nervous about performing live

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
stonee
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nervous about performing live

Post by stonee » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:19 pm

nervous isn't really the word I'd prefer to use, but I know I'm ready to start trying to break into the scene.

the problem is, I really have no idea what I'm doing, theres little to no alternative electronica scene here so I have no one to watch and learn from , and theres a few blocks that I need some help around.

1) first off, what should i be doing when im performing live? I feel like I should always be doing somthing, because i come from a band backround. is it as simple as making sure your tracks are running smoothly, or should be as complicated as controlling as many things as you can handle? should I just turn some unlinked nobs to make myself feel better?

2) the other problem I'm having is mixing my songs together. you can't open 2 instances of live on a mac that I'm aware of, so I have to stop to load the next song. I don't like using mixed down files, cause i can't tweak what i want. I tried building a superset, but my computer was having non o' dat.


it would be nice if someone could give me a general run through of their live set :)



thanks!


www.myspace.com/everettmakessounds if you want to hear some of the stuff that I've done.


-everett

DJ VAKIS
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Post by DJ VAKIS » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:39 pm

I would say cut loops from your songs and trigger them live.Play with the FX's.....
You need to work in the session view to do this.Make practice before you go on stage.
I hope you know what i mean.
http://www.myspace.com/djvakis
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DJ VAKIS
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Post by DJ VAKIS » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:43 pm

Good music you make any way,I like it.
http://www.myspace.com/djvakis
http://mix2r.fm/audio/user/221


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thelike5
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Re: nervous about performing live

Post by thelike5 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:46 pm

stonee wrote:nervous isn't really the word I'd prefer to use, but I know I'm ready to start trying to break into the scene.

the problem is, I really have no idea what I'm doing, theres little to no alternative electronica scene here so I have no one to watch and learn from , and theres a few blocks that I need some help around.

1) first off, what should i be doing when im performing live? I feel like I should always be doing somthing, because i come from a band backround. is it as simple as making sure your tracks are running smoothly, or should be as complicated as controlling as many things as you can handle? should I just turn some unlinked nobs to make myself feel better?

2) the other problem I'm having is mixing my songs together. you can't open 2 instances of live on a mac that I'm aware of, so I have to stop to load the next song. I don't like using mixed down files, cause i can't tweak what i want. I tried building a superset, but my computer was having non o' dat.


it would be nice if someone could give me a general run through of their live set :)



thanks!


www.myspace.com/everettmakessounds if you want to hear some of the stuff that I've done.


-everett
Do what ever you want to do live. If you wanna dance, then dance. Have fun. Go with the flow.

Nova Scotia doesn't have an electronic music scene? I figured they would. I know they had a real strong indie rock scene for awhile...

laird
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Post by laird » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:50 pm

When in doubt, Keep it simple. Don't control everything just because you can, or think you should be doing something. Tweak what needs to be tweaked in real time, and leave the rest alone. Besides, no one will be able to distinguish your Mad Tweaking Skillz from your mad email checking skillz anyway.

We've loaded up individual song files one at a time. It does take a little time inbetween songs, but its not horrible.
Making a "super-live set" often involves consolidating effects. With 10 songs in one set, you can't really load up 10 different reverb VSTs, 20 different synth VSTs, etc.. etc... You'll have to rely more on Live's built-in effects (which dont use up much/any CPU power when not actively in use) and share effects. Move track two from song two to track 1 so it can share the reverb plugin track 1 uses in song 1. A tedius prospect, perhaps, but certainly possible.

I think consolidation is a good thing, too. Having a shared and limited set of effects and instruments can actually improve live sets, imo. I've seen one-too-many IDM acts that spew out 500 different synths, sounds, effects and such over the course of a show to the point where I'm left with no overall memory of "their sound".

