Last week my band, the Butts, played Reggies Rock Club. We’d never played a show at a “real” venue before–we were excited. It was 21+, so our large twenty-year-old fan contingent couldn’t come–but we were still excited. It was a free show; surely some people would come. The weather wasn’t so cold. It was right off the Chinatown Red Line stop. It would be a good show. We’d rock their socks off.
The night started off innocuously enough. We hung out in the VIP loft, enjoying half-off drinks and looking out over the empty room while the first band set up. We cracked jokes at their electric drum kit; the tinny rhythms they would use, vainly trying to accentuate their nu-metal sludge. But we were respectful, and went out into the audience to watch them as they shouted about the joys of Jesus.
Then it was our turn to take the stage. We were kind of worried–considering our band had made up two-thirds of the audience–that nobody would be left to watch us, but a good six or seven of our friends made it out to catch the performance. That would turn out to be six or seven more than I’d have liked. From the first song, I knew things weren’t going so great. The sound was off; we couldn’t hear anything but the guitar. Then, come the third song, we’d hear everything but: in the frenzy of playing, our guitarist accidentally knocked his volume knob to zero, and spent the next few minutes frantically plugging and unplugging his power cord before realizing the problem. In the meantime the rest of us chugged along, sans guitar, smiling gleefully as our optimistic visions of the night dissolved to farce.
In reality, it wasn’t quite so bad. Apparently, our own incompetence aside, the sound was okay down in the audience. And we still brought in more fans than either the first band or Werewolf, the metal act that headlined the night. Besides, the whole thing was kind of ridiculous from the onset–we stuck out like sore thumbs in the line-up. Even under optimal conditions, we probably would’ve been met with blank stares from a room full of confused metalheads.
“I can really see us playing with that first band,” one of the guys from Werewolf commented to a bandmate on the way out. Surely neither band would have said the same about us–but that’s probably a good thing. Watching Werewolf’s one hardcore fan drunkenly fist-pumping and throwing empty beer cans onto the stage made me kind of want to stop playing music forever. But then we got paid forty bucks, and all was alright in the end.