"I INHERITED THE SNAKE," PART 2 (OF 3)
I put on my eyeliner and black fingernail polish. We all head to the nightclub. The parking lot is bursting. A good omen. Walking in, Me 'n' Titanic spot an impressive deposit of vomit splattered between two cars -- a good bucket's worth, resembling canned Cheddar Cheese Soup With Hamburger Bits. A bad omen?
We push our way in, start to unpack and tune our instruments, when I hear my brother, bassist Brinie, utter the three words I hate to hear him say minutes before a gig: "We've got problems."
The "snake" is faulty, and the sound man, "Wilbur," has to drive to a (hopefully open) music store to buy a new one. No, I'm not quite sure what a snake is, but if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to guess, I'd say it has something to do with electricity and musical equipment. "I inherited the snake," Wilbur said repeatedly by way of an excuse.
My brother reckoned replacing the snake would delay our start time by at least an hour. This is a disaster. We planned a 9 p.m. start time. The house is already packed and people have been waiting for the band.
Brian said that without the snake, we wouldn't have any monitors. I said: "(Expletive) the monitors. Let's play without 'em." That's when Brinie told me we hadn't even been "miked" yet. (That is, the sound guys hadn't positioned microphones in front of our amplifiers yet, in order to mix us.) And in fact, I see the sound man's assistant, "Chumley," rolling out what looked like miles of black linguini.
As time passed agonizingly, we tried to keep our spirits up. My brother visited the men's room, where an older gentleman said, "Are you guys gonna play or keep fartin' around?"
FINALLY, we got a soundcheck. When drummer Fro starting pounding on his kick drum to get a sound level, people began to applaud -- a tension-breaking moment, though it would still be a long while before showtime. Unfortunately, the sound man never got a level on at least two "floor toms" (the larger drums that are positioned on the floor rather than mounted to the bass drum). Therefore, some of Fro's and Jazzy's performances would surely be compromised.
Amp levels were checked. That's when the sound guys realized they never miked MY amp. Another delay.
Adding to this comedy of errors was that during every delay -- just when you thought the band might start playing soon -- "house" music would suddenly be turned on at a comically loud volume. The house music couldn't be less appropriate. I can't name the artists heard, but if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to guess, I'd say it was Haddaway or the Spice Girls or Rick Astley. Me 'n' Fro vamped to the music, pretending we were playing and having the time of our lives. I FELT LIKE AN IDIOT.
The "light show" was quickly installed. It was two towers of spotlights (one red, one blue) at either end of the stage. We call these "French fry" lights. They make the stage feel like a sauna; they burn our retinas; and they do nothing but illuminate us -- no flashing or highlighting of show moments. (We have our own light show, which has sound-triggered flashing, but we were instructed not to bring it.)
Showtime was finally imminent. My brother told me I should apologize for the delay and thank the folks for their patience. I said I'd come up with something. (I always do a little joke before hitting the first chord of our first song, Foghat's "I Just Want to Make Love to You.") Then we got the OK from Wilbur.
"Welcome to Gloucester City," I said into the mike. "We hope you enjoyed our soundcheck. Please come back tomorrow for the REAL show."
Then we let it rip . . .
TO BE CONTINUED