Lastly, have fun.

ethios4
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Post by ethios4 » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:56 pm

how you do a live performance is totally up to you. If you want to just mix one mixdown track into another, do it. It's usually more exciting for performer and audience is there is some kind of live interaction with the music going on. This could be as simple as adding FX on the fly, or mixing in loops to a pre-existing track, or as complex as trying to control every single aspect in realtime. Most live performers fall somewhere in between.

Under no circumstances should you be a tool and tweak fake knobs!!

Coming up with a creative way to play your music live is half the fun!

Personally, I started out making building block loops (drums, bass, synth riffs, FX, etc) and mixing/FX live. This led to some pretty boring sets, as I was trying to do too much at once, and the loops did not have enough built-in progression and change over time. So I started DJing other people's tracks to make it better for the dancefloor, and I've developed some pretty cool DJ effects that I can play with to keep it interesting for me and audience. That is getting boring quickly though, so I'm just now starting to get back into making building block loops that have built-in progression, and maybe live tweakability, and also developing a system of dummy clips to have single-button structural transformations - like hit a button and an automated breakdown happens based on whatever happens to playing at the time.

Check out the user COSM - he has generously posted a few live performance sets on here.

controlvoltage
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Post by controlvoltage » Tue Nov 13, 2007 7:01 pm

I've been working on a live set (err, in Live) with a full band, and we'd also been loading individual song files... I'm not happy with that approach.
What I'm working now is as follows:

Each live input (guitar, various keys, vocals) gets its own track in Live
the effects on each input are different per song, so I make a Rack for the fx in each song. Then I automate power on/off for each Rack as it becomes relevant in the mix. This way I still have my 20 delays, 15 reverbs, etc. imported from each individual song, but only what's needed is turned on at a given moment, thus not killing my CPU.

You could probably adapt a similar approach for consolidating tracks into one live mega-set even if you're not basing it around realtime input on multiple tracks.
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stonee
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Post by stonee » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:34 pm

thank you muchly!

so, the conclusion I've come to, is to start off as simple as I want, and work up to more complex.

for mixing songs, I think im eaither going to tag team with my freind, ( my song ends, he mixes in at the end) or i may just make an interlude to play in itunes while the other song loads.

im going to try to boom myself for a show in december. that give me no time to procrastinate, lol

stonee
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Re: nervous about performing live

Post by stonee » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:38 pm

thelike5 wrote:
Nova Scotia doesn't have an electronic music scene? I figured they would. I know they had a real strong indie rock scene for awhile...
indie scene here is in kind of a lull, but generally pretty solid. electronic scene here, not so much. theres tons of booty house "dj's" which are really no more than jukeboxes, but it seems like there alot of intimidation, and not many places for people like me.

Sales Dude McBoob
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Post by Sales Dude McBoob » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:49 pm

I find that visualizing the performance helps me deal with the nerves involved.

I always visualize the worst situation possible. I picture no one showing up. Even the sound dude and bartender aren't there. I imagine the numerous technical difficulties that could pop up and how to quickly resolve them.

Electronic music is a tough one. I think it's important to consider how you expect a crowd to react to what you're doing. Unfortunately the whole "checking email" stigma weighs in on this. It's not just the laptop that's to blame. I think with PA style gigs (that's an electronic Performance Artist who has mostly hardware synths and boxes on a table, sometimes a laptop, sometimes not) the same danger is there. Twisting knobs and staring at a screen simply isn't that engaging for an audience. There are exceptions, some artists can pull this off, and some audiences will be engaged, but for the most part they will not.

The plus side to this is that it makes you think about what can be done to enrich your show. Personally, I don't think pointing a projector at your face is the answer.

I guess my only advice is to practice, be prepared (bring back-up cables, etc. Redundancy is king), and pay attention to the crowd. Jump into the fire and think about how you can improve the next time out.

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Post by cosmosuave » Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:51 pm

Well Fu*k those guys your a pioneer dude and your gonna rock it... See the long note below from livepa.org on live performances there is some good advice listed....

