Biff Free Performance

Last night, I had a biff free performance with my punk rock band, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, at the Frequency in Madison WI.

A biff, in the parlance of rock-n-roll musicians, typically refers to a musical mistake that is noticeable to the musician who makes the mistake and/or sometimes one or more of his/her colleagues who are performing with him/her. A biff does not require recognition of the mistake by audience members, because they may not be (and usually are not) paying close enough attention to the musicianship to notice it. The word biff can be loosely applied to other aspects of life outside of music, but this is usually only done by musicians.

Example: "My boss totally biffed on his deliverables at work. Man, I can't wait for the weekend when I can rock with my band again..."

Anyway, at no time during EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE's 45 minute set of original tunes last night did I have any biffs in my backing vocal or rhythm guitar parts. If there were any mistakes at all, they were not noticeable to me or anyone else, thus not qualifying as biffs.

I believe this is a first, possibly ever, for me in any band, playing a full show with nary a biff. What I like about this band is that we have a core list of original songs and we hone and polish them repeatedly at band practice, often not performing them live until they are a solid B+ at practice. I have played all the songs from last night a lot of times before with the band and on my own, so I know them very solidly. But at all shows prior to last night, I have had at least one minor biff during the performance, like forgetting to sing a harmony or playing a wrong chord or missing a stop.

Not last night, baby! Biff free.

What that means is that I have achieved a level of virtuosity with this band where the music has become second nature and thus I can now focus more on stage presence and interaction with my band mates on stage and the audience bowing down before us in supplication to our amazingly glorious punk rock-n-roll.

Another bonus of the show last night was that the sound guy, Adam, gave us a really good stage mix, so I could hear all the individual instruments and vocals, including my own. Sometimes the stage mix can be a loud wall of muddy distortion and you kind of have to "fly by the instruments," to use an aviation analogy...basically, watch what you are playing on the instrument and try not to eff up. The good sound last night contributed to my ability to not biff because I could hear more than see what I was playing and know that it was right. Never underestimate the value of a good sound guy.

Of course the real reason I did not biff last night was because of the good luck kiss on my cheek from my friend Amanda.

Pardon me while I insert an unrelated backlink here to a post I wrote this morning on natural sleep aids.

G Man

Gary, the chubby middle manager popped into Joe's cube.

"Hey, Joe," he said in his nasally voice. "Could you see me in my office?"

Joe looked up from his computer screen.

"Sure," Joe said. Gary lingered. "I'll be right there," Joe added.

Gary turned and walked toward his office down at the end of the row of cubicles as Joe pushed his desk chair away from the desk and stood up, stretching as he did so.

"I could use a break anyway," Joe mumbled. As he started toward Gary's office, he peered into Alex's cube, adjacent to his own.

Alex looked up. "Busted," she said, smiling. Her pretty smile alway put Joe at ease, even when he had to go visit Gary.

Joe entered Gary's office and sat in the guest chair across from the office manager. "Can you close the door?" Gary waited to say until Joe had already seated himself. Joe got back up and closed the door, then took his seat again.

"A couple of weeks ago I asked you about being more polite and formal in your emails to the clients," Gary began. "I thought you were being too casual in addressing them as 'group' in the messages and asked you to change it."

"I did change it," Joe said. "I capitalized the word 'Group' so now it's a proper noun, much more formal, with all the respect and worthiness that comes with that."

"You just capitalized a letter," Gary said.

"That's the power of language, Gary," Joe said. "I have a gift. Maximum return on investment with minimal input of effort. They don't pay me the big bucks for nothing. I should probably ask for a raise right now, huh?"

"You're fired," Gary said.

"Fuck you, ya douchespigot!" Joe yelled, standing up. "You're fired."

Joe stormed out and walked to the HR department. "I need to file a hostile work environment complaint," Joe said the his HR rep. "I am being punished for maximizing company profits with little or no overhead costs."

"I don't think you can file a complaint for that," the rep said.

"Alright, well make a note of it in my file, will you?" Joe enquired. "That way if this escalates, there will be some record that I tried to file a complaint."

Over lunch, Joe explained to Alex why he still had a job.

"Gary tried to fire me, but I pre-empted him with a hostile work environment claim. They couldn't fire me because it would look like a retribution and I could potentially take legal action. I probably wouldn't, this job sucks anyway. But if I left, I could not be a valuable thorn in Gary's side every single day, and that guy really needs a thorn. It makes him feel like he has a purpose."


Here is the backstory.

On March 7, 2015, my punk rock band opened up for a visiting hard rock cover band from out of town at Mr. Roberts Bar in Madison WI.

We started on time, about 10 pm, and rocked our one 45-minute set masterfully, drawing a nice crowd of people to see us. Then we cleared our gear off the stage and the visiting band set up to rock. They were slated to round out the night with two more full sets of music.

As it turned out, their lead singer was getting over a bad cold and his voice was shot. They gave it the old college try, but after the first set, the singer said he could not perform anymore. That was just a reality - he sounded awful, and the suffering music was scaring away patrons. It made sense from the business standpoint of the bar and the performers alike for them to stop.

The lead guitarist in my punk rock band and I had a look at the other band's set list and determined we could probably assist with singing three of their tunes, so we came to the rescue and sang a bit with them. It was all very entertaining up until this point and the audience, who were mostly there because of my band, were eating it up. Suffice to say, the headlining band had quit a little before 1 AM, not bad considering. Most bands play till 1:30 and then tear down so the bartenders don't have to stay too much past bar time.

