When the Venetia Fair lost their original keyboardist about four years ago, I was playing guitar in a band that I had been in for about four years. Benny (TVF's vocalist) and I had been hanging out daily, so I mentioned to him that I might be interested in joining. I toyed around with the idea for awhile, attended a few practices, and even played half of a show. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to give up playing guitar in bands for playing keys. I eventually made the decision to join, but not without some serious thought. I absolutely 100% do not regret my decision.

I've been playing piano for the majority of my life. When I was younger, I always wanted to join a band but didn't see much of a future in it with my skills on keys, so I took up guitar and bass. As soon as I was able to play, it paid off and I was in bands from then on. While playing shows with all these bands, it was rare that I saw any piano/keys players. Later on, when I got out of punk and metal, I discovered so many bands that utilized keys in a tasteful and interesting way. Even at this point, I still considered myself more of a guitarist and wouldn't dream of playing keys in a band. I loved the idea of being able to “rock out” and move around the stage. I just didn't think I would be happy giving that freedom up to play keys.

The Venetia Fair posed a unique opportunity for me. It was a chance to play an instrument I love with the energy I desired on stage. Not to mention, I felt that they actually valued the keys, unlike most bands. Let me make one thing completely clear: Most bands that have “keyboardists” are not keyboardists. They are friends of the band. They are simply someone that the band likes hanging out with and felt that they could put them on the stage instead of an iPod. The only thing they add is headbanging and shame to real keyboardists.

We had an outdoor show on Cape Cod, MA a long time ago. There was an incident at this show that really kind of floored me. This kid at our show approached us after a pretty wild headlining set and said “That was a really good set! So, do you really know how to play?” This was surprising to me in more than one way. The most obvious is that he questioned my musicianship after physically watching me play music that some random person couldn't sit down and play, and the other way is that he so readily questioned it. People have come up to me and admitted that they think that my instrument is kind of a “filler” instrument. Even someone in the industry, upon learning that I played guitar and after joking that our old guitarist didn't like playing guitar, suggested that we switch because he could probably play my parts (he can't). Even fans that don't understand music can somehow understand that most “keyboardists” in my band's demographic have close to no talent. Bands like that make musicians like myself look awful. Take your micro-korg off stage and go sit at the merch table.

I've seen kids that bash my band argue that I have no talent and that a certain Rise Records band's synth player is far superior. When that band kicked out their singer and their synth player replaced him, leaving the PA and sound guy in charge of the iPod and sound effects, I honestly felt vindicated. I don't feel like I could be replaced by that.

I guess what I'm saying in the end is that though it sometimes dumbfounds me, I'm not surprised that people that don't completely understand music think that I don't know what I'm doing. Theres such an oversaturation of silly bands with silly members in the scene right now. Most of the times it works to the other bands' advantage. But in this instance, it does not.

Joe Brown (@joeoqt) is the keyboardist of Boston-based rock group the Venetia Fair (@thevenetiafair).