Backstage with Baldy
Memphis – May 3rd
Is there a word or phrase that splits the difference between déjà vu and post traumatic stress disorder?
Because being back in Memphis at an outdoor gig in May triggered something in us all that I don’t quite know what to call.
Three years ago we were here, at the exact same location, at pretty much the exact same time, with pretty much the exact same weather, and the show was cancelled as the band was literally walking up to the stage.
All of the memories came flooding back to me as soon as I arrived on site.
And today was exactly the same. The backstage area was an absolute mud bog, the stage was soaking wet, and it was pouring down rain all day long, so we knew it wasn’t going to get any better by the time they were scheduled to play.
The only thing different from our last visit was the lack of any thunder and lightning.
So we had that going for us. Which was nice.
We lucked out and it actually stopped raining by late afternoon, but it was still unseasonably cold.
So the band stayed back at the hotel until a couple of hours before showtime, except for Mike, who came down to see Yngwie Malmsteen and drink a lot of coffee.
There was also a little backstage reunion of sorts, as Dr. Alan Poole McLard (or W. Earl Brown, as we like to call him) came down to see the show and hang out.
Finally it was time for the band to take the stage, and they hit the deck looking like Randy from the movie A Christmas Story. Everyone was wrapped in layers of clothing to the point where all that was exposed were faces & fingers.
It turned out to be a really good show too, despite the audience and band shivering through the whole thing.
Afterwards, a van was waiting behind the stage to take us back to the hotel.
We piled in, the driver made his way toward the exit, and the fun began.
The area behind the stage was just a grass field, so the festival organizers covered a good portion of it with large planks of wood in order for trucks and other vehicles to move back there without getting stuck in the mud.
There were plenty of areas that weren’t covered however, and we were headed right for an extended patch of mud on our way out to the road.
The driver got a little speed up, then we hit the mud. We were doing okay for a little while, then we felt the tires begin to spin and sink. So naturally the driver stomped on the gas, and we spun a little more, and sank a little more, and somehow started to move sideways.
We still had a little forward momentum though, and eventually we basically mud-surfed sideways until we hit pavement. We all broke into applause and breathed a collective sigh of relief. Then we had to slalom through the human obstacle course of people leaving the show, but we finally made it back to the hotel.
We were wet, and we were freezing, but we were done.
At one point during the drive William turned to me and said, “That was horrific”.
He wasn’t referring to the show or to the crowd, just the conditions.
Next time we come to Memphis, I can guarantee you that the gig will be indoors…
Sign up to the Alice In Chains Mailing List:
Backstage With Baldy
Sean Kinney wants me to get a tattoo on my head. And occasionally he’ll come up with a new strategy or a new design to try and get me to do it. Last night on the bus after the show...