Faking it

Other possible titles:  Paid in Toothpaste; Greetings from the Land of Poor Fitting Khakis; Let's Get Excited about Shelf Space; My First and Last Day of Business School.

I participated in a really strange gig this morning (and also Tuesday night).  The guys who make up Yacht Rock were hired to be the house band (kind of like the Letterman band) for a private event for Proctor and Gamble.  It was not, however, a Yacht Rock event--we dressed "like rock stars" (I wore a t shirt and jeans with a leather blazer) and played a much wider variety of music--mostly in the classic rock vein.  I had almost nothing to do, so I ended up turning the volume off on my keyboard and faking it for most of the show.

Tuesday night we loaded in to the Marriott downtown.  At that time, the song selections were still up in the air, so I brought my full rig:  2 keyboards, EWI setup, amplifier, and a saxophone.  Once they settled on songs, it turned out I would only need one keyboard--everything else could go home!

The production team provided in-ear monitors for us, but then they blew threw the soundcheck so quickly we never got good mixes set up.  Too bad--we missed an opportunity to really enjoy the benefits.  If we could have taken the time to get each guy's ears dialed in, I bet it would have sounded great.  Instead, it was pretty bland.  I think a couple of the guys ended up not evening wearing them because they could hear the stage sounds better (and the vocals in the house).

We rehearsed the presentation a couple of times.  Four upper management P and G guys tried their best to deliver the Steve Jobs-esque presentation.  A bit stiff.  Do they sell a product to fix that?  The entire thing was scripted, rolling along on giant teleprompter screens hung in the back of the room.  Easy for us--even the band cues were written in.  I drank beer onstage.

Wednesday morning came way too early--had to be there at 7 AM.  Ouch!  Not fun.  We did the show three times.  Each show was approximately forty-five minutes long.  Lots of business-speak:  leveraging assets, SKUs, shelf space, NOS, and some other acronyms that meant nothing to me.  Is it a shelf or a display?  I dunno.  I went numb pretty fast.  By the time we were hearing it for the third time, it was almost impossible to pay attention.

I guess it was because there was nothing else for me to do, but I ended up drinking five cups of coffee.  When we began the first show of the morning, I was rocking out on tambourine (um, yeah), and I thought I was going to fall off the back of the stage!  My head was spinning.  Somehow I avoided falling over on my keyboard.  By the middle of that presentation, the coffee was burning a hole in my stomach, and I started making plans for my emergency exit from mid stage (how in the hell I ended up sitting in the middle of the stage with the least to do out of anybody is beyond me!).  I decided that when the time came I would step off the back of the stage, climb underneath, and puke--there was no other out-of-sight place for me to throw up.  I thought if I could get far enough under the stage I wouldn't get it on any of the cables or lights, and it might not smell so bad on stage.

The feeling passed.  I went to the restroom many times to set my coffee free.

I spent almost all of second show contemplating how the four guys could all be wearing khakis, and they were all radically different cuts, and yet none of them fit them well, particularly from behind.  I wrote an entire presentation in my mind about their pants.

I became fixated with the teleprompter during the third show.  Sometimes the presenter was right on it, and sometimes he was all over the place, and I got frustrated when the guy and the operator couldn't get it together.  The screen would scroll in reverse trying to pick up the rambling man.  Then I started reading along and totally missed the beginning of Beautiful Day.

Songs from the show:

Rock and Roll:  tambourine
Let's Go Crazy:  synth
Black Dog:  nothing
Beautiful Day:  synth
Who Are You:  nothing
Imagine:  strings
Help from my Friends:  nothing (actually, I did play wurly on this)
Join Together:  nothing
Back in Black:  nothing
Pump it Up:  nothing
Vertigo:  tambourine

The third show ended with a fifth executive reading his heartfelt thanks to the "team" off the teleprompter.  Very moving.  They'd brought a bunch of people out of the crowd and up on stage for Back in Black, and they all stood up there and read it along with him.

We finished around 12:30.  They fed us a big mediocre lunch, and we loaded out.

I got home, slept for 10 minutes, got up and taught a clarinet lesson, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.  I'm feeling almost normal again.


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