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we have a date with the underground, part 5

This is the fifth in a series. It is someone else's story, told to and transcribed by me. Basically, he gave me the details and atmosphere and lot of the words and I put them together in my magic hat and pulled this out. His voice, his story, my translation..

Can You Please Stop Throwing Beer On Me?

After that initial gig, we start picking up gigs at other party houses. Tonight's at a frat house right outside a college town.

You really don't know what to expect inside of one of these. I mean, frat guys are pretty much the exact opposite of punk rockers. So walking to the door there's a feeling of "Hey! We are gonna get free beer!" and "Hey! We are gonna get our asses kicked!"

The first time we walk in this house, the stench hits me. Beer and burning methamphetamine. That smell permeates the house. As we set up to play, we watch as ten guys bump into walls and play video games.

I roll in the drum bag, set it down and go to look for a beer. One of the wall-bumpers says that the keg won't be there for fifteen minutes, so I head for the fridge to see if there's any beer there. Something I have never seen stares back at me - a fridge with a padlock on it. Great. Just fucking great. Now what? Welcome to a frat house.

I go upstairs to find the friend who lives there who hooked this gig up for us. He's sitting in his room smoking speed. On tinfoil. Call the white trash brigade cause I have one to be picked up. His hands shake as i ask him where the beer is at. He says there is a keg downstairs. There isn't. Great. Just fucking great.

I walk back downstairs and just wait. That's something you have to get used to when you are playing gigs. Hurry up and wait. It's one of the worst parts of being in a band. You're told you need to get ready. Then you're told to wait for an hour. Hurry up and wait.

Our equipment is already set up, so we just sit around this huge house waiting for something to happen. Eventually, people start coming in the door. It's getting huge, fast. I can't believe how many people are pouring in. As they walk through the house, they give me a look like I don't belong - a contemptuous sort of a sneer. It's a look that you get used to. It's a look that says "They let you in this house? Your band better be god damn good." There's a huge crowd of people and they push everywhere. Just getting up from the keg is a challenge, much less keeping people away from the set.

I'm using a new wireless set. One of the guys in the band has a friend who lets him try out these new devices to see if we like them. Musicians like us rarely get much gear for free. We usually deal with an asshole salesman who wants to jack us like a fucking used car salesmen. But this shit is free for us to try out and we decide to test them out at this party. If we only have them for a night, we might as well drop the clutch and see how much these motherfuckers can take. So I take my bass, and as I'm playing, I go for a walk to test out this wireless thing. The guitarist is sick of getting hit with beer so he follows me. The singer takes our lead but heads out the back and we try the new equipment out in the different yards, just having fun, seeing what we can do with this party. I'm outside playing the wireless bass in a circle of kids. They are screaming at me and throwing beer on me, and I just keep going. The singer is in the back yard getting the same thing and the poor drummer has to take it all on his own in the open garage.

As the beer cups hit me and people dance around me, the only thing I think, surprisingly, is "This is fucking cool!" Still playing, I walk around the house. over to a fucked up sofa that's just sitting outside, and the crowd follows me like I am the Pied Piper of Punk. I sit on the couch and just move my fingers as girls come up and kiss me on the cheek. I keep going, just playing, listening to clues as to which song we're playing next.

The singer, still in the backyard, says something like "Ok, this is getting crazy, we lost our guitarist and our bass player and I have no idea where I'm at, but this is the next song." He yells the name of it and "1-2-3 go!" and I'm going again on the sofa with a huge circle of people around me.

I'm laughing and having the time of my life. I remember that earlier in the night I thought that being punk rockers in a frat house, we would get our asses kicked. Getting wired and drunk on free dope and beer, and the kids digging the music are things I never expected so I play my heart out for this crowd and the rest of the band does the same. We are fucking glowing. The kids feel it and edge us on as we push with everything we have to make sure we have fun. Because when the band has fun, the crowd does, too.

After the gig, someone from the frat comes up and asks us to be the house band. I think, this is a great fucking week. And it's only Tuesday.

Fear - Gimme Some Action
Rich Kids on LSD - Dead Teds
Rich Kids on LSD - Break the Camel's Back

Comments

I used to go to shows like this in college back in the early nineties. They were a lot of fun and the bands never seemed to care about the beer on them. Thanks for the memories.

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