Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.
Date: The Wedding Day.
Crowd: Oh so many wedding guests.
If you stay in a band long enough, eventually your friends will need you for something. Someone will have a house party, played plenty of them. A friend learning stage tech at uni will need a guinea pig for her final show, played one of them too.
But then you’ll get old enough your friends will start getting married.
It’s hard to say no to a friend, but the image of playing “I Just Shat My Pants” in front of Grandpappy Oldface is the sort of thing that triggers my anxiety. For the record, “I Just Shat My Pants” was a surprise sleeper hit off our first demo “Hairier Than Sasquatch”.
In any case, we decline the wedding gig invite on the grounds our punk sound would not be what the crowd would enjoy. We are promptly offerered £300 to perform and agree without a second thought for the guests’ audio well-being. It’s important to stay true to your punk values.
We had a song called “Gas Chamber”. We used to open sets with it. It was the loudest, most aggressive we ever got as a band and it was great fun to set the bar high at a show. One glance around the room upon arrival, and I refuse to play it.
“We have to play Gas Chamber! It’s our best song! They’ll love it.” Ritchie argues. I glance over at the kids table, and politely disagree. “If we’re not playing Gas Chamber, I’m not playing Erotic Lunging.” He retorts.
“I’m not sure that was ever an option.” I offer.
In hindsight, we could’ve had better names for our songs.
After ten minutes of haggling, three threats of quitting and at least one serious case of “I’m going home”, we reach an accord. Deep in our back catalogue we have a few lighter tracks. We decide to play those, take our time between songs and at some point we’ll call it a day and put some Lionel Ritchie on the iPod.
But the songs in the last minute set are woefully under rehearsed. With every song littered with more mistakes than a pro life rally, it becomes embarrassing, even more so when the newlyweds try to slow dance to Sausage Festival.
After a not entirely unreasonable amount of time, we decide to offer the speakers up to Endless Love and call it day, but we’re stopped in our tracks by a particularly disgruntled Groom.
“You HAVE to play Gas Chamber! It’s our favourite song!”
“See?!” Our guitarist Captain Smug chimes in.
I breath an unholy amount of regret deep into my shame filled lungs and survey the room. This wouldn’t be the first time I disappointed a room full of OAPs.
So we play Gas Chamber. The Bride and Groom dance. The room taps its feet as if this were the party jam they’d been waiting for the whole day. And there, throwing shapes left and right in the middle of the dance floor, is the Bride’s Grandma.
We should definitely crash more weddings.
Photo by Kimberly Vardeman via Flickr.