It's a sold-out show at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Joe Satriani and band (Jeff Campitelli and Stu Hamm) are getting ready for soundcheck. Deep in the nasty Tenderloin district within the circa 1922, 2250-seat hall, in the golden and red-velvet draped interior the band kicks off a Live-To-The-Internet webcast. Great aluminum light trusses hang at seemingly haphazard angles above the black stage. Stu Hamm straps on his signature Fender 5-string and kicks off his warmup with the Midnight Sonata by lovely, lovely Ludwig Van Beethoven. A symphony in black (t-shirt, shorts and sneakers), Mr. Hamm wallops dense tapping patterns and complicated chordal structures. Suddenly Jeff bounces up to his drumkit, doffs his sunglasses and pounds on the kick drum. Joe appears from behind the stacks at stage right, wearing his signature chromed Ibanez six-string electric. All three members go into improvisational happy land, playing interstellar riffs and sounding like Sun Ra beyond hyperspace.
They settle down and bang on the old Sly Stone chestnut: "Thank You For Lettin' Me Be Myself." (We don't remember Sly's exact words) Then it's a boogie-woogie blues shuffle. All the time the giant wall of Joe and Stu and Jeff streams out from the stage in jackhammer precision. The sheer articulation of note attack and melodic structure blows anyone with any musical experience at all back out through the back of the house.
The sound man yells into a quiet moment: "I lost the kickdrum! It went away!" The stagehand swaps mics and we're back in business.
Joe is a huge fan of the Internet and what it means to be connected. He offers his fans a peak into his world before the show. How many bands will webcast the soundcheck? That's right! It might be a first!
Joe describes the soundcheck as: "a prelude to the true 'Crystal Planet' explosion." The lights and fog and sound give all the appearances of a full show. People doing video and still photography crouch in front of the stage. Joe plays it for real. He loves to play. Even though it's just a soundcheck he's on top of it and Stu and Jeff, smiling through the haze, back him up.
Show soon! Watch this space!