Small tale of Stage fright and the first gig

It’s a Saturday, It’s the middle of the afternoon and i’m drinking a can of Tetley’s and the thought is going through my head that today is the day of my first ever gig. I find it hard to keep the beer down, the feeling of nausea has settled well in the lower regions of my stomach. My breathing and my hands are shaking, I can barely keep a grip of the can. I put The Beatles and The Pogues on with the hope that the bands can calm my nerves. I’m not even at the venue yet, it’s not for another 2 and half hours till we have to get there and I feel like i’m about to walk on a stage infront of a 50,000 people and strip to the waste.
In need of something stronger than beer I walk over to the side draw and pull out a small hotel sized bottle of gin. I open it up and i neck the thing in one gulp and i feel the warmth travel down my pipe and into my gut. It settles well and I started putting my gear at the front, a nice warm feeling settles around me like a comforting hug.
I place the stands up against the door ready for the band to arrive and pick me up and then I feel a small jolt in my gut and I know somethings not right, so I make my way up the stairs and head towards the toilet. The nausea pre gin has returned and I know it’s not a good sign.
I go into the bathroom and lean over the toilet and I know it’s going to come like a wave from hell, the omen itself is going to flood out of my mouth. And it comes out like a hose putting out a fire. A wave that I expect surfers to ride on. I breath and vomit, I breath and I vomit. I can feel the aching squeeze around my chest, it tightens as I continue to bring up brown fluid, the kind you would find on the beach at Blackpool. And then I settle and I rest my hands on the toilet seat and I breath easy and I pick up my head and walk over to the sink and wash my face with cold water and rinse my mouth with mouthwash.

I go to the front door and double check I have everything for the gig and I get a phone call from the bassist “We are on our way, be about 15 minutes” he says and I start to panic. I start to think that I might spew my guts up again, so I run to the kitchen and make myself a quick bloody mary and I down the thing. I run into the living room without even wiping my mouth and tell my dad whos half asleep in the chair with a cigarette in his hand and I tell him “they’re on the way, i’ll be going soon” and I leave the living room and run upstairs and take one last piss.
I shake and wash my hands and then my phone rings and I answer “We’re are outside, bring out you shit” says the voice on the other end. I grab everything all at once, cymbals, stands, snare and a kick and open the front door with my foot and leave the house. I put my gear in the boot get it and we leave for the venue.
I sit in the back in silence as the rest of the band talk away about what we are about to do, when they turn to me and talk to me I just nod and look down at my shoes and I keep thinking to myself “I’m about to do a fucking gig”.

We arrive at the venue, The Shed, the place where most bands play their first gigs. Kasabian and Arctic monkeys both played early gigs here and we are about to play our first.
We take out gear inside and are greeted at the door by the manager Kev and he gives us the running order, we are on second and we can play for the 30 minutes and we get a line check before we play. We take all of our stuff around to the side of the stage while the first band does their sound check. It’s really happening now, we are watching a sound check and we have out gear ready to be put up on stage.
My hands start to shake at the thought of everything happening so I head towards the bar and grab myself a strong rum and coke and I down it in one, the band keep trying to talk to me but I just nod and say i’m ok.
I have another two more as the first band starts to play, a heavy metal cover band and they smash it. They play through an entire collection of great songs by Metallica, Megadeth and even Rage Against the Machine. Then I really feel it, we’re just a simple pop rock band playing silly songs about silly things, how can we follow a metal band who have just smashed it. But nobody is in but the bands playing tonight, 5 bands is all that’s playing. I’ve heard stories like this from bands before, the first gig is always to the door man but you just got to play.
I run for one last piss as Kev tells us we are on next so we need to get our gear up on stage quick. In the toilet I look in the mirror and wash my face with cold water and I try to hold back the sick that’s in my throat. I walk towards the stage, grab my gear and set up. I can’t see a thing off stage, the lights are so bright I feel blinded, all I can see is the shadows of the band as they set up their gear.
We finish setting up and we start our line check. I tap on the snare, I kick the bass drum and tap the toms and the sound guy says “That’s ok” and I stop and I sit and wait for the guys to test their gear. I feel sick again and I’m shaking, just doing the line check was hard enough and I a few seconds I’m to play for 30 minutes. I can see a small crowd of the other bands gathering at the foot of the stage. It’s happening now, it’s real, just play, it’s only for 30 minutes. This is the crazy moment everyone always talked about, and now it’s your turn to be crazy. Don’t worry, it will be all over soon.

The strum of the guitar signals the opening of the first song, then the bass comes in and then it’s my turn and I hit that snare with all my might and 45 minutes later I’m standing at the bar ordering myself a Newcastle brown. Everything is a blur, I only remember the opening few seconds and now everything has faded. All I know is that I loved every minute it of it and I don’t know why. I’m shaking and my mouth is dry and I have a huge smile on my face, and I don’t know why.
I just let it run through my head while I stand at the front of the stage with my beer waiting for the next band to play, you’ve just done a fucking gig.


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