Carrot Cake Crew @ Emirates Airlines FACE Corporate Ball, Sep 29th 2017

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Beamrider, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    ...yeah, the band name came to the guitarist in a lamp of genius. They're all cabin crew after all, except me and the keyboard player. So a certain amount of crazy comes with the job.
    (I suppose I shouldn't complain. Our name for the same gig last year was Vet Waginas, only we didn't tell anyone - or we'd have probably been deported on the spot. :whistle:)


    This is our third time to headline the annual party of the Cabin Crew business unit of Emirates Airlines, also called FACE (Flight Attendants Club of Emirates). Unfortunately I couldn't report on the previous ones as the contract I signed had a NDA, so no pics, videos or anything else (what happens in Dubai stays in Dubai, hey? ;)).

    This time, however, there was no NDA whatsoever so here we are! Finally I can show you the frills and misadventures of a night of debauchery as a stranded bass player among hundreds of cabin crew ladies that only want to let their hair down and party for an evening.
    Oh boy. :laugh:

    So let's get on with it.

    I live in Abu Dhabi, about 120km from Dubai, so my day started at 6am when I crammed my gear in my little Merc SLK. Basically like playing Tetris in hard mode. (And Jenga when unloading.)

    Then, on my way to the drummer's to help him pack his kit.

    The morning was a bit hazy. Around 34C but very humid. Not many cars on the road.


    I arrive at Gareth's ("Gar", our kiwi drummer). He's a good guy and had already dismounted his electronic drumkit (Roland V-something).


    Once packed up and put everything into his pick up truck, we headed to the venue for sound check and rehearsals.

    The Ball, every year with a specific theme, is hosted this time at the JW Marriott Marquis. The picture below doesn't do justice to how massive this place is. But again, you know Dubai's main rule - if it doesn't break at least a couple of Guinness records, it's not worth building.


    The Ball, as I mentioned, has a different theme every year.
    Two years ago it was "Royals" - everybody was dressed like it was Wills & Kate's wedding party.
    Last year it was "1930" and the whole place looked like a speakeasy.
    This year, the theme was "Crystal Ball". Which everybody, including the venue manager, interpreted as "wear as much reflective stuff as you can".

    The result was shiny and chrome.


    Anyway, I'm going ahead of myself. A couple of words about the event first.

    The Ball is the typical corporate dinner + entertainment package.
    The entertainment was, in order of appearance, a lady dangling from silk ropes (she was great btw), a dance group with 2 "crystal" choreographies, and us. All of them are cabin crew volunteering to perform, including 3 out of 5 members of our band - the outsiders being myself and the keyboard player, only non-Emirates people among 800 guests, and considered as "hired guns" and paid accordingly (we shared our pay among all of us anyway).

    Our slot for sound check and quick rehearsal was 10am-11am, more than enough to check volumes, monitors, mics and try a couple of songs.

    Gar and I arrive at the venue at 9am, unload and schlep our gear in the ballroom, expecting to meet Imad (our guitarist), Audrey (our beautiful lead singer) and Jarris ("Jar", our keyboard player) after a few minutes and get cracking with the sound check.

    But nothing was ready when we arrived:



    Usually the stage and room are set up during the night so that it's ready by the morning after, but apparently the ballroom hosted a party the night before, so the poor stage guys had to rush and do everything in the morning. So we had nothing to sound check with and Jar would leave 30 mins later for another brunch gig with a different band, to be back at 6pm as planned (champagne party would kick off at 5.30pm and ballroom doors would open at 7pm. Our show would start at 9pm.)

    The last thing you want to do in this situation is to hang around and disturb the builders team, so we decide to head for the green room and wait.

    This is what it looked like:


    Each of those curtains opened in an alcove with sofas and tables. This bloody place is bigger than my flat!

    Anyway, as soon as we dropped our cases, the event managers called us as the sound guys had set up monitors and all. We would rehearse/sound check while the stage was being built around us.

    Okies, let's do it.


    I brought for this gig my ToneHammer 500, Aguilar SL-112, Shure wireless GLXD16 and my trusty Steiny Spirit XT-2. No effects.

    Light and lean configuration, I would XLR out from the TH to the main console.


