How To Start A Band

how to start a bandWritten By: Daniel Alcantara
Photo Credit: Stew Bl@ck


I used to be in a band. It was fun but we were as stable as Oasis. We lasted for three weeks.

It started when my friend, Tommy, and I were eating at Subway and were talking about putting together a band. He’d just written a song that ended up sounding like a parody of a Dixie Chicks song. I’d been working on songs for a concept album I wanted to create that was based around a leftover story I hadn’t finished from the previous NaNoWriMo. We had decided that as part of our church’s summer youth group events, there would be a concert. We were going to headline it, even though we weren’t an actual band yet so we set about finding a name and looked around the Subway for inspiration. It came on the wall with a map of New York City painted on it. Right by our table, I saw the name of our band.

Bedford Ave.

We took that name and made it our identity. Neither of us had ever been to New York and for all we knew, it was the red light district but we made it our name.

Soon, we were sitting in the church auditorium, Tommy at piano and myself on drums. Tommy kept trying to take control but I decided I was the band leader and tried to lead us through the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It didn’t work so I switched to guitar. We only had two weeks before the show, so we really had to get the practicing going.

A week later we were back at the church to try a bit more rehearsal. We were running through Tommy’s song and got to the final chorus when suddenly, there were drums! Our friend Jared started to laugh from the control booth as we looked back and saw my brother, Patrick. We’d had an epiphany! We did need drums, but with both Tommy and I on non-drum instruments, Patrick would be the perfect substitute.

A few minutes later, Jared had left the control booth and was setting up to play bass. He didn’t know how, but I wrote out a few simple charts to get him started and we became a full band. We only had two more days to get ready for the show and a complete instrument to be learned in that time so the practice session extended late into the night until we went home. The next evening, we were back at it. The show was the following day so we wanted to make sure we were set to go.

Practice was successful and the next day was show time. We needed to build the stage outside where the show would be happening. It was as stable as it could be with so little time to get it done. As we started to get the PA system set up, we ran into the problem of having no lights. This was a huge problem because:

1.)We were so pretentious that we needed to be seen.

2.) Jared still needed to look at the chord sheets because he had been playing bass for about 4 days total.

We rushed around trying to find lights and stands and fixed the problem. When show time came around, we kept our cool. Rock stars never lose their cool in front of their fans while the opening acts are performing. I was actually helping out on drums for the first act, but that’s about all that can be said concerning their performance. The second act was a friend of mine that was doing some songs from his own band. And finally, it was time for Bedford Ave to take to the stage that was suddenly not feeling substantial enough. Not because we were too important a band and the stage too small, but we were too heavy a band and the stage was not ready for a few heavy bodies to be moving and shaking on it.

When we began to do a quick sound check, one thing became very apparent. We were in deep trouble. The monitors weren’t working properly and we could barely hear a thing. If we couldn’t hear ourselves, we were sure to sound horrible. No performer in his right mind, having monitors available, will be calm when the monitors stop working. But we trudged on and worked our way through our set list. I don’t know how, but we finally made it to the third from last song. We had arranged a cover of King’s Of Convenience’s “I’d Rather Dance With You” into something that would have put Billy Idol to shame. That is, until half way through the song when everything sort of fell apart.

Tommy got a bit too excited and kicked over his piano bench which was also holding Jared’s sheet music. This caused him to lose his place and have to fake his way through the rest of the show. The newest problem, though, was that we had finally managed to hear Jared’s bass and it was apocalyptically out of tune. As soon as the song ended, we tried to get the bass in tune but the battery in the tuner had died so we got it as close as we could. We tried to start the next song, but the other guys stopped playing. I decided to play anyway until my mic was cut off.
The cops had shown up…

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