The Art of Performing Live Electronic Music by Sneakthief

Preface

Please remember, the art of playing live is about being cool-headed when things don't go the way you expect it. Try to take everything in stride, and for god's sake, never panic.

The most hard-won piece of advice that I have right after you perform DO NOT CRITICIZE YOUR SET IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE. If you must, save the self-deprecation for another day and only for your closest friends.


Why?

First of all, most of the "mistakes" made while performing will only be noticed by you. If someone thinks that you played fine, and then you start telling them about all of the fuckups, it can change their perception of your performance in a negative way. Your confidence and self-assurance plays an important role in how your music will be received.

The truth is, there will always be things going wrong - e.g. gear fuckups, bad cables, bad sound, audio glitches, police, people trying to talk you or hit on you, etc... live performance is about Having the confidence to overcome such difficulties and play your music as best as you can.

Although it may look impressive to haul a lot of gear, what really matters is what you do with it. Having more gear means having more things to go wrong. So think twice about bringing your whole studio for your next life gig.

Studios are like laboratories - they're usually safe and controlled environment that you're familiar with. The minute you drag your equipment somewhere else, you introduce all sorts of weird variables including

-power fluctuations
-low lighting
-heat/cold
-humidity
-dust
-strange sound system setups with weird cabling
-spilled liquids
-intoxicated/obnoxious/distracting party goers
-lots of bass to rattle wires, connections and hard drives

As such, I prefer taking less gear rather than more. It also helps to really know your equipment inside and out.


Live PA Checklist - (this list has been compiled thanks to helpful suggestions from those on the livepa.org, EM411.com, and the now-defunct Moving-Parts & Topica livePA mailing lists)



Ask beforehand about the setup if possible and don't forget to make your needs very clear. I highly recommend printing out a simple rider that spells out exactly what you require - some promoters might forget that you need power connectors, table space, an audio input into the sound system, etc. (Note: to prevent power issues and line noise, avoid going on the same electrical circuit as the discolights/fogmachine/etc.)


Make an equipment checklist and use it before every show. It's so easy to forget one little thing that will prevent you from playing. Having your own power bar is essential if you need more than one outlet and always bring duct tape).


Don't be afraid of writing down a listing of all the tracks you have - that way, if you're doing any kind of spontaneous transitions, you can quickly choose what you might want to play next. (and NO, I don't necessarily mean a pre-planned set list). Also consider making notes for patch numbers and changes, volume levels, or anything else that’s essential to your live workflow.


Know ALL your cable connections inside and out. Check your cables beforehand and make sure they're all working... even midi cables go bad, and when they do it can be very frustrating because you might not think to check the cable when midi data isn't being transmitted properly.


Mark your cables with coloured tape or label-tiewraps (so you know what goes where). Don’t forget the duct tape!


Bring a flashlight - lighting conditions can vary and chances are you will need one.


Bring many different types of *extra* connectors because you never know what kind of audio inputs/cables the venue will have. If you’re using a laptop, you might want to also bring a power connector that removes the ground (aka a ground lift) - this can help get rid of grounding problems (50/60Hz hum).


Consider putting a compressor/limiter on your final mix (see section below on Compression/Limiting for more info)- it comes in handy for sounds that get a little out of control. Remember, records have gone through a whole mastering process and will generally deliver a consistent volume range, whereas live sound can have some pretty crazy dynamics (but try not to squash your mix if you limit/compress it). Some cheap compressor/limiters: DBX 166, Behringer Multicom Pro, SYMETRIX 501, YAMAHA- GC2020B, ASHLY Model CG85E, ASHLY Model CG85E, DBX 266, ALESIS: CLX-440, 3630, ALTO CLE2.0, etc.


A monitor is necessary, or at least headphones. You will find that listening to both will help give you a better idea of what's being heard on the dancefloor. Nevertheless, what you hear from the monitor speakers is NOT what the people hear on the dancefloor.


