First Gig: Summer Fiction
First Gig is our series at Stereo Subversion that asks various musicians to look back at their first-ever live show. This week, we’ve got an odd fit at a swanky party featuring Bill Ricchini, a.k.a. Summer Fiction, that’s equal parts sad and hilarious. These days, the meaningful music of Summer Fiction is ideal for any occasion, which means you should have already pre-ordered your copy of Himalaya.
I’m going to be honest with you. The first real Summer Fiction gig was something we didn’t publicize and did as a warm-up show. We did it for the money… and the practice and the generously appointed open bar.
A well-known modeling agency in my hometown of Philadelphia booked us for a “VIP” black tie party on the 19th floor hotel bar of the Hyatt at the Bellevue. The PR guy was a fan of the band. I’ll never forget his name: Jimmy Style. Very swank affair in the Rose Garden Ballroom. I think the mayor was there with a young woman that wasn’t his wife.
As we were tuning up, the DJ was blasting “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie and mixing in EDM beats with it. Alex, my bassist, shifted uncomfortably. The whole band felt extremely nervous as we went over our set list with songs titles like “She’s Bound to Get Hurt” and “Kids in Catalina.” It was becoming clear that this may not go well. The guys gulped down gin and tonics at the bar to numb the situation. I walked onto a terrace overlooking Broad Street from 19 floors up and watched the pretty sunset. I didn’t jump. I thought, ‘Heck, we can win this crowd over!’
I walked back into the ballroom and, at this point, I noticed my keyboard player Brian –- a large, lovable guy wearing a thrift shop trench coat, a skullcap and a pair of black army boots- — at the artisan cheese, olive and charcuterie station. He was building a giant Dagwood sandwich. He grinned and gestured to me two “thumbs up.”
It was time to hit the stage and we drunkenly went through our short, under-rehearsed set of indie pop/rock songs. We were mostly ignored (mercifully) but there were many inebriated pictures taken of the band that night (tragically).
In the end, we survived the Modelpalooza (and hey, I bet some of them liked the Felt, Velvets and Zombies covers we sprinkled in). Who am I kidding? While I have zero recollection of our second set that evening (which I’m told involved me falling over a microphone cord and performing “Chandeliers” completely reclined), it could have been worse. It always could have been worse.