Monday, September 14, 2009

So how did it go?

The title refers to the question that I've gotten since Saturday. For those that aren't familiar with my blog, I've recently joined a rock band by the name of "Torrn". Saturday night was the first show for Torrn with me as the new singer, a small gathering for a birthday party, about 30-50 people at the show.

I woke up Saturday morning and could immediately tell my voice was a bit hoarse. Having practiced on Tuesday and Thursday nights the week prior to the show was probably a bit too much for my voice considering we've only been stretching it out a month. Add in my coffee drinking, alcohol drinking, smoking, and humidity sucking air conditioning and you could see where I might be in for a bit of a problem. It also didn't help that I took some more vocal chances this week on some of the songs, that I felt I was getting stretched out for, which is a factor as well.

I know I have a pretty strong voice, but I also know it's not been put to the test regularly like it will be with singing from a band. The good news is that I'm becoming more familiar with it's capabilities and limitations. The bad news is that I need to make some serious changes in my lifestyle if I'm going to continue doing this.

Getting back to Saturday, I've woken up hoarse before, the dry air in our house almost ensures it. I attempted to rest the voice for as much of the day as possible, sucking down water at incredible rates and trying to limit my smoking. (Always a difficult thing with an anxiety provoking situation on the horizon). I wasn't overly worried about the hoarseness for that nights performance as I still felt I could handle the number of songs we had that night. (although I knew I'd pay for it)

What I was worried about is how the hoarseness would play out going forward, especially on nights where I needed to do back to back shows. If things went as I expected, I'd probably have no voice on Sunday after performing Saturday night and maybe longer then that. After my bout with laryngitis in July, it's something I seem to be overly conscious of now, and to the point that it's a bit scary. As it turns out I was right, I made it through the two sets, but as of Sunday morning, I had nothing besides a whisper for a voice.

Oh how I frigging hate myself at the moment, if for no other reason then I'm a stubborn son of a bitch. I know the affect of smoking, alcohol, and even coffee on my voice and self, and I still act like I'm 25 years old able to bounce back regularly from things. Fact is I'm not, and I need to change this. I'm in a state of disappointment in myself, with a a bit of fear mixed in from the laryngitis (which brings to the forefront my ability to abuse myself over the years and what consequences I may need to pay for that too). Enough of that, we've now established that I'm a bit dense and we'll come back to it. Let's take a break and talk about the show.

Laurie and I got to the house at about 8, the party was in full swing and it definitely looked to be a lively crowd. I had a chance to introduce Laurie to the band members and meet some other people that I hadn't met and by arriving a bit early it gave me a chance to relax a bit. It was weird seeing the barn full of people, I've become quite used to us practicing in there in relative solitude. Having the familiarity of the stage though for our first performance was huge though. After 4-5 practices, I definitely felt comfortable in 'my spot' which goes a long way in building a foundation of comfort, start out with a comfortable spot to do a show, get comfortable with the performance in front of people and then use that comfort zone in going to new venues.

We started at nine, right into the first Stone Temple Pilot's song, where I proceeded to completely skip the second verse of the song. I went from 1st to the 3rd verse and completely screwed up my pacing. So after standing on stage for a minute or two (an eternity), I was able to find the spot where the band was and close out the rest of the song without completely falling apart. While this was not the way I wanted to start out, one thing I've learned from public speaking and singing, is that you are going to fall on your face, somehow/someway and sometimes multiple times, while you don't want to, how you handle it is really the big key to how the rest of the show goes. So getting a big blunder out of the way early was frustrating, but it also let me relax a bit.

I knew going in one of the songs we were extremely comfortable with was going to have a mess up. My guess was that song was going to be Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down as we had become very comfortable with it, but alas I was wrong and it was the first STP song.

I made a variety of other mistakes through the night. I had some timing issues, more lyric mixups, voice cracks/pitchy moments, and struggled a bit to keep my eyes open when concentrating on what I was trying to sing. But overall it went pretty good. I was able to push through the two sets with the voice out of whack and even with my nervousness I was able to have some stage awareness and presence. Crowd wise, they seemed to enjoy it and I got a couple compliments during breaks on my singing. So overall I'd say it was a success.

My fears of group dynamics were baseless, as no one outside of Laurie came to the show, and she got along with the group and enjoyed the night.

Final verdict is that the first show was a success. The day after the show was a failure due to losing my voice.

Which leaves me with the question of what to do? I've decided to quite smoking (again.) I've been flirting with it again for awhile, and I hate to even put it down to words because I've been unsuccessful so many times. It's not like there aren't plenty of damn good reasons: health, child, longer life. It doesn't hurt that I'd really like to do this band thing consistently and wouldn't mind saving a ton of money from not smoking.

I'm into day two now, and based alone on the fact of where my voice is back to today (not good, but much better then last time I had laryngitis after one day) I know this is the right decision. Hopefully with a mix of nicotine lozenges, exercise, flushing the system through multiple gallons of water, and trying to keep my mind off of it and focus on what I want to do, it will be enough to overcome this. However I do expect to be a bit of an asshole during the addiction breaking, and need to figure out how to keep my rather patient outlook post-nicotine addiction. I'm convinced my calm demeanor is rather largely influenced by my regular nicotine inhalation. Not to mention, I'm not going back to being overweight. (while I'm not at my perfect weight, I think I might become bat shit crazy if I got up to 240 or 250 lbs).

If there is another bright side, it's just one more thing I get to discuss in my blog. My rants during my addiction withdrawal should be interesting, although if they aren't at least there is a chance for some catharsis.

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