We had a Saturday sit-down gig and left our equipment set up at the bar. It was all my stuff, except for the drums.
The bar owner's wife was out of town for the weekend, and came home on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I need not tell you how she felt after discovering him having over-night company. The guitar player called me at work Wed. morning to tell me about the situation. By noon I got edgy and took off from work to go pick up our equipment. A good decision, as that night the place mysteriously burned to the ground!
My first regular gigging band was a punk/classic rock cover band that dressed in drag..... that, of course is another story in itself, but I'll save that for later time. We were about to play our first real paying bar gig after a two week open mic audition landed us a regular Wednesday night stand at the venue. We planned to have a rather unique stage show, complete with a blow up doll, dismembered toy doll body parts, beach balls to throw out to the crowd and other random, miscellaneous items.... to top it all off, there were the 4 of us completely decked out in makeup, skirts, and stockings. Anyone walking into the the bar that night knew that they were in for something more than "the norm." So the show was going well until a "wardrobe malfunction" occurred compliments of yours truly. We were doing a cover of "Big Balls" by AD/DC and I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to get on an old hip-pity hop that we "borrowed" from my drummer's work (he was working in child care at the time- real nice for a dude whose night job consisted of him being a stick swinging cross dresser!). So I jump on this hip-pity hop and start bouncing toward the crowd- what I didn't realize was that while I was doing this, something had slowly started creeping out of the giant tear in my fishnet stockings. We were about halfway through the song when I finally looked down and gasped in utter horror as I realized that I was giving the crowd a full show. I never jumped up faster in my life! I couldn't look at the crowd the rest of the song. Everyone in the audience that I talked to afterward said that they didn't notice, so either the lighting saved my life or those people we're just lying to save me the embarrassment...... To this day, I can't hear that song without my face getting red as a ripe tomato!
So I figured that after the "Big Balls" mishap, the rest of the show would go over with no problems- WRONG! Remember, at this time we are all very young (I was the oldest at 20) and very inexperienced at the music game and that showed when we tried to run our own sound. We had a very cheap PA system that barely pushed out enough to power the small bar we were playing. We used the cheapest of cheap extension chords- and to top it all off, we decided to plug EVERYTHING (PA, amps, lights, etc.) into a power outlet that we bought from the dollar store... can you see where this is going already? We were almost done with our second set and we were playing our last song when all of a sudden, our outlet exploded and started shooting sparks causing everything to lose power mid-song. After we put the sparks out and saw that our power outlet was completely fried, we had to have the bartender help us find another outlet in order to continue the night. All the while the crowd was looking at us like- "Is this part of the show?" We got everything plugged back in and after about 20 minutes we had the whole system up and running again. I got on the mic and said the only thing I could think of at a time like this- "Well, now that we almost burned the place down, I think we have a song to finish." We picked up right where we left off without skipping a beat, finished the song and then went on our 15 minute set break... it was an awesome way to break in what ended up being a long weekly stand at this particular venue.
This bar where I was a regular on drums at their open jam nights was closing down, so I had to go for one last blast. The other musicians talked about trashing the ancient, crumbling drum set at the end of the last song, which (not coincidentally) happened to be the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." We got to the end of the song, several of the other members started upending the drums--and instead of joining in the fun like Moonie, I acted like myself and played a big rock ending on the drums as they flew and rolled everywhere. Old lack of habits dies hard, I guess.
1992. Our band had secured the coveted entertainment slot at the local Toys 4 Tots biker run/festival. It took place at a huge, old, Bavarian style beer and dance hall that had also became an attraction as a USO facility during WWII and after but now was a well known mens fraternal organization Lodge. The town it's self was well under 1000 in population but the county seat is just over the hill and is a small college town plus the military base was there so it had seen some ruckus in its day.
This was in California and even in December the area weather can be quite nice as it had been all week, plenty warm for an outdoor gig. Our hosts had been gracious in providing a semi-truck flatbed trailer for our stage. It was parked several days before and we used to drive by and dream about how cool this gig was going to be. It was Madison Square Garden to us.
So of course during the night before, a storm came in and let out a downpour. And though it really wasn't that cold, the ground was a mud pit. The rain though not more than a steady drizzle during the day never let up so there was no way we could use the flatbed. So we are trying to figure out what to do.
Unfortunately the promoter and the hall owner were not the same person and the indoor stage was the place were the toy collection was taking place so it was literally buried in a mountain of boxes and bags. The manager was being a total d*** about moving anything. I think the real issue was he was an old man and just didn't like long haired rock music and was using the toys as an excuse. So anyway the guy says we have to set up outside or not play, simple as that. Oh really?? like where man?
But after some grumbling and deliberation we decided to try and make ourselves a shelter because there were easily well over 2000 people and we'd never played for more than maybe a hundred. Plus this annual event gets local news coverage and the bands always get at least a few seconds of face time. On top of that we had been a band less than a year at that point so this was big deal and dream gig for us: THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!!
