Curtain Call Essay

James had achieved to a certain degree what he’d set out to in life. He didn’t want to be just “another person” who’d be forgotten about within a generation or two. He wanted to go down in history as something more. His path to fame wasn’t easy but he knew it never would be. Looking back at his life it is ironically comparable to a gig. There are a number of times and features in his life that could be found in or around one of his shows. Right from the hard worked rehearsal before the show all the way to the curtain call. Before any show is played songs need to be written.

James had been writing songs ever since he could play guitar starting out by just strumming a number of chords, most of which clashed as he had no idea of key’s or theory. But what did it matter? To James writing songs was an escape, from the outside world. By the age of fourteen James had written a few songs mostly about things in his life. He rarely played them to friends. In fact many of the songs are still unheard today, but as he grew older his songwriting progressed. He was now playing more complex patterns and chords that fitted well with each other.

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He even began to develop his own style which would later set the president for other music for years to come. An obvious need for playing a show was a band to play with. Of course being a solo act had been considered by James but he’d always wanted to follow his hero’s in being in a band. He’d first been in a band at the age of 13 with some school mates the band was less of a band and more of a glorified practice group, in fact it would be fair to say it wasn’t taken that seriously at all but slowly the group progressed.

The original members consisted of James playing lead guitar. Lewis his friend on drums, another of his friends Matt on rhythmic guitar, Joe on bass and finally Abi his girlfriend on vocals. However James’s first concert was not played with his band but instead another group at the schools rock and pop concert playing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. However this proved to be a disaster from start to finish as on the first night as they were called up to play, half the band were nowhere to be seen, it later turned out that they were in the toilet.

Then towards the end of the song he pressed the wrong button on his effects pedal, which ended up throwing the whole band out of time the song came to a grinding halt and the band trudged off stage, this was to be James’s first experience of failure. There was however one positive, which was James, had played his solo part correctly in the middle of the song when the band stopped and it was just him and the singer. There was silence in the hall except for the ringing out of a simple Em, G, D and A chord progression and the singer’s voice echoing out I walk a lonely road the only road that I have ever known, don’t know where it go’s but its home to me and I walk alone” Ironically enough these lyrics relate relatively well to the rest of his musical career, but at the time it was just the same old Green Day lyrics he’d heard a thousand times. However the rock and pop would have been a total failure if it weren’t for it being a two-night event. The second night however went better than the first and despite a very nervous performance the song was good and the band received applause as they came off stage.

After this event James began to take the band more seriously. They had practices more often and began to learn songs together. The band originally formed under the name “360” however this only lasted a few weeks until the band decided they didn’t really like the name and decided to change it. This time the bands name was changed to Hostile and when later asked how they came up with this name, the band admitted to having just opened a dictionary and picking a random word. However the band finally settled on the name “Adverse Effects” after much discussion.

Once a band is together and a repertoire has been put together the next thing before a gig is practice. As they phrase go’s “practice makes perfect” and playing in a band is no exception to this rule. Adverse effects practiced more and more as time went on, as they took the band more seriously when they practiced became more of an issue. Practices were few and far between at points as the band were forced to practice at school due to a lack of equipment which meant competing for practice time with other bands, however the band were happy to practice whenever they could.

Practices usually ran smoothly but quite often tension ran high as practices were after school and it only took one person to be in a bad mood for everything to kick off, a number of times someone walked out of practice which would result in the practice falling apart. For example, on one practice in particular which was significant in the bands history was at the age of 16, the band were having their standard practice in “M7” when after a practice of Fake Tales Of San Francisco, Lewis commented to Matt that he was out of time.

At an already tense practice it was the spark that set things off. Matt took his guitar placed it in his case and left. This despite the other member’s best attempts to continue signaled the end of the practice. One of the last things that needs to be done before a gig is to set up and sound check. The most memorable of these happened at about the age of 22, the group was more famous than they had ever been. They had even established a record deal with the major label EMI and had just secured a massive gig in London.

It was the first time the band had been listed in the NME “gig listing section” which resulted in a much bigger crowd than usual. It was expected to be about 3,000 people. The band were all thrilled but in recent months the bands relations had somewhat deteriorated. Most of the members had gone their separate ways in one way or another, practices had become few and far between, and instead of the happy band of friends they had once set out as they were now more of a company. The band had just became a source of income, it wasn’t so much about the music anymore.

The sound check was scheduled to start at 3 o’ clock which was 4 hours before the gig. The reason the manager had scheduled the sound check so early was the band didn’t usually turn up until at least an hour after it was scheduled, usually with the same excuses of “The traffic was bad” or Matt’s personal favorite “I couldn’t decide which guitar to bring”. But on this particular day, the band was relatively on time. Only twenty five minutes late. The sound check started with sorting out the tones’ on guitar.

Which surprisingly took five minutes, this was unsurprisingly followed by a “brief drum solo” in which the sound engineer frantically ran round adjusting microphones and volume levels in an attempt to balance the sound. Finally all that was left was for vocals and then an overall sound check. Abi started to sing the first line of the bands newest released song before the loud thud of a bass drum was heard followed by a quick flutter of tom-tom’s. Everyone in the band turned round and glared at Lewis, who quickly took the hint and stopped his second solo.

After some minor adjustments to the microphone frequencies. The band was ready for the overall sound check, the song they were to use was again their newest released song called “Take You Away” The song started with a solid count in from Lewis of “1, 2, 3, 4” before the A minor arpeggio echoed out from James’ guitar, after two bars the rest of the band came in and the song went into the first verse. It was immediately transparent however that something was different. There was more of a flow than there had been in previous weeks, even months and once again the band sounded and felt like a band.

At the end of the song there were smiles all round, they had felt it and everyone seemed up for the gig. The band then went back to the dressing room where they chilled out for a few hours, playing on a PS3 and just generally chatting. The only complaint or argument came when Lewis noticed the crisps were ready salted to which he called in the catering manager and pointed to the bands rider which was pinned to the wall which distinctively said “Salt and vinegar” the manager apologized and replaced the crisps. After he had gone the whole band had a good laugh at his expense.

At exactly six forty-five pm the band manager knocked on the door and came in announcing it was time to go on stage for a seven o’clock start. Much to Abi’s disappointment as she was about to break a record on Guitar Hero, she however paused the game and left a polite notice explaining if anyone touched it they were as good as dead. The band then started the slow walk down the corridor; no-one said a word. There was no need to, the band was in harmony, they knew this could be their big break and so were determined to give it everything they had.

James picked up his nicely polished Epiphone Les Paul and gave it a strum to check in was in-tune, what came next surprised the whole band. The crowd which had now noticed the bands arrival even behind the curtain by the chord on guitar started screaming and shouting. It was deafening. Just then they saw the curtain slowly opening and the multi colored lights flashing everywhere, with a spotlight focused on each one of them, as the curtain was fully drawn back it was evident just how big the crowd really was. This really was their big shot. . . .


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