Friday night at the Avalon Bar was probably the funnest show I’ve ever played

Todd A at the AvalonMy friends Drew and Megan of The Slow Waltz asked me to play a show with them at the Avalon on Friday night. I said “yes” as quickly as I could. For starters, I like The Slow Waltz a whole lot. I listen to their album all the time (go get it). But I also knew the Avalon would be a great place to play and I hadn’t played there before.

I didn’t really do any promoting beyond a couple of tweets. I mentioned it to a co-worker on Thursday and he called me on speakerphone from his desk a few minutes later and told me that “we’re going.” “Who is we?” I asked. “Everyone,” he said. I had a minor flush of panic at that but once I talked to another friend at work and told him what time I’d be on (midnight, most likely), he said they probably wouldn’t make it because they were headed to Phil Shane at La Cave. So I figured I really didn’t need to panic about a whole bunch of co-workers showing up.

That’s the irony of me doing this: I’m not a “performer” in the performing sense. I’m just a songwriter who loves playing. So while I always want people to come see me, when a bunch of people tell me they’re coming, I get nervous.

That didn’t stop me from eating a bag of Sun Chips for dinner.

In hindsight, it’s not a great idea to eat a bunch of any kind of corn product before a show that you’re already sort of nervous about. Or before any show, really. Life lesson there. After the chips, I napped through a 30 Rock DVD and awoke a little before 9pm full of corn byproduct. I still had it in my head that this would be a usual show in a venue I hadn’t played before with a usual crowd. I truly didn’t expect my co-workers. I figured they’d be at Phil Shane.

So when I was parking and saw a couple of familiar-looking people get out of a car, I still dismissed it. And then I walked in the bar.

The place was packed front-to-back with my co-workers. They shouted at me as I walked in. I was completely overwhelmed. Seriously struck dumb. People yelling my name, hugging me. I mumbled hellos and thanks to people and then had to sit down to take it all in. It was very Ghosts of Pasha-ish.

Brittany Fay was great. Even if she had to compete with the crowd for volume, she didn’t miss a note. The Slow Waltz were excellent as always. Drew and Megan sing together really well. Tight harmonies and great presence.

And then I got up and it was just apparent that I had to bring the rock. So I tried not to stop the tunes. People actually stood up and danced in the middle of my first song. And they kept on dancing! So how could I stop? I wouldn’t have paused between songs as much as I did except that I needed water. I just pounded through tunes skipping anything on my set list that was too ballad-y. I was bouncing so much on my feet that my legs have been sore all weekend.

Afterwards, still overwhelmed, I talked to my friends and tried to thank them all. I was just filled with gratitude for that opportunity to rock out and hopefully make some fun for a roomful of people. And I’d had such a shitty, stressful week at work, it was the absolutely perfect antidote. To have a good time with all those friends and forget about the week was amazing. I am so thankful for that. Thank you all, again. Thanks, Drew and Megan, for having me along.

Best gig ever.