Month: June 2013

Gigs

I have no idea how many gigs I’ve attended in my lifetime. I do know that I have tickets for them all, stored away in a drawer, all the way back to the first one (Simple Minds).

I’ve sporadically written up attendance at some of the more recent gigs, but by and large I’ve not bothered, mostly because in the warm afterglow of a gig, EVERY gig is pretty damn good!

It’s a common enough experience, you go and see a band you like and (for the most part) you have a great night hearing your favourite songs played REALLY loud and get this amazing feed of energy and vitality from the crowd. Sometimes it’s almost completely overwhelming and you get carried away in the moment, losing yourself in the moment.

Of course not every gig can be that good and, to date, I’ve only ever walked out of one gig. Sigur Ros and after 20-30 minutes of wailing droning noise I gave up. I like Sigur Ros a lot, but it wasn’t what I expected. But then, what does a band ‘owe’ us when we pay to see them perform?

One thing I have started to do over the last couple of years is be a little choosier as to who I see. Steering away from the ‘big venues’ and looking at smaller bands, or more intimate settings. Tonight I’m off to see KT Tunstall at Oran Mor, and old converted church near where I live. I’ve seen her live before so I know what to expect (great cheeky banter, and a very talented performer).

On the flipside of that I have just bought tickets to see Queens of the Stone Age (again) at the new Glasgow Hydro. Partly because I love the band, partly because of the new venue, which I really hope sounds the death knell for the Big Red Shed (SECC) in which I refuse to attend gigs because it’s so achingly bad.

Next week we are off to Glastonbury and, unlike two years ago at our first, this time around we aren’t massively planning who we want to see. We’ve picked out two or three bands we want to catch but, for the rest of the time we will be determinedly wandering around and hearing what we hear.

One day I’ll revisit that list of gigs, go through all the tickets and jot down any memories they stir up because, for me, that’s one of the reasons to go. To change the connection to the music, to be part of an experience that is both shared and individual. My memory of a lot of my life events is hazy at best, but when it comes to music I can remember lyrics and tracks from the day I bought my first LP (Friend or Foe by Adam and the Ants, favourite track the guitar heavy, A Man Called Marco) and it’s the same for gigs. I’m instantly transported back to the place, who I was with, my emotions at the time and, usually, a specific recollection or two (Runrig at Loch Lomond, smuggling in alcohol by injecting, with a syringe borrowed from some nurses, cartoons of juice with vodka).

If I wasn’t doing this

What would I be doing?

When people ask me, if you could do anything, what job would you do? Well, I tend to flippantly respond by saying that I’d be a Zookeeper.

Part of me believes that. The part that loves animals, that finds them fascinating and would love to spend more time around them.

Part of me doesn’t though, because Zoos make me sad for the most part. I find myself torn between the desire to see these beautiful animals in the flesh, and then usually appalled to see them caged up, prowling round and round.

Wildlife parks seem to be better, for the most part, as it tends to be the small enclosures that trouble me the most.

So, if not animals then it would definitely be something to do with music. I’ve no idea in what capacity mind you, but I like to think that if my life had taken a different course I would be much closer to the arts in general, less tech-obsessed, and … happier?

I have this view of how my life might have panned out if I’d stuck with the piano lessons and pursued a career in music. I see myself happiest when playing an instrument or listening to music, I don’t see a house full of tech and gadgets but one full of books. It would look more cluttered but there would be less ‘stuff’ lying around. All of the mess would be consistent, bohemian abandon.

Romantic visions aside, I have a dusty guitar in my living room, a voucher for a guitar lesson still to cash in (it was a Christmas present) and so I thud back to earth with the realisation that no, I wasn’t destined to be a musician nor, as it turns out, be that engaged with the arts in general.

As for my love of animals, I perhaps look at the fact that I don’t have any pets, not solely because I rent and the terms of lease forbid it, but because pets are work, they need feeding, looking after, cleaning up afterwards. Hell I don’t have any kids, so why would I inflict a pet on myself? That said, I know there is a dog in my future somewhere. Probably a beagle.

Ultimately I am where I am today, doing what I do because it’s right for me. There may have been other opportunities along the way, decisions I’ve made may have steered me away from something notionally better, and certainly different, but then the grass is always greener.

C’est la vie.

Insomnia

I’ve had insomnia on and off for years but in the last year or so it’s started to occur more frequently.

I’m starting to figure it out though and it’s definitely work related. It seems that, during periods of high stress, my insomnia kicks in.

Beyond that I’m a bit hazy about why I wake at 4 or 5 in the morning, wide awake, regardless of when I went to sleep. I’m trying to track how fatigued or tired I feel at the moment to see if there is a pattern there but all that’s really doing is highlighting the things I stress and worry about and, obviously, that then allows my brain to focus on them and worry and stress some more!

There is possibly an element of decision fatigue at play as well, my new role demands much more in that respect, and as I’m still learning it, each decision is harder to make (takes more energy). Whilst the team size is no larger than in my previous role, at least there the decisions were easier as I had 15-odd years experience in that role.

Part of it is definitely down to the additional timezones I now have to work with, particularly as the overlap with California is so small. It makes each day that little bit longer, and each communication point and decision that little bit trickier to negotiate.

What to do?

Well I’m exercising more, trying to stagger my start times (later) to accommodate conference calls with the US, and largely doing what I can to be more organised as I know part of my stress is worrying that I’ve forgotten something!

I’m also hoping a holiday will help, roll on Glastonbury!