This did not go well. I think some of the ways in which it went poorly are kind of interesting, and even falling apart as a band we managed to put out a half-decent show, but to say that there are rough bits in here is an understatement.
Brian drank a lot right before the show, and you can hear him get steadily more drunk on stage as it catches up with him; the first song goes off reasonably well, but then things start to go down hill rapidly. When the time comes for Wilder to play his big song, we swap bass for guitar and then the guitar strap gives out on him unexpectedly, leaving most of the center section of the song an atonal mess with vocals fading in and out as he tries to wrestle the guitar back into position. When we get to the end of the set list, Edgar switches the order of things around to make my big song, The Job Song, second to last instead of last. Brian is mostly managing to not fall down but gets lost rhythmically several times and reverts to simply saying rather than singing the words to some of the songs.
A mess. A memorable one, really; about four years ago, having been out of the band for a few months, I had thought about trying to write up something long-form about my experiences in Heat Lorraine. At the time I wrote this up this vignette of that show as an idea for an opening, on the principle that it might make sense to start at the end:
We’re sitting on the sidewalk outside of the Ash Street Saloon, just me and Brian and his vomit. He’s leaning his head on his arms and moaning occasionally and spitting; I’m sitting back and looking around at everything and nothing and wondering what to do for him, if anything, other than just sit.
The show is over, for us at least. Edgar and Wilder are inside, mingling; my wife Angela, Wilder’s fiance Christina, and a few of our friends are talking on the sidewalk a few yards away. Our gear has been broken down, and we’re waiting for Brian’s wife Jen to pull the car around so we can load everything but Edgar’s drums into it — he’ll haul his set home in his Jetta.
When Jen double-parks their Scion in front of the club and pops the back door, a traffic-enforcement stoolie will appear out of nowhere. He and Jen will get into a pointless argument about why she shouldn’t park right in front of the club where everybody always parks for load-out, and where, then, she should park. The argument will escalate, the stoolie will say “Ma’am” a few times, and then Jen, furious, will slam the back door of the car and whip around the block to park in a nearby pay lot.
After that, Edgar will give Jen some shit and she will go from stressed to furious, crying; Wilder will call Edgar on his shit; Edgar will get defensive; and whatever hope I’ve still managed for a happy, conciliatory post-show evening with my erstwhile bandmates will slide meekly down that drain first colored by the offal of Brian’s drunken excess.
But none of that is happening yet, and in the meantime I’m sitting quietly next to Brian and looking at nothing and thinking.
I’m thinking, that’s it. That’s the last show, that’s the end of the band. Two years of sweat and arguments and buying and selling gear, two years of rehearsals and beer and living room demos, and that’s it. No more debating chord choices; no more rewriting lyrics; no more passive-aggressive sniping about what we should and shouldn’t be spending our time on. No more noise complaints or visits from the police. No more dickering about the goddamned name of the band.
Brian spits again, next to me. The air is metallic with vomit, but I hardly smell it. We sit and wait for the car to come around.