We Do This?
It was 7:00 Sunday night when I was
finally finished showering, shaving and pasting my black spandex pants
onto my spindly white legs. Ready for the gig at last, I was in a
bit of a rush as we had arranged to meet at the club at 8:00 sharp.
I had a forty-five minute drive ahead of me and still had to pack
my gear into my car. So I collected my guitar, amp and effects unit
and when I opened the front door it was immediately apparent that
this would not be an easy journey. The rain smacked me right in the
face as the gale force winds drove it past where I was standing and
into the living room.
I slammed the door shut as fast as
I could, as I was afraid my "coif" would be spoiled. Then
I had to figure out a way to get my gear (and myself) into my car
without all of us incurring water damage. No easy feat. So I found
some Saran Wrap and encased my gear (and myself) in it. And headed
out the door.
Finally, I was on my way to the gig.
But the damn rain did more than threaten my "do", it caused
an hellacious traffic jam! So there I was sitting in traffic on the
freeway while the road crews in their stylish day-glo orange jumpsuits
took 30 minutes to clear the road of a nine car pile-up. Once the
first obstacle had been overcome, it was all uphill from there (now
I know what it must feel like to be salmon swimming upstream to spawn).
Anyway, I get to the club and there is absolutely no place to park
that is remotely near the place, and its still raining to beat
Noah. I figured the only shot I had was to double park in front of
the door and huff my gear inside as fast as I could. So I did. By
the time I was finished, I was wet, miserable and had a $30.00 parking
ticket on the windshield. I still had to park somewhere, so I drove
around the block 10 times until finally I found a parking space. I
grabbed an old newspaper from the back seat, jumped out of my car
(in the process forgetting to lock the doors. more on that later
and ran the block and a half back to the club.
As soon as I got back to the club,
I grabbed my gear that I had left right inside the door and made a
mad dash to the tiny little backstage area where I was supposed to
meet the guys. It was 9:00pm by then and I was having a complete anxiety
attack. When I got backstage, only the drummer was there.
"Where the hell is the rest of
the band, man?", I asked incredulously.
"I dont know! I was here
at 8:00 man, like we agreed on. I thought we were gonna do a quick
run through of those new tunes. You know, Im really pissed cause
Ive been here since, like, 7:30". He said with a mixture
of anger and resignation.
"Damn, me too!" I said, as
my anxiety started to morph into anger. "Im pissed cause
I just suffered through a goddamn odyssey to rival Homer
just to get here!" I was starting to get dramatic; "and
those bastards dont even have the common courtesy to...".
As I was declaiming , the keyboardist,
the other guitarist and our bass player came stomping in. They looked
just like I did; wet, miserable and in the grips of an anxiety attack.
Maybe I had been a little hasty in lambasting them.
The bass player took off his sopping
wet leather jacket and threw it down on the cement floor so hard that
it sprayed the rest of us. "The f****** goddamn piece of s***
van broke down in the f****** rain!!!".
The keyboardist looked at me with the
picture-perfect expression of depression and disgust seemingly permanently
etched into his face. "That about sums it up" he said as
his voice trailed off and back he skulked into his own private hell.
This was the situation the night we
were scheduled to open for a major international rock act at the biggest
club in town. And to make matters worse, we knew that an A&R rep
for Arista was going to be there that night. We had practiced four
hours a night for the last five nights to make sure that we would
be at our very best for this show. We even worked up three new tunes
that we were sure would be some of our very best stuff just so we
could impress the record guy.
You know the old saying, " If
life serves you lemons, make lemonade "? Well, I guess we didnt
have enough sugar or something. After being put through the wringer
just getting to the club, there wasnt much left in us to be
able to pull off the gig. We frantically set up our stuff, we were
supposed to go on at 9:30 and we werent even all there until
9:10. We had a 45 minute slot, then the headliners were scheduled
to come on at 11:00. The place was packed, this gig was the wet dream
of everyone in the band! As soon as we finished setting up, it was
time to play. No time for formalities! But it just wasnt meant
to be. WE SUCKED!!!!!
Later on that evening, after we hastily
tore down, I watched as the roadies for the "Rock Stars"
set up their mics and put the finishing touches on the stage (as is
the custom in many clubs, we had to put up our stuff in front of the
headliners set-up) and put the cymbals on the stands. " Wow,
I thought to myself, roadies! Boy, when we get big enough to have
roadies, itll be soooooooooooooooo great! Its just so
hard at this level, nobody to help".
As I was thinking this to myself, it
got a lot harder real fast as I could hear the drummers voice rising
in a sparring match with the keyboardist, " Look you *#%$!, I
dont have to take this from you! Find another drummer, asshole!"
If there ever was a gig from hell, that was it! By the time I ran
back to where they were fighting, the drummer was out the door and
gone for good. And the keyboardist was looking suicidal.
My drive home from this nightmare was
just as bad. When I got back to my car, my tape deck was gone ! I
had left the doors unlocked in my haste to get in the club and someone
stole my tape deck just to insure that this was absolutely the worst
night of my life!
Sound familiar? Maybe not as epic,
but something similar? Of course it does! So tell me one thing, WHY
DO WE DO THIS? Is it masochism? A taste for the absurd? Ill
tell you why we do this, because we have to! We do not have a choice.
Because if we dont do this, we will shrivel up and die. Its
not a lifestyle issue, its life! And for all of us who play
and sing, at whatever level were at, music is the water of life.
As the great high wire artist Karl Wallenda said so perfectly; "
The wire is life, all the rest is just waiting around."