File this post under frustrating bass player situations.
There are times when I feel that I am powerless to do anything to make the music I'm trying to play "work". My first instinct when things are going awry on the bandstand is to assess what it is that I'm doing to make this moment (tune, set, show, entire night) sound or feel wretched. I'm sure that sometimes I really am the primary cause for the musical dysfunction. I mean, the law of averages pretty much guarantees that some of the time I am (in the words of the legendary Joe Daley) "not making it, babe."
But at least a decent percentage of the time, once I get past trying everything I can think of to "fix" what I'm doing, there are bad things happening in this musical moment that I simply have no ability to rectify. I'll trying playing softer if it seems like I might be getting in someone's way. I'll try being more aggressive if it feels like the time is wobbly. I'll attempt to focus on one specific thing; intonation, say, or just locking in with the drummer's ride cymbal. But it is often to no avail. I had one of these experiences last night.
I was playing a gig in a high profile location, in front of several hundred people in a concert situation. The singers were uniformly excellent (a rare treat) and everyone was "into" the event. But the thing was SO disorganized, the sound was SO awful and one of the players has SUCH dreadful time that I was unable to enjoy what should have been a nice if not memorable engagement.
I really wanted things to go well. I like most of the folks I was playing with. One of them is rather well-known - a guy I played with some decades ago but hadn't seen in a long time. I would have liked to walk out of there feeling like I contributed to a good (or how about excellent?) performance and I tried my damnedest to make that happen. But sometimes there's nothing to be done.