Monday, October 27, 2014

Windows on the World (10.26.14)

It's been a little while since my last blog post, for the simple reason that I tend to use this blog primarily to talk about my live music shows (which are mostly in the virtual world of Second Life, as anyone reading this is already aware). And the fact is, for a few legitimate reasons, I've been doing less live shows lately. There are two aspects to this relative lack of shows. First and most importantly, my time is limited, and the amount of time I can devote to music has been somewhat preempted by my work on the upcoming album by my band They Stole My Crayon. Speaking of The Crayon, if you didn't notice, we have a shiny new web site that's been designed by yours truly to be optimized for all manner of desktop and mobile browsers. Check it out, if you'd like.

But even if that wasn't the case, I'd still be doing less shows in SL. The fact is that fewer and fewer venues are able to offer the compensation that paid performers like me require. Ultimately, my own ethics prevent me from charging fees to certain places while playing for tips/for free at others. And even if that wasn't true, my beliefs are also that all creative people should be paid for what they do, and even on the small scale of SL, I stand by that conviction. So, I'd rather do less shows than devalue my music and the work that goes into performing it.

Enough on that. Sunday evening, I was hired to play at an SL venue I hadn't performed previously, Windows on the World. I was looking forward to it, but before I'd even strummed a note, it seemed I had a couple of strikes against it being a good show. First, many of my friends/fans were busy wrapping up the Twin Cities SL Jam, so I knew beforehand that most of them wouldn't be able to attend. Second, I'd noted that my show didn't seem to be listed in SL events, something that my manager Maali Beck and I are clear about when I am being booked. And finally, when I arrived, the staff there seemed to have no idea that I was even scheduled to perform.

You have to understand that as a live performer, you don't want things like this affecting your mood, and therefore impacting your ability to perform at your best. It's not a matter of being a prima donna. Ask any person who plays live music if they'd prefer having things go smoothly right before their show, with no technical problems or scheduling mix-ups or the like. You will get a 100% response to the positive. At that point, it's up to each performer as to how much they allow these things -- which, by the way, are inevitable from time to time -- to cause their performance to suffer accordingly. I will say that up until about two minutes before my show, I wasn't exactly happy about how things had been handled thus far, and fortunately I was able to allow Maali to handle those admin details while I finished preparing to play.

Photos by Kat.

And, I should say, from that point on, everything went smoothly, and the show was fine. I was probably not at my usual level of upbeat positivity when I first started, due to the aforementioned situations, but by the time I was a couple of tunes in, everything went just fine. And here, then, is my advice for performers: your audience doesn't know and doesn't care what happened to you earlier that day. They shouldn't have to give a crap whether your gear is working like you want. It's not their fault if you had a fight with your boyfriend, got yelled at by your boss, or dropped your ice cream cone in the dirt. They're there to see a show, and when you step up to the mic, nothing that happened previous to that moment matters. Is it always easy to put on a happy face and focus entirely on making good music while you're still fuming about some situation? No! But that's your job. Be angry after the show, if you must. But while you're playing, the only thing that matters is playing. Taking out your bad mood on your audience affects only yourself... and not in a good way. Shut all that other shit out and do your job.

As far as the show is concerned, I'd label it "Typical Zak Show #3724". I did some originals, and some covers, and since the venue seemed to be slightly formal and not really the right place for my more adventurous or provocative songs, I left those out and stuck to some more tame stuff that everyone there could probably enjoy.

Windows on the World set list...
Low Key (Tweedy)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Carey (Joni Mitchell)
Never Run Away (Kurt Vile)
Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Man on the Moon (R.E.M.)
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Mad World (Tears for Fears)
1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)

Many thanks to everyone who helped support my show!

RoxxyyRoller Resident, Elrod Enzo, Alexis Fairlady, Kat Claxton, Christine Haiku, my wonderful (and patient) manager Maali Beck, and WotW owner Wallace Locke.

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