Friday, November 28, 2014

Post Gig: Thankgiving Eve

The drums, in rock star mode.
Well, aspirations true photo-journalism have been foiled by circumstance. Sure, I have a few photos from the band's job last Wednesday, but, in my head, I pictured getting down among the crowd and capturing the silly drunkeness of "Thanksgiving Eve" in North America. Sadly, that big crowd resulted, mostly, in my being pinned to the stage between sets. And, when it came down to the real visual feast of the post-gig, the logistics of breaking down the equipment and getting it through the hammered hoards meant that the cell phone stayed in my pocket. Nevertheless, there is still a tale to tell.

I left the house at around 7:00. We were to start playing by 8. We got up on stage and the place was just filling up -- on the half of the bar opposite the band. I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I felt a little like we were in quarantine.

Our band is one that has pretty much played in every circumstance one can imagine. We have played in front of thousands; we have played in front of two. We have played outdoors and indoors. We're not hungry for fame. But to play to a room with no energy at all is just paid practice. Which can also be okay.

Drummer's eye...
But this place was filling with twenty-somethings. We are ready to play for the age; don't get me wrong. We have the right material in our arsenal. But they are a strange lot; a "what have you done for me since the last song" lot. During the first set, we might as well have not existed. We are also used to this. I am going to call it like I see it here: playing to an older audience, you will get the occasional polite applause after a song -- people will stop their conversations for a second to clap; playing to an audience between 21 and 30 you will get backs turned to you. Until...

...they drink just enough to dull the compulsion to prove coolness through demonstrative signs of complete boredom with the universe and you play a song they like. Then, the dance floor is full, the girls are singing along and drinks are raised in salute to the band. But, wait -- it is only the second set. Not quite enough fuel in the tank. Full party mode has not kicked in. If the next song isn't up to snuff, you don't just get a slightly apologetic evacuation of the dance floor, you get wrinkled noses and, quite honestly, sometimes, the old "thumbs-down." On occasion, you will even get graced with a sticking out of the tongue.

Jeff Todd, lead vocals. (Don't let him fool you --
he's not this nice. In fact, the band is called "King Richard"
because of him. I'll let you figure it out.) 
By the third set, the tipsiness had turned the corner. De-evolution began and backbones started disappearing. One guy was "dancing" so hard, he legs were blurry and he fell smack on the coccyx against our bass speaker. This did not seem to hurt him a bit (at that moment) and he spun back away into the crowd like the Tasmanian Devil on crack.

For the rest of the night, we could do no wrong. ("The more you drink, the better we sound...") There were calls for three encores. The stage filled with young ladies playing tambourine and singing (one of them was quite good) and the crowd was undulating, front to back, like a movie set water tank.

The real challenge was getting out at the end. We finished early -- before "last call," which is rare -- which meant we had to go out the back way. As luck would have it, the fire marshal seemed to have some issue with the bar owners and people started getting forced out. As I took out my first load, I walked between two girls who were vomiting into the bushes and I had to step over a young man who did an astoundingly accurate pantomime of a tree falling in the woods. (I heard it quite clearly.) The parking lot was like one of Dante's levels of Hell: cars pointing in all directions full of aggravated moms and dads picking up their drunk twenty-somethings (God bless them) and couples arguing profanely and violently about nothing. I had to wait for a pony-tailed fellow (I think it the same guy who had fallen on the speaker) to finish urinating on the curb in front of my car (Him: "Uhhhunh. Sorry deeeuuude." Me: "Take your time, my good man.") before I could start loading.
A long intro allowed me to take this.
She was pretty good - before long,
three friends had joined her on stage. 

Finally, all the cars were loaded and we, as a band, stood outside waiting  to "get greased" (which is bandese for "remunerated") as the wobbly clientele poured out around us, no doubt wondering where the heck the old dudes had come from.

I took the usual profoundly peaceful (and music-free) ride home slowly and carefully (with the biggest bar night of the year comes the biggest police presence and various dangers) and pulled safely into my driveway.

And I might add that no one truly knows how good it can feel to get into bed until one has done so after having set up, played three sets on the drums and broken down afterward: silence, blankets and stillness unparalleled.

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