This is the fourth in a series. It is the beginning of someone else’s story, told to and transcribed by me. Basically, he gave me the details and atmosphere and lot of the words and I put them together in my magic hat and pulled this out. His voice, his story, my translation..
Paying the Dues
You can’t get the big gigs if you don’t cut your teeth on the small ones first.
It was raining when we pulled up late at night in a small college town to play one of our first parties. We drove up there in a pickup truck, with all our equipment in the cab. By the time we got there, the boards were wet, the gear was soaked. We spent the first half of the night waiting for the rain to end while using hair dryers to dry off the wires.
It was getting late and we knew we had to get out there whether the gear was dry or not and at least say something to the kids if we couldn’t play. You don’t play in the rain unless you want to die. But you walk out to the kids just to say “Hey we fucking tried, ok?”
Finally, the rain stopped dripping out of the sky. Any last hopes that we could get out of this night were dashed. It was time to start putting the gear together and dragging it outside. The last beers were downed and I started moving. By the time we set up, I had already downed a few 40s and people were filing into the backyard – mostly to get to the keg, not to see us.
Someone smiled down on us that night because the gear all turned red when we hit the button. We were a new band and we really had nothing so far as our own material. Yeah, that’s the way it works folks. Not many bands start out playing their own music. Well, they do, but basically all of the songs are subtitled “Crap I Wrote When I Was Drunk.”
So you play a lot of covers. That night we started the gig playing the Circle Jerks’ “Back up Against the Wall.” If you have ever heard that song you know it is kind of mellow up till the kick. Then it goes. When that kick hit, the place exploded and things started getting out of control.
This was a party house that had three other houses connected to it. People from the other houses pushed over the fences to get to this party and the fences came crashing down. Wood that was meant to separate the yards was now just something to walk over to get to where we were playing.
The main focus of the party was the beer. In all honestly, our band wasn’t that great. We were just there to entertain while the keg was being tapped. Even so, the music and the atmosphere was something you can’t take lightly. When you see all the girls and guys having fun while you are ripping it up on stage, it’s a bit awe inspiring, especially when it’s one of your first live gigs.
My friend Jimmie had been sleeping in a bedroom that was right behind the set. There was a sliding glass door on the room that was covered with a sheet to stop the sun from shining in on him in the mornings. He thought it would be fun to turn a backlight on and dance naked as we played so everyone could see his shadow as he danced sideways and held his cock up. If Jimmie didn’t get laid that night, then surely god did not exist.
So here I was, just a kid playing bass at one of my first live shows, and I had people waiting in line for beer cheering for this huge, dancing cock behind me.
The party had gotten out of hand at this point. Fences were beaten down and three separate pits started in three yards. I knew they were happening but I really didn’t care; I was experiencing the rush you get from playing in front of a crowd. You get scared of that feeling, but you get addicted to that rush, too. You want to stop to savor the moment, because every time a song ends you can feel that rush leaving you, like the last drips of your blood are escaping a cut vein and you have to hold on to the vein so you don’t die.
You need that feeling – you don’t know why, you just do. So you towel your forehead off and wait for the lead while desperately trying to get a smoke in, to get the last drag of a cigarette into your lungs before you know you have to spit it out and move again.
A yell. A scream. A fight broke out and there’s a body on the ground. I walked over and tried to pick the kid up off of the floor while I was getting hit in the back of the head. The same time I was trying to get the kid out, some asshole walked up and nailed him with pepper spray.
The fumes hit me and knocked me back. I recovered, dragged the kid to the front and shoved him out the gate. My night was done. I really didn’t care because after driving all day, drying off the equipment, then playing all night while being sweat soaked in the cold air, you really are kind of done.
I got a towel and went inside to sit on the sofa. The people who weren’t scared off by the cops were still running around. I was out of cigarettes, so I walked back outside to find someone who was smoking. The party had broken up. The show basically ended when the police showed up. This was up in the top ten rough days for me, yet I walked out of the gate wondering why I still wanted more.