June 16, 2004

Stories from the Bar: Road Trippin' with the Band

By AlCantHang © 2004

"Jesus Christ, FatAss, look at the rack on that girl."

There was a broken down van and another car on the side of the highway. She was sitting on the trunk of the car in a bikini.

"Shit Al, she's not a girl, that's fuckin' Kenna."

And that is how the worst road trip began. Making a day run with a band from Philly to play somewhere south of Baltimore. The band with the coolest un-bookable, name in history.

What kind of bar manager is going to put SPOOGE on the their marquee?

The van left hours before us, yet there it was sitting on the right side of I-95. We were four lanes to the left doing Mach2. Two hours and one roll of duct tape later, the caravan slowly resumed the trek south. We still hit the bar a ridiculous six hours early for setup.

This was a very important show for the band. New bar, new town and more importantly, a new booking agent. They had worn out their welcome at every level of bar at the Jersey shore and a clean-slate in a new area were needed. Tonight would be the tryout.

The place was open but empty. We immediately met the bar manager and hit it right off. He was happy the entire band was there early, we were happy because he put shot glasses on the bar before we moved the first piece of equipment. We loaded everything in the bar, and loaded ourselves up with free booze and food.

After a few hours and a few too many shots, everyone hit the hotel for some relaxing before the big show. Everyone was keyed up and ready to put on a good performance and break into the Baltimore / DC area with a statement.

Later that evening, it was time to get everyone moving and back to the bar. Not the easiest task when you're dealing with five drunks with hangovers at 8 PM. The manager put everyone right when the shots started pouring as we walked back in.

Somewhere along this time, I start to envision the country bar scene in The Blues Brothers. Where the bar tab is greater than the night's pay.

The band was scheduled for three sets starting at 10:30 and ending at 2 AM. Sets one and two went off without a hitch. The band was on fire, hitting every note and mark like true professionals. The place was packed, everyone was dancing, and the manager was happy. So happy that he continued to fulfill every liquid craving of anyone associated with the band. Which happened to include the wives and girlfriends.

The first sign of a potential problem began between the last two sets. Two of the wives had gone off on the side for a talk. Both girls were somewhat high strung and the booze had ramped them up to obscene levels. During the third set, neither was dancing nor drinking nor making any sort of merriment. They were just sitting and talking.

The last song of the encore, the apex of a great evening, ended to a great ovation and the sounds of a struggle. The conversation had obviously degraded. Drinks were thrown, tables upset, bouncers called. The girls were hustled out of the bar only moments before the apocalyptic hair pulling began.

My job, up until that point, had been to make sure the band was on time, on stage, and properly boozed up. Now I would have to handle the sparing divas. Two things needed to be done. I had to keep them from smashing each other and, more importantly, keep them both out of jail.

The band was oblivious. They were still breaking down equipment. As the girls began to simmer down, one was sent back inside the bar to calm down, the other sent on a walk. Calm was returning the small town.

That's when the band members found out. The bar was closed, everyone was outside except for the band. I was sitting at the bar with FatAss, doing some shots, and waiting for the night's pay when we then heard some shouts from the street. When we turned and looked through the big glass front window, we saw two members locked up getting ready to rumble. I immediately hopped from my stool and headed into the storm. FatAss Bob turned back around and ordered another shot.

It took an incredibly long time to calm this fracas down. Four band members, a large crowd of bar patrons, and Al Can't Hang scuffling in the streets. I was alternating between peace maker, offensive lineman, and paramedic to intoxicated, hyped up, aggressive musicians. The end of the fight occurred when I turned around to find the lead singer, far stronger and bigger than myself, with his fist raised ready to knock my lights out.

I quickly stuck my finger in his face and, in my most threatening voice, asked him, "Do you REALLY want to do that?"

I am not sure to this day whether it was the tone of my voice or the unflinching look on my face that made him back down. More likely the fact that I was his benefactor and spent more money on his booze then he spent on his child support.

You could see him wilt as the menace left his body. I told him to take a walk and come back in an hour while I cleaned up the mess. The crowd was disbursed and limbs were re-socketed. I looked back inside. There was FatAss Bob, just sitting at the bar, never moving an inch except to take another drink or smoke another cigarette.

He lifted his shotglass and mouthed the words, "Good job."

Al Can't Hang is a gentleman and a seasoned SoCo-ologist from Phoenixville, PA.

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