So that said, let's turn our attention to the bartender at the bar on this particular night. She was a skinny, raven haired, goth woman, dressed in black and covered in tattoos everywhere her skin was exposed, which was a lot. She was physically attractive, but she gave off an unpleasant vibe. I believe there is an actual term for it - BITCHY RESTING FACE. She seemed annoyed and grumpy all night, rarely smiling and disinterested in patrons clamoring for drinks. I tried to be nice to her from the moment we came into the bar, but her mood never noticeably improved, even after I gave her a shout out from the stage during our set to try to get her more tips.

After the second band had torn down their gear and we had all loaded up our cars with amps and instruments, my lead guitarist and I approached this unapproachable dark angel to see about getting paid. Mr. Roberts is known as a venue that guarantees a flat $150 for bands on music nights. I didn't think there would be any issues since there had never been one before in all the many times I had performed there in the past.

But the dark-complexioned bartender balked. "I was told the bands have to play until bar time, so I am not going to be able to pay you because you didn't play till bar time."

"Well, can we [my band] at least get our half, since we played our set?" I asked. "It was the other band that quit early..." I argued.

"You'll have to talk to Eon in the morning," the woman said. And this was the only response she would give thereafter. Eon was the music manager at Mr. Roberts and he was not there that night. Had he been, perhaps we could have negotiated and resolved the dispute. We followed up with Eon the next day, but by then the establishment's upper management had ruled that we would not see a dime. Eon was very apologetic, but the damage had been done. I was pretty upset about the unprofessionalism of the bartender and management.

I could understand not paying the headliner for not meeting their obligations (although, that was bogus too, because I have seen lots of bands quit earlier than bar time there, usually at the request of the bartenders who want to get home), but my band did everything right and we were totally professional and we brought a ton of people in to drink and enjoy the music. It was a clear power play by the bartender and bar management was unprofessional and wrong. Mr. Roberts really harmed their reputation with this one incident because we know a lot of other bands around town who have a lot of hard drinking music fans. They are likely to lose a lot more business than the measly $75 they could have easily paid us. These are the facts on the ground.

I am not going to perform at Mr. Roberts anymore with any band unless we get paid up front. If they don't agree to that, it is fine. We have plenty of other places to play that treat us professionally and our fans can drink at the competitions' venues instead.

But be that as it may, I sometimes may still want to go hear a decent band at Mr. Roberts.

Fortunately, I think I can make this jibe with the retribution required from Mr. Roberts for stiffing us on that gig. It's actually pretty simple. When I go there in the future, I will not buy any drinks or food, and I will not tip any bartenders, especially if that bitchy resting faced bartender is working there when I am there. This serves two purposes. The bartenders will get a sense of what it feels like to be jacked out of money and the bar itself will be nickeled and dimed out of the money they owe us, via my boycott. It will take some time for the $75 to be compensated for in zero patronage of their establishment. I don't know, I will probably just go for the full $150, tacking on a fee for the footwork I need to do DISCOURAGING my friends from going to Mr. Roberts.

I am sure my little revolt will have almost zero impact on their bottom line, and that's fine. It will mainly be for my own retribution against their weak sauce. But I would encourage everyone reading this to also not patronize Mr. Roberts if you believe in fairness. If you have a choice between Mr. Roberts and anywhere else, go elsewhere. Naturally, Mr. Roberts could end my personal boycott of them by simply agreeing to pay us our due. That would wipe the slate clean as far as I am concerned.

A Classy Date

Sometimes you go out on a fantastic date and it’s not romantic or anything but just classy and super fun. That’s how I would describe the date I went on with a female friend on Sunday. I had only met her recently and she has been to a few of my music shows where I didn’t have a great opportunity to socialize with her that much. I could tell she enjoyed my music and seemed to like me as a person, so I asked her out to dinner to get better acquainted one on one. She accepted.

I had received in the mail a $10 off coupon to UNO’s Pizzeria in Madison, and I proposed this venue for our ice breaker. She said she loved pizza, the first sign of good things to come. I had never been to UNO’s before and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the place and the excellence of the food, as was my date.

We had a great conversation, during which I discovered she has done RAGBRAI and likes to bike. She also knows who the Mountain Goats are, which surprised and impressed me. Without any debate, we both agreed on the best pizza option on the menu (Mediterranean Veggie) and she matched me slice for slice on eating it, no small feat since I am a big guy and she is a rather petite woman. Granted, she declined dessert, though I still had room for it (I declined too, out of politeness, and I could stand to cut a few calories…).

Neither one of us was particularly in a hurry to be somewhere else, so it was just a laid back good time with a really great person. I am intrigued to know even more about her.

I paid for dinner, of course, being the old school gentleman I am. She protested, but I told her she could buy “next time,” a none too subtle hint that I would like there to be a next time.

Would I date this woman romantically? You betcha. Based on what I saw, she has “soul mate” written all over her (not literally). But the ball is in her court now. I’d be honored and pleased as punch if she wanted to “play ball.” But I am also fine with a solid friendship.

She seems like a super independent and free spirited woman . This is my favorite kind of woman, but the catch 22 is that this independence often correlates with not wanting to date seriously. That’s OK too. I respect her for who she is. At the very least, I’d like to go on another platonic date with her, because she is classy as hell and very fun to talk to.

That is all.