“That was not the way I imagined that would go,” Hal Levatine tells me on the drive back from a North Canton Christmas party.
“Yeah, I was expecting… I don’t know. A few more people,” Josh Randall says.
“I just hope Eric doesn’t think we’re a bunch of tools because we did this.”
Eric Shawn is the band’s new rhythm guitarist, hired when the band regrouped after Paul Ode’s Departure (Part 9 & Part 10). He’s been with the group since September, but tonight was his onstage debut with the boys.
Well, that’s putting it loosely… It was his debut. There was no stage at the garage in North Canton where a friend of Bassist Matt Vance threw her Christmas party. The garage consisted of a couch, a love seat, a coffee table and a television hooked up to several video-game systems.
A few people sat at a card table at the other side of the empty space playing Magic: The Gathering and didn’t really join with the rest of the party.
“I don’t know about this Matt,” Adam Gillis said last week when the topic was approached.
“Come on, guys. It’ll get us out of our garage and we can take our music some place people will hear it.”
“I am getting pretty tired of just jamming in the garage, Adam,” Randall said.
“Yeah, it is about time to dust the cobwebs off,” Levatine agreed. “And we’re not getting a ton of offers at the moment.”
“Do you think we’re ready?” Shawn asked. “I’m not sure.”
“Yeah, we’ve still got to teach him some songs,” Gillis said.
“We have 45 minutes. That’ll be plenty. Look, we just go up there, set up our equipment and ROCK! That’s all there is to it. They’ll love us.”
It’s hard to tell now whether Vance was telling the truth or not. When the band members showed up at the party it turned out it was BYOB and most of the attendees were underage.
“No problem,” Vance said. “Beer run.” He sped away in the Oldsmobile of a 19 year-old with unruly facial hair.
“This is gonna be a disaster,” Gillis moaned. “These people don’t give a shit about our music. The only reason we’re here is because Matt wants to fuck that chick over there.”
I followed his finger to the Dance Dance Revolution pad and the chunky girl with the dreadlocks bouncing on it.
“She’s cute,” I said.
“Yeah, but Matt’s in the friend zone and he doesn’t realize it. He’s been trying to nail that for three years and has made no progress. I just hope he keeps it together enough that we can at least have a good show tonight. I mean, we brought all our equipment out here just for him to try and impress her. I hope that’s enough to keep him from fucking up.”
When Vance returned from the beer run he had downed a quarter of a pint of Jack Daniel’s and was quickly double fisting the Natural Lights he had bought.
“Slow down,” Shawn told him. “We have to play later.”
“Aaah, don’t rully about it.” Vance said. “I’ll be fine. I just have to warm up.”
After sitting on the couch watching the chubby redhead play DDR for 45 minutes (during which time he outpaced the other members of the band in beer consumption by a 4:1 ratio and smoked two joint and one bong) he was ready.
With the exception of Vance the band was tight. They were rocking and pounding away with a wild abandon I haven’t seen in them up to this point. The technicality exhibited by Levatine and Gillis in turning down Vance’s amp whenever he wasn’t looking was astonishing beyond belief. The band blasted through twenty minutes of material before Vance fell on his face. He played the rest of the set on his back.
Not that anyone noticed. None of the dozen or so people at the party ever paused the DDR game. Nor did the nerds leave their Magic game.
“You know what man?” Vance asked me afterward.
“I really… I…” Then he vomited in the bushes.