Friday, January 07, 2005

Man in Gray/Southpaw/Jan. 5, 2005

We're starting out the new year with something a little different. Instead of a show review from the audience's perspective, today we present a show review from the band's perspective.

The band in question is Man in Gray. The band member is Christina DaCosta. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am personally friends with the lovely DaCosta and am a much better person for it. She is an amazing performer who swallows, stamps and spits out the stage without hardly breaking a sweat.

Man in Gray next performs at TISWAS on January 22. Christina is also a member of The Marks, a band that was reviewed here in October.

Our Show
by Christina DaCosta

On Wednesday I walked the two blocks to Southpaw and went to a rock show.

It was freezing rain and I was tired after a long and dull day at the office, but I had to go because I am the singer of Man in Gray and we had a gig.

You may have heard our name somewhere, as we do get some good press and play around NYC a lot, but it is hard to juggle since we are all (mostly) working stiffs trying to lead double lives of rock-n-roller and cubicle dweller.

This leads to many problems with getting gear to the gig, soundcheck (or lack thereof) and scheduling, but we keep playing because we love each other and our music and have a lot of fun.

The band consists of Jeremy (guitar & vox), Bryan (guitar and vox), Jeremiah (drums) and Jared (bass). We all get to hear what the band was like from the audience. What about the band? They have feelings too.

Southpaw is a great venue to play and if you're in a band, I suggest playing there just to get into the nice backstage (basement) area. You can smoke and drink, play Ms. Pacman and explore the drawers of a dusty dresser that contains two humongous aerosol cans of Aquanet hairspray. It's also fun to hang out with the other bands in a relaxed setting where you all know that you are in the "exclusive" backstage area. Sometimes, it's nice to feel that way, even though the last time we played there, the lounge area had garbage pail full of beers and water bottles. Luxurious!

Upstairs, where we actually do go to talk to friends and have them buy us drinks, is better than most rock clubs. Southpaw is clean, but not sterile; small enough to get intimate, but big enough to dance around like a dervish. We have played there once before and it has been my
favorite place to play. Compared to other clubs, Southpaw has a feeling of professionalism that doesn't exist everywhere and the sound guy knows what he's doing.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to soundcheck (see above) because we only got to the club around 7:30...when doors were supposed to open. Therefore, the sound was not as good as it was the first time we played there. Standing at the front of the stage, all I could hear was the fuzziness of the guitars behind me and could barely hear my voice in the monitors. I was getting pretty nervous about how bad it was sounding until I walked out past the monitors and heard that it must sound better to the audience – at least that's what I'm telling myself.

We can't control what the sound guy is doing, but you, yes you, standing in the audience with your arms crossed, can control the lack of dancing. Why don't people dance any more? Really? Is it the booze? Do they need more booze? We played an amazing show at a loft
for an RNC Not Welcome Benefit and those kids were dancing like crazy. I love it when the audience dances to our music. Nothing makes me happier.

Instead, Wednesday night we had people standing at least 4 feet from the top of the stage, more at the bar and more in the seating area. We're a loud band, but we don't hurt people! Audiences need to learn that if they like the band, they should move closer. They should also dance or move vigorously. I dance around very hard on stage and would like to see some other people getting sweaty. Is it too much too ask? I believe this is a New York problem, but correct me if I'm wrong. For all of you people who go to shows, please shake it if you're into the band, just a little. It is the Paradox of Rock Show Dancing: If no one dances, no one will dance. Everyone stands with their arms across their chests and bops their head to the beat, everyone. If a few people stopped doing that and started dancing, more people would follow.

Ask your friends if they are too embarrassed to dance at a rock show, ask yourself! It also could be the problem of a stage. I find that when we play shows that are on the floor and I'm face-to-face with people that they tend to get a little crazier. Perhaps we need to get rid of the stage format to get people to move?

Even though there was no frenzied dancing to our last song, ("Brakelights," our dance number), people seemed to like us. We got on stage a half-hour later than we scheduled and more people stayed than I expected. Many people were friends and friends-of-friends who had never seen us before and I received many congratulations on rocking out hard. Even though some complained about the weird bass buzzing that made them tingle and the lack of vocals in the monitor, every one who was there seemed to have enjoyed themselves and the vibe was very welcoming.

I really appreciated the people who came up to me to talk because I know that the freezing rain and early a.m. job would have kept me home. It wasn't the best show that we've played, but it certainly wasn't the worst and we have another one coming up soon on a Saturday.

After thanking people for showing up, I quietly went downstairs to get my coat and said goodbye to the few friends hanging out backstage. I left unobserved and walked back home in the rain, content in knowing that people had fun at the show, but also knowing that I had to get up and go to work in a few hours.