Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pretending to be Morrissey and The Smiths at Spoof Fest

As the opening notes to "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from The Smiths started up, I knew this was going to be different.  I was not behind the drums, I was waiting in the wings. I was Morrissey on this night.  Spoof Fest 2008 was going well, and we had a pretty good spot on the roster.  The crowd was thick.  They wanted to see this performance.

I had been back up singing while I played the drums since 1999, but now I had to pull off something very different.  I couldn't hide behind my drums.  As soon as I walked out on stage, the crowd cheered and the rest was almost a complete blur. It felt like the five songs went by in five seconds.  My emotions were a mixture of fright, excitement, laughter, and so much more.  Just before we started our second song, I looked back to see one of the guitar players shaking with fright.  This was his very first show.  It helped me to see that.  I felt like I had to be a model of confidence from that point forward. There was something about seeing how scared he was that snapped me out of my nervousness.

From the start, I made sure to remember my choreography.  I had been practicing Morrissey moves for about three weeks.  I would sing the songs and dance around in our spare bedroom in front of three mirrors.  This was serious practice.  It wasn't a joke.  I'm so glad that I took the time to pretend.  It paid off.  If you have ever watched a Smiths video, you will see that Morrissey has some signature moves like spinning bouquets of flowers around in a propeller motion, pulling at his shirt, and rocking back and forth with one foot on the monitor.  I had those down pat, and added some of my own interpretations of what I saw on YouTube.

We brought large bunches of flowers out on stage, and I happened to play with them in true Morrissey fashion.  I tossed them out to the crowd, spun them around, danced with them and dropped them to the floor.  I tore at my shirt, and flailed about in true Smiths fashion.  I forgot just one verse, and laughed it off after the song was over.  It was fun to make jokes between the songs too.  Reading about the life and times of the band gave me ammunition.  I made cracks about playing a show in Cudahy, my guitar player (Johnny Marr) suing me, and referenced future song lines of my upcoming solo career that had most people laughing and applauding.

Technically, I had to remember to keep my distance from the monitors.  I managed to shoot some pretty serious feedback out through the p.a. speakers when I forgot to keep the microphone upright.  If I backed off too far, I couldn't hear myself sing, and that made it hard to stay on key.  It was all about finding the sweet spots between dancing, gyrating, singing, and moving about.  By the time our final number had started, I felt very confident.  I could get used to being a singer.  It's very intoxicating.  Still, the final notes to How Soon Is Now reminded me that it was time to go.  I was off the stage first, and the rest of the band followed.  I'll never forget that amazing 30 minutes where I got to be the center of attention.  It took around four months to prepare for that night, and it was over in a flash. 

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