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Monday, August 24: 1982 Bar, Gainesville
I have this cold and it was killing me. I can't stop coughing, and this day, I was afraid I was going to lose my voice. If I would stop drinking at night I'm sure it would go away, but I'm too much of an asshole to do that.
So Monday, I walked into 1982 Bar and they were hosting free video game night. Old Super Mario and boxing were being played on multiple screens while the only four college kids in the bar talked shit about their first day of class. It was a typical scene at load in -- nobody at the venue but you and the other bands, and you wonder what it's going to be like that night.
I sat down and ordered a $1 PBR and indulged in the pretzel bowl while playing Mario Kart. I coughed into my hand and then reached for another pretzeI, and realized that I was that person who spreads their germs into these food bowls at bars.
After the show, our good friend Ricky from Torche showed up and we headed to his house since he just moved to Gainesville. Rent is cheaper, he says. We started shooting the shit as Ricky showed me one band after another I had never heard of -- we always used to do this as kids.
A good nine PBRs later, the room started to spin and my body became heavy. I stumbled around trying to set up my air mattress, and finding my spot on the wood floor I started the pump. The little thing roared like thunder and I waited an eternity as my mattress filled. Finally, I lay down in bliss. What could be better?
Then, a kick to the feet. WTF? The house kitten, though cute, started to jump full-on at my feet every few minutes, pawing at my sleeping bag, running across my air mattress, and continually trying to snuggle up with my hair.
Of the eight people in the room, I was the only one allergic. The kitten sensed this, I'm sure, seeming to thoroughly enjoy messing with me. I spent the night kicking at the cat and tossing it around mid-slumber. Though annoyed, I found it amusing, and had to admit how cute it was. Thank you, little creature.
Thursday, August 27: The Long Branch Saloon, Knoxville, Tennessee
With this band, I've gone through 424 shows, nine east coast tours, 250-plus different floors, 27 states, 50,000-plus miles, 4000-plus CDs. I steadily looked around the room, and sucking whatever energy I could from the people in front of me. The crowd and I -- our symbiotic relationship was growing so strong, I could feel the net pulling us together.
Gently I pushed the button on my Roland and breathed slowly. Orchestral sounds filled the air. The volume swelled louder and louder. Violin sound started to pierce and the bass started to rumble; then nothing, silence. Brian slammed into the drums, my fingers moved without much thought, and my body rocked back and fourth. The vocals came in and I pushed air forward with all my might.
All my energy was focused on syncing the three movements, making them one. The harmony between the movements fell into place, and my mind went elsewhere. It's a zone where nothing can bother me, and pure happiness fills my brain. Sweat started to drip down into my eyes, my veins pulsed, my lungs heaved, and my heart throbbed in my chest. I started to feel tired; I needed more energy. I released forward to the crowd in my feeding frenzy and sucked more of its aura. Full, I jumped back and continued my dance.
Then, for one split second, there was nothing. The room was totally silent, the sound of my breathing ripping through my ears -- and then the crowd screamed in approval. I pushed the button on the Roland and continued the cycle.
The show came to a close, and then came the worst part. My body realized I was still sick, and a coughing attack came on. I was so tired, and just wanted to lie down. But I needed to get everything offstage so the next band could start loading in.
I threw my bass into its case and started wrapping chords. Fans tried to congratulate me as I tried to break down my equipment. I smiled, shook hands, and wrapped more chords. I moved everything off the stage two pieces at a time. It felt like forever, and then it ended.