Monday, June 7, 2010

EPIC FAIL: A gig gone wrong...


So I'm on the third day of a 5 day stint on the road...On hour nine of an eleven hour stretch...and seeing as I've had nothing but time to sit and think, a few of my past “adventures” have come to mind...I actually started laughing out loud thinking about some of these stories while riding last night. And so since I have nothing but time and a laptop, I figured I would throw one out there...

A few years back I had a friend that was making a go of it as a country singer. Her husband and I had randomly met, become friends, and I eventually started drumming for her. She needed a whole band, so she asked me to head the thing up as bandleader. I'll skip all of the details of putting the band together, management miscommunications, and other details...

The gig was simple: A one off fly date to Colorado. Fly down one day and play the show, fly back the next morning...simple, by the book...

What should have gone off without a hitch slowly began to go downhill...when I found out we were flying out of St. Louis...Missouri...??? We lived in Nashville...which has an international airport...why wouldn't we fly out of there? That being said, common sense usually doesn't prevail in situations like this..so ok...whatever...St. Louis it was then... the flight left out at 6 in the morning. Again, common sense kicked in for me and I assumed we'd be leaving the night before...until I spoke with her manager...he thought a 3 am leave time would be just fine...??? I explained to him my logic of not only needing to be a little early for our flight, but actually needing to MAKE the flight...and so we should probably leave around 11 the night before (it actually takes about 5 and a half hours to get to St. Louis from Nashville)...He countered with “Why would we leave at 11 the night before? It's a 2 hour drive!” I assured him it was actually over five hours...and this is the point where any normal person would pull out the phone, or laptop, or roadmap and look this little detail up. Much to my chagrin, I was the only one that ever looked up the travel times...he argued with me about the leave time up until 2 days before the trip...but I was tenacious! Thinking about this right now, I'm still amazed this was even a discussion...

So he humored me...we left at midnight Nashville time...which was hardly enough time but I was tired of this ridiculous discussion. So at 5:50 am we came running into the airport, 10 whole minutes to spare ( I'll skip the I told you so's)...and somehow we miraculously made the plane...this was the last thing that went right with the trip...

We landed a couple of hours later in Greely, Colorado. To save money, and presumably time, they had booked our plane tickets, a shuttle ride to and from the airport, and the hotel as an all in one package...I forget who they booked it through, some travelocity knockoff. The shuttle pulled up to get us on time...with only one problem...the A/C was broken. Perfect. We were in Colorado...it was stiflingly hot...

Calm...stay calm...we'll roll the windows down. Besides, we didn't have time to sweat (pun intended) the trivial details like comfort...we had to check into the hotel before the gig, then get to the venue, set up, and soundcheck.

So we pull up to the hotel...excuse, I must have been mistaken, motel (and yes there's a HUGE difference)...motel was stretching it...brick structure that housed random travellers...and I'm thinking this must be a joke cause this place is a dump. Super manager proceeded into the office to get our rooms as we sat on the curb outside...he was taking a really long time...and then I started to hear raised voices...and then a door slamming, with lots of muttering.

“The rooms don't have A/C,” Manager of the year exclaimed.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“They don't have A/C...I can't believe this...I specified the rooms had to have A/C!” he said while wildly paving back and forth.

Wait a minute...he TOLD them the rooms HAD to have A/C? This was Colorado....the US of frickin' A..I assumed A/C was a given in any modern building structure. He said he'd deal with it, we were way behind schedule...luckily our ride was there to take us to the venue. He'd get the rooms changed while we were at the gig.

We were supposed to be playing a local festival...outside, which is never a fun thing, but I had high hopes. I guess there are different definitions of “festival”...

New Definition of Festival (I'll post it on Wikipedia later...): A stage set up in a car lot, where they were having a sale on their cars over the weekend....and we were the featured entertainment. Now, nowhere in there do I get “Festival”...nonetheless...at least there was a stage.

We were a 5 piece group...drums, vocals, bass, guitar, and fiddle (always a fiddle...)...backline was provided...was supposed to be provided...and to a point I guess it was...

So I walked on stage and hit my shin on something...what was that? It was a small, square....well, it sort of looked like an amp...but it was less than a foot tall...

and then I realized it was the guitarists amp...

HA! Surely not! It was the mighty Roland Micro Cube amp...weighing in at 9 by 10 inches...the picture is still etched in my memory of the guitarist staring defeatedly down at his feet...almost sobbing...

The bass amp was actually a normal size...he got off the best...and then to the drums...

They were a ragged group of percussive elements...but I managed to put together a semblence of a kit...now for the cymbals...cymbals...hmmm...

I asked the manager about them...he asked the sound guy...I cried in the corner...sound guy gave us the number of the rental company...which informed me when I called them that we had specifically told them NO cymbals...

Super Management strikes again!

And to top it off, they were closing...so no dice.

