Ze Last Show

Well, last night the band had their last show. What can I say?

First of all, hearing them again after almost a year was very interesting; I haven’t managed to go to any of their shows since I left the band, and hearing what they’d been doing since then was quite interesting. The guitarist they brought into the fold, Hyo Sang, did some really good, interesting things, and their songs sounded, I don’t know, a little more natural. None of that scraping to find a place for a sax to fit in. Anyway, I bought a copy of their EP and I will give it a good listen soon.

When Myoung announced that I’d be coming up to play some songs, people seemed pretty happy about that, and suddenly I felt a little badly. Having left a year ago, I felt kind of weird about slipping back in this way for the goodbye show… as if I should have “put in more time” if I wanted to be welcome at the last show, you know? I know that Thai invited me to sit in for a few songs, but it ended up being a lot of songs, and I don’t know, I felt a little weird about that. Having walked away from the band so long ago, I wasn’t sure I really had any rightful place playing in so many songs, and I think it put the guys in a position in regards to repertoire. That is, I get the feeling they that for a long time they haven’t played a lot of the songs we used to play. (Something I gathered from one bandmember, I can’t recall who, talking about how they should play songs that they actually know. I could relate, as I scraped about trying to remember this bit and that. I actually remembered most of those bits, too, seeing as that was the last stuff I played on my sax, but for them, I know they’d gone in new directions.)

Anyway, I ended up sitting in for a lot of the show. I didn’t intend that, and at one point I was trying to ask Myoung whether I should get off the “stage” (such as it was) and let them get back to their regular repertory of songs. (He was too busy trying to figure out which song would be next to notice my signaling.) I certainly didn’t want to come in and necessitate a repertory change. Maybe I should have asked more loudly, but ah well. It was nice to put the horn away but have this vague sense of having done something cool, and from the way people talked to me after the show, my playing hasn’t quite ossified to total crap in the 10 months since I last touched a saxophone. It was also nice, in a kind of “walk down memory lane” way, to be playing with those guys again, one last time.

But I didn’t want to contribute to the sense of the band that one person conveyed to me. “You’re playing, so, like, it’s going to be real Dabang Coffee, not decaf?” one guy said about the gig. That’s just bullshit. I can understand nostalgia about the old setup in the band, but I can’t understand disrespecting what they have been doing for the last year. I mean, at the very bottom you really need to respect it when some guys get together and get some things polished up and go out and play them for people. You have to respect that, whether it’s the same instrumentation as you remember, or prefer. There’s something very dogged about a band who continues on its way after it loses a member, even on an instrument that is more like garnish than meat (which, in the rock genre, sax definitely is; it’s garnish). I used to laugh at bands that lost a member but pressed on, I used to find it a little pathetic. But not anymore; now I just respect the people stay with those songs, keep them alive, keep whatever spirit the band is supposed to embody alive.

As for my feelings, well; I still don’t regret having gone off to focus on writing. I remember Thai saying that being in a band doesn’t use up much of one’s time, but I can say that it surely does. Over the last couple of days I actually spent several hours simply waiting for practices to start, for a certain band member to show up. Being in a band does take a lot of time.

The thing is, if you’re really into it, if that’s the music you love, if you’re not feeling as if you’re giving up something more important to you to have that time free, then of course it’s worth it. And, I guess, even if it’s not your kind of music—as rock really isn’t mine—there are instances in which it can be worth it just the same. I don’t regret having been with the band for so long, and I wanted to thank the guys individually for that… though two of them left before I got around to it. After all, no matter what I think of the music now, the original reason I took up the saxophone (when drums, guitar, and bagpipe were all effectively vetoed by my Mom) was because the sax player in INXS looked so cool, as did Timmy Cappello in that beach concert scene in The Lost Boys. (I think the latter was really the deciding factor. Sax wasn’t just old farts playing jazz, I ironically decided, but could also be a rock instrument. How funny that I prefer jazz and old musicians now.)

But I also don’t regret having left when I did, and I know that I really did have to do it. Anyway, I think it was good for their music, because they did go on to do interesting things that, frankly, would have been much harder to do when trying to fit a sax in.

Ah well, it was a kind of last hurrah, and I was glad to be there to see it.

As for me, musically, I was asked a lot of questions about what is next for me—hilarious, considering that I haven’t been playing for almost a year now in any capacity—and I wasn’t sure how to answer. Maybe nothing lays in store for me, musically. I’m getting into high gear with writing and I’m really excited about it, and I’m starting to feel like if I don’t start getting things published and so on, if I don’t get some of these novels in my head written out, that I’m going to be very disappointed. Writing takes a lot of time, and energy, so for now there’s no music on the cooker. But there is a vague notion that, should I end up in Seoul, some avant garde jazz sax quartet playing would be fun, especially in conjunction with a Korean traditional percussion quartet; and I have a feeling I’d like to get back to the baritone saxophone after so many years away from the thing. I have the vaguest of feelings that it’s that horn I should have stuck with, all these years. Ah well… maybe I should work in a practice routine? It’d help for once I got back into playing, because after last night the muscles around my mouth (those used in my “embouchre”) are hurting some.

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