’m rusty now: I can’t remember my Postal Code, so I’m not sure how well I’d do with an hour of dialogue. I played everything from racist cops to pedophiles to abusive husbands to…hey, waitasec!! Yah, they gave me tough roles because people knew I could handle it, knew I would put a lot of passion into being a bad person without playing a villain, AND knew I was a sweetie off-stage so it wouldn’t hurt my reputation. And that is as far as I’ll go giving myself praise in this blog!
Looking back, that work was HARD! Sure, it can be boiled down to “Remember your lines and don’t bump into furniture” but have you ever seen people who can’t act try? It’s always obvious. It’s stiff. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it and then POOF there it is, something is off, unnatural. Acting is hard to do! Think about it:
In theatre, you have to pretend to be someone else and say someone else’s words…you have to react to a situation as though it’s actually happening. Often you have to do it in strange clothes. You have to be in the moment despite having a hundred people staring at you and coughing every five minutes, under the hot lights, and all the while keeping in mind that you have a quick change in twenty minutes and have to cross to the left side of the stage through a crawl space under the audience in ten seconds or you’ll miss your cue. Then…you do it again night after night until the run is over!
When it’s going well, it’s going really well. When it’s going badly…like when I forgot my next line playing Alsemero in the Changeling in the late 90s…yah…it sucks!
In film and television, you do the same thing only instead of an audience you have cameras, men with long sticks and fuzzy mics dangling over your head, sometimes with microphones clipped into your hair or clothes, and you have to remember an imaginary line you cannot cross…where the frame begins and ends. Instead of repeating the action in it’s entirety night after night, you repeat a segment of the action over and over again until you’re covered, and then move onto the next segment. Oh…and makeup…makeup…
You have to love the art. It’s not very glamorous. I’ve spent a LOT of time in my underwear…on camera and off…oh lord, I’m sorry I told you that.
Music can be the same. You play the same songs…often for unresponsive crowds…over and over again, night after night. It’s like acting for film or theatre: in the studio you have no audience and do take after take until you get it right, and on stage you have an audience and need to “Remember your lines and not bump into the furniture.”
If you enjoy what you do, it comes across. I’ve seen new bands go on stage as a bundle of nerves but do an amazing job because they love performing. Everyone from the small to the big. For work, I’ve seen Take Me To The Pilot three times, and I enjoyed each one (…to be fair…I only really ‘had’ to do one, but I ‘chose’ to do the other two!) They love what they’re doing and it shows.
My favourite live act right now is Hollerado. They LOVE what they’re doing, and it’s always a treat. The last show I saw had confetti-pyrotechnics, beer fountains (ie. lean back and fire a mist of air from your mouth…actually kind of spectacular when three guys do it in sync!). Menno, the lead singer, is hilarious to watch and listen to.
There’s another reason why I think they’re amazing. They do something that RUINS a show for me, that traditionally makes me tune out and start loud conversations until the band finishes. They jam on stage.
…they jam from song to song. They jam within songs. They jam!
Jamming on stage to me is the equivalent of pulling out your wang and telling everyone you’re great. Or, otherwise (as Archers of Loaf prooved the one time I saw them live) jamming is a big fuck you. Maybe I’ll tell that story someday.
Jamming is what you do when you practise, or are working through songs, or are bored. It’s taking a chord and repeating it for ten minutes while other band members diddle over it. No offense to Jam Bands, it’s a skill, but it bores me.
Unless it’s Hollerado. They’ve taken jamming and made it fun! I look forward to their jams, to the antics, and most importantly…to the songs!
They enjoy what they do, and it comes across on stage. They know their lines, they don’t bump into furniture, and they make each time seem like the first, like it’s happening on stage for the first time.
You can’t ask for anything more from an artist!