~Spinoza: live at Hell’s Kitchen

~Spinoza: live at Hell’s Kitchen hard rock open mic, Tuesday Sept. 10 ’02.

I had left a guy in charge of the console while I got up on stage: “This channel is the drum machine. Just turn up the fader until it’s as loud as a drum kit. This is the vocal channel, but you won’t have to touch it at all. It’s totally simple. Vocal… drum machine. I might stick a microphone in front of the bass cabinet. You don’t have to worry about it.”

Playing a solo show with a drum machine makes for a lonely stage, so I had invited Gerry onstage to “air drum.” I also instructed him to fill in the dead air between songs by yapping into the microphone while I fiddled with the drum machine. Gerry was quite drunk, so I thought this would be funny.

I got up on the stage, plugged in my bass, hit a few distorted chords, and prepared to fire off the drum machine.

It turns out the poor fellow at the mixing board didn’t know how to turn down the radio feed. He turned down the master volume for the PA instead.

I heard a little bit of sound coming back at me through the stage monitors, so I went ahead and started to play, not realizing there was no sound whatsoever in the mains. Pretty soon I was leaping about and howling into a microphone. I didn’t realize that nobody could hear any of the vocals and that I looked like a complete buffoon.

The drum machine was virtually inaudible out front as well. Gerry was air-drumming furiously, trying to follow the beats in the monitors so he could hit the odd accent or flourish. From the audience point of view, however, it appeared that he was my actual drummer, and that he was doing a supremely crappy job of it.

Things got worse. The guy at the console couldn’t figure out why no sound was coming out, other than the bass, which was live off the stage. He responded by cranking all the gain levels at the strips. This caused the vocal monitors to start feeding back loudly and painfully. Owwww….

I must have attempted four or five songs before abandoning ship. It wasn’t even until after the set was over that I could back to the console and realize how horrible-sounding it must have been out front. I had a clue, however, when a guy came up to the stage after I finished and said, “I just wanted to tell you that your band is totally pathetic.”

I shook his hand. “Thanks, fuck off and die.”

Someone else shouted, “Get a band!” I shouted back: “Get a…”–I was under some mental duress here–“…penis!”

He and his long-haired friends looked at each other. “But I already have one,” he said.

Clearly, my punk-rock snappy-comeback skills have been eroded by the sands of time.

Today someone said to me, “Hey, your job isn’t so bad. You’re on the clock, and you get to drink and listen to music.” But I would cite this Spinoza set as evidence: I only have to step away from the console for five minutes to have audio hell break loose.

Oh, and the lady I’d been talking to was talking to someone else by the time I got off stage. They wound up leaving together. Moral: guys, playing music gets you laid a lot, but only when you sound good.

Gerry: “I thought that was amazing. I love it when your friends won’t look you in the eye.”

~I was biking home when I saw a woman wearing a cowboy hat at the corner of Bauer and Cornwallis. She had her hands on her hips and she was doing all these Cape Breton step-dancing moves in the middle of the intersection. When she got to the sidewalk, she stopped, still with her hands on her hips, and said, “Hey.”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me, you damn drunk,” I thought as I pedalled by.

A couple seconds after I passed, I heard her say, “Jeeesus…”

~September 11, 2002 fell on me like a closed fist. I spent most of the day sprawled out on my bed while the hours ticked away. I was squashed like a bug.

Television screens replayed the moment of impact from countless different angles. But there was one angle that troubled my afternoon dreams, a view that will never be seen on TV: the view from inside the cockpit.