The trick with slick band fronting
(band fronting = the person who is standing in front of a band and giving the audience the impression that they are in complete control, they call the tunes, they deal with any hecklers, they diplomatically refuse to allow X factor contestants access to the stage/microphone, they deal with many other unexpected occurrences…. almost forgot, and they usually sing).
is to give the appearance that no effort is required.
The truth of the matter is that, most of the time experience controls instinct and so the time spent on stage is the easy bit (and very pleasurable).
What the punter does not know is the extraordinary amount of effort and time that is spent in acquiring the skill to perform, finding the gig, negotiating the gig, learning the songs, getting a band together and making sure everybody knows who is doing what, when, where, how, what they should be wearing while they are doing it and sometimes having to explain why you were unable to get free drinks and a proper meal for all (including the roadies girlfriend).
A few of weeks ago I had an enquiry from an individual representing a large organisation (who I regularly work for) requesting that I quote to perform with my soul band for a huge London wide multisite event. The T&C’s were unusual as the request was for the band to play on an outside platform from early morning until late afternoon, I provided an appropriate quote. This started a lengthy exchange of e-mails and telephone conversations as the budget was not large enough to accommodate my fee. Eventually the organisation increased their budget by a little I dropped my fee by a little, I also reduced the size of the band and it was agreed that we would finish our performance early afternoon (rather than late afternoon) this meant I could still perform a Saturday night function so would have a double bubble Saturday.
One might think that’s it, job done, but that was just the shunt that got the train rolling. The task then was to get the band on board, deps (stand-ins) were found for those who were not available, access passes for those driving had to be arranged (the event was to close many of London’s roads) and a series of band generated “what if’s” had to be answered.
Finally with a mobile phone irradiated hot ear and keyboarding e-mail induced RSI the pre gig “Frontman” tasks had been completed ……. or so I thought.
Less than 20 hours before the gig I received a phone call, “hello I am the co-ordinator looking after you” I said “hi” and said I was looking forward to working with her, she continued, “I have just had my briefing, don’t worry there is no big deal but, I have checked your requirements and there are a couple of small things we need to sort out that were agreed but now cant do”. I replied that, that shouldn’t cause a problem and asked what needed to be changed. My co-ordinator then told me that although I had an agreement that the band would be provided with parking places, now there were none, all surrounding roads were to be closed to traffic (including parked cars), and that there was no electricity on site “ are you OK with that?” I explained that we are a soul band with a load of equipment that we couldn’t carry on London transport, and the PA electric guitars, keyboards wont work without electricity. My co-ordinator was very polite but said that we would have to perform without electricity because there wasn’t any.
I awaited more, but the phone was quite, I suggested that our performance area be re-located to one that was within reach of a power supply, my co-ordinator agreed and asked if I knew where we might relocate to? I explained that maybe she would be the person to find a new location (not me) and she agreed.
An hour later she called me back with some good and some bad news. The good news is that they have found a source of power on site, the bad news is that a significant number of protestors have set up tents on and around the platform where we were to perform and the police are unable to remove them. My co-ordinator told me she will get back to me soon.
In about 14 hours we are supposed to be setting up the PA and gear, will a new location be found?
Late update:- I have just been informed (10 hrs before the scheduled arrival time) the gig is off. Now let the battle commence for a cancelation fee.