Tips of the Trade

How to survive your first local music show.

A few weeks ago, I invited my family out to a battle of the bands. The winners of these competitions are usually based off of ticket sales and crowed response, so I corralled the biggest mouths I know: My big, fat Irish family! They are so cool, I got my own mother and most of my siblings to come out and support my husband. This local band business is not their conventional scene. The dark, dirty bars are not where they usually flock, so you can imagine how out of their elements they were (let alone the time it took them to recover from the loud, late night out). I thought it would be fun to get their help for this week’s blog, and I asked them to compile a list of things they wish they would have known going in or what they learned from their first local rock show experience.

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One of the coolest group of dudes I know, only about half of my big, fat Irish family. Photo credit goes to my awesome mom.  

The first tip comes from my sister in law: remember gum because you are going to be drunk face talking all night. It is so loud at these shows and with the drinks flowing and good vibes with loved ones you have so much to say, you have to yell your heavy, beer breath right in their faces to be heard. Sure, you try to turn your head to the ear so you aren’t being too violating but it doesn’t always work, a stick of gum or two will conveniently fit in your back pocket and save you loads of offensiveness.

 

 

Speaking of slipping things in your back pockets: our second tip, do not take what you cannot fit in your pockets. I take my phone, ID, and cash, that is all.  Do you really want to carry around a purse all night? It gets annoying, these places aren’t sit at a table all night places, you will be up and around. Do yourself a favor and pack light.

 

Our third tip goes right along with packing light: The last show was on a brisk Michigan winter evening, I mean wind chills in the negatives. Errbody was wearing a coat and these venues are usually right under the level of class that would have a coat check. Being the friendly merch bitch I was I let everyone load and unload their coats behind my table. Never again! By the end of the night I had about thirty coats stuffed under my feet, digging through them to get to the merch. Nope! If you are not brave enough to bear the cold, carry your own coat all night (ok, I might be a little lenient on this one, but only for my favorite people).

 

Next topic: foot wear. I see so many girls hiking up flights of stairs, and down city blocks in their stilettos and dresses. They all look good, but dang, we got rockin’ to get to, and there ain’t no time for that. Maybe when I was younger I would have been able to work it but now there is more important business to attend to.

 

Then there is the matter of Cashola rolla: bring your dollar bills. There will be shirts and CD’s and hats and all kinds of goodies you will want to purchase from your favorite bands you see that night. I know there is a lot of new technology that helps us use our cards everywhere but it is simpler and there are no processing fees. Also, do you really want to trust the bar to keep your tab?

 

There was some other tips thrown out there, ear plugs, throat lozenges for screaming all night… maybe some Geritol, just in case, but that is only for the old, lame people. In all seriousness, though, I couldn’t ask for a more cooperative and fun family. They all had a blast and I think I may have created a few new followers (until I talk them into going to back to back shows with me). So when you go to a show, make sure you are prepared for  an amazing time, get ready for some rockin’ and enjoy yourselves because that is the greatest expectation of any show you attend.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Is this all worth is, part 2

The guys won the battle of bands last night (woo, rock on)! After a very long night at the bar and an early morning at The Son’s basketball game, I am on a couch date with the family. After the spin cycle of this weekend I finally have time to reflect on the question I left off with on the last blog. Is this all worth it? You see, my daily life is filled to the brim, I get up (most) Sunday mornings and go to church and I take The Children to catechism, and I leave feeling inspired and fulfilled.  I am an early childhood educator, a provider to babies and toddlers. I love it, I get all dressed up in my Jessica Day flats and my smart embroidered polo and I get to give out free hugs and sing fantastic songs all day. I come home at the end of the day and sit with my children and help them with their homework (with little as possible screaming and pulling my hair out), drive them around to their basketball and ballet practices. Come home to make dinner, and kiss my husband when he comes in the door all while keeping up on laundry and dishes. It’s heavenly. Underneath my smart embroidered polo I wear nine to five, you wouldn’t know my back is covered in tattoos. When I am getting kids to early weekend games or going to church Sunday mornings you wouldn’t know I was running on no sleep after a show the night before. I feel like I am living a double life.

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That’s me (or at least the back of me) getting out of my head and into the music.

