Okay, story time. In case you don't know, I was in a punk band for the better part of a decade called Twice Defeated. We were no one to anyone but us. But we had a great time, all the time. We never recorded anything, except some live incidents. We played very few shows. I think the average was 1 every other year. But we did practice every week. We were very professional at every gig we played. We had a cool website no one looked at and some nice merch no one bought. Sounds rough but honestly, being in a band with my 2 best friends was glorious. What wasn't glorious was our first show.
Our band had been playing for almost 2 years, rehearsing every week, learning our instruments and dreaming of getting our first gig. Our entire goal was to play a show at the Showcase Theatre in Corona, CA. Turns out, that was the first gig we booked. I had booked a label night for my record label and of course I put us on the bill. Owning a record label opens doors, even if no one has ever heard of you. So, we had our first show all lined up and we couldn't wait to take our mediocre songs to the masses.
A few weeks before the show we were rehearsing so hard for, our drummer's brother asked if we want to play a show with his band. It was a little bar show at Incahoots in Riverside, CA. We jumped at the chance to play the show. The date just happened to be the day before our big first show at the Showcase. We didn't care. After not playing for anyone but the crickets for a couple of years, we had shows lining up take us on their bill.
We had already been promoting the Showcase show and we had to sell tickets for it too, so we didn't bother telling anyone about the Incahoots gig, which turned out to be a good idea. We were originally slated to open the show but when we got there, we were informed that another band would be opening the show. Okay, no problem, we're not even the opening sluts now. Maybe some stragglers would show up and actually see us play. Incahoots has a nice indoor area for bands to play that actually resembles a real stage, so were even more excited for that. When we got there we didn't know who to talk to or what to do. Luckily, we found our drummers brother and he informed us what to do. He informed us about the new opening band and also that we were actually playing outside on the patio. We got introduced to the main bartender and were further informed that we each got one free beer for playing. Bonus! It was like getting paid to play.
Around the time the show was supposed to start, we grabbed some beers and wandered out to the patio to check out the opening band. They came out, a four piece outfit, and I thought, "Damn that lead singer looks familiar". My bass player gave me a look, like who are THESE guys and I know he's thinking the same thing as me, "Who is that singer?" So, the band doesn't say anything and just busts into their first song. I remember thinking, "Wow, these guys are pretty good, way more talented than we would ever be." Then the singer starts singing and I go nuts! Holy crap! That is Zoli from Ignite!!! I couldn't believe it. Ignite is was and still is one of my favorite bands and they are huge. What is this band and why are they going on before us? For those of you who don't know Ignite, they are a pretty big hardcore punk band. The gem of the band is Zoli though. He is easily one of the greatest singers in punk rock. The guy was trained as an opera singer! His range and talent is off the charts and here he was, singing in some awesome band, playing the opening slot in a dive club, before some band who's never even played a show before! It didn't seem right.
They went through their set, just shredding. Zoli mentioned at some point during their set that he had to pay $130 just to get on the bill. I could not believe this at all. I tried to keep my jaw off of the floor and enjoy the rest of the set. Turns out the band was Zoli's side project called Zoli Band(later called California United) and they were just out trying out some new songs on some unsuspecting lucky fools.
After they finished, I looked at my bass player and said, "How the Hell do we follow that?" It was a fair question to say the least. We went up to Zoli Band and told them how good their set was and what an honor it was to share a stage with them. Zoli was really cool. After they broke down, we started setting up, something we had never done before in our band lives. At least we had the smarts to practice a few times in the garage, so that wasn't so bad. We were nervous as all Hell. It doesn't matter how many shows you play, you always get nervous before you play and this was our first show, so we were doubly nervous. Two people came to see us play, my bass player's girlfriend and her cousin. That was all the support we had. Add to that the fact we were playing after a professional, all-star band, things did not look to be going in the direction of an amazing performance.
We ripped into our first song and I almost immediately broke my A string. I didn't know what to do. At practice, we just stopped and restrung but here, the show must go on. It did not sound good at all. My voice also started to crack here and there, more nerves from having to follow an opera trained, punk rock bad ass singer. We had numerous mistakes and miscues, it was not fun. My bass player tried to crack jokes and they just fell flat. No one cared. At least no one booed. We finished our set like professionals, loaded out, and then hung around to watch the other bands, kind of relieved it was over.
Our first show was a disaster but it ended up being a blessing. Our show the next night, at our dream venue, ended up being a dream come true. We worked a lot kinks out the night before and we actually played our crappy songs well. People cheered us on and we sounded a lot more professional than the night before. The shows were night and day, 2 crazy nights of performances for a young band just starting out. Simply put, as forgettable as they were for some, they were unforgettable for me and my band.
Music, Food, Hockey, and Society through the eyes of a misanthrope named Quez Def.