"I always feel some kind of whirl after a gig", said Gert. I knew what he meant, even if it was years ago since I occupied a stage. I told him about one of my first concerts, with a rock band named Reptilicus. Under the influence of that after-gig-whirl I ignored a red light. I just didn't see it. My then-girlfriend was pissed-off about it. Nothing bad happened, as the streets were completely empty, but it did scare me a bit. It made me rethink my abilities as a driver. I don't drive anymore and I'm not planning to either, certainly not in today's traffic. Luckily for me, I formed a band with two excellent chauffeurs. Just yesterday, Gert safely drove me to Ronald and Ronald safely drove all three of us to Neeritter. And back. So now, after some car rides, a debut performance and plenty of hours of sleep, the whirl is finally out of my head. Now I can look back once again and continue writing the journey of Synchyse. So far, it's been a great learning-experience but most of all it has been great fun. We laughed and laughed and grinned and smiled and in between we played a neat gig in The Netherlands.
The performance in JazzBlazzt was the exact reason why Synchyse had been formed in the first place. Ronald had been invited by Eric von B to play there. He wanted Distant Fires Burning and Misantronics to join him and so we did, be it in a form Ronald probably wasn't expecting. We're so full of surprises. We got together a few times. 'Aldo' was born during the first rehearsal and expanded to a twelve minutes lasting anthem during the next three. 'Rembrandt' saw the light of day on rehearsal two and evolved into a surprisingly different tune. By the end of the last rehearsal 'Katan' was a skeleton on which a body needed to be built. Eventually, we had composed three completely different tracks and prepared them for the stage, or better, the garage. JazzBlazzt is a converted garage with carpets and cloths and a flag with a lion with testicles. Limburg has balls, that's for damn sure. It was a perfect location for our first gig, cosy and intimate.
In the months leading to the performance, I started working with new software and unused equipment. After all, I was surrounded by two guys who know pretty much everything there is to know about the technical side of music production. There is such a thing as "gearporn", something most musicians are addicted to. It's closely related to the "gear acquisition syndrome", a severe itch in a musician's wallet when he sees a new guitar pedal or amplifier. These diseases are extremely hard to cure, only severe poverty can do that. On the way to Neeritter we drove by an Adams music store which was almost too tempting but Ronald was strong. He resisted the temptation of the shiny new equipment and firmly drove on. Anyway, to make a long story short: I have learned a lot in the past few months and I'm quite positive that all this new knowledge will eventually shine through when Misantronics awakes from its hibernation. Now on to the gig.
When we arrived at the scene, we were greeted by Eric and the guys from Minus Pilots. Eric offered us a coffee, which was just the first of a wide range of perfect music venue hosting. During the event, Eric and his wife and the cook treated us like megastars: great food (those meatballs were perfection), interesting conversations (certainly for a music journalist like me) and a loaded fridge (even though we spent the entire evening quite sober). Just the fact that I was able to drink a hot coffee on stage was amazing. Perhaps it could be interesting to know that I had been struck by the flu just a day before the gig. Hurray. I wasn't going to let that little detail get in the way of my first live performance in years but still, I wasn't feeling too well. On the other hand, I wasn't feeling nervous and that surprised me. I had expected to be shaking and shivering but none of that happened. Instead, I was focused.
We set up the sound, did a soundcheck, talked about music and about gear. We made jokes about Brexit, Alzheimer and being a dad, although I have absolutely no experience in the latter. Then something really cool happened. Adam asked Ronald if he was up for a little jam. Soon in, Gert joined in on the fun. Eric, Matt and I watched them play a neat ambient set. It wasn't recorded so it's now lost in memory, time and space but it was great, I can tell you that. I think I even dozed off for a moment, which was very welcome indeed. The atmosphere was right and the whole day had been so fucking sweet. When the audience walked in, we all knew that we were ready to kick off the very first Synchyse gig. We took our places, Eric introduced us as "Ronald and his friends", probably because nobody really knows how our bandname should be pronounced. Ronald then explained the whole idea to the audience and I started the radar noises.
'Aldo' went very well. I think it was even a bit longer than during most rehearsals. Yet, during 'Katan' a little panic bubbled up. "Shit, I forgot what I was supposed to do during this one. Let's see, what did I do during the soundcheck and the rehearsals? Oh, that's true, it was something different every time. I just haven't decided yet; Let's do this". I pushed a few buttons, activated some samples and from then on everything went smooth. I looked up and saw some heads nodding. Gert smiled. Ronald was in his zone. After about forty minutes, the sampled hindu chants and the drones faded away to be replaced by an applause. We had pulled it off. Whatever level of nervousness in our bodies was now replaced with the whirl as we cleared away our gear to make place for Minus Pilots. A quick smoke and a cold beer before we sat down again for the performance of the English duo.
Minus Pilots move in the area where ambient and jazz often meet. Armed with a six-string bass and a drumkit, these guys delivered a perfect cool down for me. Halfway through the set, Adam experienced some technical issues but aided by Ronald and by a decent dose of English humor, Minus Pilots played an excellent set. I closed my eyes, sat back and enjoyed every single second of it. Now that I was a spectator again, I could relax and rewind the day, prepare my memory for the journal I was about to write. Because yeah, I'm still a writer. One that observes things from a literal point of view. I'm also a reviewer and in that function Minus Pilots were good enough to rise to my top-10 gigs list this year so far. I was so disappointed when I heard that that Large shirt was the last one they had.
Slowly the event drove to its end and after a few more nice conversations it was time to get our gear and asses back into the car. I checked and doubled checked before we said our goodbyes. Shortly after, we were on the dark Dutch roads again, going back to our fatherland with a blissful smile on our faces. We didn't talk that much in the car. All of us were rather tired but we knew we did well. Some people might have disagreed but we heard some great compliments about Synchyse: "Really? That was forty minutes, it felt like ten?" or the more traditional "that was great". In any case, we were satisfied by our efforts and we now know some of the details to work on. Our next gig is in December, in a living room this time. That one will be a home-match for Synchyse. I'm really looking forward to that. There will also be short solo performance by the band's members so it will definitely be something to remember.
A short impression of Synchyse by Borita De Wolf.