I was staring at this white screen wondering what I should blog about today. It’s Tuesday and the blog Gods demand new content. Then I remembered reading this fascinating article all about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s pregame routine as I was lying in bed this morning, which led me to the idea of writing about my pre-show routine.
What follows is a completely accurate, unembellished account of what my day looked like this past Saturday, April 6th, 2019, as I prepared for a performance at Albuquerque’s Red Door Brewing Company Candelaria Road location.
Stuff Matt Kollock Does Before a Gig
7:00 am – Thrash about in bed as the morning light becomes undeniable and I navigate my way through another terrifying nightmare while trying desperately to acquire dream-time lucidity. This is a weird time of day for me. But those dreams fuel my songs, so I try to accept them.
7:15 am – Ease back into deep R.E.M. sleep for another 75 minutes. No dreams. Only restoration.
8:30 am – Wake up. Open the blinds. Start worrying about my ability to remember song lyrics. Drink some water. Drink some more water. Wonder if I have enough time to prepare properly, get some exercise, eat a decent meal or two and get to the venue with sufficient time to set up.
9:10 am – Start making breakfast. Realize the Bucks are playing at 3:00 pm against the Brooklyn Nets. Wonder if I have time to watch the game live. Rearrange schedule to accommodate watching the Bucks play live.
9:40 am – Begin wondering if I’m drinking too much coffee to be properly hydrated. Say, “fuck it.” Drink more coffee. Add the kale to the breakfast and get the eggs out.
9:45 am – Feel a flash of excitement about the two new songs I’ll be playing (“The Noticer” and “Picture of the Perfect Day”).
9:46 am – Feel a pang of dread about the two new songs I’ll be playing (“The Noticer” and “Picture of the Perfect Day”).
10:00 am – Sit down to eat and enjoy breakfast. Eggs, bacon, kale, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and lots of hot sauce. Listen to a groovy playlist on Spotify.
10:10 am – Look at the set list for that night’s show while enjoying breakfast and sipping more coffee. Realize I have three songs in a row in the same key. No good! Rearrange set list. Consider adding more hot sauce to breakfast. Decide against it.
10:30 am – Push breakfast bowl aside. Dick around on the internet, reading Twitter, scrolling through Facebook and realizing I should probably do some eleventh-hour show promotion, so I start doing that.
10:35 am – Fall down an internet rabbit hole of Game of Thrones-related content.
11:00 am – Emerge from rabbit hole. Curse self. Fall down an internet rabbit hole of Milwaukee Bucks-related content. Wonder if they’ll be able to achieve 60 wins this season.
11:15 am – Emerge from rabbit hole. Curse self. Finish promoting show.
11:20 am – Begin the day’s journal entry in Evernote. Look at journal entries from the previous year. Sit in awe of how much has changed and how much remains the same.
11:30 am – Finish journaling. Dick around online some more. Realize I need to wash dishes, practice music, shower, exercise, stretch and do all sorts of other shit before 3:00 pm so I can watch the Bucks.
12:00 pm – Congratulate sun on reaching its position at the midpoint of the sky. Strip naked. Perform ritualistic dance in backyard. Apologize to neighbors. Worry about how my voice is going to sound later.
12:30 pm – Get some practice time in. Run through the potentially problematic songs on the set list. Try to remember breath support and proper placement of vocals. Try to remember to stay relaxed and present. Try to remember to stay tuned to the emotional aspects of the songs, which is where the magic and enthusiasm comes from. Wonder if anybody is going to show up.
1:15 pm – Look at Facebook Event for the evening’s show. Wonder if the people who say they’re going will actually go. Start brainstorming ideas to get people to attend more shows. Recognize that I’m not competing with other musicians or even other events in the city; I am competing with Netflix and the considerable comforts of people’s homes. So I need to do better at enticing people who, justifiably, would rather stay home to binge The OA with a bottle of wine, some cannabis and some friends or whatever than travel to a brewery taproom located in a somewhat undesirable section of town to listen to some guy they don’t know play songs with which they are completely unfamiliar. Realize this is the challenge. Feel comfortable rising to it. Realize it’s too late to implement any cool new ideas for tonight’s show. Practice songs for a little while longer.