I grew up in a very small rural town, I still live there to this day, love it, my little comforting, safe, bubble. Surrounded by green pastures and smelly cows. In true farm girl fashion my usual days are spent walking bare foot through those lush green pastures of rural Mid-Michigan. “Earthing” I think they call it, the cool wet grass between every toe. My feet are permanently green by the end of summer (a nice thought on these bitter cold February days). I love being barefoot, I really do, but when my rock boots hit the pavement, my heart skips a beat. I love hearing all the fray in the bars as I walk by, it’s thrilling when I am stalking through the city on a mission to rock. Something about the rush of a big city and a loud show gets my blood pumping. I love the electric surge when standing in a crowd of hundreds listening to the fusion of hard, loud instruments. Loosing myself in the music. I feel important yet obsolete in a sea of so many. I am no longer sweet, small town Mallory, but I become something different entirely. I will drink plenty, listen to music too loud, and forget about my life for a while, it is sensational. I will head home late, and when I finally hit my bed, I will crash hard, sleep not long enough, and dream of far off loud chaotic places.

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The next morning with my little basketball star (and baby girl), tired but ready to go. Go blue!

Then I will wake up remembering that I do have kids, and a job, and tons of responsibilities… and now guilt. Are you there, God? It’s me, Mallory. As much control as I appear to have, I do not. It is hard getting it all done in a day, but in my exhausted state Saturday morning while watching The Son play I can still smile remembering the release of last night, and I cheer for The Son just as loudly as I had for The Husband. I do embrace every loop of this crazy ass ride. I would like to put the blame on The Husband (he has never asked nor expected any of this from me), or complain about all I do for The Children (of course as a mother I will always provide); but honestly, these are all done in selfishness, because in doing it all for everyone else, I am doing it for me. As I was rushing around last night before running out the door to go support the Husband, I asked myself a question. The answer is, yes, it is always worth it, because in the moments when the music is most loud, I can find myself within losing it all.

My Life On Spin Cycle

Is this all worth it, part 1

Battle of the Bands, these are incredibly important, they can get real competitive, and there are copious amounts of work that go into them. They are also on my mind right now because The Husband has one tonight. I don’t get to make it to all the shows, I must be choosey when to turn in my babysitter card, so I have to make sure they are the good ones. I seem to always choose poorly, I end up at the one that nobody showed for, then all night I get to hear “I don’t know what’s going on with tonight, last night’s show was packed!” Not tonight, though, it’s a battle of the bands and I am certain that it is going kick butt, I am so pumped… and so exhausted. I wonder sometimes if it is even worth it.

To shed a little light on the days leading up to a big show, let’s start when The Husband finds out about it, a couple months in advance. It’s on a Friday night, being that I work the late shift on a Friday I request the morning shift that day, pencil it in on the calendar, and start searching for a babysitter. Unfortunately, this is such a big show everyone I trust to watch my babies is going. Except for Grandpa, God bless his soul! Whew! Now that that is all planned we can fast forward to a week before, double check on the sitter and work. The blog needs to be started earlier because my Friday morning blog and coffee time is nonexistent. I need to also plan my hair washings so they align with the show (no joke, I gotta look good). I try to get to sleep early Thursday night, because Friday is going to be a doozy, but who are we kidding? This will not happen. So then it’s the day of, I wake up at my normal time, four thirty AM. Get to work by six, bust my butt for a good eight hours and rush home around two. On my drive home I will call the Husband: “What do you need, I am out of work now?”

“Grab the merch bag, charge the cameras, and make sure you are ready when I get there if you are going with me.”

Ok, then it’s two thirty when I get home, I have half an hour before the kids get off the bus. I want to nap so hard, but I cannot. Instead I brew a big pot of afternoon coffee and make sure The Husband’s requests are met. By then the kids are getting off the bus, I hand out all the hugs and kisses and “how were your days?” sit them down and start them on their homework, while I prepare a big early dinner. After they are done with their homework and dinner has been served I jump in a soothing, hot shower, shaving, finally washing my hair, taking time to let the conditioner soak in while I have imaginary conversations with everyone that will be there tonight, forgetting about all space and time. Time? Shit, what time is it?! I frantically jump out of the shower, yell at the kids to go pack a bag for Grandpas tonight. By then The Husband is home and getting in the shower while I am applying minimal makeup because now I have no time to look as fabulous as previously planned. I throw on my clothes, my amazing blow out ends up being a messy bun. Luckily, I have big shiny earrings to distract from the rest of the hot mess showing up tonight. I am still screaming at my precious angels (that should be old enough to take care of themselves) to quit screwing around, pack their bags and get ready to go.  I try on three different pairs of shoes before I say screw it and go with the first ugly pair, pout for exactly thirty seconds about how I never have anything nice to wear or time to look good for these things. I push the kids out the door and tell them to go wait for me in the car. I have exactly thirty seconds to assess and double check if I have everything, make sure the dogs are put away and fed, lights are off, and doors are locked, load the car up with merch, cameras, The Husband needs nine-volts now, search for those forever, where the ef are the nine-volt batteries?! Oh, they are right here in the merch bag. At the last-minute jump in the car and go drop the kids off, give them a quick kiss goodbye and get in to go.

