Last night, I had my first “official” show as a music artist.
Had I performed on stage before? Many times.
Had I rapped on stage before? Yes – I have graced several open mics.
But I have never been an artist, on the bill, with a full 20-minute slot to fill for the benefit and enjoyment of an audience.
Not until last night.
Let recorded history show that Jack Dawkins played his first show on November 11th, 2022 (somehow just noticed that 11/11/22 translates nicely as 11+11=22 (fun)) at Blush and Blu in Denver, Colorado.
And how did it go?
It depends on your perspective.
When I think back to some of the best shows I witnessed this year (Tyler the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Kota The Friend, Guap) and compare myself to them, I see an enormous distance to travel. Thousands of hours of stage time, it feels like, exist between me and the effortless dance of performing and connecting with a group of humans.
I can be more dynamic and intentional with the way I move.
I can inject more humor and character into my interludes between songs.
I can test infinite song combinations to figure out which energetic journey helps bring the crowd along for the ride rather than pushing and pulling them relentlessly.
But the picture is far rosier when I give myself the grace of it being my first performance. Save for a tiny lyrical fumble;
I performed all of my songs with good energy.
I didn’t run out of breath or stumble about awkwardly.
I made a point to connect to different parts of the audience throughout the show and found other places to settle for each song.
This may be the age of wisdom creeping into my consciousness.
Or I spent too many years doggedly trying to dislike myself into greatness.
But I feel great about how it went, warts and all.
And, in classic Jack fashion, I failed to capture any photography or video of the event myself. Though I did at least have the forethought to have a videographer film the evening, including my nervous swaying and hand-wringing ahead of going on stage.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it feels like I continue to receive the same communication from my body and my energy each time I get on stage: I love this shit.
I love performing.
I love the feeling of my heart in my throat, the chest pounding, the nervousness, and the brief moment in the middle of the set when you realize that your vitals have leveled and you are just yourself.
If I look back at all of the things I tried:
-Group Fitness Coaching
Each of those endeavors possessed qualities that I enjoyed.
If I had made a spreadsheet of “things I like to do,” I could have checked many boxes for each.
But something always felt a bit disconnected.
I had a lot of trouble building community and connection with others while I was pursuing these things.
Success never felt particularly rewarding.
My relationship with each of them always felt a bit brittle, like I knew they were a test drive rather than a ride home in a new car.
But this time?
It all just feels right.
And, even in my stubborn resistance to surrender, which can make it hard to celebrate the little victories along the way, I feel buoyant.
I have another show lined up on December 1 at a venue called Your Mom’s House, which I think is an excellent name for a venue. And I get several weeks to iterate one step further, one step closer to the experience I aspire to create for others.
Maybe I’ll see you there?