Me at Public Assembly after my show. Photo credit: Niko Lamas

So a few weeks ago my friend Joe Gatti of the band JoGaBot invited me to play a show with him at Public Assembly on 12.26.09. I was excited to be invited, but I don’t think I thought the show would be as important to me as it ended up being. This show was a really important moment for me.

1. I put a bunch of time before the show into cleaning and flat ironing my wig, which meant that instead of it looking like the cheap, everyday costume store plastic hair that it is, it looked stylized and slick, and really completed my outfit nicely (that rug really tied the room together, man!). I really felt great about how I looked at this show, and it paid off because it got a lot of people taking pictures and video of my show, which I don’t think they’d do if I didn’t look unusual and interesting and capture their attention. Attracting attention of a nice photographer at the venue, by the way, is what got me the gorgeous photo you see above. And I love that photo!!!!!!

2. It was a full on solo show in a venue with beautiful sound, and I got a great quality video of the whole show, courtesy of my wonderful friend Elijah. This allowed me to really see that my show really sounds excellent with tracks on a great sound system and live vocals, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to performing with tracks. What I bring to the table as an artist is the ability to write and record songs in my home studio and sing them live, not play them live, and my show needs to consist of me doing what I do best to best showcase the music and my performing abilities. I think performing with tracks does that, and now I have fantastic video evidence of that to show to any promoter/booker who thinks a show performed with tracks wouldn’t work or be enjoyable or sound awesome, because it is awesome and enjoyable. Finally, I have good video of what I can do live as a solo act! I am SO relieved and excited about that and I think it will be a great help as I go about trying to book a lot of shows this year.

3. I had a great time with this show and was very happy with how it turned out, and there were a lot of random people in the room who heard and watched the show and signed up for my email list afterwards. As I went around the room collecting email addresses, a lot of people kept saying to me “I really hope you do well with this, because you really deserve to. You had such great energy up there and your voice is amazing!” and things like that, which was awesome. People seemed surprised that I was able to put on a high-energy show in a low-attendance room, but my feeling was, a) you have to do your best at every single show because you never know who’s watching, even if it’s only one person (and I proved this with this show, since if I hadn’t given a great show, I wouldn’t have won over any of those new fans) and b) I knew I needed a great video of me doing a great performance, and dammit, I was going to get it come hell or no audience! (And I did!)

Lookin' fierce for Felipe's Droid phone

So Saturday was the Murphy’s Law show just up until the part where it really mattered. Here’s what went wrong leading up to the show:

1. Dan of Comandante Zero’s bass and vocal mic were stolen a week before the show.

2. Ken of Comandante Zero had a last minute trip out of town that came up and meant he wouldn’t be around for the show.

Result: no more double-header show

3. My band still wants to play the show but can’t provide a drum set or manpower to get everything up five flights of stairs.

Result: no more backing band for my newly solo show

4. Dan’s family gets a horrible stomach flu a few days before the show, which means that Dan gets a horrible stomach flu one day before the show. Dan is incapacitated the night before the show.

Result: Dan considers cancelling on the day of the show (but does not because he is INCREDIBLE)

5. The largest blizzard in recent memory is set to descend upon New York City when? The night of the show.

Result: Probably about half the audience that was going to show up is no longer going to show up

6. Dan sets up the sound system between bouts of trying not to die of stomach flu. Sound system starts loudly popping to the point where it sounds like someone is dropping a large amount of 30lb rubber balls onto the floor of the apartment from a height of 15 feet. Turns out a piece of the amp has fallen off during its trip to this gig.

Result: I am freaking out while pretending to focus on making mulled cider.

Despite all this, Dan managed to fix the amp before dragging himself back to Brooklyn just before he would have gotten stranded in Manhattan (oh the humanity!) because of the snow, and the show itself was a lot of fun. More importantly, it was ALL CAUGHT ON TAPE this time, and I will be uploading videos of it very soon! This means I will have videos of about eight songs being performed live to tracks to upload soon, which is very exciting. There are also some very funny moments caught on tape that you will have to watch for once they’re uploaded to youtube.com/jccassis. I made some new fans and friends at the show too, and one of the hosts of the loft took gorgeous professional photos of the show, and is willing to take more promo shots of me for my album cover etc, all for the price of me buying him a drink. Love it! Will upload the photos as soon as I have them. Can’t wait to have a free house party when there’s NOT a giant blizzard destroying New York so that I get all the audience I would have gotten in halfway decent weather.

I recently performed for the third time at my alma mater, the Spence School, where I went to Kindergarten-12th grade, and as usual, it was so awesome and was my best audience of the year. Each performance there has been better than the last, because the girls keep up with me online in between performances and know my music before I come perform it, so they’re really excited to hear it and I’m really excited to perform it for them.

I was a bit nervous about this performance because it was the first one consisting of my new dance-pop music and none of my old stuff, and I wasn’t sure how much they would like it, but a few weeks before the performances I spoke to some of the girls on facebook and they said they were keeping up with my new music and loved it, so that made me feel more confident.

