Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blast From The Past?

Joy and I just got a phone call the other day from Calvin (my old bandleader in Powerlight), letting us know that they were going to be in town this weekend. That, and that he needed Joy's help again in doing his back taxes. They haven't played a meaningful gig since they got 86'd from the Atlantis nearly six months ago, and are only coming to Reno to play for Renown Medical Center's holiday party. Driving over fourteen hundred miles round-trip for one gig, one night only, what does that tell you?

But it stirs up some interesting emotions. I quit Powerlight to save them from getting fired because of Cockbreath McPothead's jealousy, only for them to get fired the very next gig. Meanwhile, I'm working pretty steadily and trying to get our lives in order for our next step, likely a move back to Washington State and probably back to Port Angeles, where Joy could live more comfortably (not to mention closer to our families). I never stopped being friends with Calvin, but dealing with Jackie could be difficult. Y'see, after I left Powerlight, a mutual friend who works at the Atlantis told me that Jackie had blamed me for all the band's ills over the years, never mind that I'd pretty much carried the band for all that time. Now, they're in more dire straits than they've probably ever been due to Jackie's (alleged) outburst, and they're in need of our help, even if only for Joy's bookkeeping skills.

Fortunately, I won't have to deal with them for all that long, as their gig is on Friday the 13th, which is the same night as the Divine Heresy show at the New Oasis. Three of the four opening bands on the bill, I Dekay, Pain Clinic and Blasphemous Creation are friends of ours, and our favorite tattoo artist, Ali Deceunynck from No Boys Allowed will be coming along for the show as well. Her ticket was the tip we gave her for Joy's latest tattoo. And Ali will pop my cherry next month, when I get my first tattoo. I'll only have to deal with Powerlight in passing on Saturday, when Calvin will unload a few hundred pounds of paperwork on us......

Oh, joy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In The Crowd, Rather Than Onstage, Part 2

Who doesn't enjoy a good concert, after all? And even if it may or may not cause future financial distress, there are certain bands that we just won't miss for anything. Ozomatli is one of those bands. This seven-piece combo is the living embodiment of all things LA short of getting a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a taco truck on the corner. Sunday's show was our third straight year seeing them up at the Crystal Bay Club, and we were dead-set on getting good spots up front.

I swear to god that we shouldn't be in such a rush. Security opened up the Crown Room at 8pm, and even though we went through the line about five minutes after eight, well..... there was no real line to speak of. Let's just say that Tahoe crowds like to develop slowly. The few that were there to greet opener Lateef the Truthspeaker enjoyed his set, but they were just biding their time, waiting for the headliners to come out.

Ozomatli hit the stage a little after ten, and delivered another killer set of their unique blend of Latin, hip-hop, soul and rock with the usual crazy energy that we've come to expect from them. The crowd is almost immediately in a frenzy....... and that's not really a good thing. Two years ago, a guy came rushing up to what he thought was an empty spot up front, and put a knee into Joy's back as she sat in her wheelchair. Her scream of pain brought the show to a standstill then. Sunday, some blonde woman tried to jump on to my back, as if to get a piggy-back ride. Well, all I knew about was feeling small hands on my neck, and what I'd presume was legs trying to lock around my waist, then suddenly dropping away. Followed by Joy shouting in pain. I looked behind me to find the blonde flat on her back, then turned to see Joy clutching her left arm. The blonde had kicked Joy in that arm when she tried to mount me. Inadvertently, to be fair, but she kicked Joy. I wasn't paying attention to the stage, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if the whole band saw it happen. I tried to explain to the blonde what she'd done, even guided her over to Joy to apologize, but I don't think she ever really caught on to what had happened.

I'm pretty sure the band knew what was going on. I was confirmed in that when Ozomatli ended their show with their traditional march through the crowd, where the entire band (save Asdru and Ulises, their horn players) grab drums or percussion and boldly climb down from the stage to play in and amongst the crowd in a conga line. Well, the line snaked around the crowd before coming right up to us, with bassist Wil-dog Abers leading the entourage, and every single band member came up to Joy and passed by, touched her in almost a kind of reassuring way, as if they all wanted to know that she was okay.

And after the show, we got to talk with Wil-dog for a few minutes. He was glad that we'd come, and noted that it was our third year in a row for their show in Crystal Bay. We were pretty impressed with him remembering us like that. After all, these guys play hundreds of shows a year, all around the world. I'm sure Joy isn't the only woman in a wheelchair that these guys see. But I'm also pretty sure that she isn't that hard to forget after what happened two years ago.

We left Crystal Bay with a set list, a warning sign with the band's pic on it, a CD, a pass to download the show to our computer as an mp3, and a broken string from Wil-dog's bass. And the special kind of buzz that you can only get from being at a really good show. A show from a band that we can count as friends instead of just a band. That's what makes being in the crowd so special to us.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In The Crowd, Rather Than Onstage, Part 1

Sorry that I haven't posted in a while. It's just been kinda hectic recently. Not my work life, my personal life. With Joy's suite of illnesses, things are never calm for long, as one or another bobs to the surface and she's in pain-and-suffering mode, and I'm duty-bound to care for her. Not that I have any problem with that. All part and parcel of the whole husband gig, I always say.

But today I write about other things than sarcoidosis, costochondritis, or multiple sclerosis. Instead, I write about the simple joys of being in the crowd for a show, rather than being the one onstage delivering said show. I'm writing this from the cozy confines of our hotel room at the Carson Station on the day after Halloween, getting ready to head up to Tahoe to see an absolutely killer show tonight when Ozomatli take the stage at the Crystal Bay Club. It's our third straight year seeing them play there, and we have no intention of missing this show.

It's kinda funny. We used to live an hour away from Seattle, which is always on the tour itinerary of most bands, yet we never went to any shows there. Now we live in Reno, which most tours avoid altogether, and we manage to hit several shows a year. Not quite three weeks ago we went to see 90's alt-metal legends Prong at the New Oasis in Sparks. And in a little less than two weeks from now we'll be catching shred-metallists Divine Heresy at the Oasis, and I'll be doing a little drum-deity worshipping at the feet of DH drummer Tim Yeung (go check out his videos on YouTube - you too shall bow). I guess that it's just that when anything close to a cool show comes down I-80, I'm going. It also doesn't hurt that most of the shows we go to aren't terribly expensive, no more than $30 a ticket and most less than $15.

I'd like to pontificate more about tours, travel paths, promoters and such, but it's dinner time and Joy's hungry. I wanted to take her to Happy Hour at Bite in Incline Village ( - 'American Tapas' - We call it 'awesome'), but it's a little late for that, so it's down to the casino restaurant for dinner, then up to Tahoe. And I need to get dressed.

Typing in the nude - ain't it great?

(Okay, go clean up your vomit. We'll talk again later.)