Although the Berries were originally conceived as a half-in-jest band of faculty members for a talent show here at the college, and although for most of the group’s existence, we’ve practiced on campus (from the chapel to the theater to our current HQ in the college’s video studio), we really haven’t performed on campus that often over the years. Of course, given that most of our material is original and that even our covers tend to be at least their parents’ ages, we aren’t precisely calibrated for the Mondoville audience, and we continue to do a damned fine job of resisting success.
However, sometimes things fall together the right way, and last night was such an occasion. It’s Homecoming Week here at Mondoville, and the Student Activities folks decided to kick things off with a bonfire last night, asking the Berries to provide a soundtrack. As a consequence, we assembled at 5:30 yesterday evening to load our gear up and take it a couple of blocks to the event site, behind our new education building (a local elementary school that we’ve refurbished, thanks to our ongoing capital campaign. Since we had to provide our own P.A. (fortunately, we own one), I made two trips with the van — one for percussion and one for P.A. equipment.
We got set up reasonably quickly, and the kids began to arrive around that time. Even the Spawn made an appearance, although she couldn’t stay for the duration — she had an astronomy lab later that evening. It was somewhere around that time that we realized there weren’t any lights other than that of the bonfire, which was about 30 yards from the stage. And the sun was setting, which meant that reading our set lists might be a challenge.
However, a couple of us attached our phones to mike stands, and used the flashlight apps to provide a little illumination — although not really enough to reach me behind the kit. Thus enlightened (sorry), we launched into our first of two sets. About midway through the first song, I felt the mushiness that told me a stick had cracked — it finally broke completely during the last chorus, but I made it through before switching to a fresher one after the song ended.
There was a short break about midway through the set to announce the candidates for Homecoming royalty, and we accidentally livened things up a bit when Joseph’s keyboard was bumped in the onstage darkness and spontaneously played a pre-programmed fanfare as one of the candidates was announced. A little serendipity never hurts.
By the time the first set had finished, the fire had largely burned down and the kids were starting to drift away, but we played a truncated second set before everyone called it a night. We pulled our cars up to the stage and used our headlights to light the stage so that none of us would break our necks during the load out. I did tweak something in my back, however, and my right shoulder is kind of sore this morning as well. Such is the roadie-free life, I guess.
I wish we could have had world enough and time (and audience) to get through both sets in their entirety, but we played pretty well, and folks seemed to have a good time. And I have to admit, there’s a certain charm in playing a gig, being loaded out, and getting home by 9:30. And we have a gig in the more traditional environment of the Soundbox Tavern in Simpsonville this Friday. Maybe we’ll see you there!