09|28|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 11 – Auckland (Wine Cellar)

After rolling into Auckland both Thomas and I decided that we had already lost so much money that, hell, we might as well splurge on a Backpackers for the last night. I remember having liked the backpackers on Queen Street, where the band and I stayed last year during the A Low Hum tour with craftwerk, and so Thomas and I booked two beds there in a dormitory room for $20 NZD each. That particular backpackers also had the advantage of having secure parking (not an insignificant bonus given Auckland’s notoriety for petty crime), as well as being right around the corner from where we were playing.

Once we settled into our room, Thomas decided to take a short nap. He was getting a pretty nasty cold, which in due course I, too, was to get. For now, though, I was still holding up OK, so instead of cat-napping I decided to go for a walk and put up flyers around K’Road. After a boring and restless hour of wandering around town, I scraped Thomas off of his cozy mattress, and the two of us headed down to the Wine Cellar to start our setup routine.

The Wine Cellar is an absolutely gorgeous venue with a proud history of hosting experimental bands. Rohan, the owner / resident engineer, was an enthusiastic supporter of more far-flung sonics, and both Thomas and I felt incredibly privileged for being allowed to play in this beautiful room.

Soundcheck was super fun, with various employees and regulars eavesdropping and coming over to check out our set-up. The PA and room sounded great, and Rohan even recorded our soundcheck on his laptop and played it back through the speakers for us, so we could hear exactly what our mix sounded like – awesome! I wish every venue I played was set up to do that. This is just such a fantastic thing to be able to offer musicians, who, otherwise, always have to take it on pure faith that the mix faithfully captures their sonic intentions. This way we can play, record, listen… adjust, play, record, listen… an absolute dream come true!

After finishing soundcheck, Thomas and I grabbed a tasty kebab and headed back to the venue, where there were a total of zero people present. Oh my…

By the time Thomas started four people had shown up. Thomas incidentally gave a jaw-dropping performance, and spontaneously added this whole new section to his performance, building on a motif of irregularly picked, chiming guitars. The whole thing had this vaguely oriental feel to it, and it was one the most exciting musical moments of the tour for me. Pity only six people in this world (myself and Rohan, included) ever got to hear it live – thankfully Rohan recorded the entire show, and I’ll be posting some songs from it soon.

When I got up on stage I was, truth be told, really a tad depressed that no one had come to see us. We had advertised online, had done plenty of radio promo (including National Radio, Kiwi FM and 95 BFM), used myspace, facebook, forums and gig guides to tell people about our show, had postered and flyered K’Road and Real Groovy, et cetera. The only thing we didn’t do, I suppose, is play with local support, but given the nature of our music and the way Thomas and I set up, that just wasn’t a feasible option. Aside from the sheer logistical nightmare of setting up, the sets that Thomas and I played already stretched to the limit what audiences could take in.

Anyhow, I got on stage and made a sincere promise that I was not going to let a disappointing turnout ruin my performance. After all, four people had sacrificed their time and money to come out and see Thomas and I perform, and since it wasn’t their fault not more people had come out that night, I had no right to let it effect my performance. If anything, I felt that I had a duty to give the absolutely best performance I could to prove to them that they had made the right decision in choosing to spend an evening with us and our music.

So, I withdrew into myself, started to build up the first themes of the first song and…

…two of the four people walked out!

Now, I could go into a lengthy analysis of the terror and sadness I felt in that moment, but I’ll spare you. No doubt, you’re intelligent enough to image it for yourself, if you’re into that kind of self-inflicted emotional S&M or Schadenfreude, that is! :)

I don’t remember what happened next. I played and played, I just withdrew into my head and played and sang my heart out, and then at some point I paused… I looked up, and people were applauding. Somewhere along the lines maybe another 10 or 15 people had walked in. Thomas later told me they had decided to let people in for free or via donation. But none of that mattered to me, neither then, nor in hindsight. What counted is that, when I had least expected it, human beings had actually gathered together and were listening to my music. Most of them didn’t know who I was, most of them probably didn’t care, but they cared enough to stay, to hear me out, to come up to me after the show, thanking me, talking to me. And that was enough for me.

It was such a bizarre concert, such a disappointing return to Auckland, but even here, against all odds, I found many things to be grateful for and worthy of remembering. Rohan, for example, really enjoyed our performances, and, despite what could have been one of the worst turn-out for the Wine Cellar ever, even invited us back and even promised to get all of his friends to come out next time we played at the Wine Cellar.

I admit, the fact that nobody came to hear us play seriously diminished my desire to play Auckland ever again, but sometimes these kind of things just happen in life and you have to find the humility within you to take it with a grin and try again. Auckland, after all, is a large city, and the people who live there have access to a lot of high-quality local and oversees bands performing there. If playing a series of shows with next to no one present is what it takes to earn the respect of the people who live there, then that’s just what I will have to do.

Either way, you just can’t let that stuff get you down. At the very least there’s some decent record shopping to be done in Auckland. And hey, if that wasn’t enough, they even had a Dunken Donuts! :)

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! :)

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  • Dave

    ugh that is horrible, I really wanted to go to that show but had tonsillitis… I thought you would’ve got a great reception? In fact the only reason I just read the above right now was because I was trying to figure out if you were playing in Auckland before you leave our shores…?? Not looking hopeful right now huh…

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