Yesterday, Victim Nation played at a "music festival" out in Tracy, California at the famous Altamont. We almost cancelled due to the weather - better than 50% chance of rain, and the show was outdoor.
Still, the band decided to go do it. So we loaded up and out to Tracy we went. The skies were gray and threatened rain until we crossed the pass into Tracy, at which point it started to rain. We arrived a few minutes later to find out that when the venue said we were scheduled to go on at 5 pm, they meant 6:45 pm. And of course, there was nobody there, despite promised hundreds of attendees.
The band playing as we arrived busted out a harmonica solo during each one of their ZZ Top-meets-Foghat sound. A good lead-in for a punk band. We looked uncomfortably at the old, wet, moldering hay bales provided for seats and waited for the next band.
Now, so far, none of this was unusual. I've been playing music for 20 years, and this is pretty much the way these things go. I stood around wishing I was at home and tried not to be too catty about the ZZ Top band (who were actually pretty good sounding, if you like that sort of Homer Simpson/Kings Of Leon blues-rock).
The next band started setting up and I started wincing. They looked painfully hip, all skinny, tight jeans, funny haircuts. The singer was even wearing an "Aquaman" t-shirt. Looked like indie rock. From looking at them, these guys were going to suck. This day was pretty much shot.
The band got "onstage". The singer, in accented English, said they were called "Last Amanda" and they were from Sweden. I figured this was a joke.
Then they started playing. As the rain started coming down.
The guitar players were digging into their guitars as though there were thousands of people in front of them, instead of 5. The bass player leaned back and pointed his bass to the sky. The drummer pounded away. The frontman started to howl.
For a second, I thought these guys were too over-the-top, too cheesy, what with the rock moves and giving their all to no one.
Then I realized they were really, really good. Perhaps a bit derivative of U2, but their songs were big without being overblown, and catchy without being insipid.
I was ashamed of my bad attitude. These guys were making the best of a poor situation and playing the way real musicians - professionals - should.
Lesson learned. When it was our turn, I played as hard as I ever had. And I bought a CD. Thanks, Last Amanda. I owe you one.