I then get exactly twenty minutes of The Husband all to myself before I share him again with a mass of fans, band mates, and the schwoozers and schmoozers. Is it really worth all that? I mean is this really all worth the chaos, the missed parent times, the late nights? Even The Husband has a hard time keeping up, and while the frenzy of texting plans, I could see that.

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I do ask myself this during these rushed times, when I am watching life spiral around me like someone turned on the spin cycle. Is this all worth it?

Better Check Myself

My top ten reasons to not be so salty about the band wife life.

We are knee deep into gig season right now, where I lose my husband to bars across the state to people gravitating towards the warm glow of the dark hole in the wall dives. Fighting the bitter Great Lakes winter with a warm drink and entertainment. Practices once, twice a week. Gigs Thursdays through Sundays, and sometimes Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I am knee deep into soft pants and Netflix season. My mood can sometimes match the winter, bitter, and I feel like its showing in my blogs here. In other words: I gotta check myself; it’s time to count my blessings and focus on all the awesome parts of being a band wife.

So without further delay or dramatic opening story, here is my top ten list of why The Band Wife Life totally rocks:

  1. No standing in lines: I once waited to go to a show and rode with a group of people, got my ticket and stood in line for an hour, in the windy, cold rain… outside. Eff that! I am too spoiled now, I am like Baby carrying in her watermelon, give me a guitar case, an amp, speakers, a drum, something, anything! I am getting there at set up time and coming in the back!
  2. The merch bitch: I honestly love sitting behind the merch table, I get to people watch, I have a guaranteed seat, place to set my beer all night. I feel like I am actually doing something (I am a bit of a busy body when Netflix isn’t on, I swear).

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    My view from the merch table. I like to call this piece, “Date Night”.
  3. Meeting new people: I have made a few friends along the way, mostly through The Husband being he is more social and less awkward than his counterpart (me). Band people are cool, it is a very diverse and intriguing genre of people. The freak flags fly high in this group and I love all of them for it. The people watching and conversations are rich and always enjoyable.
  4. Divertimento!: I get to be serenaded for hours on end. I have my own personal live show while I am doing the dishes, folding the laundry, trying to have a conversation. And sometimes, if I am lucky it will be my newest favorite song, that The Husband hates, in hopes to make me sick of it. Jokes on him, I still love that song.
  5. Eye candy: Obviously, The Husband is a smexy beast up there on stage, but besides that. Don’t judge, I got eyes. If you are married to a musician you probably have a certain taste, mine happens to be bearded, tattooed, chubby metal heads… and I am swimming in a sea of looksies!
  6. Booked weekends are optional but always an option: I can never say I am bored and there is nothing to do, if I want I can go to shows, sometimes for free. It gets me out of doing other things if needed: “No, I can’t take you to the thing at the school where I have to talk to other moms, you are going to Grandma’s tonight, Dad has a show.”
  7. Control over the remote: On the nights where I am feeling salty and slothy, I can stay home. Now that my kids are older I never realized how much “me time” I would actually have. I could lay in bed all day and Netflix, starring at my phone for hours, read, write, take four hour showers. I can be pretty dang lazy, and it’s pretty dang amazing.
  8. We are always first: We are the first to get the new CD, first to get a t-shirt, first dibs on tickets, we are always VIP. We know about all the shows before anyone else, hell, we are the ones they have to ask before they can book it.
  9. Your children will have a really cool childhood: music will always be second nature to them. You will be the cool parents because they wear band shirts to school and hand out wristbands as birthday party favors.
  10. It truly is just the most kick ass: Yesterday morning I kissed The Husband goodbye and I told him, “Have fun tonight with Quiet Riot” True story, that is a direct quote. It was freaking awesome!

 

None of my list is about fame or fortune, because unless you married into the likes of Metallica you won’t be seeing any of that. What you will have is a great personal rock star who makes your life all the more colorful being in it. If it wasn’t for my rockstar I would probably live a life of fun vicariously through more Netflix binges from the safety and comfort of my king size bed. He really gets me out of my safe little box, makes me think, do, and love life; and that is pretty rockin’! But, alas, until the sun comes out again, the weather warms up, and people stay on their own decks and back yard for bonfires and barbecues, I will have to wait for time with The Husband, or forever follow him where he goes.

