[Yesterday we played a benefit show in the Union for Safe Zone, a program that fosters counseling for students who have been subjected to homophobia or hate crimes.]
First, John (beard, bass) and I load up 750 lbs of gear into the minivan we've repurposed. We meet a little early to make sure we can set up and play at the Union at 5:00. We have been told that there would be a PA, which means we don't have to lug an additional van-load of cumbersome speakers. When I call Ryan (pretty drummer) to see if he can help, he says he's on his way. When he shows up 40 minutes later, he says, "Oh, I was pooping when you called." Cool. He helps us load the remaining gear and we are "on our way" (but not in the way Ryan uses the phrase, apparently).
We arrive at the Union, park in the bike lane, and hit the hazard lights. When we step down to the courtyard, there is a teeny stage and one lone speaker about the size of a throw-pillow. Needing a bit more volume if anyone wants to hear us, John hunts down the Union sound-guy. John finds him dozing the main office and asks if they have anything else we can use. "It's Friday," he explains. We're not sure if that means the other speakers are in use, or if he means, "It's Friday. You can't expect me to do anything." John tells him we need more volume if anyone in the band (let alone anyone else) is going to be able to hear the vocals. "But it's Friday," he says again, unsure if we understood him the first time. Thanks Rebecca Black.
Soundguy manages to scrounge another speaker. The members of the bands with futures (ie, Mark and Kristin) show up, taking a little time off work and studio to play the show. We plug in the amps, pull out the instruments from their cases, and set up the drums. There are now probably ten people sitting around the courtyard. It is 5:00.
While we begin tuning and checking levels, two men come from the door to the room behind us. One is wearing a red Chiefs T-shirt. The other sports a shirt with a Nehru collar. "Is there an event here?" they ask me. "Yeah, there's a concert," I tell them sheepishly, hoping they could figure that out from the five people with guitars, a keyboard, a full drum kit, bass, four mic-stands, and a glockenspiel. "Well, we have a mediation session going on in the next room," red shirt explains.
It's already 5:20. We let them take their concerns to the event organizer while we stand around feeling like assholes. We learn that they had reserved the adjacent room for group meditation from 5-6, exactly the time we were scheduled to play. Kristin (architecture, trumpet) tells us that when she stepped outside earlier to warm up her instrument, the same two men found her and asked her politely to stop. While the organizers debate, the man in the Nehru collar winces dramatically every time we strike a note or tune a sting. After a few minutes of deliberation, we are told to play anyway. The group nearby will try to "meditate through it," we're told. Good thing we sound like Enya.
We play regardless and have fun. Some kids gather on the second floor of the Union and smile down at us. The crowd is small, but friendly and receptive. We have a good time, despite the irreparable damage to our karma.
We are always baited. We like to think that offered shows are really going to proceed without incident. They say, "Play in Aggieville on an enormous stage, with fireworks! 5,000 people will be there!" We play, 20 of our friends show up, and our guitarist gets accosted by the police for stealing his own equipment. So it goes. It takes some zen.
So, if you happen to have been meditating in the Union yesterday, and you were disturbed by some punk kids' amplified music, I offer my apologies. I will undoubtedly be reincarnated as a stick-bug, or maybe a hamster.
Dan/The Low End
Thanks to all that came to the Gus & Call/ Star & Micey show last night. Also, thanks to the organizers of Safezone.