I sat in my drummer, Erin Krewson’s, beat up stick shift, in the humid air, dripping in sweat. She and I, alongside the rest of our band, Violence of the Violets, were heading to Stephens Lake Park Amphitheater for our debut performance with Darkroom Records in late August of 2018. This would be our first show with a complete bass, drums, vocalist and guitar section.
The whole week I’d been overwhelmed with anxiety; a sick, pulsating ache in my gut kept me lying awake, dreaming of the upcoming concert and what it meant for my future. I’d played guitar since I was six years old and this would be the first step in my dream of becoming a successful musician. It was scorching around 5:00 when we dropped off our gear and stood, melting in the sun’s rays, awaiting soundcheck. I had never performed in front of a sizable audience, so I was depending on my ability to run through our songs and get a feel for the area and sound. In music, however, timing and planning doesn’t tend to work out in the musician’s, favor.
“Sorry, ladies, you won’t be sound-checking tonight,” a voice from the vocal booth on the other side of the stage said. “We ran out of time.”
Panic pulsated in my stomach, rising to my brain and spreading throughout my legs and arms. My safety blanket had just been revoked, but soon enough the show’s opening acts started, and it was getting closer to showtime.
My band mates and I waited backstage, giving pep talks to one another while bouncing up and down in an attempt to rid the butterfly’s from our bodies. The announcer went onstage and began his spiel, which was our cue to walk on to my spot and plugged in. I anxiously moved my amp and pedal board to my side of the stage, looking into the eyes of what felt like hundreds of people. Looking out at the crowd, I saw hundreds of beady eyes ready to judge my every note, in retrospect there must have only been around fifty attendees.
I strummed my guitar once, and in comes the whole band.
During the 30 minute set, my bubbling stomach ache transformed into shouting lyrics; my nausea morphed into pride and my awkward stares gave way to smiles at each and every individual there. The sun began to set mid-performance, and disco lights come on to give our energetic set a new taste. We stood, center stage, looking out into a beautiful sunset under cool toned lights, dripping in sweat, smiling at one another to give a final “Thank you!” to the perfect crowd.
Scurrying off the platform, the euphoric high I get from playing music began to set in. I’m smiling at my band mates from the abundance of energy and confidence I’d gained all while the nerves finally shook off my body, leaving me in high spirits.
In that moment we decided we were nothing but perfect for one another, praising the fact we had “finally found the right mix of musicians.” We spent the rest of the night watching the end of the show on a blanket outside under a beautiful sky full of stars and cool breeze, singing along to a well loved local band, The Sweaters. Later, we packed up our gear and gave cheers to all of the other wonderful performances, celebrating with icy blue slushies.
My sister and I headed back home under a sky full of stars, on the perfect summer night, thanking God for the flawless blend of musicians we had played with.
For the following few months, we practiced, wrote and performed our original songs around town. We eventually performed at The Blue Note, which will forever be one of the best nights of my life because of the pure energy I felt being in front of hundred, on with my favorite people, at my dream venue. I couldn’t be more grateful for the year of musical creativity and growth, friendship, late nights of practice, after-show slushies and pepperoni pizza and freedom to be me the group provided me. The unpredictability of timing for musicians, plus the stress of being a teenager in high school, can sever even the strongest of bonds. Violence of the Violets broke up one year after Stephens Amphitheater as a result of the complications of busy teenagers.
“If I were to play that show now, I would walk up onto that burning hot concrete stage with a slightly less butterfly-filled stomach, ready to take advantage of every second up on that stage.”
For the months after, the Stephens Amphitheater show was a dream come true. I never imagined that my hard work would actually pay off and I would get the opportunity to perform the songs I put hours into creating and refining. If I were to play that show now, I would walk up onto that burning hot concrete stage with a slightly less butterfly-filled stomach, ready to take advantage of every second up on that stage. Our first show changed my perspective on my future in music for the better. That night proved the hard work I put into my craft, along with the time I spent with my bandmates, payed off. It fueled my passion for music and my love for performing. I found my community that night which allowed me to get involved in local venues and events, along with finding the inner love of musical performance in myself.
What role do music and performance play in your life? Let us know in the comments below.