Best 10 seconds of my life

Photo: Christopher Anderzon.
Tony Lind, aka Gramps.

The best ten seconds of my life (while still having my pants on) are the ten seconds right before my foot steps onto the stage. It’s been like that as long as I can remember.

Many performers are terrified of getting onstage, even though the audience would never be able to tell. I know a lot of famous, brilliant and seasoned artists who cry backstage before a show, some even throw up. Full blown panic attacks, baby. I never understood why someone would subject themselves to that, over and over again, and pursue it as their path in life. Even if the feeling lifts once you get into the performance, I would still not think it was worth it. No fuckin’ way.
I never had this problem. To me, the stage is my home, it is my element, it is the place where I am most comfortable.

Is that because I am an Extrovert? A narcissistic exhibitionist? No. In fact, if you know me somewhat well, you know that I am a pretty classic Introvert, uncomfortable in social settings like parties where my only function is to mingle and make small talk. I hate that. I try to be as invisible as possible, merge with the wallpaper, quickly drink myself into what the mighty Pink Floyd would call ’comfortable numbness’, and get the hell out of Dodge as soon as I can. But point me to an imaginary square on the floor, and tell me that’s the stage, and I will get on there and own that room like it’s my bitch.

I’m pretty good at hanging out with my true friends, at least in smaller settings, but even then I usually need a lot of recovery time afterwards (and not just for the hangover). Human interaction is draining, even when it is good. But the stage is different.
There is definitely an interaction going on between performer and audience, but when I am on that stage, I control the environment. I never fake onstage, what you see is totally me, but it is the part of me that I feel good about showing you. I truly feel that I can do no wrong up there, even if I make a mistake, miss a cue, hit a flat note, or whatever. I just embrace it, move on. Most of the time those things only help the performance anyway. The audience get to experience a very real, human moment, and that’s usually an endearing event, that will make them feel closer to you. So it’s a win-win deal; if I play everything perfect, it’s cool, if I don’t, that’s cool too.

During a performance, my communication skills transform completely from how I am in private. I enjoy connecting with members in the audience, making eye contact (which I am very uncomfortable with otherwise), enjoying the emotional exchange of those little moments. I am confident, assertive and playful. I often laugh out loud onstage. It’s just an expression of the joy I am feeling, and also, there is usually something funny going on anyway, even if it isn’t always obvious to the audience.

But then, the show ends. The music is over. And I switch off my ’stage mode’. I’m sure some people have been a little confused when they approach me after a show, thinking they’ll be talking to this barely contained bolt of lightning, an affable socialite. No can do. I always try to be friendly and I don’t want to be rude, but that guy you saw onstage 30 minutes ago is dead tired now, and now all that is left is the other part of him, one you didn’t see before. Sorry to disappoint.

That hour on stage is an hour of being in tune with your purpose. Which is why the ten seconds right before showtime are the best of my life (while still having my pants on). (Tony Lind, aka ‘Gramps’, drums)

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billymomo

Swedish 7 piece urban folk band. Tomas Juto: keyboard/lead vocals | Oskar Hovell: acoustic guitar/banjo/lead vocals | Tony Lind: drums/vocals | Oscar Harryson: guitar | Christopher Anderzon: bass/vocals | Mårten Forssman: harmonica | Andreas Prybil: percussion/vocals https://billymomo.wordpress.com

5 thoughts on “Best 10 seconds of my life”

  1. I love this post! You are so candid and honest about your feelings and it was a very interesting read. Stage fright is a weird human characteristic; some people are terrified while others thrive on being in front of a crowd. I used to have terrible stage fright when speaking up in class in my school years and later as a City Planner when I’d have to make presentations at public hearings. Ultimately, I found that when I thoroughly knew my subject and was confident about what I was doing, my fears were gone and I did well. If I was not in command of my subject, the fear never left me during my presentations.

    I’m guessing some musicians have stage fright because they’re insecure about their talent or performances.

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  2. When we lived in Spain, we went to a lot of concerts of all types, but especially flamenco shows. Enrique de Melchor (guitarist) accompanied a lot of shows I saw. He was a fantastic accompanist and would hit some of the weirdest chords, doing some of the most amazing fingerboard gymnastics I’d ever heard and seen. What I learned after seeing several shows with Enrique accompany different singers was that a singer was never off key with Enrique, because he would find the most amazing chords to match the singers notes.

    Enrique was an introvert, like you, but when he got on stage he was a different person, a most amazing performer. Sadly he died in 2012.

    One day I rode the bus up to northern Madrid for a show that Enrique was playing in, and, as I got off the bus, he was pulling his guitar out of the trunk of his car to walk to the theater. So I walked over and started talking to him as we walked to the theater together. I could tell he was uncomfortable, but I think he enjoyed getting some recognition and attention for an absurd foreigner. I had brought another American friend along to the show, and before catching the bus, I had played a few of Enrique’s CDs so my friend knew what he was getting into going to a flamenco show with me. When we got to the theater, Enrique went back stage, and my friend and I took out seats. My friend looked at me and asked “Isn’t that the guy who’s CDs we were listening to?” I told him “Yes one in the same.” Then he asked “How is it that he has to drive his own car? Carry his own guitar?And stoop to walking and talking to us all the way to this theater? Where’s his limousine, and body guards…? Isn’t that how stars arrive at shows?” I told him although we really were in Madrid, Spain, flamenco wasn’t all that popular among the locals. The show was fantastic.

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      1. I was fortunate enough to meet most of the flamenco greats during the nearly four years we lived in Spain in the late 1990’s.

        I also met some of the top orchestra conductors in Europe at the time, as well. We became friends with a Madrileño who was nuts about classical music. Not only had he attended every classical concert in Madrid over what was the past 20 years at that point in time, he got the autographs of every conductor on the programs for the shows. He had a library that had shelves filled with volumes of bound programs with the autographs of the conductors for every concert he attended.

        We would go to concerts with him, follow him to the green room or back stage, wiggle through the crowd behind him as he made his way to the conductor to ask for his or her autograph. We were always introduced to the conductors, I think we were curiosities being Americans, followed by a short conversation with the conductor. It was quite interesting.

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