The performance was not only tons of fun but also really boosted my confidence in the quality of my new music. It is really fuckin’ good. I worked hard on it and made it the best I could and it really paid off because people really enjoy it. Also, performing with tracks is a totally legit way to perform because people still really enjoy what they hear and they get to hear everything as I wrote it, with the same sounds and all the back up vocals, and I think that is really important. Every time I played a song the girls were dancing along and having a great time listening, and they really cheered loudly at the end of each one. I still get totally exhausted singing and doing minimal dancing when I perform a song, and I don’t quite know what to do about that. Run and sing on the treadmill like Fergie?

The only drawback of the show was that somehow the camera didn’t end up taping the show at all. Not one second. Which REALLY sucks because I was hoping to get SIX AWESOME youtube videos out of this performance that really could have helped my exposure and been an EXCELLENT resource to use for bookings. It is the PERFECT gig because it’s great sound, great lighting, and a REALLY large and enthusiastic audience who knows and really enjoys me and my stuff. It is SO LAME that the taping didn’t work OH MY GOD. Not to mention that it was a really special 35 minutes of my life that I REALLY would have liked to have on tape. GODDAMMIT! Oh well, next time. Barf. Will try to get some great video from the Dec 19th show, where of course the lighting will suck and therefore probably so will the video. Goddammit goddammit goddammmiiiiiiiiitttttt!

Whew. Anyway. Focus on the fuckin’ positive, right? I AM SO ANGRY. Ok. Here are the wonderful moments from the performance:

1. I didn’t chicken out about wearing weird stuff. I did the show in my bright pink wig, my new silver sequin jacket, my black sequin tank, my pink tights, and silver boots, and dramatic makeup. I was considering toning down my look for the audience and then realized–wait a minute, this is what I do, this is who I am, and my fans expect me to do it. So I did it up! And everyone was saying how much they liked my wig and outfit and asking where I got my clothes and shoes. Right decision made!

2. Had the fascinating realization that when 12 year old girls in middle school don’t know you and you’re an adult wearing weird things, the experience of them asking you about it is totally different than when you’re their 12 year old classmate wearing weird things. When I was 12 I would get really upset when people at school questioned what I was doing or wearing and didn’t get it. Today, I just told them I was dressed like that because I think it looks pretty and it makes me happy, and that was that. Realized I probably should have done that in middle school, too. Probably wouldn’t have worked though. That’s middle school for ya.

3. Before the performance I sat down on the floor with the girls in the front, joking like I was a student waiting for the assembly to start, and ended up chatting with a lot of them before the show. It was a nice way to break some ice and was also cool because I went on to blow them away with my show and they were all so excited to tell me how much they liked it afterwards.

4. I did a lot of new songs in the show, including “Friday Night Forever” and “Hold For Your Lovin'” which the girls really loved. Was great to hear that people are really liking my new stuff because I think it’s pretty great, too. The girls also insisted on singing Texas Boys a capella with me, which was really fun. Can’t believe I remembered all the words off the top of my head when I haven’t sang or listened to that song in at least 8 months. Was of course great to hear the girls singing along and knowing all the words.

5. When I performed “Dance Dance Dance” the girls sang along, and it was quite a funny thing to see these tiny 11 year olds singing “I don’t care what you think, gonna flip my hair and sip my drink!” I inserted the words “of juice!” after that phrase the first time I sang it. Very funny. One of the girls said that was her favorite song, which I love.

6. The girls chatted during my songs and at first I thought it was because they weren’t listening but when I asked what they were talking about, they said they were talking about how awesome I was. I told them to keep talking. Heeeeeeey!

7. Got the girls to do a big “Heeeeeeeeeeeey!” with me, which was funny. The girls also made a big banner with my name on it to hold up which was sweet.

8. At the end of the show the girls asked where Socrates was, to which I replied, “Well you know that’s funny, I mean, it’s funny that you ask, because the thing about Socrates is, well, he’s…he’s dead, haha,” quoting the line from Annie Hall when she says that about her grandma when Alvy asks about her. I then explained that that was a joke from Annie Hall which no one in that room has ever heard of BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL BORN IN THE MID TO LATE 90’s.

9. After the show the girls all took my business card and then ran over to me to have me autograph each one. I gotta say, I LOVE signing autographs! It is SO FUN! Hope to do a lot more of it in the future. Plus the nice thing is, hopefully since I signed all those cards they hung on to them and used them to look me up on the web! (A lot of them did–I’ve got a LOT of pending facebook friend requests from the girls and the song plays on my page are way up today. Yay!)

10. A couple of the girls asked if I would come and watch their choir rehearsal, which I did, and they sang the song they were working on for me there. I could tell it meant a lot to them and I was really happy to watch.

11. A lot of the girls were really excited to see me and were telling me that they were my biggest fans and they wanted hugs and to keep in touch and everything. Love that! It’s so cool to be on the other end of the fan love, cuz I know how I feel about the people I’m a big fan of, so it’s really cool to think I have people who feel that way about me. Hooray!

All in all it was a great success and a great experience and next time I will do everything in my power to capture it on film NO MATTER WHAT and share it here! The teacher who books the assemblies said she’d definitely like to have me back, so I’m already looking forward to next year’s performance! Gotta get in on the upper school assembly too, and should look into other school performance opportunities out there in case they exist! 🙂