Cover Band Soap Opera: How Alcohol Affects Playing

I had a few beers1 at this weekend’s show with my cover band. As the night went on, three things you started to see from me were more smiles, more stage presence2 and more mistakes. It’s all part of the way alcohol affects one’s musicianship when consumed in not-tiny quantities.  

You ever read one of those articles, where it says “After three beers, you can’t drive a car; after four beers, you can’t…” — Well, here is the cover band breakdown of all that.

After 1 Beer: Functionality normal. Skills unaltered.3

After 2 Beers: Slight Relaxation. One no longer feels any apprehension about playing in public or that there may be better musicians in the crowd eyeballing their every note. Musicianship actually improves with new confidence.

After 3 Beers: Skills peak. Some dancing and grooving begins. Good blend of enthusiasm and playing, though first mistake will reveal itself as musician lets his guard down.4

After 4 Beers: Miss the harmonics on the Violent Femmes and some backup vocals on Billy Joel. Other bandmates begin to look at one another and question the speed and quantity of your drinking. Slippery slope begins here.

After 5 Beers: Everything is hilarious, even your multiplying mistakes. You think you can fake your way through Beastie Boys even though you can’t, and you scream at the drummer to let the “Alive” solo last for a minimum of three minutes. The set list no longer exists. The next song is whatever you feel like.

After 6+ Beers: You won’t remember in the morning that you completely wrecked the beginning to Brown-Eyed Girl nor that a guest singer came up and led the crowd for two songs. Attempts to dolly gear out of the venue afterward will only lead to damaged gear. Somehow, the bar owner comes up to you and thanks you for a stellar performance. Success.

     1 Accounts vary from six to eight.
     2 Not necessarily a good thing. 
     3 Not responsible for skills not being there in the first place. 
     4 Usually during a Queen song.

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3 thoughts on “Cover Band Soap Opera: How Alcohol Affects Playing

  1. AG

    I’d like to see the same thing with writing skills. Can F+W fund an experiment with writers at desks, and drinks–everything from dom to bud–distributed at even intervals in very official-looking cups? Then they can compare the quality of the writing after each beverage.

    Or you could just have a party and do the same. Post pics?

  2. shelley

    You are a hoot- This is so funny and I applied it to Karoke–Where one begins by singing softly and then eventually realizes she is Janis Joplin reincarnate–Which is very scary for any audience. Thanks for the laugh!


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