Saturday, May 3, 2008


We performed a corporate show in San Diego early this week, at the Convention Center. Most convention centers are designed to fit a maximum amount of people into a minimum amount of space, with lots of headroom above them, and San Diego's is no exception.

I walked out a little before the show to change a couple settings on my keyboard rig and stood transfixed for a moment at the roar of the voices. It was constant, like an eternal wave crashing on a nonexistent beach. The pitch of the pink noise was steady, rising and falling only slightly.

By the time we marched to the stage, the clamor had become more amped with presumably more alcohol in the attendees' systems. Makes sense; people are stuck in meetings all day, getting lectured about ways to improve their performance, to better their line-toeing, to focus their abilities toward increasing the company's bottom line. I mean, who wouldn't want to party down to a rock band after that?

We started our show and got about four songs in. What began as foot-tapping, I assume, on the part of the audience progressed into bouncing, not quite pogoing but steady and rhythmic and ever-increasing in force. The stage and the floor beneath it began to bounce as well.

It could well be due to my short residency in Los Angeles, but when floors start shaking, I start worrying. It's also due to a memory of a club that The dB's played at a bunch in the 1980's called Ocay'z Corral in Madison, Wisconsin. Our guitar tech, the uber-talented Jimmy Descant, who also roadied for the late, great Royal Crescent Mob, reminded me why (thanks, Jimmy!):

"The stage was in the front against a big picture window, and the dressing room downstairs in the basement. The place was packed and about a half hour into (the RC Mob's) set, I saw a dip in the heads in the audience, and soon realized they just weren't short, they were low! Went down and the rafters were cracking! Then the smell of natural gas!

"Packed up some guitars and went to another club, told the crowd, and took off, after getting paid of course!

"A couple years later someone got killed outside when a semi- went off the road and slammed into the front of the building. I think it burned down a couple years after that."

So as the bouncing continued, I began replaying that scene in my head and projecting into my immediate future. A gigantic hole in the floor that would suck down Hammond organs, drum kits and singers, just the same. I mentally wrote my will and said my goodbyes. At least I'd die doing what I loved, a small consolation for the oncoming end time.

Apparently, the audience in whatever state of revelry they were in must have thought of the same thing, as the bouncing abated by the next song. By the time the set was over, I was already plotting my escape to the hotel. Nobody went through the floor, but I was certainly not going to stick around to see if it happened.

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