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Date: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 at 11:35
Headline: The Big Ones, part 1
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Greetings & Salutations!

Home again, home again...

This is kinda tough, really. The more time I spend after an event before I comment on it, the less likely I am to indulge in details, and that likelihood declines even more sharply when the event is as big as this one was. If that makes any sense. Nevertheless, I will give it a shot.

To begin at the beginning:

We left for Longview in the mid-afternoon on Wednesday 8/18. When the festival in Darrington was first offered to us, we thought we'd make a week of it -- but arranging a slew of dates that would lead us in the right direction, geographically speaking, never really came together. So, straight off to Washington! Juli, Matt, Fozz and I rode together, while Tim and Greg had left some time earlier that day. 12-13 hour drive, pretty tedious, punctuated with some interesting adventures in refueling along the way, but we made it in good spirits.

There was much sighing with relief once we reached Longview, and not just because we had freedom to move our limbs again. I had spent some time on the phone with the casino and hotel earlier that week, arranging for our rooms to be made available in the early hours of the show day rather than the usual after-checkout time, in order to accomodate our schedule. I was assured by the relevant folks that everything was in order, but seeing the vouchers for myself after entering the hotel still made me release a metaphorical breath that I didn't realize I'd been holding.

Check in, rooms, sleep, and to work the next day...

Upon arriving at the Cadillac Ranch Casino, I felt the second sigh of relief hit me when I saw that, despite the management's worries to the contrary, there would be plenty of space on stage for the entire band (and even some wiggle room here and there), space behind the stage for the screen, and the proper gear to make us sound like the us we want people to hear. Soundcheck took a lot longer than it should have (when has it ever not?) but Ray the sound engineer was knowledgable, upbeat, and great at his job. The few technical problems that did crop up were easily dispensed with, except for the radio broadcast being picked up by my bass amp...according to Ray, the station was right next door and that sort of thing just was simply unavoidable with certain types of electronics. Best we could do was minimize it, and when the whole band was playing it wasn't even noticeable (ah, another Spinal Tap moment successfully avoided).

Unfortunately, because the soundcheck did run late, we ended up with about an hour to have dinner and get gussied up for the show. We were meant to receive a free meal at the casino, but after watching 40 minutes tick away while waiting for the food we ordered, we decided to head off to the hotel for our clothes and eat later. We ended up rushing straight from the street outside to the stage just as the intro music was dying away. The extra surge of adrenaline definitely lifted our performance up a bit, though I wouldn't like to make a habit of getting into the position that brought it on.

Cool crowd that night. During the first song, I was jumping down off the drum riser and accidentally knocked the mic away from Tim's guitar amp. It was quickly replaced by a crew member, but not before I had stopped playing to try and fix the problem myself, thus ending up drawing even more attention to the situation. Bit embarrassing. I took a look at the folks on my side of the stage, who had the clearest view of the proceedings, and they were laughing riotously. I made the self-deprecating decision to laugh with them as I launched back into the song with renewed energy, and that seemed to break the ice. From that moment on I had buds for life on stage left. They cheered, clapped and sung the loudest, thoroughly enjoying themselves and the show.

Other than that incident and the fact that the visuals on the screen were inexplibacly black and white for the first few songs before finally jostling into color around the end of the first set, I'd say the show went off pretty well. It was Matt's first time using his MIDI pedals for a few of the more layered songs (like 'Shine On'), and I thought that came off very well. The set list was supposed to be exactly the same as the Darrington show, but since we realized that we were dealing with different timetables that we would stretch out a bit and add a few more songs (plus a break in between sets). We made the decision at the last minute to play our own 'Mr Serious' in the middle of what was an ostensibly all-Floyd evening, and it to our great delight it went over like gangbusters. Quite the confidence-builder. 'Echoes' capped the evening in epic style, and we spent a lot of time mingling with the folks who stayed afterwards before packing up and heading back to get a bit of sleep before the next day's journey...

Part Deux coming soon

-Thom