As a performing musician, the last thing you want to be is boring. Let me put it this way: I'd rather have people absolutely hate me than to have them fall asleep on me. With this knowledge, perhaps you can look back through the history of music and see many points where musicians went out of their way to shock their audience. While I am grateful for the fact that I can write music and perform on my instruments and voice well enough to bring people enjoyment, sometimes it's just not enough. Not necessarily for them, mind you, but also for me.
When I perform many times at the same venue, as has been the case for my weekly Tuesday night shows over the past month and a half at the Whisky A Go Go in Second Life, I am especially cognizant of this trap. While I'm hesitant to tell any other performer how they should or shouldn't do their shows, I will say that no matter how good someone is, as an audience member I do not want to see the same show done over and over again. My fans are cool enough to come out and see me even when (as was the case this week) I have shows many days in a row; if I start boring them as a result, then I should hang my guitar up and do something else. Immediately.
I do try to be creative with my Facebook event images. This one got some extra attention for some odd reason.
All that having been said, I needed a theme to make last night's show worth attending. For my first month of shows at the Whisky, I was doing sets loosely based on bands that are associated with having played the real Hollywood-based Whisky club. But that only can go on for so long, and besides, I've got a much more diverse list of songs to play than those covered under that definition. So, on a whim, I decided to do a set of cover songs that were written and performed by female artists.
Other than my broad shoulders and beard, I look pretty hot in a dress. Photo by Kat.
The Whisky crowd has fun while I interject comments about being a dude in a dress. I'm sure I've had many better shows in terms of my singing and playing, but this one will stand out for the Zaksters nonetheless. Photo by Kat.
Once that decision was made, everything else fell into place in my twisted mind. I put up an event notice that had a poorly-Photoshopped photo of my face on an attractive blonde woman's body -- the more ridiculous, the better in that case -- and called the event "Zak Claxton's Ladies' Night". Then, I went into SL and for the first and possibly last time, went shopping for a dress for myself. Hats off to SF Design, who had a lovely black frilly prom-like dress available for free. And then I did my show.
Whisky "Ladies' Night" Set List...
If It Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
†Sunny Came Home (Shawn Colvin)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
*Only Happy When It Rains (Garbage)
Hurting Each Other (The Carpenters)
Blue (Joni Mitchell)
Beyond the Blue (Martina McBride)
Help me (Joni Mitchell)
Perfect Girl (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
†My last performance of this Shawn Colvin tune was in 2007... so long ago, it predates this blog! I like the song; too bad it's too low for me to really sing.
*Indicates my first-ever performance of this song in SL
In any case, the show was a success... and not just because I was a guy in a dress. We had a good crowd, and everyone had fun. More importantly, among the hundreds of shows that many of these folks have seen in SL, this one will be more memorable than most. You can't do that all the time as a performer; being known as gimmicky is nearly as bad as being boring. But every so often, it's a great idea to do something that takes your crowd away from the ordinary. Now to think of something fun for next week's show!
Big thanks to everyone who came out to my "Ladies' Night" show, especially those who supported me and the Whisky!
Xerxes Ninetails, Diana Renoir, Alexis Fairlady, Kat Claxton, Cicadetta Stillwater, TheaDee, my manager Maali Beck, Whisky host Dmitry Polonsky, and Whisky owner Cameron Trenchcoat!