Castor Oil...sickeningly good

Friday, November 12, 2004

Stage Seven – this is the end, my non-existent friends

When last we left the crew the rock was about to drop….

And with a One…Two…Three….Four….from the drummer shaky hands grip guitar picks in a Kung-Fu death pinch, knees knock and hearts palpitate. There is a micro-second of peace in the air and then


A dissonant rattle comprised of vibrations from a snare drum and cymbals and severely out of tune and way too loud guitar and bass notes bouncing off the highly sheened wood paneling on the other side of the room fills the room. The few people in attendance are stunned, they don’t know what to do so they look at the floor, the ceiling, the cigarette machine, their beers…….anywhere but at the band. Should it sound like this? Shouldn’t the band stop and fix whatever the fuck is going on in the name of sweet baby Jesus before we all go deaf?!?!?!?!

To the credit of P.T. Barnum’s eternally damned soul stopping would not be an option even if the band had any idea how insane and horridly atrocious they sounded. The show, no matter how retarded, must go on. This is why musicians drink so much, alcohol helps them cope with facts by enveloping their brains and auditory senses in a haze of thickly applied bullshit. It’s not that they don’t care that it doesn’t sound good; they have no idea that it doesn’t so they keep pounding away. The band has been playing for six seconds before the guitarist turns up his amp.

Now it is time for the star of the show, the VOICE of the band to be introduced to the “fans” that are blinking uncontrollably with every hit of the snare drum and trying desperately to avoid eye contact with any of the band. The singer’s stomach is squarely in his soft palette as he steps up to the mic, closes his eyes, accidentally lets loose a fart and zaps the fucking shit out of himself when he opens his mouth and his spittle hitting the ungrounded microphones completes a circuit that sends electrical current across his lips and into his metal dental fillings.


Plunk. Enter the feedback…….

Being out of tune and microphone feedback truly comprises the soundtrack of our lives for the shitty gig musician. It doesn’t matter what the band’s style or makeup it always sounds the same….the same cacophonous death rattle of the patron saint of melody and goodness. It happens all the time but the look of panic, of guilt and of utter and complete lack of control dawns anew on the faces of the bands that it happens to. The band chugs on for a full minute and seems to be getting things under control until.....


Someone dropped a tray in the dishroom. People laugh. This can’t be happening.

So the singer decides to make up for the hiccups with severe rocking out. There are several variations of the shitty gig rock move but all pretty much make the mover look like a guy having a seizure and dropping a big load in his drawers at the same time. He shimmies, he shakes, he finger points and he makes little kissy faces at the microphone to avoid touching it and electrocuting himself.

Mercifully the first song ends and the spirit of Diamond David Lee Roth is invoked by for the bazillionth time by the bazillionth unimaginative and wholly unprepared front-man. In response to the half-hearted and almost frightened clapping and the single “whoo” mercifully uttered by the bass players cousin the singer replies –

“WELL ALRIGHT…..HELLO (town)….YOU READY TO ROCK TONIGHT…YOU KNOW (band) IS!!!! AIN’T THAT RIGHT???? (band looks up in confusion. Guitarist smiles like a village idiot and hoists his cup for a toast, catches it on his guitar strap and spills beer all over his gig shirt. Shit.)

The band tries in vain to tune their instruments for three of the longest minutes of the singer’s life. He glares, he shrugs playfully at the 12 people left in attendance, he tells jokes, and eventually he starts to mumble. Finally with a painfully loud DUNT DWANT DUNT from the guitarist’s guitar the band is ready to re-launch into the rock universe.

Song number two, just as out-of-tune as song number 1. The band plays on and the singer pussyfoots around and things are getting better all the time. Three people sneak out with a half-hearted wave while pointing at their watches. This is a classic shitty gig maneuver that seems to be part of the human genetic imprint as it is replicated in every town in the civilized world where assholes can buy guitars and someone sells pizza.

Songs three – six are terrible but unremarkable. Average time between the start and stop of a song is 93 seconds. Nothing happens during these horrendous soul-destroying lapses in the rocking except a lot of foot shuffling and staring.

Song seven – Rocking the groove….DUN DA DUN DA DUN POINK!!! da diddle diddle poot poot poot….. Something has gone wrong. Houston, we have a problem! There is a hole in the sound and the singer has the look of a crazed animal. He glares at the guitarist and the drummer but they look dopily confused and innocent and then he turns to the bass player. Mouth agape he is looking at his axe and the limp string hanging off of it. He has broken his A-String, he is butt confused and has tried to transpose what he plays on the broken string and move over to non-broken ones. He has failed miserably. The song limps to a merciful end.

Singer - “We’re gonna take a quick break (four people bolt for the door) so we can take care of an equipment issue…be right back…..”

The drummer and guitarist sprint to the bar. There are five people looking miserable and the night is a disaster. The singer is pissed, pissed at his band, pissed at the P.A., pissed at the inventor of the calendar system that made Tuesday’s suck and pissed at God. The one person he is not pissed at is himself because after all, he’s awesome. The bass palyer is kneeling by his amp but not changing the string, ten minutes has passed and the night is going downhill. The owner of the pizza parlor is resigned to this shittiness and grumbles in the background. The singer asks the bass player “what the fuck is going on man…?”

“I don’t have any extra strings.”

Poof goes the last vestiges of coherence for the frontman. This is the last straw. He storms out of the pizza parlor and starts dialing people on his cell phone to vent his outrage and frustration. Of course they are all avoiding him as it is gig day so he leaves a lot of …”sup dude, just wondering if you’re coming by….” guilt trips on people who don’t even like him that much anyway.

Going back inside he finds the band huddled by the drumkit. The bass player assures him that the gig can go on. He can manage, he is a pro. They shuffle back to the mics and start playing songs with no emotion, energy or thought. It is the march of the damned and blissfully no one is left to hear it that isn’t on the Joe’s Pizza payroll. The band plays on…and on and on and on and on until 12:15. The owner says, “you can wrap it up whenever” and they do. The amps are turned off, the cords wrapped up, the band is drunk, the singer is heartbroken.

The tab is rung up and the cover charge is added. For the privilege of rocking to 12 people for 76 minutes the band owes the pizza parlor $83.55. The singer pays it on his debit card and the band promises to settle up with him at practice. This will never…EVER…happen. The band loads their gear, smokes cigarettes in the parking lot and talks about how it wasn’t that bad and this song and that song sounded kick-ass and “practice on Thursday??? Yeah..yeah….sure…” and the cycle repeats itself. For there is as much hope and ego as there are Tuesdays in the future and the idiocy is as thick in the music world as the sheen of grease on the pizza parlor bar.

Yeah, they’re retards but they’re retards with purpose and guitars. So check your caller ID and watch the fuck out because like the Stone Temple Pilots said, "HERE THEY COME THEY COME THEY COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


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