This weekend confirmed to me that my decision to join an additional, different band from the Gobshites was a Good Idea.
Friday night Rev. Bob & the Darkness played at the Paradise Rock Club, which is a decent Boston venue (although it kind of doesn't count as a real "booked" gig since it was an abbreviated Emergenza set - thankfully we're done with that scam now), to a good-sized crowd of our fans and others - even some of the suburban metal band fans bought CDs afterwards. That was my third show with the band, and it went quite well.
Then Saturday night I did another three-set gig with the Gobshites at the dive bar around the corner from Pete's house in Foxboro MA. Same basic setlist we've done a dozen times this spring, but Pete commented afterwards that it seemed like I'd had a really good time and we'd worked well together. I'd agree with that assessment, so gave some thought to why:
- Stage placement was better than it frequently is, as we are such a large group (7). I finally arranged to NOT be on the far end of the performance area (where I sometimes have bowing/movement issues, depending on the venue), and not to be to the left of Rob the bassist, who takes up the space of two performers swinging his bass around and stepping 3 feet forward and back from the mic (he's nearly clocked me with the headstock several times). Ryan the mandolin player moved to my left, too, in order to share the mic with Rob, leaving me more next to Pete (and only needing to avoid getting my tuning pegs caught in Ryan's mandolin cable as he bounced around). This also gave me more opportunity to interact with Pete, which makes sense as we do a lot of trade-off between lead vocals and violin leads.
- I was using the new 5-string acoustic violin I got a couple weeks ago from Gianna Violins, after having Leslie the luthier refit the Baggs pickup bridge I hadn't liked on my Silakowski to it instead. I've still got to work on the sound - this time I used the wireless transmitter directly from the Baggs jack, then from the receiver to a Fishman preamp - next time I'll try Baggs-preamp-transmitter to see if the sound is not as harsh, as they suggest that's optimal for clean gain (though Elana James said she didn't use a preamp with hers, so I thought I'd try it). There are definite benefits to using an acoustic violin: a good one is lighter and better balanced than any electric, and when monitors are bad/not available I don't have to rig up the in-ear monitor (which lost its audio level knob @ Paradise - arrgh).
- But the bottom line, I think, was that I was better able to appreciate the Gobshites' performance style after the immediate contrast with the Rev. Bob style. Both require a good audience response as a base to work from, which we had both nights. But on Saturday I found myself having more fun doing the wild, semi-uncontrolled Irish/Punk improv riffs after the more controlled swing improv blues/roots/jazz riffs of the previous night. I'm still not quite sure what the stage style should be for Rev. Bob - so far we've been not too physically interactive (though we do look cues to each other), and I'm not sure how much that will change as we perform more together - we may get more relaxed, but I'm not sure how rowdy we'll get. So to alternate between that and the Guinness-soaked Gobshites show is better than doing only ONE of those performance personas constantly.
So it will be very interesting come August: Pete has invited Rev. Bob to open with the Gobshites for Uncle Monk, Tommy Ramone's new bluegrass band, in Providence RI...