Old Idiocracy

The Tale of Ages and Insecurities

It’s no secret I am seasoned, distinguished, experienced, mature… Old, ok? I am old. At least older than most band wife/girlfriends. I look back at my younger years fondly, what I remember of being younger.  I remember going to a rock concert in the early 2000’s, I was real young, nineteen or twenty, fresh and starry eyed. I remember looking up and seeing a bunch of middle aged women dancing around up on the second level and thinking Old ladies, ew!.  I don’t think it was that they were necessarily repulsive to me, but I felt territorial to what was mine and my time to shine. I didn’t find it appropriate for a middle-aged woman to go to the concerts I went to and dance around like a fool, I didn’t think it was appropriate for my mother to own an Eminem CD (which, by the way, she did; and, though it was hard to rebel against such a cool mom, I now know that she is awesome). I hated that Sex and the City show when it came out, because old ladies talking about having sex over coffee should not have been a thing. Guess what, I was an idiot. In your early twenties, you really can’t see past your nose, you are quite self-involved, selfish and you can’t grasp the realities of getting any older.

Then you do get old. Life sucks you in, spirals you around, spits you out, and one day you are staring in the mirror wondering where did these weird spots and wrinkles around my face come from? What is my ass doing? And who are these two preteen brats running around eating all my food and stinking up my house? One day you will accompany The Husband to a show to see a Marilyn Manson cover band, look around and wonder why there are a bunch of old people standing around with their kids, And it will dawn on you, wait… I am one of the old people, and these damn young hipsters think it’s cool and ironic to go listen to the music their parents grew up with. Oh God! What happened?! Yes, you will look around and realize you ARE the old lady dancing in the balcony seats, and yes, you now enjoy watching Sex in the City (I’m a Carrie if you couldn’t tell). Though I am smarter a decade and a half later, I am still an idiot.

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Me ready to rock in my early years, when girl ties made a comeback and selfies were not a thing.

I see all these fresh college girls, most not even old enough to drink with their big black X’s on their hands, following their boyfriends to the same shows and I think, am I too old for this? Their outfits reminiscent of the Teen magazines I used to read back in the early 90’s, they’re all piling in the room with their squad because they have to bring all their friends to listen to their boyfriends’ cool band. They don’t have to find sitters for their kids, they didn’t have to figure out how to get out of work the next morning and calculate how much sleep they would get that night if they left right after their love gets off stage, they don’t ever have to wonder if it’s even worth going. I feel envious. Yes, I am just too old for this (also, still an idiot). Feeling defeated, I slump into the dark corners not to be seen, slink over to the bar and order a beer. They don’t even check my ID because I have a fancy neon green wristband and as I sip on my delicious craft beer I remember that I won’t wake up with those big black X’s on my face because of those dang giant black permanent markers. Then I remember that I am pretty cool for an older broad, that my life just keeps getting better and I wouldn’t trade my thirty-something-old self for my twenty-year-old self on the worst of days. These girls will grow up to be just as awesome too, and look back and be proud of what they know now. And now that I am a very cool older broad I really shouldn’t care, because rocking out doesn’t have an expiration date, we can all have fun and enjoy the show. So, millennials, take it easy on GenX, we could teach you a lot but we can still be idiots, we are learning.

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Slightly wiser and older me, still ready to rock, sans girl tie, now that selfies are a thing. 

 

Where You Can Stick Your Ego

How to avoid the Yoko effect.

Egos. Egos are as capricious as the beings they inhabit. We all have one, some more than others, and like most people, there are times when I need to keep my ego in check. I see The Husband up there on stage, all the guys working like a fine oiled machine. With every song, I see them getting more and more excited and I am getting excited right along with them. I really couldn’t be more proud of these guys and The Husband. When they get off stage their adrenaline is pumping and they are ready go but that is when I have to remember to become unobtrusive. I get so consumed with how The Husband is doing in the band, of course when things are going good it does consume a lot of his time and focus so we talk a lot about it. I love talking to him about it because it’s his favorite thing and I love seeing his eyes light up and hearing how passionate he is.

