we have a date with the underground, chapter 19
by Turtle Jones
The end of the road. Sometimes things aren't pretty. Sometimes things need to get done. There is no way you would quit. You just kept moving. You just couldn't stop. You never can. All you can do is take more hits to the gut and cover up your nuts and move to the next town. Grab and beer and get back in the van cause we have more dates to get to. This wasn't gonna end til you see your home town again.
The flu. What the hell can you do with it. Well, first of all you can yell at someone in the band for sandbagging and just not wanting to play and getting sick of the tour, but that wasn't our style. We didn't do that. He looked bad and was just getting worse. He was sick and this tour was almost over. Shit. We held together as his germs hit us. Talk about your worst nightmare for moms. We would play every night and watch him fade away while someone else faded into the sickness. I was fading. I could feel it. Maybe because of all the beer I drank, I had some sort of immunity. But, my kryptonite had hit me. The King Cobra was fading. One of the last shows on the tour, I got out of the van and threw up. My head was cold and I wondered what was going on. Walked out to the street corner and went to the balcony and just crashed out. Just waited for a few hours while everyone else slept in different places. The PA came on and the stupid song check guy started. Great. Gotta move.
I grabbed a chili dog at the bar during sound check and went downstairs. Turning the corner, I saw a sight that was something to be never seen by human eyes. Seven bodies on the floor. Weezing and gasping for air as they kept turning over to feel comfortable on a hard wooden floor. Just sweating. Walking into other room just to be alone for a few minutes. I won't lie, my readers, this bug had me bad too.
I ate the chili dog and stared at the others. I asked the ultimate question. The question that never should have to be asked. Only one time in my life has this been answered in a positive manner. But, I had to ask it.
"You guys even want to fucking do this tonight? I mean, we are kinda in a bad state here."
I'll tell you one thing about me. People know how much I respect the people who come to see bands. This isn't an art form. You aren't paying for the honor of seeing us. You are walking into the door to have a good time and to have fun with us. Without you, we are nothing. Just like FTTW, if we didn't have you, it would be nothing but a few writers and some talk about dog food or music. It is an honor when someone pays to see you play. If you can't play, it is a slap in the face to them. To them. The ones who are here to see you.
So the band yelled yes as I shoved a chili dog back and walked back upstairs. I tuned the guitars and the bass and set up the drums. Asked for some help as we rolled into sound check. Snare. Snare. Snare. Bass. Bass. Bass. My head was going to explode. This flu had me bad. There was no way I was going down, but it had me hard. Walking back downstairs in a haze, I heard my bass back upstairs in sound check. That was mine. I know that tone. Someone was playing my bass?
What the fuck?
I ran upstairs in my sweaty, flu stricken body to find four other people using our equipment. I walked on stage and grabbed my bass and asked some guy why he was playing it. He looked at me and told me straight in the face that he had heard we were down and wanted to help us out. They all wanted to help us out and to sound check for us. The sound check had stopped and I just looked them up and down and said "Thanks." I shook their hands and walked off stage. Turned around again and surveyed the scene. A bunch of guys restringing our equipment while others worked on the riser. All I could do was walk back up there and tell them "thank you, you have no idea what this means to me" one last time.
See, that's the cool thing about bands. We have all been in those situations where you just don't want to play but you have to. It happens. But, when everyone in the band is down, people notice and they will try to help you as much as they can. In the end, it is up to you to walk on the stage and play the set. But in those times when you are down, people usually will help you get back up. Sure, you aren't shit compared to what you were two days ago. Sure, you aren't shit compared to what you were a week ago. Fuck, you can feel it in your head but you can't let the audience feel it. You are there for them. And you have to die trying because they have no idea where you are, where you were or where you are going. All they know is right now. This very moment when the lights dim. That's all they have. So you have to get focused on right now. You could have a one night stand or a one hundred night tour, but you have to remember, they won't know. They won't be with you. So you have to play for them as best you can for that one night and then go back and fall asleep. And the next day you do it again.
But, always remember, without them, this would be over.
We got on stage and played. Sweaty and sick. We gave our all. Having played with all these guys before, I knew something was different. Too much sweat. Way more water. No beer. I was drinking some cocktail while slamming a bottled water to keep down the vomit. The drummer was in a living hell. His shirt wasn't dry. All off his sweat had left his body. The other band crews were feeding him water as we started another song. We were going to get thru this. These people paid to see us. They deserved to see us give our everything. And we did. It might not have been that great, but we gave everything we had.
See, that's one thing you always have to remember.
We do this for ourselves first, but you next. We will go thru anything to keep this going.
Because without you, we are alone.
Welcome to FTTW. - T
The Who - Naked Eye