    Jar (Keys) had already left at that point, so another guy would fiddle with the keyboard while we check/play and hope for the best.

    Sounds fishy? Heck yes. Also, apparently the sound team didn't get our technical rider and had only catered for a single keyboard for the flying lady. No mic stands, DI boxes, cables, mics, etc. so we had to wait for them to head back to their warehouse and bring all necessary stuff.

    Sound check was, as you can guess by now... not so good, let's say. The FOH guys thought that the answer to soundchecking in a mostly empty room with tons of echo/reflection is simply blast the volume up.

    Thanking God and matter for my custom earbuds, we soldier through a ridiculously loud sound test where the only way to make ourselves understood when asking "can I have less guitar and more drums on my monitor?" was either gesticulating (I'm Italian so I was clearly advantaged here) or speaking Urdu.

    We half heartedly played Bad Romance and Kiss trying to not become deaf and left to the green room again. Our hopes and spirits were still high, also helped by the absolute loveliness of the event managers - Emirates people who, even on the verge of a nerves breakdown because of the delay, doted on us and were nothing short of fantastic. Hats off to Jennifer and Tamara. Wish I had a pic of them. Drat.

    Anyway, we were more than happy to wait in the green room. Not only we had a suite all for us to chill, but they also brought food - this is for Mr @dbase:



    The one above is turkey & mushroom saj, a local delicious specialty. A bit like pizza. Somebody had already eaten all of them except for one. Lucky me? No way. Gar stole that last piece while I was busy taking this picture. The cheeky b'd.

    More shenanigans in the next post, stay tuned!
  2. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Maybe a bit disorganized but, WOW, very opulent! I'm looking forward to the rest of the gig!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  3. growlypants


    Nov 10, 2012
    I'm anxiously awaiting the next post....!! (And trust me, so far so good!)
    dbase, Sore Thumb and Beamrider like this.
  4. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    So by now it's around 3pm and we have nothing to do. However it's not so bad to just take it easy and chat the time away.
    Or eat the time away, which is what I do. Gar looks outside the door and thinks about what bad stuff he did to deserve me as his bass player.


    Imad doesn't really care.


    I tend to eat pretty much all the time when I have nothing to do, and sometimes the guys get bored of seeing me munching on, so...


    Cheeky gits.

    Anyway, our keys player is hammering on at another gig and Audrey (the singer) has left to head back home as she's in the middle of a move. She would join us back at 4pm for dress and make up.

    The rest of us chills in the green room. We are happy to be together, even doing nothing like now.
    This band is quite peculiar. We basically reunite every year specifically for this gig, although I play with Imad quite frequently in other bands.
    And because almost all of us are cabin crew, their roster makes it difficult if not impossible to rehearse more than once a month - if we're lucky.
    So we practice the set by ourselves or in small groups, and use the time we have as a full band to rehearse and record ourselves, so that the song structures are clear and we can keep practicing home. It usually works.

    We are all from different places - I'm Italian, Audrey (singer) is from Suriname, Imad (guitar) is Lebanese, Jarris (keys) is from the Philippines and Gareth (drums) from New Zealand.
    We are awaiting for the UN to book us anytime soon. ;)
    We go very well along together, and hopefully we'll continue playing together whenever possible.

    Back to the current gig, the building team has done the miracle and everything is ready.
    Sorry for the potato quality of the pics from now on*, I still need to understand how to use this stupid smartphone camera properly.

    *= and the potato head in the foreground.


    Outside of the ballroom, the red carpet and registration counters are getting ready along with the sponsors corners (the Ball is very heavily sponsored).
    Notice the glasses behind the sponsor wall and the name of some of them. Those glasses will be gone within the first 10 minutes from door opening. :D


    It's 4.30pm now and it's time for us to suit up. In the green room a nice surprise awaits us: more food! This time it's croissant galore.


    But not even croissants can lighten up the face of a guy wearing a jacket which is clearly made from the same fabric as Antarctica or North Pole Parkas.
    It radiates pure heat and I feel I can't raise my hands without ripping it, but it looks shiny and chrome so I'll have to endure it.
    Such is the life of a pretend musician.


    People start coming in.


