Playing Upstairs at the Garage last Thursday night…

All day my legs and arms were jittering. Jittering with excitement and nerves.

Better than what normally happens in my stomach!

My glands were up and Id spent most of the day steaming my face, drinking green tea and trying not to succumb to whatever was threatening my throat.

I always get sick on gig days/weeks. With such regularity that it must be psychosomatic even a little. My body just overloads with expectation and decomposes. I am my own worst enemy.

Except…this was a gig I’d wanted to play for nearly 2 decades.

As a teenager and into my early 20’s I’d gone to the Garage to watch the 90’s premiere metal bands tear the place up. Deftones…MyRuin…L7…and then we’d all shuffle upstairs for an indie club night of checking each other out behind the smoke-filled smog, before it was time for my friend to drive me back home.

So to be invited to play, it was a no-brainer as to whether to accept or not.

I arrived at Highbury & Islington station, laden like a packhorse with my bags.

Realising I didn’t know how to get in, I emailed the promoter who told me it was round the back.

I’d waited for bands i’d loved round the back of the garage…to see if we could catch a glimpse of them getting on or off tour busses…Id been dragged into the dressing room by Tairrie B past security, because I was a friend, and came with flowers…it wasn’t that exciting but it was those little moments in my early life where I was always thinking “this is awesome, will it ever be me?”

There’s a clandestine feeling to being in a venue you’re not normally allowed in until the lights pop on and the music starts.

Walking into the venue from the load in entrance, the floors were much cleaner than I remembered. Your shoes didn’t stick to it, and it didn’t stink of stale smoke or dry ice. The large downstairs stage area was clean!

I was greeted by a member of I think, Feldspar (so many dudes!) and told where to find everyone else.

I trunked upstairs, but not before gleefully absorbing my surroundings and snapping a picture of the empty stage downstairs.

Upstairs, the club room I had spent a few evenings in decades before seemed much smaller than I remembered and was also fairly clean!

The other bands (Broken Boat and Feldspar) were setting up, dragging great instrument stands about and lugging drums up stairs. There was me with my little ukulele and shruthi, with my 2 bags- and everyone else had carfulls of equipment.

I sat patiently waiting – I don’t like to be late for things so when someone says soundcheck at 5:30pm I arrive on time. After chatting to BB’s lovely den mum, and oft-times roadie downstairs for a while to escape the tinnitus-inducing drum checks, it was finally my turn to do a very quick soundcheck, with 20 minutes to go till doors opened.

Then I gathered my stuff and headed to the lit sign that read “toilets” to find the dressing room.

There was a dressing room!!

*I* was in the dressing room upstairs at THE GARAGE!

Ok, so I know I sound like a geek but it meant a lot to be there.

Sat in the dressing room with the really lovely members of Broken Boat, and occasionally a Feldsparian, I let my nerves have their last gasp. Text from friends came through to say they were here or on their way…the music had started and the lights were on.

And then the knock at the door came that lets you know it’s time to step out into the dark.

God damn, it was a good evening.

I didn’t know Oarsman could go so well with people who were so shy at first – but they slowly got into it, their hearts swelled and we sang for just the right amount of time together.

That soundman really did a great job.

I left with my heart full, and knowing that I finally played at The Garage to rapturous whoops and whistles, only a few years late. This is what it’s supposed to feel like doing music. THIS.

taken by Dominic Alan-Smith 16th April 2015


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