Let's face it, the 14 day trend to flatten the curve extending to what feels like 14 years has messed up a lot of people economically, socially and financially. For musicians, it's no different. Some artists have actually benefitted from it by locking themselves up and getting their creative juices flowing, writing songs, recording tracks, and getting themselves ready for when restrictions lighten up so we can learn to play nicely together once again. Others weren't as lucky, as they had to endure the hardships of not being able to play live. Without even discussing it with my fellow musicians, I can only imagine the hardships they had to face while going through this pandemic. A select few are probably still going through it as the term "mandatory vaccinations" become more common.
Most of the musicians I know are like me: They love to perform live. They love to create a composition and make it a masterpiece, get into the studio, and record it for everyone to enjoy. That's not to say every musician is of the same opinion, as we all have our reasons for doing what we love. In the case of artists, some like to just write and record. No interest in the stage whatsoever. I ran into one guitar a couple years ago where we spent HOURS just jamming out and having a blast. At the end of the session, I looked at him and said "we seriously need to get some of this worked on, polished, and recorded - it sounds AMAZING!" The response I got floored me.
"No. I just like to play."
An entire evening of original material whipped up with no prior knowledge of one another's playing abilities, and it was with a guy who would be more content with creating content at a campfire than at a studio. It was a take on playing music I have never would have even considered in all my life had I never experienced it. But discussing with mutual friends it was confirmed. When it comes to playing guitar, this guy just rattles off whatever comes to mind, and he has no interest in being committed to a project, or become restricted to a set song or style in a composition.
Guys like him, the idea of becoming restricted in where one can play becomes irrelevant. To folks like me however... Some have become depressed over it all and needing professional therapy. Others have recognized this weakness and acted upon it, whether for financial gain, or to impose themselves as a "healer" or as a savior of sorts to depression and mental health. If they don't have the appropriate degrees and wish to discuss your situation on a social media platform, my personal opinion is to stay the hell away from it. If you are facing depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or anything of the sort, PLEASE seek professional counselling and prepare to tell your story on your platform, not someone else's.
But enough on that. As we are today, we stand somewhere between the Nth degree of restrictions, the x round of pandemic variants, and somewhere between the ability to play live vs the restrictions of playing your instrument without an alcohol based wash cloth required. For your protection of course. Before long, if it hasn't happened already in your area, artist will be able to play live again. But do you know what it takes to be prepared for when that day comes?
1) CHECK YOUR GEAR. Sounds simple enough, and possible an overthought to some, but chances are there are pieces of your equipment that may have been sitting idle for two years, you might want to double check to ensure it still works to the level of performance you need it to. Are the cables gonna scratch when you plug them in? Has the 9v battery in that guitar died? Do you need to replace sticks or strings?
2) CHECK YOUR ABILITIES. Pick out the songs you intend to fill your sets with and run through them again. Make sure you still remember every note by heart. By doing this and running through the setlist, you may also find imperfections that weren't there before, like a dead note on the guitar because a fret has flattened out, a note on the electric keyboard went silent for no reason, or a drum roll just pulled a muscle in your lower back.
3) WATCH RECORDINGS OF YOURSELF LIVE. Take a session and just videotape it. Ignore the recording, the idea is to watch yourself in action. Choreography, presence, and even just looking like you enjoy playing the tunes you selected play a part. As long as you been itching to play, your fans and audience have been itching to see a live show for just as long, if not longer. Be the entertainer you want them to see, not just hear.
4) GET A HAIRCUT. Just because you were out of the social element for two years, you don't need to look, act, or smell the part. You're still showing off more than the music on stage, prepare for it!
If you got those four steps checked off the to do list, I can almost guarantee you'll have a much more positive experience getting back on stage than if you didn't, and that one stupid incident throws everything off. If that event happens anywhere within 100km (62.5 miles) of where I am, let me know, I'd love to be a part of it all.
Above all else, stay creative my friends.