Soundcheck! If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to setup your equipment before the event starts, take some time to LISTEN TO YOUR SET ON THE DANCEFLOOR! This is essential, even if you don't get a soundcheck, run out onto the dancefloor when you first start playing so you can get an idea of how everything sounds. Resources on soundchecking and live sound:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/onemusic/pe ... kp01.shtml
http://www.roadie.net/
http://www.jeepjazz.com/handbk.html
http://www.digitalmusicworld.com/html/h ... LSound.php
http://www.bobbrozman.com/soundhints.html
http://personalpages.tds.net/~rpmccabe/ ... sLinks.htm


If the room sounds bad, a 10, 20 or 30 band eq will allow you to compensate for it. every room has a resonant frequency that may detract from your sound - Not to mention, all sound systems are eq'd differently.


Be friendly to whoever is doing sound because they can make or break your set through carelessness or malice. A good sound engineer will let you know if you’re running a signal that’s too high or too low, and will also be on duty to make sure that the sound system levels are staying consistent. A lazy or unfriendly sound engineer won’t give a damn if your set sounds like crap because your output is clipping and the limiters are squashing your set. If people are running away from the dancefloor, then you better check and see if you’re killing them with unfriendly mid-high frequencies, clipping or distortion.


If there isn’t a sound engineer, you can try to find someone who’s sober enough to let you know if any of your levels are going astray or if there are problems with the sound system.


Consider using at least 2 sequencers/laptops (or at least an extra drum machine). If one of them crashes, you'll at least have a backup. If everything fails or the power goes out, start clapping to the sound comes back on or break out your emergency acoustic instrument. Or try beatboxing. I'm not kidding. (e-trinity once performed this successfully to a screaming crowd when his laptop crashed minutes before the end of his set at a big party in Sweden). Cheap sequencers to use as a second sequencer: Alesis MMT-8, Yamaha QY-70, QY-100, etc. (Plus: see Drum Machine section below for cheap drum machines that can be used as a sequencer.)


Bring backup disks (or cdr's, flash memory cards, hard drives) for everything... this sounds ridiculous, but redundancy is the key here. Consider what you would do in a situation where your synth loses all it's patches or if your hard drive crashes. If you have a laptop, could you make a bootable cdr? Also, if you have a laptop, you could keep sysex dumps handy for external gear. The same goes for sampler data. External scsi cdrom drives are cheap. For about $50 or less, you can buy a cdrom drive and do a dump of your sampler's hard drive to a cdr. Not to mention, external Firewire/USB2 hard-drive enclosures are ridiculously cheap and don't weight that much.


Hard drives can be susceptible to low frequency vibrations which can cause misreads, or even head crashes (this is Bad ThingTM). So please be careful when you’re choosing a space to place your laptop. Consider placing it on foam, or even a t-shirt and at all costs avoid putting your computer on a bassbin!


Have some kind of backup plan in case your gear crashes, even if it’s something cheap and simple like a minidisk. This will give you some breathing time if you have to suddenly reload anything. If you're using a laptop, consider having it automatically boot into your music software and automatically play a track (in case of a reboot) - remember to scandisk and defrag your machine regularly.


During your set, take a moment to occasionally look at the audience and see how they're reacting to what you're doing. If people start to leave the dancefloor, then perhaps you should try something different ;)


Practice! I know it's obvious, but it will help you overcome unpleasant situations where things fuck up. If you think you know your gear well, you may find out differently when it's dark and in a completely different environment. doh!


Be prepared to politely shoe people away if they ask you to play their favorite song, or "what all those buttons do", or make out with you during your set (heheh). And for God’s sake, don’t let anyone put their drinks next to your gear, and be extra vigilant when drink-wielding patrons are hovering around you.


I strongly recommend to not get fucked up on whatever substance. It's rude and disrespectful to not perform your best - you will not play any better if you're seriously intoxicated. Save the "partying" for after you've finished your set and packed up your equipment and it's in a safe place.