    I collect my wrist band for ballroom access (security bouncers are everywhere, although going around with a bass on my shoulders gets me some slack).
    One of the great things of this ball is that entertainers have their reserved table - we don't have to eat separately. We're sitting at table 41, very close to the stage. It'll make it easier for us to quickly set up after the dancers, while the resident DJ and the MC (a lovely Emirates flight attendant called Barbara, from Thailand) preps the audience.

    Enjoy a close up of my hairy wrist.


    7pm, ballroom doors are open.
    There's a sax player and an ice sculpture on our way to the ballroom. A bit along the way (no pics, sorry), two mimes entertain the guests and a beautiful lady in a champagne dress offers champagne flutes.

    Dubai, baby.


    The band goes backstage to put away our instruments. We'll pick them during the DJ set and enter stage.

    Oh, look at this funny leaf blower. "Super Blaster XL". What could it be, I wonder?


    We now can sit at our table.
    There's free flowing Moet and whatever you can (and want) to drink. However I play really lousy if I drink, and have quite a few tricky parts to play tonight.
    It'll have to wait until after our set. Hope I can find some left, the people around is drinking like there's an oncoming world shortage of grapes.


    Audrey checking her phone. Reading last-minute lyrics, are we, hm?


    Again, sorry for the crappy quality of the pics. The lighting and whatever other reasons conspired against me.

    After the green room bonanza, I was only happy to sink my teeth into more food! @dbase, what you see below is, clockwise from top:
    * tomato couscous with onions and stir-fry vegetables
    * bowl with greek salad (feta, pepper, olives, lettuce, cucumber, onions)
    * tangy/spicy pancit bihon
    * potato salad with chickpeas, fennel and a non-identifiable crunchy stuff on top
    * bread
    * seafood salad with oranges and aubergines
    at the center, hummus.


    My second dish was more traditional (and supersaturated, based on the pic).
    On the left, chicken biryani. On the right, rice with thai seafood curry.


    The dessert area got me a Stendhal Syndrome in full blast.


    I picked whatever I could in a stupor.
    I guess it's a fruit salad on top, apricot & pistacchio pannacotta bottom right, bitter chocolate mousse bottom left and mini chocolate tart top right.


    But by now the dancers have danced, the DJ is almost done and we need to start putting our stuff on stage.
    Time to earn my pay and the food (the drinks, not yet. Grrr.)


    Will our heroes bring the bacon home, even after a sh*t show of sound check? Stay tuned for new, exciting episodes!
  5. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Finally, it's time for us to do what we are here to do, that is, getting people to get up and dance.

    I consider this as an easy gig, frankly. The audience know us already from the previous years and they're only keen to hear some upbeat music to stand up and get down. We aim to please.

    Our set list, accordingly, is a mix of stuff of different genres, but that you can dance to:
    * Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)
    * Are You Gonna Be My Girl (Jet)
    * Zoot Suit Riot (Cherry Poppin' Daddies)
    * Volare/Bamboleo (Gipsy Kings)
    * El Alem Allah (Amr Diab)
    * Kiss (Prince) / Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson) mix
    * Could You Be Loved (Bob Marley)

    ...don't judge me. I'm just a hired gun, remember? I play what I'm told :)

    From now on, these are pics from the audience members. This one, I think it's Bad Romance. Audrey starts singing offstage then sashays in. She's our diva. :)


    Yes, it's Bad Romance.

    Already at this point none of us can hear anything but a distorted soup from the monitors, too much of everything, and I cannot hear myself. So I try to lock with Gar by listening to the PAs. We keep going and try to have fun. It's not difficult: people are having a great time, and this gets us going.
    There's not much space to dance, but everybody is happy and singing with us:

    Audrey has something to say to Imad on stage.


    I really, really wish the planners had put together a dance floor. Our audience doesn't care. Bless them.

    We were very happy with the lighting and the lasers.

    We like to do medleys to keep things fresh. This is Prince and Bruno Mars together, Kiss and Uptown Funk. In this snippet, we go from the first chorus of Uptown Funk into the guitar solo of Kiss. An Uptown Kiss, basically.

    Sorry for the mistakes here and there. We can barely hear ourselves.

    Nevertheless, the audience is firmly convinced by now that Uptown Funk can indeed funk you up:

    I think I should save some screenshots for the "Chicks" thread.

