Performing in Second Life... no, wait. Scratch that. Expand it. Performing live music in any setting is unpredictable. That's part of the fun of it, of course. When you press play on your MP3 device, the music comes out the same way every time. But when you go and see a band live, especially a smaller artist (not one of those acts you see in stadiums), damn near anything can happen. Mistakes can happen. The band/artist can do different arrangements of songs than the ones you're used to hearing. Things can break. How bands and solo artists handle the challenges of doing live shows tells a lot about them as people.
From the performing musician's standpoint, there's an equal and opposite uncertainty principle going on. See, we can't control what happens outside of our little world of playing instruments and singing and being entertaining. We can't, for example, go out and force people to come to the show. I'm usually very fortunate in that I have a small but mighty group of dedicated friends/fans (known as the Zaksters) who seem to come out to way more shows I do than I could possibly hope they would. But on a night when the Zaksters have other plans, and that we don't do as well as we could in promoting the show beforehand... well, the fact is that whether it's in SL or in the fleshy world, unless you are a very well-established act, you need to accept that not every show will break attendance records. Factor in a world like Second Life, where the technology that supports it simply doesn't work all the time, and you have another obstacle to overcome in getting big audiences on a steady basis.
I'm spoiled; I have a great manager who is fantastic about booking my shows, managing my fan base, and drawing people to each show. And most of the time, between our combined efforts, we get really good audiences (both in terms of quality and quantity). As I said, I'm spoiled, because when that doesn't happen these days, it's surprising. That's a good thing! Last night at the Whisky in Second Life was one of those rare shows where we just couldn't get a consistent audience to hang out. Most of my Zaksters weren't around, and while there were a few folks coming and going as people tend to do in SL, we never got to that critical mass of people where folks wanted to hang around and enjoy the music, the banter, and other things that make for an entertaining night.
If I find myself in a situation with a smaller crowd, I can't stand staying up on the stage. It just seems silly. I wouldn't stand on a riser in my living room to play for a few friends. So, here I am standing and performing on the dance floor. Photo by Kat.
That's not to say the music wasn't good. I actually felt the show itself was fine, and I think the few folks who did stick around enjoyed it. I definitely reached a little deeper into my song list and did some stuff that I don't often perform. But I also reached a conclusion regarding some possible burnout of my shows at the Whisky... after all, it's been damn near every Tuesday night since the beginning of June. So, we'll take a week off and see how we do come the following week. We actually have a busy "tour" toward the end of the month, with shows at Molaskey's, Key West, Warung Beats, and the Islands of New England in addition to shows at the Whisky. I think a week off would be good right before all that... especially as I'm super busy working on new original music for my secret band project. So that's what we'll do.
Whisky Set List...
Allentown (Billy Joel)
Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground)
Better Man (Pearl Jam)
Rock and Roll Woman (Buffalo Springfield)
If It Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow)
Everlong (Foo Fighters)
†Uncle John's Band (Grateful Dead)
Soul Kitchen (The Doors)
The Other Way (Zak Claxton)
Starman (David Bowie)
*Love Is The Seventh Wave (Sting)
*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL. Hey, it was Sting's birthday. Pompous asses need birthday wishes too.
†My last performance of this Dead song was in December 2009!
For those who hung out and supported the show, my sincere thanks!
Kat Claxton, Kaeko Freenote, Elke Shepherd, Cicadetta Stillwater, fmcneil, my manager Maali Beck, and Whisky host Dmitri Polonsky and owner Cameron Trenchcoat!