Our turn finally came. The band that played before us really gave the crowd a show. They really got worked-up, what with the body-shaking dance tunes. We clambered up the stage and set up our gear while the hosts, yes, there were two, entertained the crowd with games and freebies. Sort of like a noontime show extravaganza if you ask me.
Anyway, we finish setting up and wait on stage while the hosts finish their games that involved contestants being asked to spell the corporate sponsor's brand name using their butts. The people loved it. I could never fathom the humor in seeing dancing asses. Oh well, at least the crowd seemed friendly enough.
The hosts finish up and finally get around to introducing us. They do a very good job of the introduction, that much I can say. Probably too good. But only in the sense that the crowd got worked up even more, probably expecting another round of R&B numbers and sing-along hits.
We promptly started as the welcome applause faded. Our first song was "Superlove" from our second album. Its a jumpy song and somehow this got the crowd going for the next few measures. From my vantage point, it was easy to see their reactions. And it was a funny sight. They were slow to realize that they were being played song after song that they did not recognize. The crowd, so used to hearing all the crappy radio hits were confused. But they held their ground and not one soul moved from his spot.
Somehow, we had them transfixed and after every song, we'd get, first, polite applause, then later firmer claps and some cheers. They didn't go wild, thankfully, our songs are hardly dance fodder, but they listened.
Every now and then, I'd do a spiel on how proud we were to play our own songs in front of a game audience, and they accepted that as their role for the rest of our set.
On one break, I started my spiel by mentioning that some guy from the crowd had requested from us that we play "Buttercup", the quintissential 80's disco anthem. I explained politely we couldn't oblige them then. Maybe some other time. So instead I introduced to them the next song which I explained was unreleased, and we hoped would do in lieu of their request. And we went on to sing "The Disco Machine" whose lines include the chorus were I cry out repeatedly: "Disco is dead"! Worse, the song has a dragging tempo which was actually intended for the song's concept. It was the ultimate anti-disco ditty yet the crowd still took it all in. and still, they applauded us.
Not a wild party by conservative standards but we played a good set and we had them entertained. We closed our set with our "Idle Hands". Its a real downer of a song which was the point actually. We wanted to close the set with a definite mark, and we wanted to kill the momentum. The song ends to a soaring chant that is as mesmerizing as it is lifting albeit quite dragging. To put it differently, the song itself is a contradiction of sorts.
So there. We ended with the people not getting what they expected but feeling satisfied nonetheless. We mill around the backstage after our set awash in sweat and the feeling of success. A few friends who had watched our gig join us and congratulate us. We did well.
As a sort of postscript, as we are celebrating in the backstage, the host does a spiel on how our band has, through the years, represented the best of what local music has to offer. He adds: "These are the guys that make us proud"
"So one more time, let's give it up for Sheila and the Insects!".