    Swig (champagne) and swing. For the first chorus, the FOH doofers had switched my mic off and my backing vocals (just screaming "riot!", but hey, every little helps!) too. This is the ending.

    Time to throw some Arabic song in the set. It goes well. A bit too well, to the point that a daring couple comes on stage and starts dancing. Yay! Thank God I don't need a mic for the final part and can wander around :)

    We close with Bob Marley and the confetti cannon. So that's what the Super Blaster really was!

    Now it's our time to party!!!

    We wrap up at around 4am, exhausted and happy. I haven't had any sleep for 22hrs but it doesn't matter.

    How can you feel sleepy with such beauty all around you?

    (They're all tall cabin crew ladies with high heels and I'm 5'4'. Shut up.)

    Final shot with my mates. Hope this is not our last gig together.


    That's all, folks. Hope you enjoyed the report, and sorry for the bad quality of some pics.

    Hasta pronto,
  6. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    That was a most excellent gig report on many levels. Exotic location, high class venue, great crowd, awesome food, great band and a cool story. Thanks so much for sharing with us!
  7. Looks like everyone had lots of fun! You did very well for not being able to hear yourself. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed it.
  8. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Wow .. You left me speechless... I was expecting Burgers and Fries but that exotic food you displayed is out of bounds. Will be really hard to top that gig report. Very good job my friend... now I'm going to sit back and listen to those snippets. ;)
  9. growlypants


    Nov 10, 2012
    AWESOME!! Thanks so much for sharing your total experience - way over here in Atlanta, GA we'd probably pronounce "Dubai" as "W"!! (Kidding......sort of.) Go get some rest, now!
    Beamrider and McG like this.
  10. Hear, hear!!...that is a great gig report!
    Beamrider likes this.
  11. The food shots are making me hungry!

    What a blast.
    Wisebass and Beamrider like this.
  12. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Thanks mate, you're too kind! It was good fun. Love to read your gig stories so tried my best :)
    McG likes this.
  13. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Oh look, there's a multiquote button! Neat.

    Thanks ST, glad you enjoyed it! I love this gig, hopefully next year I'll have another report - hopefully with a different sound team, lol :D

    Sir, I am honoured :) Having dbase's seal of approval just made my week. Glad you liked the report!

    Thanks my friend! :)

    Yeah, that was one of the highlights of the evening! I ate so much I could roll instead of walk home :D
  14. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    For some reason this post was left out in the multiquote. Thank you so much for reading it, buddy, and looking forward to gig news from you! Post 'em all :)
    Sore Thumb likes this.
  15. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    Very cool!! ... thanks for posting ... obviously no one had any fun and left hungry .. and sober .. ;)

    You had me groovin' in my office chair .. your girl definitely knows how to work the crowd ... while lookin' good ... very good!
    Beamrider likes this.
  16. pjbassist


    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Zoot Suit Riot! I love it!
    Beamrider likes this.
  17. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Looks like some good eats over there!!!

    The bar has been raised, BassCliff!!! :smug:
    Sore Thumb and Beamrider like this.
  18. Man this report was comprehensive. Great stuff.
    I cant see the video clips at work but i am sure that beautiful girl sang it up!
    Beamrider likes this.
  19. Beamrider


    Aug 24, 2007
    Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Thanks for the groove my friend! :) Audrey is a natural born performer. She was a professional singer back in Suriname before joining Emirates! Great voice, fantastic presence (heh) and no ego at all. We're very lucky to have her.

    Me too! Love that bassline. However, the screw-up with the mics threw me off balance for a good half of the song. Dammit.

    Can't wait to see what our favourite gig reporter will come back with! ;)

    Thanks Jimmy, hope you'll be able to see them once home - mind you, they're mostly phone vids so quality is what it is. Hopefully the event management team will send us the official video, and I'll post it here! :)
    McG, pjbassist and Jimmy4string like this.
  20. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    Excellent report, it's fun playing gigs in the Gulf. I use to be in a R&R band in Saudi during my decade there (IT @ Aramco) and gigging was great, especially for the troops or embassy functions. The Emirates cabin crew crowed seem like a fun bunch. I use to enjoy partying with Gulf Air's flight attendants in various locations (Bahrain and Bangkok mostly) a real good bunch
    Beamrider likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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