It's Friday the 13 and superstition says today is unlucky...dun dun dun! A Gallup poll conducted a few years ago found that about 25% of us are superstitious about knocking on wood, 13% about a black cat crossing our path, 12% about walking under a ladder, 11% about breaking a mirror and the number 13 makes 9% of us uneasy. So a good chunk of us believe in those kinds of superstitions but what about charms like a gambler's lucky dice or maybe...a guitarist's lucky pick?
We all know musicians can be...well...a little...quirky. Performing live can be a nerve-wracking experience and the challenge of entertaining a room full of folks can lead musicians to develop some pretty unique pre-show rituals, which are basically superstitious in nature.
Some might keep a specific, lucky item on them while they play, wear a certain pair of shoes or drink a certain kind of booze beforehand. What's key is that the musician notices that he or she did something that coincided with a desired outcome making that something a necessary precursor to the performance.
For example, today, I learned that Robert Plant irons his shirts before performing, saying "I find ironing helps get me in the mood before I perform. I always have an ironing board in my room before I go on stage." What? That's not very... rock & roll...but whatever, it's Robert Plant.
On this first Friday the 13 of 2012 (there will be two more!), we talked to several local musicians (some based here and some born here) to see if they had any weird, pre-gig rituals or just any superstitions in general and here's what we found out:
Kyle Gionis (Weird Party) I have to be showered and shaved that day which can be a big problem on tour. Also, I can't listen to a band's music if I'm going to see them that day.
Sarah Hirsch (Jealous Creatures) I usually tell everyone in the band not to break their hands or feet before a big show, which generally serves to freak the hell out of my drummer on the basis that saying something about it will ultimately cause it to happen. I guess it's a reverse superstition?
Traveus Lawson I write things on my hands to focus my energy before a big show.
Kevin Healy (The Distracted) Do rules count? "No extreme sports the week before a gig." "Label your gear.", "The guitar player is not allowed to open glass bottles."
Sergio Trevino (Buxton) I'd consider myself a little superstitious. Really, I can't help but think I'm gonna die everytime I see a full moon. Generally, it's a fleeting thought.
Staci Butler (Staci's Edge) If you have a terrible rehearsal right before a big gig, you will rock at the gig.
Brant Lee Croucher When I first started gigging, I always ate a bag of Cheddar Sour Cream Ruffles chips before every show. Like, every. single. show. When I started playing a lot of shows last year I decided it was time to end that tradition, 'cause I can't really afford coronary artery bypass surgery. Of course now it seems it's pre-show whiskey, so I don't know that as far as vices go I'm much better off...
Nick Dudek (The Watermarks) I have my ritual I go through... stretch, drink 2 beers, tune and make sure everything is in its exact place.
Charlie Chavira (Governor's Chair) Put on right boot first on gig days. Stretch before the show, a little thing I like to call Rock Areobics (that's a whole different story). Order a coke and a water WITHOUT a straw before I order my first beer. Smoke cigarettes heavily.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Kenyon Puntenney (Athousandcolours) you can usually find me taking a nap in a dark corner back stage. Due to the insane amount of hours I work per week, and how all any of my leftover energy is put into music, last minute cat naps keep me sane. My band and I don't pray to Rock gods or sacrifice virgins for better guitar riffs. We thrive most in the depths of the river where you find harbor in family and friends. Where the means justify the end, not the opposite. If there's any formula for a good show it would have to be for the love of what is and what could be.
Mike Theobald (Darkest Hour) When Darkest Hour plays a show, we all do a shot of Jack Daniel.'s and give a "Woah Bundy!" (married with children) huddle. It works out for the better most times.
Jeff Balke (Orange Is In) sitting at his desk at the Press where he is filling in for music editor Chris Gray while he recovers, had to chime in: My quirk is that my hands have to be clean before a gig. I don't have this need in normal life, but before a gig, it's an imperative. Not sure if it is a full blown superstition, but it is something that bugs me and will often throw me off my game if I don't wash them before starting. It's been like that as long as I can remember and I have no idea why.
So , who's got the weirdest pre-gig rituals? Are you superstitious? Did you think twice about getting out of bed today? If you're a musician, do you have any rituals or a routine you swear by? Let us know in the comments section!