A few years ago, while I was at a local music festival, I saw a band playing who were something quite special. A group of four really cheerful, healthy-looking teenagers, playing great pop songs with gusto and actively engaging with the crowd. It was an afternoon that stuck in the memory. They seemed to have a lot of enthusiasm, and I made a mental note that they had the potential for considerable success.
About a year later, I discovered that my band had been fortunate enough to get a gig supporting them at a pub in my town. I spent the next few weeks singing their praises to my bandmates and just generally getting very excited about the upcoming gig.
The evening of the gig arrived. I unloaded my gear and was able to park just around the corner. Getting a good parking spot always feels like a small victory. As I started setting up, I was a little disappointed that none of the members of the headlining band were around – I was hoping to have a chance to chat with them, but ah well. The hour of our support slot approached, and still no sign of them. At this point, I started to think “hmmm, bad form.” It’s considered protocol at small gigs that you show support to the other bands playing by not just showing up for your set and leaving immediately afterwards.
Our set ended, and at last the headline band showed up. I almost didn’t recognise them, because they weren’t the cheerful kids I remembered. Their successes had changed them, and they were now a bunch of unsmiling, sunken-cheeked emo kids wearing eyeliner and scowling while ignoring pretty much everyone. After spending literally an entire hour trying to get their wireless IEM1 systems to work while their audience waited patiently, they eventually started playing, much much later than scheduled, and performed a severely truncated set with zero charm or stagecraft before noise curfew.
I felt embarrassed for having endorsed this band so enthusiastically to my bandmates. I felt like my own reputation was diminished, as they were so embarrassingly lifeless.
That gig was about two years ago. My own band split up a few months later, and the headline band in question split up earlier this year. In their farewell Facebook page they claim to have hit #14 in the charts. After some research, I discovered that one of their EPs debuted at #14 in the iTunes chart. This sounds like it must be a notable accomplishment, but the fact that the band don’t have a Wikipedia page suggests that they can’t be that successful.
- in-ear monitoring [↩]