WRITTEN BY SYLVIA JUNCOSA.
Back in the day, Vegas sucked. Touring bands didn’t even bother with it. Not even me and I wanted to go absolutely everywhere, even Texas. We passed through once, on the way back from a whirlwind mini-tour out to the CMJ in New York. It was mid-afternoon, dusty, dismal and sweltering; we were tired, stinky, thirsty and broke. But even under optimal night-time conditions, Vegas wouldn’t have held much appeal at that point. Wed just spent an awesome exciting week on a great tour. Wed had more than our fill of the nightlife, bright lights, free drinks. And as for casinos, ha! We were such bad-ass super-ninjas back then, gambling our jobs and livelihoods and sometimes even our lives, putting a few dollars on the table wasn’t much of a thrill.
But times change, and places change (even Texas, or so I hear). Vegas most definitely changed, and now features the Double Down casino bar serving up punk bands and cheap drinks 24/7 and 365. When the enthusiastic Mr. BC of the Million Kids offered us a gig there, memories, ethics, and poetry went straight out the window. WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS, BABY! WooooOOOOt!
Nice, but there’s the minor issue of not having a band. Recent drummer Adrien is booked up, another recent drummer John totally flipped out, recent bassist Patt hates to travel, and other recent bassist Tom hates late-night gigs, surely playing Vegas at 3 am would be out of the question. Or? Quick swaparoo – another recent bassist Steve will now play drums, and Tom is stoked to go, he’s got friends out that way. Now, all we gotta do is get the songs down in a week. No problem, just do the slow freaky part, bust into the loud metal part, then after the second loud fast part comes the odd meter part, and an abrupt stop, the first time around it will be two times but the second time around 4 times, after that comes the quiet break … got it? Ok, the next one goes like this …
Our first jam together was not exactly brimming with magical moments. But we hammer down during the week, we learn the songs, and by Friday we have enough for a set. Around 8 p.m. or so we load up the van and hit the road.
Hitting the road, that’s always great. I love touring, always have, always will. Once you get in that van, you’re committed, you’ve got nothing more important to do than getting to your gig and play music. All the other stresses, phone calls, money and job worries, everything else is just gonna have to wait. Now we get to sit back and enjoy the trip. Fantasize about how great our gig will be, write out a setlist in the dim car light, watch for other interesting vehicles on the highway. A pickup truck passes us, hauling a refrigerator, the first of three we’ll see before the trip is through. I suppose it makes sense.
Next thing you know, were cruising down roads named Paradise, Flamingo, Tropicana, our eyes bombarded with blinking neon. Yep, definitely Vegas. Looks like there’s a good crowd at the club too, judging from the full parking lot and the punkish people milling around. RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE finish up their set – cute boys with amazing mohawks and a great band name – and I have fun playing paparazzi for a few moments. Can I take your picture?”
Then a MILLION KIDS goes on, which normally I would greatly enjoy, and I can hear they are rocking out, and they keep getting tighter and stronger every time I see them. Unfortunately, I can’t really watch them this time, we’re still getting the gear loaded in, plus I’m quickly learning Search and Destroy so we can jam it together. And then were-up. By now its nearing 4 a.m., were the last band, what crowd that still remains looks like they’re about to head out the door. I’ve got one, maybe two songs time in which to lasso them with sweet guitar leads and pull them back into the club. But we do it! The exodus is stopped. The heads are turned. Were hitting a groove, way beyond that of our rushed rehearsals. Then came a jam section of a song, and suddenly Steve was playing a new drum part Id never heard before, rhythmically complex, technically difficult and yet fully off-the-cuff, emotional, and fitting perfectly in the song. Pure adrenaline rush. That’s where I went crazy, leaping and thrashing like a wild horse. Steve sees the ratty blond hair flying and starts going for it yet more, and even cool-cat Tom, our unflappable bass player, starts rocking out. A wondrous set! Indeed, afterward, I find my guitar pickups are spattered with blood. Definitely the sign of a good show. Vegas, we will see you again. Million Kids, thanks for the gig. Rodents, don’t ever cut those mohawks. This is Sylvia, over and out.