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14 Nov 2011

WHEN one pictures one’s first rock concert — as the performer, or as part of the audience — a few typical images come to mind: screaming fans; bright lights; explosions; sweat and general exhilaration; very loud music, the kind one can feel reverberating in one’s chest; huge arenas; and simply put, people. Lots of them.

So, as one might imagine, this is the image I had in my head when I was asked to open for The Ryan Calder Band at the Golden Horse Casino, some time in August this year. Now, one might say that my dreams and expectations were slightly, but only ever so slightly, exaggerated. I mean, this is, after all, Pietermaritzburg and The Ryan Calder Band is one of those yet-to-be-famous bands, in the eyes of non-musicians. Which is, in my opinion, an absolute controversy, because they really are wonderful.

But, for a young musician in PMB, the Golden Horse Casino is a big step up the ladder of musical success. Prime Circle’s gig there was mind-blowing. That is the kind of gig I had in mind.

So, on the night of this much-anticipated performance, The Ruby Gill Band arrived at the Casino for the sound check. It was, I must add, approximately 12˚C. Cold. But we proceeded with our many layers of clothing towards the stage area, through a sea of cars which we thought were, perhaps, for us. When we got through the gate to the field behind the Casino, we confronted our stage: a Coca-Cola truck with a fold-out platform on one side. Now, this did not deter me in the slightest. I mean, everybody’s dream is to perform on the side of a truck. Right? But when I climbed the stainless-steel stairs up to the platform, I realised that my expectations for this concert were, perhaps, slightly, but only ever so slightly, exaggerated.

I was going to fall. This stage would never hold all 61 kilograms of me for 45 minutes, let alone my whole band. Tonight, I would become the victim of a collapsing stage. I have never been so terrified in my whole musical career. But, do you know, the excitement overcame my fear, and we did our sound check, and everything was now ready for the hordes of screaming people to invade.

So we waited.

And we waited.

And we waited some more.

The Wykeham Collegiate boarders arrived to support my backing vocalist and me. My parents arrived.

And we waited again.

And some more.

And no one came.

And we played. The one part of my great expectation that I did get right was the bright lights. Those lights were intense. Thirty people had arrived to watch this gig, and I couldn’t even see them, because I was blinded by the bright lights.

And then it slowly seeped in that perhaps I had just hit the jackpot, way before all the gamblers in the building next to me. One gets so blinded by the bright lights of fame and fortune, that one loses sight of what’s important. I knew every single one of those people in the audience. All 30 of them. They had taken the time out of their busy Friday night to come and support me. And all I could say was: “No one came”.

But they did. And when I walked very slowly down those wretched stairs after the performance, I went and thanked each person for coming.

Then everybody left, and The Ryan Calder Band gave the most beautiful performance to the staff and The Ruby Gill Band. And the evening turned out to be one of my best experiences to date.

Also, the food was superb.

About the author

RUBY Gill is 16 years old and attends The Wykeham Collegiate. She is a musician, and the front-lady of The Ruby Gill Band. She is passionate about composing, writing and performing, and released her first album of all-original music, Breathing in C Minor, in October last year.

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