The feedback from the guitars is deafening. I listen to it, soak it in, waiting for it to start.
Tis, tis tis, tis the high hat goes as Kiel, my drummer, my band mate, counts us into the song. The entire band erupts into a cacophony of noise, the driving rhythm barely containing our energy. Nervous energy, adolescent energy, creative energy, positive, negative, even sugar produced energy is rushing through my veins.
I feel ecstatic.
A smile is being painted goofily across my face, hung just alittle off-center. That kind of smile comes about when my feelings of happiness overflow beyond the capacity of my facial muscles to control it. It is a smile that cannot be ended by any means other than its own pre-destined death. This particular smile did not get to live for long.
Travis, the singer of our band, is forgetting the lyrics of the song!
Travis is stopping singing all together!
Travis is apologizing to the audience for forgetting the lyrics of the song!
This is me, playing my first live show in a band. It is now not going well. And now my smile is dead.
I had asked and asked and asked until my family finally gave in and bought one for me. It was an all-black Samick P bass guitar with spilt pick-ups. I loved that bass from the second I saw it. I knew I would never give it away. I know I am going to spend the rest of my life with this guitar. I named her Morgan and together we joined a heavy metal band to become famous.
Let me give you a quick rundown of our group dynamic. The band’s name is Woodrow. The origins of the band name are unknown; it has simply always been Woodrow. The lead singer is a five foot, 235 pound, red-headed bowling ball shaped kid named Travis. He doesn’t even like heavy metal, but loves being in the group regardless. Next is a muscle-bound blond guy named Kiel, who is the drummer and owner of practically everything in the band. Kiel is amazing drummer and he knows it, giving me a 10 minute long drum solo the first time I met him. Josh is the guitarist and self-proclaimed front man of the band, despite his unwillingness to even engage in the simplest of guitar solos. Finally there is 14 year old me, 100 pounds soaking wet with a blond wisp of a mustache that I had carefully cultivated since grade 7.
Woodrow is playing at Christmas in the park. I had only joined the band yesterday. We had a full two hours of practice before they let me know they had a show to play the next day. I was completely onboard of course, because, like I said, I wanted to be famous. And here was my chance.
It being Christmas in the Park, naturally the stage was going to be set up outside, which was experiencing a blizzard here in the middle of winter. The entire band was wrapped up in coats, gloves, and toques to keep warm. The only people in attendance were my faithful grandparents and a small group of teenage girls I didn’t know huddled together. After Travis had consulted the lyrics, we again kicked into the only song we could play together. It was a cover of “My own summer” by the Deftones and like every good band we played it LOUD. The second go through felt like a success, despite my cold-ravaged lungs barely being able to choke out the back-up lyrics.
As we finished our song a middle aged man came from behind the stage, armed with an insincere smile. “Hey, you guys are rocking….but could you turn it down? I own the convenience store across the street and you’re driving away some of my customers. Thanks, keep on rocking boys!” He tells us, before patronizes us with a peace sign.
A peace sign? We are a heavy metal band and we got a peace sign? This will not stand!
The band members all look at each other and we know what to do. We turn our amps up even louder and announce to the “roaring” crowd of eight that we are going to play an encore. Since we only knew one song, we played “My own summer” again. This time the song went even better and I was able to regain my goofy slanted smile; only this one has a longer expiration date.
As we ended the one song show, with the whole band soloing out of sync with each other to a crescendo, there was a polite smattering of applause and my grandparents snapped a picture. When we shut all the amps down, the band jumped off the stage and joined the small group of girls who had watched us. They hated our music, but stayed around anyway to talk with us. As we tried to impress these girls, I could hear my grandparents in the background, snapping more pictures. We were not famous and probably never would become famous. But we rocked for a brief moment in time, in the face of resistance trying to turn us down, even if he was just a store owner. And that felt pretty good too.