A few weeks ago, I played in Tacoma with the Lunds at an outdoor arts and crafts fair. They had four stage pieces arranged into a 15' x 15' or so stage, with a four post canopy overhead. A PA rounded things out and there you go. Given the circumstances (about 80-85, sunny), we were thankful for having that stage.
Fast forward to Saturday. I showed up at Qwest Field (ok, the parking lot) at 10:45 as requested. I soon found out that we were "way early" and that they weren't ready for us yet. I wasn't sure what to expect stage-wise. I was fully prepared to see a stage like what we used in Tacoma. I was pleasantly surprised to see this as I came around the corner.
Pardon the crappy phone pic. You can't really see the size of the stage, but it was pretty freaking big. They had some Saturn cars parked all about as the event was sponsored by them. They had free water and soft drinks for the bands and crews. It was pretty well put together.
Altogether, there were five bands. We drew fourth. Before we started, we figured that was the cherry spot as that put us on about 4:00pm. An added bonus was that the Red Sox were in town next door at Safeco and they had a 1:00 start. Baseball goes 3 hrs or so, so that meant we'd have a ton of walk up traffic at 4.
Well, as it turns out, the event started an hour later than anticipated, so unfortunately, we didn't get the mega walk up. But I'll get to that later.
First up was a band called the Fiasco. Three guys. Two on acoustic guitar, one guy on djembe drum and percussion. Going in, I was a bit confused as I figured an acoustic act wouldn't do so hot opening for Bon Jovi. Once they started playing, I still thought that, but they were great. Their lead guitarist played his acoustic like an electric and overall, was probably the best guitarist at the show. They kicked things off with a bang and set the bar high. Plus, they had not only the most people for their set, but definitely the hottest women.
Up next was a heavy rock band called Trepan. Apparently it's pronounced TREH-pen, but they were ok with TREE-pen or treh-PAN or even Tree Porn. We spent some time talking to their guitarist Eric and lead singer (didn't catch his name). It turns out that their drummer entered them in this contest then had to go out of town this week. Then they found out that they had made it to the final 5. Their drummer was still out of town and wouldn't make it back until after the show so they found a friend to fill in. They basically had a three hour rehearsal and 6 songs for this gig. Overall, they did ok. It was really loud, lots of screaming and not much else. Had they played better, they still wouldn't have won as it was not Bon Jovi-ish or complementary at all, but they were nice guys to us.
Third up was Peepshow, my pick to win the competition. They looked the part, from the bald drummer with the cowboy hat to the guitar player with the faux-hawk. I was surprised to see 6 dudes on stage. 3 guitars! Who needs 3 guitars anymore?? Anyway, they played very well though their music didn't do a whole lot for me. Album-oriented rock, definitely. Not terribly boring, but nothing terribly special about it either. But, they've been around for awhile and definitely had their thing down. They also had the benefit of the walk up from the M's game. They got to play to 100 people or so at any given time. Not so for the next band.
We (Static Radio) played fourth. Like I mentioned, by the time we got on stage, we were about 4 hours into the event and the only people still there were either bands or people who happened to come by. As it was, we had maybe 10-15 people there, 3 of which were my family, and they only made it for the last 4 songs.
We played ok. I went for style over substance. Because the stage was so freakin large (note to self: invest in some 20' cables for these kinds of shows. Short cables and big stages are LAME!), I had plenty of room to boogie, so I did. Luckily, Emilio's songs are quite basic (one song does the 1-4-5 (think Louie, Louie) progression for the ENTIRE SONG) and gave me room to do so. I'm not sure how everyone else did. I couldn't hear Rob, the lead guitar. About all I could hear was Emilio as his amp was aimed right at my ear. I just went up and had a good time.
Finally was a chick named Trish Shallest. She got up and did some rockin' tunes (think Ann Wilson from Heart). Then her and her guitarist did some awful acoustic number for some reason. Luckily, they followed it up with some more rockin' tunes. Bon Jovi opener material? Nah. Don't think so.
Shortly after the last set, then announced the winner of the Bon Jovi opening slot to be, surprise, surprise...
For a second there, just before the band was announced, I was excited. I mean, we had a 1 in 5 chance of playing for 15,000+ people. How cool would that have been? As it turns out, Peepshow definitely deserved the gig. Their experience, look, sound and overall package will mix perfectly with the BJ crew. And, they were nice dudes as well.
So that was my big rock experience for the summer. I have 2 more gigs in August and both are at clubs. We'll draw more than we did at Qwest, but we'll be on tiny stages, just like before.
Ah, the life of a rock star.