But wait!!! There was someone running one of the food tables, waving frantically, that said “hey, I think I have some cymbals in my attic!”

Perfect.

This was getting humorous...really humorous...ok, I'll bite...I asked her to go get them, having no clue what kind of cymbals they were, how many there were, sizes...

Motto to live by 20 minutes from showtime: Bad metal is better than no metal...

So the kind cymbal donor arrived back promptly holding what appeared to be dusty, dingy, old cymbals...I grabbed the first cymbal and after I brushed enough dust off to see, I was pleased that the hi-hats were actually an old pair of Zildjian K's. Score. Now on to the next cymbal...it was some sort of factory piece of junk...fail...and now on...to...wait...that was all there were...ok, hi hat and crash, I can work with it.

After we'd “soundchecked”...which consisted of listening to the "sound guy" explain what killer tones he gets out of the cube amp the guitarist was using and making sure all of the equipment at least made some sort of audible sound, we started our set...to all 4 people that showed up...

There was the sister of the bass player (her and her girlfriend had come out)...and an old friend of the guitar players...and two other people that were wondering around...

It was a rip roaring set...the guitarist roared through his solo's, barely audible to the mass of empty chairs in front of us...the fiddle player missed every cue and solo she was supposed to have...it went unnoticed by the rabid crowd...I queried the meaning of all of this...the crowd yawned enthusiastically...and I laughed the whole time...

After the 8 hour set...or was it 30 minutes? I don't know...we had been up for over 30 hours straight at this point...time was pointless...

I think the manager took us for dinner afterwards...it's a blur...there may have been some steak and a cold beer in the mix...

Back at the A/C challenged motel the manager had failed yet again...we had the same rooms...with the same lack of air that we'd had before...

Luckily, while we were standing outside getting our room keys, our guitar player was accosted by a rather drunk Latin thug like figure...demanding to know why he was wearing the blue dew rag he was wearing...which resembled, as in an exact replica...of some common gang colors...fantastic....we were rooming together...so we walked, rather quickly, to our room...with thug guy following us behind...yelling for us to stop and “discuss” the dew rag issue...

I stripped my bed...and my clothes...and spread out, trying to allow as much air as possible to get to my body...the Latin figure remained outside for about half an hour, knocking and hollering irately...

I drifted in and out of a sweating sleep...I heard children screaming...running by the room...it was so hot...and they wouldn't stop screaming...if I could imagine what hell might feel like, this was coming awfully close...sleep deprived, oppressively hot, screaming...

And then the two hours that we had to sleep were up...and I was sitting on the curb outside the front office again, waiting for the shuttle...

Only the shuttle never came...

Awesome...it was a package deal, pay once and they'll take care of the trip to your hotel and back to the airport. They had forgotten the return part.

The manager called every number he had...kicked and screamed...threatened lawsuits...and finally got a ratty looking four seater to show up...so the artist stayed behind, and we squeezed as many of us into the piece of junk that was a car, and flew to make our plane.

She wound up buying another ticket and we took two planes back...

...and I wound up finally getting to sleep...right by the air conditioning vent...and forgot about the whole escapade until last night...

By the way...There's nothing to learn from this...

12 comments:

Luke Snyder said...

That is simply horrific. It doesn't get much worse than that. However... did you get paid? If so, then thats the bottom line ;)

Stephen said...

Lol...yea, we got paid...but the gig was for a friend...so I did band leader plus played on the thing, and the pay was much less than it should have been. But hey, you gig and learn!

-S

Rutger said...

What an experience! But I would look back at it with a smile :D

Stephen said...

LOL, believe me, nothing but smiles when I remember the bad ones!

-Stephen T.

Ross White said...

I've been gigging for many years and had some awful 'one man and his dog' ones but nothing as bad as that! I was robbed of my gig money one night while I slept which was pretty bad, but you live and learn eh?

Tara Richards said...

Glad you made it out of there!

Tut Brown said...

Now that is paying your dues as a musician. Thanks for sharing.

Greg Washington said...

I can relate. Been there.

Andrew Geren said...

this is too funny thanks for sharing man

Tom Stark said...

Funny now, not at the time I am sure. If it makes you feel any better, our band did a "summer concert" at a venue that did not have the big crowd you had!

Tommy Seesselberg said...

I did one once in the eighties where the bass players wife came in and shot him right next to me on the stage !! She found out that he had many girls on the side !!! Didn't kill him ,,but close .. After that I started tilting my cymbals down like shields around the kit !!! There's alot more to tell but that's the "condensed " version !!! Gigging and touring can get weird to say the least !!!! But that's a great story Stephen,,,thanks.....

Matt Pozzi said...

Stephen, that sounds terrible! I can say that just about all of these things have happened to me while out on the road... But not AT THE SAME TIME! Glad you can laugh about it now. Good read, keep em comin!

Post a Comment