What’s it like to play at the House of Blues?

Hey are you guys around at the end of June to play at the House of Blues?

It was a question nobody thought we heard right when our drummer Shannon asked the rest of the band. House of Blues?

Uh, heck yeah!

I would have skipped my own funeral to play on the same stage as my music heroes had in the past – Zakk Wylde (Ozzy), Steve Via, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, the list goes on.

And so it was – my band got an opportunity to play the main stage at the Dallas House of Blues a couple years ago. The thrill of a lifetime.

I’ve got free tickets from Ticketmaster to give away!

Food comps drink comps

We get free food?  And drinks?

Living the rock star life we got food and drink comps too. I had some great bbq pork sliders from the restaurant.

Living the rock star life we got food and drink comps too. I had some great bbq pork sliders from the restaurant.

Though between getting ready and warming up I didn’t get a chance to eat them until about two hours after I ordered them. They were still good! Or maybe I was terribly hungry, and cat food would have tasted delicious.

Next time I’m going to go all Diva and have them hold the show until I finish eating.

This is what an empty concert hall looks like when sound check is going on.

The green room

The green room – or in this case it was a red room – sits off to the backstage for the band to hang out in and warm up before the show.

Our room had a kitchen, fridge, private bathroom, shower, couches.

Amazing!

It’s way cooler than any man-cave I’ve been in.

As a guitarist and with some of the crazy licks I have to play, it takes me a good 30 minutes to get warmed up.

You’re on in 5 minutes

Oops. My hands are ice-cold and sweating bullets.

A great combination for a guitar player.

I’ve never sounded so good

I’ve owned a lot of guitar gear. A lot of guitar gear. Fender amps, Marshall stacks, effect racks.

I knew ahead of time I would be playing through a Fender Twin Reverb amp. Due to time constraints we weren’t allowed to bring our own amps.

I plug in my guitar.

I hit a chord.

WHOOOOMP. That’s the best I can come up with for writing the most awesome sound I’ve ever played.

Whatever the sound engineers did to setup that amp – it was amazing.

Or it could have been the acoustics of the auditorium.

Either way, I sounded nasty. In a good way.

That’s all the sound check I get – a quick test to see any sound comes out.

I have no guitar tech. No roadie. I’m the guy testing my guitar to make sure it’s going to work when I play it. Since the guitar works, I’m good to go.

I’m sweatin’ it

There’s no pressure, but our first song kicks off with me playing guitar with no accompaniment. And the timing of the song is a slightly odd which requires me to tap my foot, so I keep to the beat.

Tapping your foot makes you look like a dufus when you’re on stage. So I’m looking like a dufus to start things off.

But we get into the meat of the song right quick and bring the noise.

At least I can see my pedal board

The thing about being on a stage if you’ve never been on one – you can’t see anyone. The lights are shining down in your eyes, and the venue is dark. It’s hard to get stage fright when you can’t see a soul looking at you.

It’s true of clubs that hold thirty people or places that hold thirty thousand. It’s dark in there.

It’s pretty hard to be nervous playing in front of a crowd when you can neither see nor hear the crowd. The lights are too bright, and the music is too loud. This is a good thing.

I can see everyone in the band on the stage, which is super important for communication.

This is amazing

We ripped through our set, and I had the bestest time.

Security was beating off the fans.
Women were throwing phone numbers at me.
Studio execs were throwing contracts and pens at me to sign them.

Except for those last three things, everything was true.

When our set was over the band had a group hug and looks of satisfaction and delight on everyone’s faces.

You sounded awesome!

YOU sounded awesome!

WE sounded awesome!

Everyone had arrived on cloud 9.

Yeah, I’m with the band

My good friend Jordan helped me load out my gear when the show ended. He didn’t have the spectacular exclusive backstage ‘I’m with the band’ bracelet to get all access, but if your with someone who’s with the band – you’re with the band.

Corn maze or venue?

After loading up my gear, it was time to reunite with the band.

Dozens of people came up and asked me for my autograph.

Well, not really.

Nobody came up to me, and nobody asked me for my autograph.

The House of Blues in Dallas can best be described as a maze. There is

  • the restaurant
  • an elevator that goes someplace but doesn’t stop on floor two on the way up
  • the big stage
  • lower level to the stage
  • balcony level to the stage
  • big green room (for the headline act)
  • little green room (for the other acts)
  • three other rooms upstairs that all have bands playing in them
  • an outdoor balcony that took me 20 minutes to find
  • Doors leading to hallways that lead to other doors to other hallways

It’s great exercise getting from one spot to another. It took me about 30 minutes to find everyone. Which means it took me 30 minutes to find our ringleader who had the low-down on our free comped drinks.

Note to self – don’t leave your bandmates for 30 minutes, they will use up all the bar tab.

I did get one free drink.

What’s next?

While I haven’t hit my ultimate goal of playing in front of 1,000 screaming fans, the House of Blues show was pretty darn cool.

Oh yeah – all those screaming fans in that first picture?  They were screaming for a famous band that had played at the House of Blues on a different date.

It was dark so it could have been like that – but I’m pretty sure there were only 200-400 people there.

When I’m sitting in a rocking chair telling stories to my grandkids someday, they’ll get to hear the story of when grandpa was a rock star.