The audience stood inquisitively as the music dimmed over the speakers. I rose to the spotlight, not at all certain of what my purpose was - why I was there. Right before me, a cast of musicians that I’ve long admired since childhood stood tall and mighty - bassist of the Smiths Andy Rourke, the lead singer of Ash, Tim Wheeler.
I was here to do one thing, and one thing only. But the problem was, I had no fucking idea - what that thing was.
A week prior, my friend KiNo invited me to host an event that he would be curating at Nublu. My job was simple: MC the event, and introduce the bands - easy enough.
There was an additional expectation though — something I wasn’t confident about. So perhaps, it’s entirely my fault for accepting the offer — I would have to.. interview the bands!
What’s the big deal? After 500 mürmurs, I oughta be a seasoned veteran by now. Someone who can talk to anyone, in any context, at anytime. The thing is, I don’t know how to interview. I know how to talk — I know how to do what I do - but this interview thing? It’s like the antitheses mürmur. Showcasing someone’s accomplishments to feign conversation is - kind of lame to me.
I should have known better though, my apprehension stems from a trauma endured from two years ago. When Bowery Electric - a local music venue - appointed me to be the host of their new podcast. The project was an utter failure. A complete sham — and entirely due to the lack of my abilities as a proper interviewer. I’ll never forget the time when Handsome Dick Manitoba, who I still can’t look in the eyes when I walk on the street, chastised me in my own apartment - I won’t ever feel as insignificant as I did that day.
Despite the initial hesitation, I caved in to honor KiNo’s vision. I viewed this as a challenge — perhaps my way of avenging the failed Bowery Electric project.
But as I’ve learned the hard way - it’s one thing to challenge yourself, and another to silence all of your strengths. Is getting the job done so important that you’re willing to be muted? To forgo everything you believe in, just to satisfy someone else’s needs?
When I jumped onstage - panic took over. Likely the audience was blind to my inner turmoil - but nevertheless, I was conflicted as hell - between what I wanted to do, and what they expected out of me. My body was being pulled in multiple directions - and I didn’t know where it was that I belonged.
This was a lose-lose situation. No chance of turning back. All eyes, including that of my idols, were on me. I thought for a second what I should say. “Oh yes, it’s Kino’s birthday! Maybe I should get the crowd singing a happy birthday song for him!”
Wrong move. Suddenly, the microphone is snatched out of my hands - and I’m left alone on stage like a dunce with only the spotlight to claim for himself.
At that point - life may as well have been put on pause. In my head, there was no sound. No audience, no nothing. It was just me.
And in that moment, I had an epiphany. I never wanted to be someone else’s puppet - ever again.
I grabbed my belongings from backstage - and followed the snowy road - without stopping - until I made my way back home.
(Originally Published on 3/2/19)