Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Worst Gig Ever | Part One

Worst gig ever
What was your worst show? Was it the night that only two people came to see your band? Was it a night were you were sick as hell, but the show must go on? Sometimes the worst shows of your musical career make the best memories. Sometimes the show isn't the worst part, but the traveling, the accommodations, the crowd, or something completely unrelated to the show is what makes it a terrible night.
Since I have played in bands that don't always live high off the hog, I have a number of "worst gig" stories. Here is story number one of five. I would love to hear about your worst gig.

Hell Gig Somewhere in East Germany

We pulled up to what looked to be an old fashioned hotel. That was where we were going to perform, as well as stay for the evening. The exterior looked perfect, but the inside of the building was a gutted out mess.
The first sign of bad things to come was when sound man blew up the power amplifier for the p.a. system. The sound man didn't speak English. He knew how to get our attention though. He overloaded the power amp. I actually saw a puff of smoke billow up from the unit as it died. No worries, he had access to another. He rushed out of the music hall while we waited about an hour. He came back with a second amp. This one he managed to keep from blowing up.

" Here is your shower, bed, and accommodations." - Crazy German Man
We trudged up three flights of stairs to find that we were going to sleep on filthy mattresses in the attic. They were strewn about on the floor. There were no doors between what could barely be called rooms. The hotel roof was above us, with bare light bulbs hanging from electric cords. When it came time to sleep, I laid out newspaper on the bed. It was that filthy. There was no heat in the rooms, and it was late March.

The shower was on the second floor. The shower was only accessible if you asked the owner for the key. The owner was nowhere to be found by the end of the night. When he showed us the shower earlier in the afternoon, he opened the door just enough, said "douche," and then slammed it shut and locked it. We never saw the inside of the shower again.

Nazis Come to the Show

We played for Nazi youth. Really, Nazis. We had no idea that they were going to be there. We should have guessed that we would be performing for some real backwoods people. This "hotel" was in the middle of East German farm country. When they came with their girlfriends, we were warned by the opening band to avoid making eye contact with their dates. Trust me, I didn't look. The last thing I wanted was to be beaten to a pulp by real live jack-booted thugs.

We were locked into our room at the end of the night. To keep the neighboring farmers happy, the club owner agreed to lock the bands into the hotel after the show. This move kept drunken guitar players from waking up the farmers at three. In turn, the farmers woke us up with soviet style tractors at first light. I slept about two hours on that filthy mattress, only to be awakened to the sound of farm implements. This was after I was lulled to sleep by rats chewing on the walls.
Breakfast was Nutella on hard bread. The performance rider called for a serious load of food. What I found when I awoke was the bar manager putting out a jar of Nutella, and microwaving a frozen loaf of bread. You know what happens when you microwave bread. It turns into a rock. By this time, I had reached my limit. I started ranting about how we were to be fed a proper breakfast. The bar manager, who spoke nearly fluent English the night before, began to tell me that he didn't understand me. He lapsed into a non-English speaking, very confused man.

Those of us who got drunk the night before managed to sleep about four hours. The sober ones like me were dying to get the hell out of there. We didn't stay for the Nutella and bricks. On the way out, I headed for the club lavatory, only to be turned away because they had just scrubbed the floors. My bowels would have to wait until we reached a gas station, unless I wanted to hop the fence and do my business in a cow pasture.

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