The Patriot Center was a fairly new sports and concert arena on a college campus in Virginia, which sounds more remote than it actually was, just off the Beltway by a few miles. We had permission to park overnight and load in a day early.
It was a heavy press day. Carynne took all four of us into the city and staged everything out of the lobby bar of the hotel where we’d stayed the last time we were here, except this time we weren’t staying there. Buying drinks and an occasional round of appetizers was a lot cheaper than renting a suite for the day, but it was also nowhere near as much fun as the press day in Toronto had been. And even that hadn’t been that much fun.
Bart and Chris went off to see some bands play after dinner. Ziggy and I went back to the venue. Most of the crew was scattered by that point. (I heard later that there were campus parties.)
I was too tired for any of that after talking to people all day, and Ziggy was looking pretty worn around the edges, too. We sat down side by side in the back lounge.
“We should not do tonight what we did last night,” he said, slumping back tiredly.
“Agreed.” I wasn’t sleepy yet, it was still early, but I was tired, too. I looked at him.
“Nothing. I’m used to seeing you bubbling over with energy, I guess.”
“I’ll bubble tomorrow,” he said, and leaned over and gave me a “goodnight” kiss like the one I’d given him, and then went to brush his teeth.
I stayed where I was, savoring the moment.
Carynne woke us early the next morning for a radio gig, and then I took a nap, and after lunch I gave Colin a guitar lesson.
Everything was going smoothly until the fire marshal showed up. Apparently he’d seen the video of the accident and had come down here ready to issue fines and take us to jail for failing to get the proper pyrotechnic permits. It took the venue tech director, Barnaby, Louis, and Carynne a good hour to get it through his skull that we didn’t have any pyro at all, and that we were not planning to, and that some wasn’t going to magically appear from where we had hidden it. In the end he and his men conducted an inspection that delayed soundcheck by two hours, which sent my anxiety through the roof, and then being back in a concrete arena after those couple of acoustically perfect concert halls, I was a wreck thinking it didn’t sound right and there wasn’t time to fix it.
I’m sure it was actually fine, but I spent the show fretting over it (no pun intended). I hadn’t been that distracted while on stage in a while. While my body and my fingers went through the motions, my head was thinking all kinds of nightmares. What if they’d stopped the show from going on? What if the bad sound mix led to Ziggy oversinging? What about apartheid in South Africa? All kinds of worries, some more relevant or realistic than others.
I didn’t get locked in and really play well until the encores. Which led me to realize something. Playing the exact same set night after night had let me get on autopilot, which was why I had so much brainpower left over for worrying about shit.
The antidote, obviously, was mix it up more. Add new stuff, change things, play new parts… I told myself it was stupid to mess around too much with the set list with only five shows left on the schedule. And never mind that we had changed it for Ziggy’s voice. We had changed it back as of this one. I was convinced I needed to change something, though, or I was going to go nuts. Maybe I could figure out some new parts for myself in the songs. Here’s where it would be useful to have someone else on rhythm guitar. I pondered whether Colin could handle that for a song or two. By the time he’d learn it, though, the tour would be over. Damn.
All these thoughts were running around and around in my head while I was in the shower. The venue had very nice dressing rooms, and many of them, so each band had their own.
“Daron,” came Bart’s voice, “did you drown or something?”
“What? No. Sorry, Just zoning out.” I shut the water off. “Be right there.”
“Okay, hurry up though, they want us to roll to the Big Apple.”
“Oh, right. Almost forgot.” Actually I had forgotten. The crew was moving to Philly next but we were going all the way to New York for a press day.
Another press day. Joy.
“I want to add a song to the set.”
“Let’s add a cover or two. In the encores. I don’t give a fuck about timing.”
“Let’s figure that out in the bus, when I’m dry and we have guitars.”
I heard him leave.
It was only a four hour drive to New York since there was no traffic in the middle of the night. Bart and me and Ziggy spent the whole ride playing around with songs in the back, those old Cure tunes we used to do, and some Joan Jett, and whatever the hell else I felt like playing. Ziggy didn’t sing much, only a little here and there, to be on the safe side.
When we got to the city it was too early to go to our hotel, but Marty knew a place we could park the bus. Around dawn we decided we had to get some sleep. I was good and drowsy by that point.
Ziggy wasn’t. He squeezed my fingers and said, “I’ve got to take a sleeping pill or I won’t sleep at all.”
“Will you be all right to do stuff in the morning?” I asked. “I think we’re supposed to be somewhere in like… five hours.”
“I’ll take a half. If I’m too sleepy… I’ll have to fight it with No-Doz or something.”
“Okay.” I half-wondered why he was telling me this, almost like he was asking my permission. Maybe it was because Carynne was already asleep.
“You want the other half?”
“No, Zig. Save it.”
I forced myself to stay awake until he had medicated and I saw that he was okay and had climbed into his own bunk.
Maybe I wasn’t just waiting to make sure he was okay. Maybe I was waiting for something else. Maybe there was no maybe about it.
I gave him the goodnight kiss we were both waiting for.
Coming up Saturday: Poll results!