Playing Antstock

By Justin Huft
Staff Writer

There are few things that are as gut-wrenching as the sound of a string breaking while you’re tuning your guitar. I was expected to play at the yearly Antstock Festival and Awards Show in about five minutes, and one-sixth of my guitar was out of commission. My girlfriend was nowhere to be found. My cellphone was dead. First-world problems, am I right?

Two hours earlier, all the musicians had arrived at Pacific Ballroom C to do their sound check. We shook hands and traded stories of good shows and bad hecklers. We were all really excited for tonight.

Forty different bands submitted songs to be judged in Best Vocals, Song of the Year, Most Original and Best Instrumentation. There were whispers of who would win what, but secretly, we didn’t care about those awards. The one thing we were all gunning for was the Live Performance Award.

After sound check, we disappeared. Some wandered the campus, playing guitar and serenading strangers. Some sat in the corner, frustratingly trying to get their riffs down. Others went home and took a nap. Me, I sat outside and tried to figure out what song I was going to play. I wasn’t terribly nervous. I’ve done things like this before. What could go wrong?

People start taking their seats, and I notice that the second seat on the right, in the first row hasn’t filled up yet. I had been saving that for The Girlfriend, the one who was supposed to be here half an hour ago.

Kanye West songs were booming from the speakers above, battling the four practicing musicians in the corner for control of the audience’s cochleae.

The hosts for the night whispered in the corner, frantically scribbling notes and arrows on their set-lists. The lights dimmed, and the Kanye quieted down. The hosts for the evening, comic duo Paul Bernabe and Reza Zomorrodian, step on stage, the audience cheers. Paul, sporting a Members Only jacket, whispers for the first performer to get ready. Mr. Sean Martin is introduced and gets on stage. That’s my cue.

I walk behind stage and do some last-minute tuning. Low E string, fine. A, fine. D, little low, but that’s OK. G, way out of tune. I tune it up and up, and up, and then, the worst sound a musician will ever hear.

My G-string snapped (no jokes, necessary), and with it, any hope of actually performing tonight. While Sean gave a monologue about how many YouTube hits he has, I just stared at my guitar, hoping that all my years playing Lego Star Wars would have allowed me to Force-fix this major problem.

I looked up and realized The Girlfriend was still missing. For the first time tonight, I was anxious. I was sweating, and nervous, and I felt like throwing up.

There was absolutely no way I could play a song without a string. I tried to tune-up my other strings, and, I kid you not, another string broke. One-third of my guitar was broken now. This couldn’t get any worse.

I walked outside, trying to gather my thoughts, when my missing girlfriend finally showed up.

I told her how I had broken strings, how I couldn’t play and how the sky was falling. She just smiled the entire time.
She politely waited for me to finish before reaching her hand into her purse, and pulling out a pack of guitar strings.
“I thought you might need these,” she said.

I grumbled thanks and exchanged a few kisses before tuning up, and running back into the room right in time for my name to be called.

I played my song; it went well. Everyone after me was fantastic. The whole event was just so gosh darn great. The end.