When The Band Refuses To Play

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

You have this awesome nightclub down the street. Two or three times a week, all your favorite bands play there – all at once, four or five bands getting up on stage to collaborate and syncopate and orchestrate.

Why wouldn’t you head there with all your friends? It’s the best kind of party – people you love, music you adore.

You’ve been going there for – oh, god, you can’t even remember how long. But the best part is watching your favorite band’s singer do his stuff.

That singer is magical, man, with the moves like Jagger, that voice that howls like the wind through October trees, that ability to reach out and hold the whole crowd in the palm of his hand. Whenever he gets up on stage, you know the best part of the night has arrived.

Now, of course, he’s not everybody’s favorite singer, and there are nights when the other bands do it more for you. But you’ve been coming here for years, decades, and this cat is who you rely on. Sometimes you’re feeling low, not in the mood to party, and thoughts of this fella leaping up onto the risers is what gets you out of bed to shake those blues away.

And he’s always there. Always, always there. To the point where you don’t even question his existence – he’s just gonna be on stage if you go to that club you love.

Until he’s not.

Because one night, that singer’s a little shy. The band vamps for a bit, playing his intro music, and you’re like “That’s weird” but then he struts onto the stage and you almost forget it.


But a couple of months later, there’s a bigger awkwardness where the band vamps for, like, twenty minutes, just this unexpected musical jam session where everyone in the club keeps looking off-stage in the hopes that the singer shows up – and eventually he does, and it’s an okay set but what the hell was that?

Yet that’s the weird thing: most nights, the singer shows up. He’s still a machine; ninety-five nights out of a hundred, he’s playing his heart out. But you’re so tense wondering if there’s gonna be that impatient band vamping that you start to tune out the other bands playing that night. It’s hard to relax and get into it if you know the end of the night is gonna be not the musical crescendo you wanted but this long, wheezing build-up that you spend the whole night looking backstage, seeing how the singer’s doing that evening.

And then the awful night comes up when the band plays for half an hour, strumming the guitars until their fingers bleed, and the singer doesn’t show up.

You didn’t even know that was possible.

And now that anticipation gets worse, because the club isn’t bad – you’ve still got all those other bands you love hearing – but for as long as you can remember you got that thrill of hearing your favorite singer croon you out, and now he’s usually there but the rest of the night has changed. You have to focus on different bands, struggle for a new kind of enjoyment, because maybe your favorite band might be off-stage tonight and you’re used to planning your evening around him and now he’s unreliable, that jerk.

More troublesome: Some of your best friends really, really liked that singer. He was the main reason they showed up to the club. And when that singer doesn’t play, they look to you confused and you feel weirdly guilty about it even though it’s not really your fault.

So you talk to your therapist about it. And she’s like, “This is completely normal for a man who’s been going to clubs as long as you have. In fact, your singer’s pretty healthy, it’s just that you’ve been really, really into music all your life and now you have to deal with the kinds of clubs that other men often go to.”

And you’re like, “But I want my singer back.”

And she’s like, “There are pills that can get him back.”

And you’re like, “No, the point is that I want my singer without the pills.”

And for weeks after that, spammers start sending you emails telling you how they totally know ways to get your singer back, just send like a billion dollars and this rhino horn extract will surely lure your singer back on stage.

And all the while you’ve got friends who are like, “Come on, man, your devotion to that singer is a little egotistic, isn’t it? We’ve been going to different clubs, clubs where they don’t even have singers and to think that a band needs a singer to be a real band is just some antiquated macho bullshit. Come on, pick up a ukelele.”

And you’re sitting there trying to explain that yes, you know that the singer isn’t the focus point of every band and you totally respect those all-acoustic bands, but for you the singer was the best part and it’s not that you’re saying that everyone has to have a singer but your singer is very dear to you and as such you’re gonna worry about his health.

But your therapist is right: the club is still super fun. The bands are still great to sing along to. You just have to develop a greater appreciation for the other bands, because he’s probably coming but you’ve gotta come to terms with the fact that your singer might not arrive to bring the night to a fine climax.

And for some reason, as you start to talk about this, you find it very important to stress that your singer’s in pretty good shape for a man your age, if you come to the club for some singerual activity you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a singer all up in your face, which is ridiculous because music is more than a singer, but for some reason a lot of bands don’t like to admit that sometimes their singer conks out.

The singer’s not important, really. It’s just… a transition. And you’re getting to appreciate different kinds of music, which is great, but deep down there’s a part of you that just wishes that goddamned singer would never miss his mark.

This essay has been a metaphor. It’s subtle. You may have missed it.


  1. Raven Black
    Sep 14, 2019

    I’m glad you pointed out that it was subtle at the end, or I might have missed the subtlety. Not the metaphor, obviously, just the subtlety.

  2. Anonymous Alex
    Sep 14, 2019

    Why does every “subtle metaphor” have to be about politics?


    • Doug S.
      Sep 16, 2019

      I think this one is about erections.

      • Anonymous Alex
        Sep 16, 2019

        You think? I didn’t get anything about building materials . . . .


      • raemon777
        Sep 16, 2019

        Oh lol I think I get it now.

        • raemon777
          Sep 16, 2019

          (lol at the cleverness of the metaphor, not the subject matter)

All Comments Will Be Moderated. Comments From Fake Or Throwaway Accounts Will Never Be approved.