09|16|08   Lovecraft

7.30 in the morning. Ouch. I was feeling a bit light-headed and my tummy’s growling sounds gave me this distinct feeling that it would rather not yet be put in an upright position. Still, today was the day of my first solo show in my de facto hometown of Christchurch, and I had to start setting up around 10 am in order to kick off my set early in the afternoon.

After skimming my email inbox for messages not pertaining to penis enhancements, I began loading up the car and went through my mental check-list of things I ordinarily forget (powerchords, extensions, batteries, rosin, bottle caps, spare strings, et cetera).

The morning was already shaping up to be a rather special one. It was sunny, and the air was finally beginning to warm up after an excruciatingly long and dreary winter – a winter that pretty much began on the first day of autumn, six full months ago, and finally seemed to come to an end this very morning.

After stopping for a quick coffee, I was first to arrive at High Street Projects, the gallery where I was to perform during the Lovecraft arts and crafts fair. After carrying my entire equipment up two flights of stairs, Fran and James emerged from across the street and casually suggested I might prefer to use the elevator instead. Oh well… no harm done in getting a bit of morning exercise!

The space was gorgeous, with the morning sun brushing over the hardwood floors. I set up in the far right corner of the gallery and proceeded to soundcheck whilst everyone else was setting up their tables with lovingly made arts and crafts. Tim and Anna, both of whom studied with me at Mainz last year, came over with the PA, and very soon we were all set up and ready to go. It was truly shaping up to be a fun event!

Right before the show, however, I was actually starting to feel a bit uncomfortable, as an older lady had come up to me at the end of my soundcheck and complained about the volume (which was already really, really quiet compared to regular live concerts… no, really!). The lady even went as far as to threaten those present with packing down her table and leaving, as her “customers” wouldn’t be able to hear her otherwise. Now, I honestly felt bad for her (she clearly seemed a bit out of place), but I couldn’t help but notice that she was so soft-spoken that her customers probably would have had plenty of troubles hearing her, even amidst the deadest of silences.

Anyhow, the fact that I was about to perform a rather challenging and somewhat polarizing music to an audience, most of whom, of course, had not even come to hear me, started to fuel my anxiety. My live set isn’t really “entertaining”, per se. If you’re into the kind of music I perform, then great, but for the people that aren’t into brooding and mournful music, I have no troubles imagining that my set can quickly turn into a source of some annoyance.

Thankfully, once I started to play, my fears subsided. I quickly withdrew into my own world and, only after my set came to an end, did I actually realize that quite a few people had gathered around to watch me play. Despite a very embarrassing error early on, I felt quite comfortable about my performance.

Now, loopers are a dangerous tool! Their immense musical potential is matched only by their infinite potential for causing epic disasters. What happened was the following: The first song I play is an instrumental piece that builds layers upon layers of guitars, slowly transforming quiet melodies into a soaring hymn of distorted guitars. The thematic development usually takes me around 5 to 6 minutes. This song, incidentally, is also a great song to warm up to and check the levels between guitars and synth, and so I almost always make it my go-to song during soundcheck. No different today.

So, after building up all the loops during soundcheck and getting to this huge cathartic moment, I decide “yep, that sounds pretty good to me”, stop the overdubbing, stop the loop, and wander off to get another cup of coffee before I have to start my set.

Fast forward to my performance…

I’m on stage, quietly playing my first guitar line after building up a synth drone. Everything is calm. People are looking expectantly at what I am doing. People are skeptical about machines, you know? They want to see that you actually play most of what is coming out of the speakers.

So, there I am, three minutes into creating cautiously silent synth drones, and I’m about to introduce the first of many, quietly restrained guitar lines. I take a few steps over to my looper in order to overdub a tenderly bowed bass line, I step on the overdub button, and…


Ten, maybe twenty distorted guitars are screaming out of my amp and I just stand there like a deer in the headlights, internally cursing at myself for forgetting to clear my looper’s memory after soundcheck! Anyhow, after a few eternally long seconds, I decided to take the only reasonable course of action I could think of: add more guitars!!!

Ha. I guess that’s what you get when you put a naturally clumsy person like myself in a room with a looper. Live and learn! :)

So, after the somewhat botched opening song, I then proceeded to play Afterthoughts, then another new song, and then I finished with my slow rendition of Darkwave. What sounds like a short set, probably added up to about 40 minutes, a duration which seemed appropriate to me, given that there were more bands to follow.

Ultimately, I felt rather happy about my performance, and had an absolutely wonderful day hanging out and catching up with friends and acquaintances, perusing all the wonderfully creative arts and crafts on display, and meeting new people all throughout the afternoon.

Spring had finally come, and it couldn’t have done so on a more appropriate day.

Yay! Check out the new Enright House Shop I just finished making! Even if you’re not the type of person who buys music anymore, do take a look at how pretty and shiny it is! :)

View Comments

  • Jo

    Sounds like a good show Mark even with the looper error! Sorry Oren and I weren’t there, he was at work and I spent the day wearing out my friends dogs with long walks on Brighton beach.

  • http://lovecraft.org.nz Fran

    Thanks so much for playing, it was amazing. A “elder” work colleague who came said she really enjoyed your set. (as did my mum and dad)

  • pillowhead

    Those are great pictures of a great show, but the one where you are bowing: there is no sign of a lamp in the background. However, in the very next shot, there is one clearly visible. Also, the shadows from the single light source are casting non-parallel shadows, and there are clearly at least sixteen snipers taking shots at the motorcade.

    I await my pony.

  • Mark

    Haha. Simon! You are clearly overlooking two key facts:

    1) The lamp was bought at the Warehouse, hence it can move by its own volition, and in the case of the “bowing photo” decided to wander out of the frame.

    2) During my performances the laws of Newtonian physics do not apply. I repeat: do NOT apply.


  • http://www.paulcapewell.com Paul Capewell

    Great write-up! Sounded like it was a special day.

    I’m really enjoying your recent blogging splurge.

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