The New Years Dissonants show at Gordie's Loft (AKA Chez Gordie's) taught me several things about performing live, and about being in a band in general. These should be tattooed on one's arm (in 6 pt. Arial font, I suppose) so that their import won't be overlooked at any time.
Violations of these precepts should be punishable by extreme measures (OK, maybe not death, but something severe!). I will summarize them in Point Form, just like those corporate pigs at Maxim might, for enhanced readability!
1) Jello-Wrestling Ban: Although watching two lovely ladies grope and grapple in a tub full of Jello sounds like harmless fun, it will inevitably result in a Jello throwing match and equipment covered in red gelatinous mush. Jello is also very difficult to get out of one's hair and/or corduroys. Realistically, the Jello Ban should really be extended to all sticky food wrestling. (Jello is also made of animal bones so why eat it in the first place?)
2) Start the Gig Early: By the time our drummer graced us with his presence, it was close to 2:15 AM and most of our guests had already migrated to other bars/parties/afterhours and we were playing for a largely empty room. Only two hours earlier, we had close to a hundred people and things were looking rosy. If you tell people that your gig is going to start at 1 AM or so, try and be reasonable or else you'll be watching the tumbleweeds roll by. Also, if your whole band can't make it by a certain time, cancel the gig and severely guilt-trip the band member in question.
3) Two Beer Rule Must Be Enforced: When we hit the stage, our band was mostly drunk, myself included. This may be just fine for Musical Geniuses like Connor Oberst or the Libertines but it doesn't cut it for Rookies like our band. My lead guitarist was so intoxicated that at one point, he was kneeling on the floor and couldn't get up for fear of tumbling down in a heap. While I was severely intoxicated, at least I could stand up and play my parts. Since we started so late, it was to be expected that we would be boozed up by showtime, but this can't happen in the future. Also, drugs, although fun, will only make things harder to handle emotionally and deplete money that could pay for band practice or food.
4) Write More Songs and Stop Learning Covers: This can't be stressed enough. A band without songs is like a Bonobo monkey without sexual organs. If you are going to learn covers, make sure they're songs that are new and vital enough to warrant repeat playing show after show. Also, stay away from Mainstream Bullshit unless your band is a big fan of Nickelback or Evanescence. In my heart of hearts, I truly hope that my band will remain untainted by the stench of Middle-Ground Rock.
5) Don't Be Afraid To Institute a Fascist Intra-Band Regime: Democracy, while great for running nation states, doesn't work in families or in bands. The songwriter(s) should enforce their will through threats and cajoling because that is the only way to have a cohesive sound. If nobody can agree, that means that it is time to start a new band. While I am optimistic that the Dissonants will survive until our next gig (Dutchfest, Feb. 1st 2004, Venue still being negotiated), I can't predict whether we'll stay together for good. Luckily, we're (mostly) still friends in the band so we may just be able to sort out this band strife and make something good out of it all.
6) Bands Are Like Lovers, Only Without the Sex: Yes, people have feelings and you can't be too blunt or direct with your opinions. Always temper your criticism with some sort of compliment or else your band-mates will be building a trap full of Ponzi Sticks to impale you in no time. Plus, they're musicians, so if they make music, sometimes it is just a question of finding yourself in their creation. Fuck egos or trying to please everyone. Just give them a fair shake and you'll be surprised how good the final product can turn out. This can be ignored if the song sounds too Mainstream or Evanescentish; in this case, Rule 4 applies.
Happy New Years! What sort of resolutions did you make for the next 12 months? [Ed. Note: No more drugs for a long time!]