2:00 pm – Get in the shower. Practice “wow-wow-wow” vocal warmups in the shower. Practice Jason Mantzoukas and Al Pacino impressions. Get out of the shower. Meditate. Go for a walk through the bosque really fast to ensure a 3:00 pm arrival back home.
3:00 pm – Turn on television. Watch Milwaukee Bucks lose, frustratingly, to the Brooklyn Nets. Practice more vocal warmups (lip bubbles, falsetto slides, yahs, yays, scales, etc.) during halftime. Keep fingers limber on the guitar neck.
5:30 pm – Throw wallet at TV out of frustration. Get over it quickly. Realize I need to change my strings, change my clothes, pack all my shit and eat something. Decide that I’ll just have snacks and then eat later at the venue, which has a really good BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) sandwich I love. Get to work changing strings. Worry more about show attendance and my ability to perform at a high level.
5:45 pm – Welcome Annie home and talk to her about her outstanding day. Start to feel anxiety about being able to leave in an hour. Watch as anxiety manifests into a nine-foot-tall shadowy beast with fangs and horns and a terrifying growl. Remember that the anxiety is not me. Remember that fighting it is ineffective. Remember to love the anxiety, acknowledge it, shake its hand and fearlessly send it on its way. Watch as the anxiety reacts in confusion, having expected to get into fisticuffs with me.
6:30 pm – Start swearing at the big bag I use to carry my lights, cables, mics and other odds and ends. Wonder why I can no longer zip it completely when it contains the same amount of stuff as it did the other day when I oversaw a successful packing trial run. Rearrange some shit and get the thing zipped up. Change clothes. Start feeling anxious again. Remember to breathe deeply.
6:50 pm – Leave house with Annie, feeling pretty good about being only five minutes late compared to my ideal departure time. Worry about whether I’ve packed everything. Worry about my voice holding up. Worry about breaking strings. Worry about being able to set up, eat dinner, have a decent sound check and get into the performance groove by 8:00 pm.
7:00 pm – Arrive at venue one hour before show time. Load gear into venue. Talk to person in charge. Ask Annie to order food. Start unpacking shit.
7:20 pm – Start eating BLAT while I watch the time elapse. Stuff my face with ketchup-drenched French fries. Swig some water and beer. Worry about having to burp excessively while performing music. Wonder how I’m going to be able to help Annie eat the giant hamburger she ordered. Realize that I’m actually not all that hungry. Get back to setting up.
7:55 pm – Find myself feeling pretty pleased with my setup. Perform a sound check with “Beach Body: European Suit (Without a Hat).” Feel good about how things sound. Wish I had a few more minutes to meditate and get into the proper groovy headspace. Accept reality. Use the bathroom. Do some more lip bubbles.
8:05 pm – Wonder why it took so long to just use the bathroom, tune up and have another sip of beer. Check the microphone. Wait for the bar staff to turn the music down. Wonder if the people there to watch the Final Four will dig my music. Wonder if anyone I invited will show up. Let go of all that. Start playing “Dream Traffic.” Start feeling at home.
I Heart Show Days!
So there you go. That’s a pretty typical show-day routine for me. This particular gig went pretty well. I relaxed into a pretty comfortable groove and played my songs confidently. I forgot very few lyrics. My right hand performed admirably. The left followed instructions diligently. My voice produced the pitches and tones I demanded from it without excessive strain.
It was kind of a slow night, but I think the people who attended enjoyed my music.
As I wrote this, I noticed that there was a lot of time spent worrying and feeling anxious. In many ways, the worry and anxiety drive me to do what I do as well as I can do it. But it’s also a real albatross sometimes. So I guess I’ll work on that. Finding the right balance and stuff.
What do you think of this routine? Any suggestions? What about you musicians – what does your pre-show routine look like? Leave a comment or whatever. Thanks!