Last night I played a gig with a bunch of the residents from FAMLAB at this beachside restaurant in An Bang. I got there and was stunned at how beautiful the scenery was. The sun was setting over the ocean, the water was angelic, and air had a salty twang to it. There were 7 of us on total: Esther Swift on harp, Tom Bancroft on bodhran, David Shedden on tin whistles, LinhHafornow on vocals/electronics, Scobi Wan on electronics, and Escuri on electronics. I of course was playing cello, but I brought my đàn bầu as well.
The gig was incredible. It was one of those times playing music where you totally lose yourself in the moment. There’s nothing else besides just playing and creating.
Esther, Tom, and David played a bunch of traditional Scottish tunes from their home country and they absolutely killed it. Just amazing musicianship combined with some really cool music. It was a pleasure to watch them because I rarely get to hear that style and especially done so well.
I went on second with LinhHafornow. She is an amazing vocalist who combines her ethereal voice with looping and effects. I was quite excited to play with her because we have a similar musical aesthetic and I knew that our instruments would blend really nicely together. We had literally nothing planned, it was all going to be improvised. Honestly, I like that approach because it makes you really be in the moment. You’re responsible for creating every second, nothing is determined.
We started playing as the sun had just set and the music turned out so sublime. As I had expected, her lush vocals combined with my cello just created this sonic landscape that had me captivated. I’m a fan of doing ambient, slow, and melodic music and this hit the nail right on the head. I even jumped over to the đàn bầu for one song and messed around. People were actually surprised that I made it sound halfway decent. So was I. It’s nice to take risks on stage. I’ve been in situations before where I just felt like nothing was at stake when I was playing, no risk, no nervousness. That kind of feeling is kind of the death knell of creativity.
After a bit, we were joined by Escuri who added some sweet beats. It sounded fantastic and was so much fun to play over. Over the next couple hours we all did various configurations of the FAMLAB residents on stage. After sitting out for a bit, I hopped back on with Escuri and David on tin whistle and we created some Scottish folk techno cello madness. Unbelievable and awesome.
At the very end of the gig, we all got on stage and did an amazing slow meditation piece for the crowd. People were invited to lay down on the grass and look up at the stars as we lulled them into a different universe. It was truly beautiful.
Playing a gig like this really hit me deep. Not every gig is like this. Sometimes it’s a job, people don’t want to admit that, but it’s true. But this was different. This was why I love music and why I continue to do it everyday.
There’s just nothing like it.