Monday, November 17, 2008

Calabrese In Anaheim

There we were, driving down the CA I-5. The new Son Of Sam cranking on the stereo, just 10 minutes away from the venue when SMASH! The impact felt as if someone was jumping on the fender of the van. I looked into the rear view mirror where I saw Dave, wide eyed, trying to quickly put on his seat belt. Dave was looking out his window, I followed his gaze and noticed the trailer fish tailing left and right and then spotted a little sports car, missing a front bumper, spinning out of control. I stepped on the brakes, which calmed the wild trailer and pulled off onto the shoulder.

As we stepped out of the van, cars sped by on the highway, unaffected by our presence. I saw the young driver in the other vehicle checking on his car, he looked OK, I could tell his airbags were not deployed. Taking a look at our own damage, the trailers rear passenger tire was flat and the axle was bent. I started to walk towards the other vehicle. A witness in a white truck told us how a red SUV cut off the sports car, which caused the sports car to swerve and run into our trailer. Of course the red SUV drove off like Godzilla, oblivious to the damage they left behind. As the witness told us his story, right next to where we stood, a Toyota was rear ended on the highway. The young girl in the Toyota pulled to the shoulder as a light brown lawn care truck, with a crushed bumper and grill, drove away. Two guys in the front seat were yelling at the girl as they passed. The kid and I looked at each other knowing we were not standing in a safe place. We agreed to meet up at the nearest parking lot and left.

To my surprise the kid was waiting for us at the parking lot. He even helped us change the tire on the trailer. While retrieving the jack from the trailer we discovered Davey's drums were scattered in the trailer and the drum hardware had punctured a hole in the wall. As we jacked up the trailer we noticed how bad the axle was bent. Like a drunk leaning against the trailer, the tire tilting outward, exhausted from the bender. Once the spare was secured, the wheel didn't rub against the wheel well and we felt no obvious vibration from the trailer as we did a test drive. We felt safe so we rode the rest of the way to the Grove.

If you've ever been to Disneyland out in Anaheim, CA you've probably drove past The Grove. The facility is amazing; it's huge, clean and the stage crew was attentive and professional. The Grove had actual dressing rooms with a couch, mirrors, lights, food and a shower...a fricken' shower! I felt like Frank Sinatra. After we uploaded the equipment we were told the show was sold out (The Grove has a capacity of 1,700). On the surface, this sounds kick ass, but I should mention we were added to this show as a last minute replacement for T.S.O.L. Tiger Army booked 5 nights in a row at the Grove and ticket holders chose this night because of the line up.

So when we hit the stage we played to a sea of blank faces and TSOL shirts! The whole audience stood silent, arms folded, judging our every move, our every note. Their faces all said the same thing "Who the Hell are you and what did you do to TSOL?!" I'm telling you, this crowd was rough -- wiping my ass with sandpaper would have been more pleasant!

I'll admit it's been a while since we played for 1700 strangers and I was out of practice. When we first started the band, every show was a fight to win the audience. I've now formed a habit of feeding off the crowd and normally the audience knows who we are and are energized. So this night on stage I felt like my life force was being drained. The audience, an army of energy vampires, pulled my invisible kite strings as I flapped in the wind trying to keep from crashing. Near the end of our show, a pit finally broke out and I had the ability to start running on stage.

When we completed our set and walked off stage that dressing room felt like a fun house "Hall of Mirrors," claustrophobic and stuffy.Even though the show was tough for me, we did manage to impress some people and we even made new fans that night. Working to win over new fans is just as important as rocking out with the already converted -- it's just not as fun!