So next thing I know we are rigging up some plastic tarps over a little spot in a corner which was the only place that was not dirt. It was old, cracked and misaligned cement but at least it wasn't a mud bog. There was also a bit of an overhang to attach to but no where near big enough to cover any amount of the band, the amps at most if we put them in line flat against the wall. And it was still wet.
We considered setting up as one long line trying to each be under the overhang but realized that would be a disaster in trying to hear and see each other and it was not enough to protect us anyway when the wind blew because the rain came with it. So we go with the awning plan. But all the while I'm thinking "what the hell are we doing? we're going to get electrocuted". But everyone else was committed so I trudged on hoping for the best.
After about an hour of one calamity after another our keyboard player who was the band leader,10-20 years older than the rest of the band and a Viet-Nam era Navy Seal suddenly just blew his top and went stomping into the main building, teeth and fists clenched and all. The rest of us stood there pie-eyed looking at each other thinking oh god what is he going to do? After a few minutes he came out with a happy face and said we're setting up inside. Apparently he went off on whoever and scared them enough that they said "what ever you want sir". So mercifully we start packing in. But this presented a new issue, we had to moved all those toys. So we just started putting stuff where ever there was some empty space to clear the stage. But we got it done which took about half an hour.
Then maybe 10 minutes after we moved in our last piece of gear from outside the awning we rigged up collapsed and dumped a ton of water right where we would have been standing.
Although we didn't get to use the big stage and only about 150 people could fit into the indoor stage area at any given time it was still a lot of fun and the crowd loved us. I did say this had once been a big dance hall but as a men's fraternal organization lodge it had been converted to a bunch of smaller rooms and offices so the bar area was not really any bigger than a typical bar gig that we would have played on any given night so that was kind of a let down.
But all in all the trials and tribulations of this gig is certainly what made it so memorable.
Our four piece cover band was playing a small gig at a local watering hole. Part of our show was me using a wireless rig and playing lead guitar while running around in the crowd. I usually start by taking a huge jump off the stage to land on the dance floor, boogie with the dancers for a bit, then take a lap around the bar.
On this particular night, I had forgotten to bring fresh batteries and the one I had died during the second set. No problem, I just plugged in a cord and kept playing. You can probably see where this is going...
Sure enough, halfway through the last set there is a pack of hotties dancing, and I decide its time for some fun. I got a two step run off the stage and did my big jump...
And yanked my pedalboard and mic (with stand) off the stage and almost dumped my amp. Now the mic is out in front of the FOH speakers, which complained VERY loudly about it. The rest of the band kept playing, but of course the groove was completely destroyed.
Fortunately there was no permanent damage, and we finished the night after I took a few minutes to get reset. Those guys have never let me live that down, and for Christmas they bought me two 10-packs of 9V batteries.
A few years back I was holding auditions for an oldies group I was trying to put together. One guy called and said he played keyboards and sang. I had him over on a Saturday afternoon. He brought his 12 year old son along with him. He explained that his son was autistic and that he didn't have a babysitter. I said no problem and set his son up in front of the TV.
This guy liked the Beach Boys as I did, and was making a big deal out of this live medley he had recorded while at a Beach Boys concert in Atlantic City. He said he wanted me to learn the medley exactly so he could sing the lead. I played the CD and it was a garbled mess with an occasional hint of Mike Love wailing into the mic. I eventually worked out the parts and prepared to play the song. I then noticed that his son had taken off his shoes and was walking around the house opening and closing cabinets and drawers. I ignored it and we started to play.
It was obvious from the start that he couldn't really play that well. He certainly didn't know the medley that I had just learned. Then he started to sing. Putting it kindly, he could not sing. By now his son had found and opened three bags of potato chips and pretzels. He proceeded to crush them and sprinkle them throughout the living room and on the couches and chairs. I stopped playing to address the situation, and the guy actually asked me why I stopped playing.
I figured the damage was done, and tried to introduce a different song since I felt the Beach Boys medley wasn't working to say the least. This guy insisted on picking up where we left off.
So we launch into Little Deuce Coupe, at least I think that's what it was. His chords were nothing like the song, and he was wailing so off key that I couldn't believe he could continue, but he did. Then I hear my washer start, then stop, then start, then stop, then start again. The guy doesn't notice the sound. I stopped playing and went to see what was going on. The guy then says that his son likes to do wash. I said okay, but it's an old machine and I don't want it to break. I go in just in time to see the kid pour a cup of bleach all over a load of jeans and dress shirts. Keep in mind the guy is still moaning into the mic while I'm assessing the damage, which was considerable.
Eventually the kid got completely out of control and was running all over the house, going up into bedrooms and closets, tearing things out, it was crazy. And the guy just wanted to sit and play. Maybe he was used to it. We ended the session with him asking when we could do it again. Needless to say we didn't.
The next week I get a call from a singer from South Philadelphia. The guy said he had played with all sorts of famous 50's and 60's vocal groups and sounded like he really knew his stuff. The only problem was that he had diabetes, and he couldn't see well at night and needed a ride. It was a considerable distance, especially in Philly rush hour traffic, but I figured it might be worth the trouble. It took me an hour to get there, on some godforsaken little street in the heart of South Philly. The guy jumped in the car with his duffel bag and a paper bag containing what had to be a 3 day old hoagie stinking of onions and provolone cheese. He explained that he had to have food available in case his blood sugar got low.
