276. That’s Entertainment

So much for peyote not being dangerous. When Paco woke up, it turned out he had sprained/broken his ankle while tripping, which makes for a pun so obvious I’ll just leave it at that. Because of the drugs he either hadn’t felt how bad it was or hadn’t cared, and when he woke up it had swelled up like a balloon. At least, that’s how it was described to me. I didn’t actually lay eyes on him before Carynne took him off to a hospital.

That meant Chris had to do his own drum teching. Not that this was difficult–Chris had always done his own setting up before this tour. It’s not like two weeks had ruined him. But I haven’t bothered to tell you about the tedious part of sound check. Before the band as a group does a run -through, the techs check each instrument and monitor separately. And a drum kit isn’t one instrument–it’s a whole bunch of instruments, each of which is miked separately.

Suffice to say Chris wasn’t in a great mood having to hit every drum a few dozen times while Petey adjusted various levels. I suppose the fact that he had something of a hangover made it worse. I didn’t envy him the experience and I stayed out of his way.

I actually sat way up the amphitheater bowl during some of the drum check just listening to the echoes off the rocks. The majesty of the rocks had not worn off. Great Woods was going to seem like playing a Boy Scout campground after this.

Then Ziggy found me. “You want to work on that thing?”

“Yes.” I followed him back down to one of the nice dressing rooms (they were all nice) and we ran into Jason on the way. Jason introduced us to the guys in our local support band, whom he knew from the local scene.

I should explain “local support.” Basically, there are two ways to do a show like this. One is have an opening band who tours with you, the way we did for MNB that one time, the other is to have a different local act for each show who presumably bring their own following with them.

There are arguments for and against. In the case of the time we toured with MNB, part of the problem–or so I was later told–is that we stole some of their spotlight. We were getting hot just at that time and there were places where we were getting just as much airplay on the rock stations as they were. They had the Top 40 hit at the time, but it was only the one song, and a lot of the Top 40 audience doesn’t go to rock shows. Or so I am told.

They say you want to pick someone who your own fans will like, but who won’t overshadow you, basically. A band that is local and not national is good because they’re just not as big as you, and if they do steal the spotlight for one night, well, you’re moving on to another town the next night anyway. If you’re touring with someone, though, pick someone in your genre but who is just getting started. The Cure were touring with some band I’d never heard of: Shellyann Orphan. I expected they were some form of mope rock too, though I’d never heard of them.

Soon we’d be coming to a section of the tour where we’d carry an opening band, Megaton, and as I understand it, there were a lot of negotiations involved. They were also signed to BNC. There were questions about whether they’d fit with us musically. Not from me, you understand. Ask me what genre Moondog Three belongs in, and therefore what genre our opener should be, and all I could say was “guitar-oriented rock.” If you know anything about the music biz, you know that term encompasses everything from R.E.M. to Bon Jovi to Melissa Etheridge to Metallica. You wouldn’t put any of those four onto a bill together, but I thought any of them (or any small band who sounded like any of them) could open for us. “Hard to categorize” was a phrase I heard a lot from our management.

In fact, Artie himself had called us that way back in that abortive A&R meeting I had with him in New York. At the time I’d told him that meant we had wide appeal. As far as I was concerned, the success we were currently having proved me right.

But anyway, I took it from Jason’s description that our opening act here, Iron Flats, were something of a jam band.

Ziggy and I never did get to working on that song, because we got side-tracked into jamming with these guys, and Jason played a little, too. I’d forgotten how good he was. He had that way about him that made it seem easy, like he didn’t have to put too much effort into getting the notes to come out the way he wanted. I know that’s what people say about me, too, but you don’t always see it in people.

Jamming like that always puts me in a good mood. So I was feeling pretty mellow when showtime was approaching, and Iron Flats had done their check, and people were filling up the seats, and I was just wandering from room to room aimlessly.

I think I described how the dressing rooms at Red Rocks had some of their walls made out of rock formations, or at least looking like they were. This made some of them kind of curvy, with nooks and crannies.

I came around an outcropping and nearly ran into Ziggy, who was hunched over with his head against the wall, hidden in his arms. He looked up when he heard me, though, kind of deer in the headlights, like I’d caught him masturbating or something. Well, okay, knowing Ziggy he wouldn’t have cared if I saw him doing that…

For once I got to ask someone else, “You okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, but his eyes were still kind of wide and he was hyperventilating a little. “Fine.”

“Are you on drugs?”

“Just the legal ones,” he answered. He took a long deep breath and let it out slowly.

“Are you having a panic attack?”

“No. Well, not anymore. I’m fine now.”

“Now?” My voice went up in pitch like a piccolo.

Ziggy was cool as a cucumber by then, though. “No, really. I’m fine. Nothing to worry about.”

“Zig.” I had a hand on his shoulder.

He looked me right in the eye. “It’s just a passing thing. It’s all right, Dar. It’s… it’s exactly like drinking too much coffee, except it’s over with faster.”

“This has happened before?”

“Will you stop fussing? You’re making it into a big deal when it really isn’t.” He put a hand on my shoulder, too, and it was like we were about to start a formal dance or something. “Really.”

“Okay, jeez, because you having a panic attack is one of the only things that could give me a heart attack,” I said.

“No heart attacks,” he said, seriously. “Don’t stress. It’s just part of how I get pumped up for the show.”


He patted me on the shoulder with a chuckle and then walked past me, back toward the hallway.

I think I was getting pretty good at telling when Ziggy was lying to me. Or maybe I was just paranoid. But I suspected that the bit about getting pumped up for the show was a lie. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it.


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