Rigor Mortis by Connor McKeon

Hi all. I am excited to announce a series of writings by Connor McKeon! To get things started we chatted a bit about the whole thing: Favorite writers, top inspirations, and about his first post, Rigor Mortis. It's about stage fright. Nothing like the feeling of putting yourself out there and being absolutely terrified. (Also, please excuse all the nervousness at the start of the conversation..) Here's a convo of us chillin at cal andojo

and without further ado, we hope you enjoy Rigor Mortis by Connor McKeon.     

     You stand there, alone, staring into an abyss of faces, a sea of anonymity, and start to wonder why you came here in the first place.  What once sounded like a “fun idea” went from being an opportunity to a nightmare in a single instant.  Not the kind of, “forgot to wear pants to the first day of middle school” type of nightmare, a hellish fever dream that could put the Boogie Man himself in a cold sweat.  You snap out of this paralysis just long enough to discover the torrential outpour of sweat from your forehead and you struggle to find your fretting on your guitar.  A simple riff that you’ve listlessly played a million times while in the privacy of your own bedroom suddenly becomes quantum physics.

     Something draws your eye to that cute blonde girl with the septum piercing from your UCOR Humanities course, standing in the very front.  Up until only a moment ago you were hoping that she’d show up so you could finally make some kind of impression.  She sits at the front of class and cites the text in ways that even the teacher has trouble keeping up with.  Yeah she’s beautiful, but what’s more than that she’s opinionated and articulate as balls.  People like us always sit in the back row of class with nothing to contribute because “school isn’t really our scene,” but not her.  The only way you’ve been able to justify your mediocre academic performance to yourself thus far has been by telling yourself “music is my real passion.” You’ve never been quiet about that.  If you haven’t said it explicitly, you dress and carry yourself in ways that intentionally advertises the archetype, “musician.”  Now she’s looking at you in that denim jacket, the one that you’re now regretting. It’ll likely be all that’s left of you when you melt like a sugar cube in the rain.  You get to thinking “Why denim? Like, what am I? James Dean or Something?”

     More like Jimmy Dean, because you know that you’re about to look as appealing as a big ol’ wad of ground pork, squeezed freshly from a plastic tube, unless you get over it and play something.  What’s about to happen, is that this amazing woman is going to watch you publicly frizzle fry into a burnt little crisp in front of an audience.  You chuckle to yourself, laughing at your own obscurity and self grandeur, and that’s when it happens.  The abyss settles to calm ocean of subtle familiarity.  All around a are motley bunch of capitol hill patrons you see on a regular basis.  You recognize this lot from places like dollar beer night at Cha Cha’s, petting the kittens at Twice Sold Tales, or possibly rifling through the used CD section at Everyday Music.

     It’s this sentiment that galvanizes the shy performer into a stage presence of both confidence and humility.  These Friends and Friends of Friends events serve as an incubator for this kind of artist, and that’s what makes them special for this time and place.  Standing in front of a crowd to share something that would otherwise only be heard by the walls in your bedroom and a collection of stuffed animals, is a rare experience that many are robbed of by the bandit that is crippling stage fright.  We lift each other up onto this pedestal for the purpose of knowing the songs that would otherwise go unheard.  Knowing this symbiotic relationship between artist and audience is a humbling sensation for all participants, and creates a mutually beneficial arrangement.  We in the audience give you the quiet support you need, and you give us what we came for, a show.