Stage Right?! Where It Begins

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Welcome to a new column on Live Music Blog called Stage Right?!, a new look at what it’s like to actually be a performer in today’s music industry. This column is going to attempt to digest all that goes into making a successful show, a successful touring band, a successful festival, etc. — all through the lens of an up-and-coming band with potential that none of you have heard of yet. It’s not an easy business out there and yours truly has taken the last year or so preparing to bring his band, NVO, to the masses. I’m going to try to bring my years of being a music fan and my years of playing “editor” here on this music blog to give you some insight into some of my newfound path the grind of it all when you actually get down to it. And I think other artists may want to get in on this, too — stories from the road, funny “touring van” Instagrams, obligatory “our van broke down” tweets, etc.

The view from backstage might seem glamorous, but I’m not sure it’s as easy as anyone would ever hope it could be (as are most good things in life). Let’s dig into it a bit…

Time to let the very obvious editorial bias out of the bag right away — my band is playing a huge gig tomorrow night. As the editor of a blog about live music, I’ve always separated the notion that my editorial base here would be the music experience that I’ve had as a “fan”… but that’s become more difficult in the past year or so since I’ve gotten a lot more actively involved in playing music. When you don’t see new posts here it’s very likely because I’m working in the background on music or I’m playing a show in SF or I’m rehearsing with my crew…

Who is that crew you ask? I’ve been rocking the laptops in a band based out of San Francisco called NVO. Well, for the past year or so we went by the name “The Neurovoltaic Orchestra” but we’ve since decided to shorten the name and keep it simple on folks wondering what the hell it was we just said whenever we’ve muttered the word “neurovoltaic.” (More on that in another post).

It all started a few years back after moving to San Francisco and realizing that I was in a mecca of music in a few more ways than I had anticipated. I went off to see my first show at the Fillmore and went on to each and every venue feeling that new sense of “starry eyes” when you really find a music venue that captures the live experience well. But I kept meeting musician types and I kept remembering that I was a pretty solid drummer at one point in college. I called my friend who I sold my drumset to and asked him to ship it back to me. I joined a band. I picked up a MIDI controller and downloaded a cracked copy of Ableton Live. dudha.us was born.

Fast forward about 18 months and here I am on the cusp of what will be our biggest show to date opening for absolute legends in their own right — NVO landed an opening slot at tomorrow’s Conspirator show here in San Francisco. Then Wyllys got added to the lineup. Then we confirmed we were definitely IN and we get the pleasure of seeing that they also added Orchard Lounge. WHAT?!

When we landed the gig we knew we had perhaps gotten into a special side of the business just by virtue of the sheer talent of the artists we’ll be playing with. And as such, we’ve really taken a lead on focusing on what could be possible with this project. Landing this big gig has been a huge confidence boost for us, not that needed all that much above and beyond what we were already running with. We’ve been having a blast playing our way through the last 18 months of the grind and we’re super excited to plan ahead for 18 more months of grind (at the very least). And getting a gig like this makes continuing on with a grind seem easy all of a sudden; when you get to play with artists you respect or stand on the same stage as artists like Questlove or Dumpstaphunk or Marco Benevento (all recent shows I’ve seen there) — well, you’re filled with a sense of pride and awe that instantly gets replaced with an insatiable hunger to want to push for more.

We’ve been rehearsing like crazy. We’ve got our set down. We’ve got our bios written and we’ve got our t-shirts made. Maybe it’s just a Saturday night at the Independent and the chance will never come along again, but we’re making some decisions right now that should hopefully put us on the road soon. And this is hopefully the start of a new awesome for me and I’d love for any folks out in SF to come check this show out. How we got this gig is a great story…. and I wish I could tell you more about it now, but it’s time for me to back up my session file and make sure my laptop is good to go for tomorrow’s show…

More on this to come…

  • ethics

    Why not take some of the proceeds of the gig and send it to Ableton for providing such killer, life changing software? You seem real excited, now do the right thing.