This weekend I had a chance to play with my cousin Kent’s live band, Distant Thunder. We played at the Summit County Fair in Coalville, Utah as the last act on the main stage before the big rodeo! We had some challenges in getting set up and playing which made it a very interesting gig.
I don’t mind playing at county fairs because there’s usually a pretty good crowd there. Another thing that I’ve found to be true about county fairs is that if your band is the headline act, they pay pretty darn well. We make a lot more playing at fairs than we do playing in bars. The Summit County Fair was no exception.
There are some challenging things about playing these types of gigs. Anytime a band plays on a stage that has a full days worth of acts playing on it, it’s a challenge to get your equipment set up and dialed in quickly. The problem is, you get a certain amount of time to set up and play. The longer it takes to set up, then the less time you have to play. The whole goal is to set up as quickly and possible and get playing.
Luckily, the fair hired a good sound company that had all the P.A. equipment that we would need to play. All we had to do was set up our guitars, drums, amplifiers, keyboard and computer equipment. That’s a lot but it’s easier to set up those things than to have to set up an entire P.A. system. Somehow, we managed to get everything set up, mic’ed and had a rough mix dialed in in about 20 minutes. That’s really flying.
That being said, there’s problems that arise from not being able to do a formal soundcheck. First of all, the monitor mix was passable, but far from ideal. Still, we could hear well enough to play. Second, our drummer (Frank Lee) couldn’t hear the click track which means we got out of synchronization with the sequencer on a couple songs. That’s a real show killer because you sound awful when that happens.
The true mettle of a band is tested by how well they overcome problems like this. Luckily, we kept the crowd engaged with stage banter while we hurried and fixed our technical problems. We had things running really well by about the 3rd song. We were able to recover from our technical problems and put on an excellent show.
The show itself went really well. The band consisted of myself, Matt Rushton, on lead guitar and vocals, Kent Rushton on bass guitar and vocals, Frank Lee on drums and vocals and my son Erik Rushton on guitar and vocals. I’ve written before about how important it is for everyone in the band to sing and it really helped us to have all the great lead vocals and vocal harmony at this gig.
We played very well other than the two songs that had some sequencer technical difficulty. A high point was when Erik came up and sang and played on the Jimmy Eat World song “The Middle”. The crowd really seemed to enjoy the band the entire night and we got good applause after every song and some serious amounts of applause after a few select crowd favorites.
At the end of the show we thanked the crowd and the organizers for the great evening and told them we loved their town. We actually got called back to the stage for an encore after the crowd gave us the standard “play one more!” cheer. Some of the locals said we played really well and that most bands don’t get called back for an encore so we felt good about that.
All in all, it was a very fine evening with beautiful mountain scenery, cool air and a lovely sunset. Combine that with a happy crowd and some good rock-n-roll and it’s definitely a night to remember!