February 15, 2014 - by Nick Schneider
Most gigs suck. That’s the unfiltered, musician truth. It’s a lot of hard work for little reward. All the time/money/patience spent preparing for a show- you’re certainly never getting that back. If you’re lucky to get paid anything at a venue in this modern day no-pay, no-risk atmosphere, you’ll probably spend it all on drinks anyway. You might get to go home with a girl, but you probably won’t. And if you do, you’ll probably regret it in the morning, a morning that will probably be spent nursing a mean hangover and wondering what life decisions led to this deplorable state, one in which your parents spent so much time and effort trying to prevent.
Then there’s the physical agony- the lugging of equipment, the painful banality of setting up and breaking down gear, that unglamorous reality of a low-budget musician’s life (and San Francisco, with your obnoxious hills and mythical parking spaces, you don’t make the process any less stressful).
Then there’s the very possible chance that no one will show up, that the audience will consist of two work friends (who you begged to come out and support) and a few drunks seated securely at the bar. And, what if, horror of unspeakable horrors, the opening and/or closing band is better than you. Fuuuuck. There’s a blow to the ego my fragile wannabe-starving-artist psyche just can’t handle.
But we do it anyway- put up with all the angst and self-doubt and backstabbing musicians and Sisyphistic repetitiveness- because every show has the potential to be THE ONE. The one you will be talking about for years, a story that will be passed onto untold future generations, a tale fit to go down in the annals of Rock N’ Roll History. It’ll be the one where everybody gets laid in some massive Caligula-like orgy full of strippers and Playboy bunnies and Kerry Washington; David Geffen signs us to a multi-million dollar contract on the spot; John Mayer happens to be in the crowd and, so overcome by the performance, realizes just how mediocre he is and vows to never again deface the aesthetic beauty of a guitar with his grubby, untalented, uninteresting, milquetoast, boring white-boy fingers. I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish Jimi Hendrix was still alive.
The Stu Tails’ upcoming gig at the Grant & Green marks our one year anniversary playing the venue. That’s a big deal (I would like to think) for any band, but I’m gonna make this post about me because, hell, I’m the one writing it (plus I’m atrociously narcissistic, vain and self-obsessed to the point of paralysis, or, in other words, a typical writer). This one year anniversary, which happens to fall the day after Valentine’s in a cheeky side note, marks a personal milestone for me. I don’t remember any of my bands lasting over a year, and if they did, the time spent after that mark must’ve not been that memorable. In fact, I’ve had more bands than girlfriends, which is both a sad statement on my personal life and a virulent indication of my slightly psychotic obsession with music. I could write for days about all the gigs I’ve played, all the shows I’ve seen, all the bands I’ve heard, adamantly followed or desperately tried to forget. And I could probably sum up my love life within the length of a tweet.
So what am I doing with this band, settling down? Capitulating to commitment at long last? I don’t know if I’m willing to go that far. Let’s take it slow, see where this thing takes us. Hey, if the Stu Tails could land me a slot at the Coachella main stage then I’d propose this instant and drive to Vegas tonight.
So one year ago at the Grant & Green really was the start of something pretty special. It wasn’t our First Gig Ever (that ‘honor’ belongs to the renowned punk shrine the Gilman in Berkeley), but it was our first show in San Francisco and, more importantly, the first show we didn’t sound like total shit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Gilman for many reasons, but not exactly for our sense of musical cohesion. Think about it- we had only practiced maybe three times total together as a band before the show; we were little more than acquaintances at that point; and I, personally, hadn’t played a real show since the move back from LA. It was an experience almost surreal in nature- playing at the historic home to Bay Area heroes (Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys, Green Day, etc.) with a reggae-rock group from the East Coast. There’s a cosmic joke to be found in there.
The Grant & Green gig, to say the least, went much smoother. It may not have been THE ONE, but it was a good one. Though the combination of aggressive alcohol consumption, recreational drug usage, and many late nights followed by too-early mornings may have whittled my memory down to a dull edge- just a nebulous blob of snatched conversations, vague details and amorphous facts- I do believe we played well that night. I vividly recall circling North Beach for about an hour looking for a decent parking spot, but, as for the show, yeah, I’m sure it was okay. It certainly wasn’t our best, and definitely not our worst, but a pretty damn good sophomore effort. And it did make me realize that maybe, just maybe, this band might be one worth sticking with.