Destination Dobb’s Ferry for beers, burgers, and four innings of the Giants game prior to a show at The Rickshaw Stop. I was just finishing up explaining to MMJ that I had been remiss, this year, in taking advantage of our local music venues. Rickshaw does such a good job scheduling exciting new talent; their website is detailed and informative; most of their shows are under fifteen bucks. Why don’t I do this more often? In the days before technology made it easy to forget phone numbers, birthdays, and director credits, isn’t this how we all used to discover new bands? Isn’t this more fun than scanning music blogs for free downloads or listening to a tinny podcast through one earbud at our desks?
MH came in and sat down. The first words out of his mouth: “I just walked here. The show’s ten bucks? Why don’t I do this more often?”
This show hit my radar because Jaako Eino Kalevi had been scheduled in an opening slot. MH signed on because the headliner, Yumi Zouma out of New Zealand, although unknown to either of us at the time, was going to provide fuel for his Rise of Oceania musical manifesto.
As it turned out, Kalevi had to cancel. Couldn’t get a visa from Pluto or Betelgeuse or whatever protonic cloud he orbits (supposedly Finland). There would be no counter-argument to the primacy of the down-under pop band blueprint. And Yumi Zouma did it all without a drummer.
From someone who knows next to nothing about being in a band or even playing an instrument (and who can’t sing), here’s some completely useless advice on how to turn good tunes into an even better performance. Yumi Zouma helped me figure this out.
Beyond the obvious instrument assignation, make sure you’ve got these four components accounted for: The Enthusiasm Guy or Gal. The bandmate who knows all the words to all the songs even better than the lead singer. This dude, in Zouma, was clearly having more fun than anyone else in Rickshaw that night. That kind of excitement is infectious. Those of us downstage right, spilling Off-White Russians on ourselves, sometimes need reminders that being in a band must be the coolest job on the planet.
Next: The Here To Party Guy or Gal. Without him, the band runs the risk of taking itself too seriously. You’re on stage, not in the studio. If Mr. Enthusiasm is there to remind the audience to have a good time, Mr. Party is there to do the same for the rest of the band. Leading by example.
Of course: The Brains. You need that Mama Bear responsible enough to keep shit together, and proficient enough to ensure that things are happening according to (or close to) plan. The right index finger of Zouma’s Brains was busy moving folks around onstage and changing monitor levels, while the rest of his digits were kicking out the jamz.
Finally: The Face. Doesn’t always have to be the lead vocalist, but is often the lead vocalist. Face was front and center all night, dancing and singing and generally demanding the audience’s attention. Whereas the other band members provide that much-needed behind-the-electrical-tape support, or subconscious morale boosting, she was there to make sure that, if you saw nothing else of Yumi Zouma that night, you knew everyone – band and crowd combined – was having a good time.
Oh, and did I mention that they didn’t even need a drummer?