Don't be afraid to take chances and improvise whenever you feel comfortable in doing so - a perfectly pre-rehearsed gig can end up being too rigid. You have to be able to create some kind of repor or feedback with your audience, n'est-ce-pas?


Record your set and listen to it. You may end up getting some great material, or at the very least be able to figure out where you need improvement.


Try to have someone trustworthy watching your gear when you're not around and pack up your gear as soon as possible!!!!! This will significantly reduce your chances of anything bad happening including theft and accidents.


“never never never never never never never never never act bashful during your set. It's not cute and it's embarrassing for everyone.” (credit djugel at EM411.com)


If you make a mistake, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just keep on playing. Most of the time it will only be you who notices or remembers it.


If you're not afraid to crack open your equipment, don't forget to bring a screwdriver in case you need to open up your gear right before or during your set in order to carry out some crazy emergency repairs.


If you're traveling with your gear, make sure to pack it very well. A lot of smaller equipment fits nicely in those cheap hardware-store metal toolkit cases. Nice pieces of thick foam don't cost too much and just a few minutes with a knife and scissors will allow you to customize the shape to fit your equipment nicely. Please remember that baggage handlers and roadies can be cruel bastards *lol*


Believe it or not, you *can* make a living doing live performance. It certainly takes determination, experience, perseverance and a little obsession. Many musicians from all walks of life have come to realize that there is typically more money to be made from performing as opposed to releasing recordings. As such, don't underestimate your value as an entertainer - there should come a time when you will want to charge for your efforts. Although the amount of time and effort put into a live set is usually never offset by the income from performing, don't doubt for a second that what you're doing is worth being paid for.


Oh yeah, the most important thing is to have fun!

NB: as you get more experience, you eventually get less and less nervous before performing - but there should always be some excitement and sense of anticipation. Otherwise why bother?

Label EVERYTHING. Most wall-warts power supplies are black - get a white marker and write your name and email address on the back, and write what device it is for (SH-101, FX pedals, etc) on all five visible sides in big letters - that way you can find them in the dark. Label every single cable - a really good way to do this is to buy 1/2" heatshrink tubing from an electronics supply shop, then print off bits of paper with your name and email address on them and use the shrink-wrap tubing to hold them on securely. If you don't have your name on everything, you *will* lose cables!
Some additions from the rest of LivePA.org:

When travelling internationally, expect that customs will open and search your equipment, and will not likely take the same amount of care to repack it afterwards - you are not allowed to be present at these searches. If your equipment is in locked cases, they *will* break the locks. Make sure your equipment is packed in a way that is obvious for repackers, and possibly even include a note or diagram explaining that the equipment is very delicate and must be repacked properly.


Assume that the house mixer will require you to plug in using 1/4", XLR, or RCA - and make sure you've got the appropriate adapters to plug into any of those connections! A good rule of thumb: for anything that you will need to connect your rig to the soundsystem, do not trust anyone but yourself to provide the appropriate connectors.


If you've got gear that uses wall-wart type adapters, buy and bring a decent-quality multiadapter with reversible polarity and many different types of tips - label it "Spare" and don't depend on it. Sooner or later, all wallwarts will go flaky, and having a spare might just save your show.


If you've got a bunch of wall-warts and don't want to carry around 10 power bars to plug them all into, consider buying three or four cheap 6-foot extension cords, chopping the ends off with three inches of cable each, and splicing the ends together to make a single six-inch extension cord. You can usually plug two wallwarts into a single plug on a powerbar this way. Hint: if you get 25' extension cords instead of 6', that leaves you with 24' of nice thick cable that makes for *excellent* home stereo speaker wire!


MIDI cables can and do die. When you discover that you have a MIDI cable that is definitely flaky (i.e., it works if you bend it one way, but doesn't work if you bend it the other way), EXECUTE IT IMMEDIATELY WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!! Thou shalt not suffer a sketchy cable to live! Sketchy cables have a sneaky habit of finding their way back into use later on... immediately destroy the cable by cutting it in half, so that it can never bite you. If the ends are non-molded, you can salvage them for later use - but most MIDI cables these days have molded ends.


