Life on the road directly told by artists in the midst of touring.
June 25, 2008
::from dreams, from reality::
when a lot of my friends and i started playing in bands in the san francisco bay area, we didn't exactly expect things to go anywhere. we just wanted to play music and make some noise in our garages. we didn't think much past that.
as our bus rolled up into the greek theatre parking lot, i had to laugh a bit. never in a million years did i ever think i'd be playing there. let's see... who did i see playing there as a kid? men at work. depeche mode. elvis costello. so many shows, seated from so far away. and now we were there, rolling our gear onto the stage, getting it all ready for sound check. at certain times, i really understand the genius behind talking heads' "once in a lifetime" and all of the possible and unexpected paths your life can take, not to mention the true subjectivity of the many permutations of "reality".
after being out for almost a month, it felt so nice to be on home turf and i felt a distinct sense of civic pride as we played our set. the only bummer about the show was the city of berkeley puts a decibel limit on the shows, so i don't think we were loud enough for the upper reaches of the venue.
nevertheless, when we got close to the end of "harmonium" (last song of the set that night), much of the standing portion of the theatre began singing/shouting along. it threw us off a bit because that has never happened before, but it added a sizable bolt of energy to us as we tore through the end of the song. i walked off the stage with the positive energy of all of those thousands of people buzzing all around me.
when i started to break down my gear and get it packed away, i started wondering a lot about group behavior. why was this show so superior to the one we played the night before in san diego? why would shows in san diego and indianapolis feel lifeless, as though the crowd was bored with what we were offering them, or just impatient to hear death cab play? how much control do we as a band have in determining the amount of energy we can get back from a crowd?
for one thing, i think it starts from the moment we get on stage. i've done a little data analysis, and it seems that crowds have given us more energy when we run out onto the stage. when we walk, passivity increases.
on the other hand, i may just be a terrible judge of group behavior. let's be honest, we haven't been playing large venues like this for very long, so there is a chance i am not measuring properly. do we judge how people like the show based on the volume of their reaction after the song? for me, when i am at a show, if i am really loving it, i don't say much, i just close my eyes and listen. perhaps there is no way to really ever know. the only thing we can control is our instruments.
after death cab finished their set at the greek theatre, there was a party behind the stage. a lot of our friends and family came out to celebrate with us. it was over. we did it. played great. damn. now if we could only sing the anthem at the a's game...