Backstage with Baldy
Sydney -February 23rd
Flying on a show day is a risk. All it takes is one minor hiccup and the band could end up missing the gig.
Set time in Sydney was 5 P.M., and our departure time from Brisbane was 11:25 A.M., so we had a little wiggle room, but not much.
We got to the airport and made our way to the counter to get our boarding passes and check our bags.
I was about 15 feet away from our trusty tour manager Chuck when I heard a concerned tone creep into his voice as he was speaking to the agent. I walked over to where the band was standing and said, “Is there a hiccup?”
A slight smile washed over Mike’s face, and I immediately said, “Am I the hiccup?”
Yep, I was the hiccup.
Somehow, some way, there was no ticket in my name, no record of me, and with about 15 other bands on the bill travelling on the same flight, not a great deal of hope that there was room left to get me on the flight.
However, after some brilliant teamwork between Chuck and the Quantas agent, one lone seat was found, and I was on my way to Sydney with the guys.
I wasn’t even going to let the fact that it was a middle seat get me down.
On a flight that was overflowing with neck tattoos, face piercings, and long greasy hair, I sat between two average looking dudes. Which was refreshing, because I’m frightened of nearly everyone on this festival bill.
But that sense of well-being went away when the guy in the window seat started talking to his wife, who was one row ahead of us.
And my God, the overpowering waft of his skunk-ass breath nearly had me clawing through the ceiling to get to the oxygen mask.
It smelled like a dirty diaper dipped in sour milk and microwaved in a morgue.
It was brutal, and he didn’t shut up until we started taxiing down the runway.
Fortunately he took a nap and the rest of the flight was uneventful, other than my using the in-flight wifi to try and find a priest in Sydney to come give last rites to my dying nose.
We landed and made our way to the festival site, where the band only had 90 minutes before it was time for them to play.
Everyone felt rushed, but everything got done that needed to get done, and the next thing you know, the band was taking the stage.
The guys played really well, and the crowd was good for the most part, but I was once again reminded why festivals can sometimes be a bit of a letdown.
The best analogy I can think of is this:
Sometimes you’re the sun, and sometimes you’re just a planet.
Does that make sense?
When Alice In Chains headlines a show, they’re the sun.
The world revolves around them, the show is all about them, and the fans are coming expressly to see them.
On the Soundwave stage, Alice In Chains is a planet.
They happen to be my favorite planet in the solar system, but not everyone shares my telescopic coordinates. (Have I taken this analogy too far?)
Alice In Chains is playing before Green Day on this festival, so when I walked on stage before the show and saw dozens of fans on the rail with hair colors that reflected the full gamut of sno cone flavors, I knew the guys had their work cut out for them.
And they kicked ass.
But if a Green Day fan on the rail isn’t up for an Alice In Chains style ass-kicking, what can you do?
That in a nutshell is why festivals sometimes take the wind out of your sails.
And it’s not like the crowd was bad by any means, it’s just that when about half of the front row has their heads in their hands or is texting throughout your set, it can dampen the mood a bit.
At least it dampened mine.
To their credit, the guys took it in stride and weren’t bothered by it.
But I was, so thanks a lot, you bored little green haired moper.
I hope you grow up and marry someone with breath like the guy in the window seat.