We sometimes toss around words like "epic" a little too casually. "How was that cheeseburger, man?" "It was epic, dude. Epic." I mean, I'm as guilty of this as anyone; being prone to hyperbole is a curse I have to live with. But I have to say that of the hundreds and hundreds of virtual and remote live shows I've done over the past four years, last night's celebration of the 30th anniversary of my live shows was possibly the most fun and memorable -- and yes, epic -- performances I've ever done in my life.
A brief recap as to the reason for the show: I did my very first live performance playing guitar and singing for a crowd when I was 11 years old, on December 8, 1980. To commemorate the milestone 30 years later, my great friend Bunny Knutson came over and we put on a show that was simulcast to both Second Life (at an SL club that Kat and I own in our parcel called Coyote) and to StreamJam, the live music app for Facebook. As a result, we were able to host audiences from both the virtual world and from casual Facebook users.
The view of the show in Second Life, at The Club @ Coyote. Photo courtesy of Kat.
Here's what it looked like in StreamJam. Photo courtesy of Triana Caldera.
It was, in a word, fun. Fun as hell. It was one of those shows that, as I look back from the vantage of an old man, will be among the more memorable ones I've ever done.
First, Some Really Geeky Stuff: Multiple Audio/Video Streams
As I prepared for the show, a good number of people (fellow performing musicians and various audio technology geeks) inquired as to how I was taking audio and video and streaming them into two places simultaneously. The answer is actually pretty simple (though it won't sound that way to everyone):
1. Microphones into mixer.
2. Mixer "tape output" into computer audio interface (a Digidesign Mbox in my case).
3. Mbox USB output into computer. This feeds my Nicecast software, which in turn streams audio into Second Life.
4. Mixer "main output" directly into computer's audio "line in". This feeds Ustream Producer software, which in turn streams audio that is picked up by StreamJam in Facebook.
The video portion is even easier. Ustream recognizes the built-in camera on my Mac. From Ustream, the signal is automatically picked up by StreamJam, which covers Facebook. In SL, the web page for Ustream is embedded in a prim, so people using compatible SL viewers can see the same video feed. Easy as pie.
I'm realizing as I write this that if I'd read it 10 years ago, I'd have no idea what almost any of this stuff meant. Such is progress.
Rocking in the Multiverse
Bunny arrived at about 5PM, having beat the crosstown traffic and giving us plenty of time to get set up, warmed up, and ready to rock. We only briefly went over what we'd be playing. One nice thing about having a good friend with whom you've jammed a lot; there's a simpatico that develops where it gets easier and easier to know what to expect from the other, so you don't have to pre-plan every aspect of the show, and let things happen naturally. It makes for a more fun and spontaneous vibe for both us as musicians, and for our crowd as listeners. In any case, I felt that the set went great.
ZC30 Set List...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
The Sands of Redondo (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Waiting for This (Zak Claxton)
†Black Phobe (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
† This was the first time I'd done my new instrumental "Black Phoebe" along with another musician. Like, ever. We didn't even rehearse it... that was literally the very first time.
We did everything we could, including digital cardboard cut-outs, to allow people in both worlds to feel like they were experiencing the show like they were here in the room with us. Photo by Triana.
We ended up with a nice-sized crowd in both worlds, made up of great friends, Zak fans, and some folks checking out the show for the first time. It was simply terrific.
Massive thanks to everyone who attended, both in SL and on Facebook. Even larger thanks to Bunny and Kat, who really made the show special. I love you people!