If you're handy with a soldering iron, it is cheaper and better in the long run to build your own high-quality patch cables rather than to buy them. "Molded end" cables (ie. Hosa, etc, where the 1/4" plug is plastic and cannot be taken apart) are fine for short-term use, or use in things like patchbays where they will rarely be moved. For live-pa use where cables will be plugged and unplugged, coiled and uncoiled a lot, it is better to spend the extra dollar or three up-front, so that if/when a cable dies in a couple of years, you can repair it rather than throw it away. You can also tailor your cables to your live rig this way, and if later you change your setup, you can just keep the ends and rebuild new cables. I recommend Neutrik or Switchcraft plug components, and Mogami, Canare, or Sommer cabling. It's not cheap; instead of buying a ready-made 20' 1/4" patchcord for $14 at the music store, you end up paying $18 for parts (Neutrik 1/4" connectors are $4 *each*!) but you end up with a cable worth $50 at the same music store!


You can greatly improve the lifespan of your cables by never, ever bending or folding them at sharp angles - for 1/4" patch cables, store them in 1' loops. Add extra strain relief anywhere that cables have their weight supported by the jack or cuff of the cable - velcro tie-strap strips work excellently for this, and can be attached to flightcases or mixers without trouble. One good method for packing cables - sew a drawstring into a small pillowcase, and store coiled cables in there. Cables stored in this way are much less likely to become entangled in travel - I use a mesh "stuff sack" that I got for $3 at an army surplus store.


Always bring either a bunch of demo CDs of your stuff, or at the very least proper business cards with your contact info and website. People have very short attention spans these days, and if you want someone to remember you, you have to give them something physical that they can take home with them! The more professional you come off, the more likely people are to recommend your act for other events.


Learn how to take a compliment graciously. When someone comes up after your set and starts gushing about how you're their new God, shake their hand, look them in the eye, smile and say something like "Thanks, man, I'm really glad you enjoyed it!", or "Thanks, that means a lot to me!". Be a full-on rockstar on stage, but be a regular, down-to-earth person afterwards - if someone is impressed with your music, they'll be even more impressed to find out that you're a regular, approachable guy. This leads directly to more gigs!


UPS - Uninterruptible Power Supply: get a small cheap Belkin UPS from Office Depot or Office Max. It has a battery back-up that will save your fanny and gear if the power goes down as you're playing. There's one model that's the same size as a power strip but has the UPS inside, it's $30USD. Also, they just recently came out with sub-$100 UPSs with built-in Voltage Regulation (!) intended for home office use, but they are also compact enough for our purpose of taking them live out on gigs to deal with places with dodgy power situations.


Instead of just a screwdriver, get a multi-tool, like a Leatherman or a Swiss Army Knife. More useful, and sometimes the problems you may have to fix are not even your own.
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3phase
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Post by 3phase » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:52 pm

what has loading songs to do with playing live?

try to program one or two midicontrolers in a way that you dont need to look on the screen anymore.. create some loops live on stage.. play some cheap keyboardlines over loads of fx..

and when you stop beeing nervous before a gig you allready have become boring
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audio.android
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Post by audio.android » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:15 pm

i really like the flow of your song "Adventure but sleep instead".

stonee
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Post by stonee » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:42 pm

audio.android wrote:i really like the flow of your song "Adventure but sleep instead".
*looks at above post*

thanks man! that means alot to me!


haha, but seriously, thanks!
knowing that people I have never met like my work is definatly confidence inspiring to performing.

YILA
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Post by YILA » Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:29 pm

dont pretend...

either run around like a manic playing pressing things sweating allot...

or

just trigger your loops and have a drink..

no love for fist pumping here..
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