We as band wives are the middle child, a silent partner, we support, we assist (usually financially along with morally). We hear about every detail when there was a bad gig or practice, we hear about every exciting new turn in momentum for the band. We can relish in this as a wife, as a partner, but we never know quite what it will feel like to be part of the lime light, to be able to share that feeling with your partner. Even the most modest of person can find some envy in this from time to time. At the worst times I remember I am not part of this, sure I will be with him for the whole ride, but I am not a part of the glory. When they get off the stage, shaking hands, schmoozing the crowd, handing out cards, I do feel left out. The middle child in me wants to stomp my feet and yell, “what about me?!” but it’s not about me, it’s about the man I love. We all have our faults and its socially acceptable feel selfish occasionally. Nobody wants to go all Yoko, but I guess there is a little Ono in all of us.

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“You you you you you you you you you you you you you I want to talk about me” – Toby Keith

Don’t get me wrong, The Husband doesn’t have an ego (we joke that it’s because he’s the bass player). Obviously, he doesn’t think it’s all about him, but there are times when I want to go all Toby Keith on him – “I like talking about you, you, you, you usually, but occasionally, I want to talk about me” – and, yes, I have sung this to him, he got the hint. I think that is one of the biggest fuels for this blog fire of mine. I work full time as an early childhood educarer, have two young kids to raise, and a musician. My life is hectic and filled with everyone else’s needs. Much like, I am assuming, most band wives. We need an outlet, something of our own to be proud of. Unfortunately, right now mine is focusing, still, on The Husband; but this is what I have been doing for the last 15 years. It’s a part of me now and honestly, I love to write and talk about myself too so it is a good outlet for me. But, ladies and gentleman, when you are married to a musician find your own zone, your quiet corner where you can go to let it all it out and get away from it all, or it will end up consuming you and possibly taking down your loved one with you.

 

I see you

My heartfelt battle cry to the women all over the world who fall in love with musicians.

I remember once when The Husband and I were freshly married and newly parenting and I toted over to my Grandma’s house The First Child for a social gathering of sorts and my Grandma asked me where The Husband was. I told her he had a show that night and she nodded in understanding, telling me about how when she was pregnant with my dad, my grandpa had to play on New Years Eve and she was so worried she would go into labor being so close to her due date, “But thank heavens it was the day before so he didn’t have to miss it and he could still drive me to the hospital.”

It was in that moment I realized that between 1962 and 2006 things hadn’t changed much. Even though my Grandfather played the upright bass in barns across rural Mid-Michigan and The Husband plays electric bass (crazy, huh? That is a story for another time) in a rock band in the darkest of dive bars, city to city we can all relate when it comes to our commitments to musicians.

I see you all: the fresh meat in the front row all starry-eyed and the tired seasoned veterans lounging behind the merch table. We all play our part out of love of our significant other and the music, of course.  Fourteen years ago I fell in love with a musician, that musician became my husband and then the father of our children. He is my partner, my best friend for life, but first and foremost, he is a musician and when you marry a musician there are things you need to be aware of.

Me and The Second Child watching our Rock Star in all his glory.

 

 

Music will always come first. Musicians are fickle, creative beings that will get so focused that everything, including you, will become background noise. They don’t mean to and it doesn’t mean they love you any less, they just become so passionate they can’t pull themselves away. Even at eleven o’clock when you turn in and they are still working on a song. Yep, they have no intention of coming to bed. You will eventually hear them quietly trying not to wake you at three in the morning when they finally finish or they will be so excited they will wake you up to listen. You need to know that music is going to come before your marriage, and I mean it. Does this mean he is going to miss the birth of his child for a show? Or ditch the ol’ nine to five to travel cross-country chasing his dream and letting you and your family fend for themselves? No (at least I hope not, because that means you married a child).  It means date nights might be at band practice or on the way to their show (I love when I can attend a show that’s farther away, that means a whole hour or two drive time with him to myself). It means late nights alone running the household and having him get home just in time to kiss the kid’s goodnight, turn on Netflix, and fall fast asleep. This passion is also a blessing, because they will also be that dedicated to his family, musicians love deeply, they love you deeply, they will love your children deeply and this is what will get you through those lonely nights, knowing that if he loves you half as much as he does his music you are one lucky woman.

Know that, I see you all, at the end of the night, all sitting exhausted in your booths as the light turns on as they’re tearing down for the night. Usually you are ready to go home but you will follow him where ever he needs to go (most likely to some sort of late night food joint), because we are a different breed, followers. Not a groupie, not a fan, but the wives. Painfully so, we follow to the end. To the end of the night, to the end of the show. Exhausted, too drunk from listening to too loud music too late in to the night. It’s not always glamorous, but we love the man playing. This is our anthem. Our part. Our love is the love that loves to entertain.