Lot 56 at The Blue Note on May 17th, 2012
“As the audience trickled in, the members of LOT 56 quietly prepared for their set in the eighth annual Battle of the Bands at The Blue Note […] The four member band – made up of Aaron Schilb on lead guitar along with Ian Meyer on lead vocals and keyboard, Joel Pruitt on drums and Ben Morgan on bass – started their set for a screaming crowd”.
– Ryan Henriksen, Columbia Daily Tribune – May 22nd, 2012
I remember it so vividly. My high school band “LOT 56” arrived at The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri for our one-year anniversary performance.
The four of us had played live no more than ten times in that first year together. However, each of us being a part of different social groups, we garnered a fan base from each of the schools in which we attended.
I was nervous. But nerves be damned, my excitement and anticipation took control as I prepared to play the biggest show of my life at that point. My friends and (shockingly) family filtered into the venue and waved up to the stage from the floor and I ripped into (what I wanted to be) a scissor kick.
Lights growing a deep forrest green and vague background music came down as I allowed my guitar to feedback into the amp – we always opened our shows with a trashed intro leading into a song I wrote called “OtherSide” (which for you music theory nerds is in 9/8 transitioning into 4/4 and alternating back and forth).
At this point, I’m going to spare you all of the track-by-track breakdown I could do and instead I’ll cut to our second to last song.
We closed our set (before the encore) with a song called “The Day Before”, the first song I wrote at age 16. Something special happened during that song.
A song about a girl that I had a crush on. How cliché. What’s even more of a cliché was that I was too nervous to tell her. Now, what did NOT happen was that girl coming out of the woodworks after hearing my song and immediately falling for me. This night was a dream come true, but not like that.
The Day Before is about getting over yourself because, well, life is weird; it’s about embracing the weirdness.
Following the guitar solo, during the last chorus, we dropped all of our instruments and sang the words a cappella in four-part harmony.(What I find impressive now, some 8 years after I wrote my first song, was that I managed to write a melody and subsequent four part harmony utilizing a tritone in each part. I didn’t know what that was at the time. But cool for a kid, I guess.),
My life changed forever during that a cappella chorus.
“The thoughts in my brain are scattered like beans, yeah on the floor, yeah on the floor. The words in my dreams are weirder than the day before, weirder than the day before”
“The Day Before” – Lot 56
I can still see the glowing faces of the audience singing along with music that I’d written. I could see the happiness in their eyes. I could feel the palpable joy radiating from them.
I have footage of the moment I decided to be a professional musician.
It was a completely transcendent moment where, looking back now, I can watch myself watching them sing along with music I wrote.
~THEY KNEW THE WORDS~
We hadn’t even recorded our album at that point. They knew those terrible, horrible, amazingly cheesy lyrics from coming to our shows. It filled me to the brim with happiness knowing that I brought that moment of happiness to those people.
We walked off the stage, hastily loaded our equipment, and for the first time, I truly felt like I was living. I was the happiest I had ever been.
After those brilliant 37 minutes on stage I knew that I had to commit my life to doing that again. I knew I wanted to write better songs. I knew I wanted to play bigger shows. I knew, without a doubt, what I wanted to do with my life.
Since that day, I have fully committed my life to music.
I now live in Nashville, Tennessee, write songs with so many amazing people, perform with killer artists, and more than anything, when people ask what I’m doing these days, I can earnestly say that I am living the dream.
Sometimes I go back and watch the home videos of our shows and can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous faces, dances, and stage antics I brought to our audiences. So many times would I get made fun of at school. “Oh my god. Dude you looked like an idiot when your band was playing”.
I never let their remarks get to me; I always responded with, “Yeah I do. But you remembered me. And my band. So it worked”. Bad press is better than no press, right? After all, these people would come to our shows to make fun of me and I STILL got their $5 door cover, so I was fine with it. I was having fun.
I was a weirdo on stage.
Now, I won’t get too sentimental and I wouldn’t dare overstate the talent of my band, but some of our material was actually pretty good. (Yeah, yeah, still biased, I hear you.) We were each students of music though; this is what we were good at and I consider myself lucky to have performed with so many talented guys.
*If you are curious as to what I Aaron Schilb was doing musically when he was in high school, the “Lot 56” album is still available on Spotify, Apple Music & iTunes, and most other digital music retailers for streaming and purchase.