How many jobs are there where very occasionally someone may fall into you? You cannot control this event, you cannot see it coming, until the very last moment, when there is absolutely nothing you can do about it except maybe to try and get out of the way, except that you can’t. You become the ‘fallee’ I guess. There is no choice for you in this matter, there is no choice for anyone, the ‘faller’ didn’t even choose you or choose to fall.
This is one of the perils of the covers band muso, I will have to think of some other covers band muso perils now but it won’t be hard, let me see….maybe ugly chardonnay sipping ‘cougars’, this is a new term for me, I can now finally give Overbearing-40something-women-who-make-me-shudder-with-their-scary-sexual-innuendos-and-who-request-Jessie’s Girl-like-they-wish-it-was-1985-again a simpler name…Cougar. Another peril I guess is dangerously unstable young males who believe that when they drink its time to get all Fight Club on each other and anyone else in the immediate vicinity. But both of these perils you can spot a mile away from the punter-watching post that is centre stage behind the microphone. The faller though is an oft-missed creature of the live music venue until as I said the very last second.
It’s Friday night at one of Brisbane’s most popular party pub/club venues, sometime around 11:30pm, the place is packed, punters everywhere. Myself and my duo partner, a drummer with a very new and very expensive drumkit are perched on what is ‘the stage’, though it is not a stage but a small riser in the middle of the ‘room’. A member of the ever watchful security personnel is standing behind us eyes searching the crowd like he is on the lookout for a terrorist suspect. Now in the last 5 years or so security at venues seems to have ‘stepped up’ to the job. Most of them are excellent operators who quietly move rogue punters on and out and so forth. Generally as a muso they are your best friend on-the-job, it pays to be polite, nice, professional and all that so that if and when the time comes for you to point some idiot out in the crowd they will quietly eject him or her making everyone’s experience all the more enjoyable.
Sometimes though I cannot resist the urge to spice things up a bit, and why not, I have a microphone, everyone can hear whatever I say into it. So when a couple of weeks back I spotted a young man or actually an old youth making an absolute fool of himself all drunk-like on the dance floor and ruining everyone else’s fun while he was at it. I couldn’t resist saying “Yes.. well done matey I remember my first time in a pub as well” which is a variation of a line a friend of mine used in a similiar situation about taking a particular drug for the first time. This caused people to snigger at this young man and the said young man getting all “I’m gonna kick your ass” at me as I smiled at him behind the ‘safety’ of a microphone stand. I turned to the security guard at that particular venue who was crying with laughter. A few minutes later that young man was gone and the dance floor was once again safe from drunken antics.
And so back to 11:30pm last Friday night. I was halfway through some such party type song, name any one of the 400 songs that work in these venues and no it wasn’t ‘Free Fallin” by Tom Petty or ‘Fall At Your Feet’ by Crowded House or a song by The Fall but I noticed amidst the throng of dancing bodies, a shape falling towards me, my mic stand, guitar and other associated equipment. Now this may seem weird but I’m not worried about the faller’s injuries at this point and he probably won’t feel it until the morning but its when his moving body hits the mic stand causing the wonderful steel mesh of my Shure Beta SM58A microphone to launch at the 4 incisors at the front of my mouth. Instinct is to move back and down… right into the path of the faller. I am well practised in this manoeuvre and I imagine other cover band musos are as well as like I said this does happen occasionally.
His sprawling body hit the floor, I caught the microphone and stand as it pummelled towards me, saving my already-slightly-chipped-on-another-occasion front teeth and barring a line a two of lyrics and a couple of chords we carried on relentlessly though now slightly wetted by beer and liquor. The fall guy act didn’t seem bother anyone, they’d seen it here before, though not while checking their emails at work on Monday morning I’m guessing. Still, it turned out to be another quite awesome and fun gig with a big crowd and I watched with slight amusement as Falling Drunk Guy Number 4768 as I named him tried to explain to security that he wasn’t as drunk or as falling over as looked and was promptly escorted to the front door.
Punters, for the most part are easygoing and carefree persons who enjoy themselves within the limits in a pretty fun environment. Don’t get me wrong playing live music is an absolute priveledge of a job where the positive experiences far outweigh the negative ones, it far beats any other job in an alcohol fuelled workplace. But just imagine next time you are in your non alcoholic workplace, whether its an office, or a construction site or a shop, that there is a couple of lubricated 40something ‘cougars’ leering at you, a group of 18yo drunken Fight Club members and some random who just happens to fall right for you and any paraphernalia you have around you.