Performing music is a relatively safe process. You get to a venue, do your soundcheck, have a small dinner, pour your heart out for an hour or more and receive love from your audience in return. Then there are the other nights, when trouble will find me.
Before memory fades, here are a few interesting stories from the years of performing.
Drunk guy messing with Shaun’s pedals - Wan Chai, 2013
Independent musicians in Hong Kong would tell you that you have to play at The Wanch if you’re coming through. I remember that they called it a “baptism of fire”. With its raw and honest vibe, it’s definitely the place to cut your performing teeth.
It’s a intimate space so with my four piece band at the time, so guitarist and friend Shaun was set up close to the entrance. A patron standing at the door, obviously inebriated, decided to become part of our set. He spoke loudly into Shaun’s ear while he was performing and even stepped on his effects pedals, believing that some part of the songs needed more distortion! This went on throughout the entire set. Poor Shaun!
Despite that, I would recommend other musicians to perform there if you can. There are very few places like it left in our modern world.
Getting molested - Aachen, 2014
I had just finished my set in Aachen and stepped out for a breather. Most of the audience had stepped outside too. Suddenly, this guy bear-hugged me from behind and whispered in my ears “your fingers, they fly like magic”. I looked at Rayner desperately for help but he refused to with a cheeky grin. Eventually the guy’s friend got him to let go and apologised on his behalf, explaining he was quite drunk.
Locked Out in the Middle of Nowhere - Melbourne, 2011
We were at Loch Ard Gorge to take a few shots for the music video for “I Want You Again”. Returning to the car, my friend Ian accidentally threw the car keys along with his jacket into the car boot and slammed it shut. Realising our situation, we tried calling the car rental company for help but our phones could not get any reception. We quickly ran to the driver of the last tour bus around, whose phone had enough reception. Thanks a bunch, Vodafone!
After an hour of enduring strong winds from the Antarctic and dropping temperatures, the mechanic from the nearest town found us and opened the car boot for us. We definitely learnt to be more careful, as well as how to jack open a car!
A Lack of Privacy - Munich, 2017
The Lovelace Hotel is a cool “popup hotel” which repurposes an abandoned building in the middle of Munich. I usually wouldn’t stay in such lavish accommodation while on tour but this time, it made sense since I would be performing there the next evening.
As is the norm with cool hotels, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised when you enter your hotel room. For Debra and I, it was the lack of a door for the toilet! This led to arrangements to maintain some level of privacy, but then there was the morning after I had pork knuckles and too much beer..
An Unforgettable Opening Act - Melbourne, 2010
The younger me had no idea how music scenes outside of Singapore worked yet somehow, I managed to land a slot at the Empress Hotel in Melbourne within a couple of weeks of sleeping on a couch.
I was to share the night with three other acts, one of them being a former Australian Idol reject. I told myself, “it’s just television, no one could be that awkward”. But I was proven very wrong that evening!
When he got up on stage, he plugged in his earphones and proceeded to play along to an Oasis song blasting in his ears. You had to be there to hear the level of terrible the sound engineer was subjected to.
He didn’t bring anyone to watch and yet demanded his share of the pool. This is raised by everyone’s friends paying a small entrance fee each and is divided equally amongst the acts at the end. He also made me feel uncomfortable, with prolonged stares throughout the night. It’s taken several years for me to listen to “Champagne Supernova” again.
Looking Legit Emo Backfires - Singapore, 2009
My band Vertical Rush was about to perform on national television, when suddenly a bunch of young men shouted from the crowd, “Take off your top!”, while pointing at a female friend of theirs. I though it was the usual heckling, so I reacted by saying “$10!” to put it to a stop.
After the performance, said girl came up to me outside the studio and asked me for a photo. I felt bad vibes coming from her so I quickly grabbed bandmate Marcus and had him stand between us. Moments before the photo was taken, she leaned behind Marcus and began to say things like, “ oh my god you’re so hot, you look like xxx from Saosin..”. I didn’t how else to react except to run to the dressing room and hide.
Twitter Stalkers - Singapore, 2014
One day, I decided to search myself on Twitter. I saw an interesting conversation. It went like this:
A: Saw Nicholas Chim at the xxx Bus Stop, wondering what he’s doing here.
B: @A oh don’t you know? He stays in Teck Whye, *proceeds to disclose almost my entire home address on the internet*
I can’t remember what they said next but I decided to deal with it in a constructive manner. I tweeted them “Hey @A and @B, let’s meet in real life =) My next show is on..” No more tweets from them ever since!
Do you have any funny stories of your own? Share them with me in the comments section, maybe we could write a book of our collected experiences =)