I love working at trivago! The company embodies many of my core passions: technology and innovation, travel, multiculturalism, and on occasion, music! The trivagoVibe is a bi-annual concert of trivago’s musically-talented employees and is the activity where I have the most fun at work (and yes, that includes the famed trivago on Tour annual trip. Nothing beats live music in my book, and at trivago, live music means trivagoVibe!
trivago recently moved into a new spaceship-like campus in Düsseldorf, an incredible facility in every way, including lots of open-air spaces which are perfect for music. During the past trivagoVibes, I didn’t have the opportunity to perform, and so this time, I was as proactive as possible to make sure that I would make it on to the lineup. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the outcomes.
The lineup of musicians was incredibly impressive. There was something for everyone with a range of genres from singer-songwriter, blues, country, rock, and dance music.
A few years back while I was traveling across India, I had an identity crisis. I came to understand that if I wanted to continue saying, “I am a drummer,” instead of, “I was a drummer,” then I better start drumming more regularly. My nomadic and apartment-dwelling lifestyle was not conducive to such loud and bulky habits. One night, while lying in bed, I was watching drumming YouTube videos when I came across a Drumeo video featuring Michael Schack, Roland’s endorsed artist for their flagship e-drums. I was hooked, and 10-minutes later, I typed my credit card info onto eBay, where I found a great deal on a Roland TD-30KV drum set.
In recent years, I have enjoyed coming home to my 1-bedroom apartment and jamming with headphones late into the night without disturbing my neighbors. I even did a few studio recordings with the drums (they sound even better than “real” drums on recordings) but never dared to dream of using them for a live performance; I am too much of an acoustic-purist to play e-drums live.
But here I am in Germany, and no gigs played in the two years since I arrived, no bands to play with, and yet there is an opportunity at work where I could perform. But perform with who?? Sure, I talked to some other musicians, but I think they shared my view on acoustic drums being the only proper drums for a band. And so I was left without buddies to jam with. One day I decided, “Judson, you can do this alone. After all, Michael Schack can do it, so why can’t you?” And so that is what I set out to do: a one-person band drumming extravaganza.
Now things are about to get interesting!
On the week of the show, I show up to my spaceship-esque office with my spaceship-esque drums, and not even I know what to make of it. I have never hooked this Roland kit up to external speakers before. Though I have no doubts about its capabilities, I wasn’t sure what sort of unforeseeable technical difficulties could pop up.
When the time for soundcheck came, another drummer got to the stage first with her acoustic drums, so we got those set up first. But that is when things got interesting. The acoustics of the venue was terrible. There was an echo that went on for minutes. We had a big fear of how to control the sound of live drums. After a brief attempt at a soundcheck, it already seemed like a lousy idea.
Then came the question: Them: Judson, can we use your drums for all the bands tonight?
Me: hmmmmmm… well, yes, of course, but are you sure that is a good idea?
Them: Well let’s give it a try
And so we set up the Roland drums for soundcheck. When everything was set, I got behind the drums, and with one beat into the kick drum >BOOM< we all knew we struck gold. This. Drumset. Sounds. AMAZING. Live! The rest of the night had fantastic sounding rhythm, which was super easy to mix into everyone else’s volume on stage.
I am just blown away at the level of musical talent that exists in this company. Not to mention the courage it takes to play music in front of all your colleagues. The concert featured 8 acts: 6 bands, a DJ, and me. Here are some highlight photos from the evening.
I didn’t get much video of the other bands, but be sure to check out this awesome video of Josito & the Kids performing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. These guys are amazing!
Late in the evening, after everyone was good and loosened up, having just listened to hours of fantastic live music, my moment of truth came. It was time for me to hit the stage for the first time in Germany, and if I am honest, this was my first real live performance since… I honestly can’t remember! Seriously, I am sitting here trying to remember, and I just don’t remember.
Drummers typically sit in the back of the stage, behind the rest of the band. That is not an excuse to lack showmanship, but now my drums were pushed to the front edge of the stage, and I was up here alone. It was time for me to shine or fail. The crowd was full of energy, and it was my responsibility to keep them entertained. *Did I rehearse enough? Did I program the right drum sounds? Does the backing track work? Will the video backdrop work? These are all the questions which were in my head. But I was focused. I was prepared. I rehearsed, and now it was time to see if I still have what it takes.
As I walked onto the stage, I slipped into character. For the next 32 minutes, I would be DRUMSON.
I have no videos from a live performance in all the years that I have played drums, and I hardly have any photos. I certainly have no quality photos. Therefore, I asked a few friends to take some videos of my performance. The results were astounding! Many people sent me videos, and I was able to splice this video recap of the show.
Please excuse the unstable audio level. I think the phones had a difficult time keeping up with how loud the show was.
Enjoy! (Please leave me your feedback in the comments section of this post!)
Thank you to all the other musicians, my friends, my colleagues, and especially to trivago for making this special night a reality, not just for me, but for everyone involved. The trivagoVibe happens twice a year, and I hope that I will be able to perform at the next one.
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