In this Preshow Rituals segment, the electro pop artist, A is for Arrows, reveals what she does before taking the stage. You can check out the story, after the break.
My pre-show ritual is a mixture of whiskey, panic attacks, and vocal mists. Overall, every second leading up to the show is that pit-in-the-stomach feeling. Like waiting in line to get on a roller coaster. You’re excited, but the waiting is killing you. Then you finally get on the ride and just before the drop, you’re wondering how the hell you got there. Before you know it, you’re on top of the world, wondering why you ever worried in the first place.
That was a pretty snazzy metaphor for “SHOW DAY IS FUCKING SCARY”.
Okay, maybe I’m a mess the day before the show, as well. The night before, I have a ritual, because, without it, I go through a whole anxiety attack and don’t sleep which in turn makes me even more prone to anxiety attacks during the day of the show. Funny how that happens, right? You lay there thinking, “If I fall asleep now…I can get 5 hours of sleep”. The sleep is glazed over by worry.
Anyways, before bed, I have to eat a good meal and just chill. I put my phone away to avoid talking to people before bed, or else it makes my mind race. I’ll drink some tea and hope that I fall asleep.
The day of the show is all nerves. I wake up, have my coffee, and warm up my vocal cords in the shower. I practice the set once over, including most of my talking pieces between songs. The idea of ad-libbing makes me really scared. I already suffer from social anxiety, so being in the spotlight, having to address a large crowd, yeah…no bueno.
After that, I pace around the house, ON EDGE. My partner knows to stay away from me on this day, even though she’s full of positive pep talks and motivation. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to me – everything is a stressful blur. I don’t know if all of this sounds overdramatic, but I’m honestly trying to improve this whole thing. I like to believe that the more shows I do, the easier this will get.
I also try to force myself to eat, but it’s usually pretty hard. My pre-show meal is usually sweet potatoes and rice. Don’t ask. It just works. But I can usually only keep down a few bites, which sucks considering how much energy I need for the show.
When I get to the venue, we do a soundcheck, then we get to chill… which I absolutely hate more than anything. I actually think it’s the waiting that gives me the most anxiety. It’s the anticipation. The excitement mixed with the nerves! I hate sitting still and just waiting. UGH! I’m stressed just thinking about it haha.
1 hour before the show, I warm up my voice again and do a quick vocal mist (which is basically a steamer for the vocal cords). Vocal hygiene is very important to me! I’m so scared of damaging my vocal cords, so I take extra precautions. It also helps relax me because it makes me feel prepared.
Then, 30 mins before the show I take 1 shot of whiskey, as a tradition, with the guys. It also takes the edge off, considering there is barely any food in my body at this point.
I’m not sure how to explain this next part…
Despite feeling like I want to throw up, disappear and scream, the second I step foot on that stage, something happens. I transform. Being on stage releases something in me that I think I harness, leading up to the show. It’s where I feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s where I can express myself. It’s where I feel GRATEFUL for my life and all the opportunities that come my way.
It’s like a switch goes off in my brain. It’s go time. All that pent up fear and anxiety turns into fire. I use it, I’m still scared shitless the entire time I’m up there but it’s different because I also feel empowered and I feel like I’m right where I belong.
After my show I’m back to myself, I have an appetite and I can finally talk to people again. I’m a normal functioning human again haha I usually say sorry to my partner for being a wreck, then we celebrate with a bowl of Pho.
I honestly didn’t want this whole thing to be anxiety and fear but again I have to explain it exactly how it is and that’s the truth. There’s a shit ton of pressure we as artists put on ourselves, for good reason. My point is that, at the end of the day, as nervous as I get beforehand, there is absolutely nothing like playing shows. It’s about being present and because of all of that energy, you’ve never felt more alive because anything can happen and I love every single moment.
(photo credit: Kelsi Gayda)