I can't speak for other musicians -- I often can barely speak for myself -- but I do know one thing that seems universally logical for performers of all sorts: you need to play things that are appropriate for the audience and the venue. Sometimes these things are dictated by factors like the ages of the audience, i.e., you don't sing songs filled with profanities at a Kindergarten party.
But sometimes the circumstances aren't as obvious as that. Take my show yesterday at the Whisky in SL. I generally feel free to be silly, wacky, and raunchy as I want to be at the Whisky. It's a mature sim; there are no specific limitations to which I need to adhere. However, yesterday was also September 11, and as far as I can tell, I'll spend the rest of my life associating that date with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, as will many people around the world.
It's quite possible to play the stuff you want to play, but also have it be appropriate for the circumstances. Photo by Triana; top photo by Kat.
Playing the Right Stuff
So, there are a couple of different ways to deal with that as a performer. One way is to be very focused on the date, and do a show that addresses the subject directly. A certain kind of performer might focus on songs about New York, for instance, or patriotic songs, or songs that boast of America's resilience, and so on. I'm not that kind of guy... not that there's anything wrong with it. My feeling is that there are plenty of opportunities for people to remember the sadness of that day; every other post on my Facebook news feed yesterday was about 9/11, and God knows the media continues to give it high billing every year since 2001. It is indeed important to not forget what happened that day, though I doubt there's any chance of that for anyone who was around at the time.
So, my approach is slightly different. I figure that by the time I do a show in the evening, people have been being bombarded with that news all day, and perhaps they'd enjoy taking a break from it. However, with respect for the date, it also doesn't seem appropriate to be my usual wacky, irreverent self. So, when planning my set list, I simply avoided most of the songs that were overly gleeful, as well as songs that were predominantly gloomy. I don't know if anyone even notices stuff like that, but I think they'd be aware if I was playing stuff that was really inappropriate under the circumstances. It's a nice balance that I find works, and it's one I use when performing at events like Relay for Life and so on.
My show at the Whisky started off in a rather ugly way; my audio stream was not coming through the right way. It seemed to be working fine here, but somewhere in the banks of servers between here and Second Life, something was broken. For anyone who plays music in SL, this isn't an unfamiliar situation. I'm lucky that it doesn't happen more often; my stream is usually pretty reliable.
So, after the first few minutes of swearing at the gods of technology, I switched to an alternate stream and got the show rolling. Per above, I think you'll note that my set list worked well, with a balance of songs that neither glorified nor ignored the solemnity of the day.
Another aspect of keeping things light on a heavy day; people do need a chance to unwind and get past the sorrow. Hopefully my shows do that even on days that aren't 9/11. Photo by Kat.
Whisky Set List...
She's Leaving Home (Beatles)
Sister Golden Hair (America)
Go Easy on Me (Zak Claxton)
Edith and the Kingpin (Joni Mitchell)
Lines on Your Eyes (Zak Claxton)
Mother (Pink Floyd)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield)
After the Goldrush (Neil Young)
Going Mobile (The Who)
Big thanks to the great crowd who came out to see the show at the Whisky last night. Thanks for putting up with the tech issues at the start, and for sticking through to the end! Special thanks to those who helped support the show and the venue!
Triana Caldera, Kat Claxton, Demolicious Wonder, Alexis Fairlady, Sesh Kamachi, Cicadetta Stillwater, Paisley Rembrandt, Christine Haiku, TheaDee, Brad Domenici, my terrific manager Maali Beck, Whisky host Dmitri Polonsky, and owner Cameron Trenchcoat!