I arrived at 8:00 p.m. at The Central Saloon
, as the booker had requested. I'd actually never been to The Central, so I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get my drums loaded in, find parking, etc. Unfortunately, the parking gods were against me, as I didn't get a spot in the front of the bar. Many of the "regulars" on the street commented on every piece of equipment I carried past them. With each trip to the car, I kept hoping that someone would ask me for "spare change" so I could hire them to help.
One thing I've started to notice in my limited exposure to playing live is every venue has its own energy; I usually catch it the minute I walk through the door. On this night, the vibe was mostly positive. But I kept asking myself why I felt a little uneasy, and then I remembered what had happened on Monday.
Sam, our bass player, had suddenly left Chris Mess on Monday to deal with some personal issues. As anyone in showbiz knows, "the show must go on." So Chris and I decided to play this gig as a two piece, a la "White Stripes." While I knew Chris and I could do it, I also knew there would be a gaping hole in the Chris Mess sound that made me feel, well, a little uncomfortable. I knew I'd miss Sam.
I took a look at the Central's red brick walls and high ceilings. Patrons sat at the long bar, eating dinner and drinking beer. The stage is in the back, beneath a rectangular window that looks like stained glass. This gives the bar a kind of church-like feel, like you're on holy ground. In some ways you are, as you know you're standing in a historic building, but also the building's history with the Grunge movement in the 90s. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden--just to name a few--graced the Central stage back in the 90s.
Chris arrived around 8:30, and we figured out when we would go on (around 10:15). So we sat outside in the humid evening air and talked and people watched. The drummer from the first band who was too young to be in the bar except when playing, also joined in our conversation.
Chris went to do his vocal warm-up, and I decided to walk to Elliot Bay Books, one of the best bookstores in Seattle. I perused the bookstore, but couldn't keep my attention on any book I opened. I knew this was just the pre-show nerves that any performer experiences. It wasn't until I went into the kids' section that the nerves seemed to settle. I found three books for my 1-year-old son, Drew.
Back at the Central, I watched the first band play (I never got their name, as I believe they were a last-minute fill-in). I felt sorry for the drummer, as one of his bass drum spurs had broken off and the drums kept moving away from him. At one point, the bass drum (and attached tom-toms) literally fell over. In between songs, the band rallied and pushed one of their speakers into the bass drum to try and hold it in place.
I had a little time to talk to my brother Erik, who was nice enough to come down and watch us play. As I was talking to him, an attractive woman with a cell phone stuck to her ear sauntered up and started rubbing his stomach like a Buddha.
"Do you know each other?" I asked.
"No," Erik said, laughing. They introduced themselves. Erik said, "This is my brother, Andy."
She flipped her hand up in that "talk-to-the-hand" kind of way, "Yeah, whatever," she said.
"Look at you," she said to Erik, looking him up and down (Erik is one of the taller people in a room).
"You like big men?" Erik asked.
"I like real
men, not those anorexic types."
"Well, I used to be anorexic," Erik said. She didn't laugh. I did.
I tried to butt in a few times, but she kept giving me the "yeah, whatever," and I walked away.
Erik finally got away from this mysterious woman, who then joined another group of people (I don't know if she knew them either). When she got a phone call, she left. I wondered if she was a call girl or something.
Chris and I finally took to the stage after the first band finished up. Chris had brought along a life-size cardboard figure of Sarah Michelle Gellar
to stand in at stage right. I had my kit fully miked, which is the first time at any of the Chris Mess gigs. It was great to hear the thunder of my DW's in that open space.
Chris and I tore through the set, having as much fun as we could with our new two-piece setup. And, as always, it was over much too quickly, I was off the stage, packing up my drums into their cases, and listening to Eight Hour Disease
play through their set.
On to the next gig and a new bass player...
Labels: Chris Mess