An hour later we got back to my town. He asked to stop at a store for lozenges for his throat. We stopped and he tried to strike up a conversation with a 15 year old cashier. As we leave he bragged that he could have had her if he really wanted her. Okay, man, I'm sure you could have.
Finally we get back to my house. He then opens his duffel bag and takes out two loaded syringes and puts them on the counter. "Come here", he says. "If I pass out from diabetic shock stick this in my left arm and inject me with my insulin." Okay, no problem. He then unwraps the stinking hoagie and eats it, spilling lettuce and oil all over and making a general mess. I begin testing the mics. He tells me that he has to have a very specific type of delay on his vocals. We then spend the next 20 minutes adjusting the delay settings in every conceivable way, none of which was to his satisfaction.
The rest of the band showed up and got ready to play. The singer told us that we must first hear him do his own special mixes of his songs and gave me a karaoke CD. We then spent the next 25 minutes listening to him do 6 karaoke versions of various Frankie Valli songs. Eventually we got to actually play. Despite the set list we provided him, this guy insisted on doing songs none of us had ever played, in keys that were not the original keys. In all fairness, he did have a good voice. We managed to get through a practice and I had the pleasure of driving him an hour back to South Philly.
Against my better judgment I had the guy back over again. Of course I had to drive him back and forth again. Come to find out, the only reason he wanted to play was so that he could steal my band members for another project he was involved with. The drummer actually left and joined his group. Funny thing is, our group did go on to become somewhat successful as an oldies cover band, playing a good four year run of shows. The singer's band never got out of the basement. The drummer came crawling back six months later, but by then the spot had been filled.
It was the second to last night of a 6 week tour, and we were all going a little crazy. We made it through most of the set fine, until the build up of the very last song. I was playing bass, and I turned around when I heard an awful screeching sound. At this time I heard a pop and smelled the familiar smell of burning electronics.
Our rhythm guitar player's head had exploded. At about the same time, the singer's guitar pedals shorted out or something, so it was reduced to just me and the drummer finishing up the song. I looked over at the singer, and he was pissed. While is aggressively taking off his strap, he tripped over some PA cables and dropped his Les Paul. I looked down at it in horror as the head stock snapped off.
He proceeded to pick it up and smash it Joe Strummer style, completely destroying his $1000+ guitar. The drummer then knocked over all his drums, and I aprained my ankle in some weird hole in the stage.
All in all, a pretty dramatic way to end the tour.
This gig was about 2 or 3 years ago when I was either 20 or 21. The band I was playing with at the time was a country/classic rock group that at the time was trying to do originals and trying to become a "real" band. I consider myself lucky to have been playing with people that were very talented, but because we were young we still had a lot of energy and put on a pretty decent stage show.
We were playing in a club that was fairly large(2 stories) and had a pretty large p.a.. Throughout the night I would play my guitar solos and either walk up to the edge of the stage and perch on a monitor or walk around the stage and interact with the other band members. At one point to end a solo( at the song as well) I jumped up on to the drummers riser a bit before I was done so that I had time to make a giant leap off it to hit the final note for a powerful finish. I have to admit that it went off fine and looked pretty cool.
Fast forward a set or two into the night and several drinks later. The other guitar player in the group decided that he wanted to be cool as well. We were doing one of the songs where I was singing and everything was going along smooth. In the middle of one of my verses I suddenly noticed that there was barely any percussion behind me and I noticed our bass player trying not to laugh. I finished the last minute or two of the tune before I turned back to the rest of the group to find out what had happened.
The rhythm guitar player had decided to jump onto the drum riser so that he could jump off of it as well. When he took his step onto the riser, he hit the metal edge of it with the middle of his boot and slipped. He fell directly into the drummers kit and essentially form tackled the majority of his gear. After the hit all my drummer had left was a snare and high hat and he just continued to play along.
The sound guy came running up freaking out that we may have damaged his drum mics. Thankfully everything was fine and we just set the kit back up as fast as we could and kept going. People were laughing, but we played great and got hired back multiple times.
That's still one of my fondest memories of crazy gig antics.
So, it was the end of the night, and the artist I was playing for and I were at the bar slamming a few back before we had to leave. My buddy (the artist) got quiet for a second, which got MY attention. As I looked over I saw him leaning up against the bar, putting his entire weight on it. The kind of drunken lean you see guys do on a urinal, lol. To my surprise, a steady stream of piss came out of him as the bartender and I both watched in amazement!
We both said, "now what the hell did you do that for?"
His reply, "I.... couldn’t find the bathroom."
It wasn't but 5 minutes later they were signing us up for another date at that very same club a month later; I guess we must have put on one hell of a show!
I played with a group at a holiday fraternity party in a big old frat house with a really high ceiling. They had a twenty foot tree decorated in one side of the rec room where we played. After they got drunk enough, the frat brothers, in the spirit of John Belushi, proceeded on knocking over the tree onto the whole floor of the room, barely missing us and our equipment.