Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Serenity Gardens / The Internet (02.26.18)

Aurelie Chenaux sent me this screen cap while I continued playing despite having crashed out of Second Life. The show, as it must, went on. Note that I am literally not there in front of the microphone in the foreground.

Sometimes it's good to break out of a routine. It's usually preferable, though, when one chooses and plans to do so, rather then be thrown unceremoniously and violently without warning into a sea of madness, a whirling monstrous void of insanity and weirdness and technological blunders... perhaps I should back up and start again. Yes, that seems like a good idea. Here we go.

Those of us who've been in Second Life for over a decade remember the early days before the platform settled into some semblance of stability. It was rare to get through even a few shows without running into major grid problems... full crashes, payments not going through, disappearing inventory, and all that. I think that over the years, many of us take for granted the relative calm of SL from a technology standpoint. You go in world, it works most of the time, you do whatever you like to do there. Sure, there are some screw-ups here and there, but they're the exception rather than the rule.

So, that's most of the time. And then there are times like Monday night in SL. They're few and far between these days, as far as I can tell. But wow, and yikes. Via social media, I started hearing about people being unable to log in throughout a good portion of the day today. It's not what a performer likes to hear the day he or she has a show scheduled. And then not only were people not being able to log in; people who made it in SL were being booted out. This was not looking good. However, about a half hour before my show, I tried to log in and it worked. So far, so good. Made it to Serenity Gardens, where at least my manager Maali plus Serenity owner Ilsa and hostess Tilly were present. Things seemed to be going okay... until they weren't. I found myself unable to move or chat, and then poof! I was gone.

I was pretty much ready to call it a night right then and there. I was trading messages with Ilsa on Facebook, about to officially cancel the show, when she told me Tilly had made it back in. I logged into SL in the "last location" option, and what do you know? I was back on the stage, and people were arriving. Success! I started right into my first tune and launched into a second song when I noticed the crowd was being kind of quiet. Yeah... that was because I'd crashed in SL, which just took awhile to register on my screen.

To Quit or Not To Quit?
Once again, it seemed rather silly to keep going. I did glance at my audio streaming software, which was still chugging away. I knew that a) if any people were somehow remaining in Second Life, they'd still be able to hear me regardless of the fact that I wasn't there, so to speak, and b) if I took a moment to post my stream address on Facebook, others who'd been booted out of SL might be able to listen in as well.

As I told my friend Thea Dee after the show, there were a couple of moments there where I was having a "Schrödinger's Cat" gig, where I had no idea if anyone was actually listening as I kept playing. I'm still not even sure why I kept going during that time frame. Something just told me that there were still ears on the other end of that network of wires and satellites and various Internet platforms, but until I checked, much like the famous cat, my crowd was both there and gone while I continued to sing and play guitar. Finally, I pulled up Facebook in between my fourth and fifth songs, and my mystery was solved... there was a big thread of people commenting about the show! Some folks managed to remain at Serenity Gardens, amazingly. Most others had been booted out of SL, but managed to dial in my stream, and were chatting on Facebook as if it was the online chat in world. Either way, I still had an audience who, despite all the reasons to blow off my show and do something more productive and interesting, were still hanging out.

Over on Facebook, I wanted to give people who'd been looking forward to my show a way to hear it, even if SL was totally borked. I was responding over the mic to folks' comments there, just as if we were doing the show in a functional Second Life venue. Somehow it all worked out. Crazy.

That felt pretty damn good, I must say. Due to all the insanity, we didn't have time for a full show (and I had no idea if the venue in SL was going to try and keep going with other scheduled shows), so I wrapped up at 7PM as usual. We still managed to get nine songs performed in the midst of all that madness. While dealing with all the tech issues, I felt I'd been too distracted to actually do a very good show, but everyone was very positive about having enjoyed it, so somehow it all worked out. There was even a bit of a benefit; certain people are no longer able to access SL for a variety of reasons, and I saw several of them commenting on my "show thread" on Facebook. In any case, I really hate canceling shows, frankly. I take a good amount of time preparing my set, warming up and preparing in various ways, and to then not do the show is a massive disappointment, no matter the reason. The fact that we were able to have the show go on despite the many legitimate excuses for it to not happen is probably my favorite thing about the whole experience.

Serenity Gardens set list...
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (The Police)
*So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry) (R.E.M.)
Thank U (Alanis Morissette)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
The Waiting Boy (Zak Claxton)
Sleeper in the Valley (Laura Veirs)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Half Moon Bay (Sun Kil Moon)
*Blue Shadows on the Trail (Randy Newman)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

I really have no way of thanking all the people who made crazy efforts to remain in my audience for last night's show. Below are the few and the proud who somehow managed to stay in SL and tip me. To the rest of you, all the folks who jumped over to Facebook and the ones who listened in whom I have no way of knowing who you are, I can only send my most sincere thanks.
Tyche Szondi, Aurelie Chenaux, not4gods Resident, Trouble Streeter, my manager Maali Beck, and the great team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

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