First Gig: Greg Laswell
First Gig is our series at Stereo Subversion that asks various musicians to look back at their first-ever live show. San Diego fave Greg Laswell tells us about the time he broke away from his then-band to “work out a few kinks.” Fortunately he’s come a long way and worked out whatever issues were present, as illustrated on his devastating new album, Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet. [Pre-order here] Read on for Greg’s recollection of his first paid gig.
My first solo gig was at Twiggs in San Diego in 2004. I was on a break from my band at the time and working on some solo material. I decided to book a show to work out a few kinks. I arrived early with my wife at the time to set up a little merch table to sell CD-Rs of three or four songs that I had finished… real pro stuff. I sound checked and then went next door to the bakery, which was part of the venue, to wait until showtime.
I ordered a coffee and got a table in the corner. I remember thinking, “This is gonna be a pretty good night!” I mean, the bakery was pretty full after all. About 15 minutes before showtime, I made my way over the the venue. No one was there. Five minutes later, still no one. Showtime, no one. The sound guy came over, “I don’t know what happened, we usually get at least a few walk-ins. Do you want to push the show time back?”
“A few walk-ins.” I thought, “that sounds pretty good right about now.” The three of us sat and small-talked for 30 minutes or so. No one came. No walk-ins. Just a few walk-bys. He suggested, “Hey, are you okay with making it a free show? We could announce it at the bakery next door.” Well, now this was going to be even worse… but, “Yeah,” I heard myself say, “that sounds good.” The free show was announced. We waited. Fifteen minutes. I think I even asked, “Are people allowed to bring their food over here?”
We waited a little longer. The three of us kept looking at the door between casual conversation. More walk-bys. I finally conceded, “I’m sorry. I’ll break down and turn you loose.” He laughed a bit and said, “Well, we already have everything set up, why don’t you just play?”
“You mean just for you and my wife?”
So I did. I played two or three songs. He asked me to play a few more. Okay. A few more walk-bys, no walk-ins. I played a few more. He asked for a few more. “I only have a few more left in my set,” I said. “Play ’em!” he yelled from the back. I did. I even played an encore. Just the three of us.
To this day it’s one of my favorite shows. Throughout my career on tour, I remember my little debut at Twiggs.