As people from all walks of life figure out how to get by in the age of coronavirus, musicians are left to figure out how to adapt to a world in which live concerts are out of the question. While the self-isolation continues, we’re checking in with some of our favorite musicians to reflect on years past (both the good times and the bad), see what they’re most looking forward to once ongoing live event hiatus comes to an end, and find out what they’d like to do differently when that time comes.
For the second installment of this series, Chris DeAngelis (bass, Kung Fu/The Breakfast), offers up his ‘2020 Reflections’. You can also read the first installment of the series by drummer John Kimock (Mike Gordon) here.
BEST GIG STORY
This question was fun since it allowed me to dig deep and experience some nice nostalgia. There was a nice handful for me to choose from but I’m going to have to go with a concert I played with my band Kung Fu in April of 2016.
It was the Presidential election year and we wanted to put on a benefit for Bernie Sanders. Our manager reached out to Phish’s drummer Jon Fishman since he was an avid Bernie supporter. It just so happened that a few weeks or so before this, Fishman and Mike Gordon were seen at our gig in Nashville, Tennessee. I heard they were in town recording sessions that would become their album, Big Boat, and decided to pop in to our show right down the street. Since we were still fresh in Fishman’s mind we thought it was a great opportunity to ask him to be a part of the Bernie benefit, and thankfully he said yes!
So, after Fishman got on board, there was tons of interest from other folks and with the help of Live For Live Music we ended up adding Oteil Burbridge on bass! Needless to say, I was pumped. Then, on top of that, we added Natalie Cressman on trombone, DJ Logic, Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident), Kat Wright, and Bob Wagner. To say I was excited would be a very big understatement!
The 800 or so person venue in Brooklyn (The Hall at MP) sold out in minutes and we knew this was going to be a very special night. The whole day was magical. Just meeting Jon and playing with him at soundcheck was a complete trip. Our drummer Adrian Tramontano said how much of a fan he was of Fishman and that he’s learned a lot of his grooves. Jon asked what Phish songs he knew and before you know it, there we are playing through songs like “Rift” and “Limb By Limb”. It all felt like some type of crazy fever dream scenario.
The show started and we took the stage, we played half of the set of our own music and then called Fishman onstage. After the deafening roars of the crowd died down, we launched into the Frank Zappa medley of “Son Of Orange County> More Trouble Everyday”. After that, we took a set break.
During the second set, I found myself playing a whole set of music with Oteil Burbridge who is one of my musical heroes and one of the best musicians on the planet in my opinion. We really didn’t even talk about what was going to happen on stage—like at all. But we ended up complimenting each other very well. One standout song for me was the Jaco Pastorius song “Come On, Come Over”. Oteil and I seamlessly handed off each different section and even played the main riff in octaves and shook the subwoofers. Just being up there with him and Fishman and Adrian was so insane. It was the ultimate rhythm section. Watch a full video of the Kung Fu & Phriends Bernie Sanders Benefit below:
WORST GIG STORY
Well, let’s see. I also have a lot to choose from in this category… haha! That’s the thing with this business. There are great times, but just as many rough times. You need to learn how to shake them off. There was this one time I played a gig with this singer and pianist who happened to be blind. He was a very talented and amazing musician. The gig I got called for with him was opening for Tower Of Power at a free summer show in CT, so right away there was an element of excitement and nervousness. I had a very brief meeting a day or two before the show with the singer to talk over the tunes. The drummer couldn’t make the rehearsal, apparently, so it was just him and me.
I had a day or two before the rehearsal to listen to about ten of his originals. I did my best to learn it all and came to the rehearsal as ready as I could be. I’m not sure how experienced this kid was at the time, but he started to completely change up parts of the arrangements during the brief rehearsal. This was a little suspect since the drummer wasn’t even there and we had never played together.
So, the gig rolls around and the band all finally meets. We had a brief pow-wow to go over the newly changed arrangements. This was super quick and in my experience, this is when the most mistakes happen—when you try to cram things in at the last minute—and he was trying to change stuff literally minutes before we went on. All the while, the drummer was listening to the tunes on his iPod. I was getting a little nervous.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the gig was in front of 10,000 people. Yes. So after getting situated on stage with our instruments, we launch into the first song, which had a little bit of a tricky part in the intro. Since we never rehearsed it, we absolutely trainwrecked going into the first verse! All three of us hit a different downbeat. It was so bad that the singer yelled into the mic verbatim “Woah, Woah, wait and minute! We can’t start the show like that! This is my home town crowd! Let’s try that again fellas.” Keep in mind, this is in front of 10,000 people. Talk about a case of the cold sweats!
Thankfully, we were able to pull it together on the second try, but the damage was done for me. I just barely made it through the rest of the show. The sound was rough and I could hardly hear anyone on top of being scared we were going to trainwreck another one. I just put my head down and plowed my way through it. Oh yeah, one more thing—as we start the last song I look over and see my bass idol, Rocco Prestia, from TOP side stage checking us out. I was like “Damn it, why here? Why now?” The universe is funny like that sometimes. I hope he didn’t hate it, at least.
SOMETHING YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK TO
I’m really looking forward to just leaving the house and going on an errands run with a sense of normalcy. Just simply going out and getting enough groceries to make a meal instead of this doomsday prepping attitude. I can’t wait until they remove the arrows on the floor, the plexiglass in front of the tellers, and the masks on our faces, even though I know it’s completely necessary right now and for the unforeseen future. It must be taken extra seriously at the moment, but it will feel good when we can live life without it. And, of course, it goes without saying, PLAYING SHOWS FOR CROWDS! Someday soon.
SOMETHING YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO CHANGING
I’m really looking forward to changing my everyday fitness and diet habits. My gym is closed right now and being in quarantine has made it a little tough to eat the healthiest all the time. I’m sure this is true with most people. I’ve been exercising here at home and a little bit outside when I can but regular routines in that arena have almost completely disappeared for me.
Keep an eye out for more ‘2020 Reflections’ from some of our favorite musicians in the coming weeks.