Friday, July 9, 2010

Sunburns And Missing Cords

I'm home in Port Angeles now, just got back the other day. Jeez, is it hot here - 85F at sea-level feels like 100F in the high desert. And I'd know. Hell, I just played in it on Sunday.

We'd known well in advance that we'd been booked to play at The Nugget in Sparks for July 4th. But we weren't really sure just how we were going to go about it. We originally figured that we'd be playing in the little amphitheater-like stage just east of The Nugget, on the eastern side of Sparks' Victorian Square. But only a few days out from the gig, we found that we would actually play on a temporary stage in front of the parking lot that separates The Nugget's Courtyard Hotel from the northern section of the casino itself. But this was no problem to us. All we need are enough electrical outlets for our stuff, and we're good to go.

But playing outdoors is a different thing. And in Reno, that usually means playing in the heat of summer. Starsound Audio actually rolled out their own portable stage, and shaded it from sun and wind reasonably well for us. A little bit of sunburn on my arms was about all I had to endure, because there was just enough of a breeze to keep the heat from being too oppressive. In previous outdoor gigs with other bands, dealing with the elements was always a challenge, especially considering that those past gigs were in the unpredictable environment of western Washington, where rain can short out equipment far too easily - particularly the very expensive electrical thingamabob wrapped about my melon - microphone becomes electrode, mayhaps? But rain was nowhere to be found Sunday in Reno, and the day dawned brilliant. And hot. But everyone knew that this was coming, so plenty of hydration was the order of the day as we set up. Me? I replaced the Coke in my king-size travel mug with Powerade.

We started our show at 5:30pm, but only after a scheduling mishap. Y'see, we'd been told that we'd be playing from 5 to 9, but it turns out that The Nugget had been advertising all along that we'd play from 5:30 to 9:30. I only found this out as I checked into my room at The Courtyard. After letting Mike know, as well as the crew from Starsound (who also thought we'd be starting at 5), we all agreed that since this was The Nugget's show, we'll run on their schedule. But starting a show like this can be a bit disheartening. Why, you ask? Well, the real show (the fireworks) wouldn't start until after we finished playing (actually about 10pm), so the crowds only started to really come in after about 7pm or so. Which left us playing to..... well, let's just call them interesting. I have no problem playing for people with disabilities. Hell, usually they're the best-behaved people at shows. But let's just say that a few people in that early crowd were maybe best left indoors. It took an effort to keep from laughing at their antics. And I'm not trying to be mean-spirited or saying that the disabled should be viewed as freaks or something like that. I was just beginning to wonder where their caregivers were after a while. Dude staring at a single empty part of the stage obsessively while pawing something I presumed to be a cellphone, or the pair spitting water on each other - well, it was really just one guy doing it to the other, actually - but still, this was adding a whole new meaning to the term 'crazy from the heat.'

We had our own little private backstage area to hide out in between sets, but after a while it wasn't all that private. Kids kept asking to have their pictures taken with Mike and Arthur, while ignoring us. The only attention Cliff and I got was from a drunken woman who actually tried to sit in my lap and kiss me - yuck! Beer breath is not my idea of an aphrodisiac by any stretch of the imagination, but how the hell do you politely tell someone to get the fuck off of you? It didn't really help that almost none of our friends from Carson City that had promised to attend actually did, just our friends and chocolate-pushers Robert and Rhonda (thanks for the truffles!). A few other friends of the band showed up, but they were all new to me. But they were nice, so I guess that's all that really matters.

But as day became night, the mood improved. Eventually, we were playing to around twenty- to twenty-five thousand people. Or at least that how many I thought there were. There could've been a lot more - the expectations were for fifty thousand. But I was only able to see so many, and the whole of Victorian Square was closed, so I probably saw only half the crowd at best. But they were thoroughly enjoying the show from my vantage point. We'd been rehearsing a bunch of new material up to that point, and it all came off good. Any mistakes made were minimal and went unnoticed by all. The show ended, and we introduced Ascuaga family scion Stephen to the stage, and he emceed the remainder of the show, basically introducing a Nugget employee who sang the National Anthem, then calling on the show to start. We sat back and enjoyed the show, then Cliff and I headed back to my hotel room to get back into civvies to change. We were in mid-change when I got a phone call from Mike to hurry the fuck up and get back to the stage. I wish I'd gotten there faster. Y'see, in the chaos, the Starsound crew picked up one of my instrument cables and packed it away. I'd already misplaced one cable earlier in the day, and this was really beginning to piss me off. However, the Starsound techs told me that since they don't use quarter-inch instrument cables, and hadn't in quite some time, it shouldn't be difficult for them to find my cable and to return it. I sure hope so. They agree that cables aren't cheap.

But I got everything else packed away, and made it home just fine. And with good press. Every comment we got was in the most positive of terms - especially those that came from the higher-ups, even Stephen Ascuaga himself. Hopefully this will lead to more gigs, something we need in order to keep me able to be there to play. But now I have a few weeks of downtime to spend with Joy, and my family. Maybe my dad finally got the buffer he'd been agonizing over the last time I hung out with him. That way I can actually work for that airfare, rather than just ask for it.......

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