In November of 2007, I half-jokingly started a band, ThrowAway Grrls. I quietly harmonized and plunked the bass while my friend crooned and thrummed the guitar. Along with two other friends attempting percussion, we practiced for a few weeks in a desperate attempt swiftly to master our instruments for a premature show into which we had managed to charm our way. We were scheduled to open for a few tribute bands on a sold-out Saturday night at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, but as soon as we walked into the upstairs club for our first sound-check, all our feet froze to the floor. We knew we were ill-prepared; we did not even know which amp was for the bass and which one was for the guitar. We only prepared four slap-dash songs, but with the help of a patient sound engineer, we persevered! Although, I must admit, for those 15-20 minutes, I wobbled like a gelatin dessert.
Around August of 2009, I grew frustrated with the constant, suffocating stage fright. Until then, I averaged a show or two per month. I spent hours with my head in my hands wondering what ways to overcome my cowardice. At the behest of an ex, I slammed one fist into the other palm and challenged myself to play 100 shows to remove forcibly the fear through repetition and experience. I did not give myself a deadline, because I was unsure of how to count a performance. However, I eventually decided to count any time I performed in front of a crowd of strangers, anything from an open mic to a proper show.
Beginning that September, I counted 15 prior performances. As much as I pep-talked myself to be non-nonchalant and reiterated that I did not care what others thought of my lack of technique, the thought of making a fool out of myself overwhelmed my convictions. Fortunately at that time, I re-read Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, which not only inspired me, but also helped me feel less inferior since I realized that I was no better or worse for trying than were my peers. By January 2010 I reached performance number 65, and throughout the month I played 25 more times including one of my personal favorites, an “in-store” performance at Never Records, a fake record store. Continue reading