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Date: Sat 28 Aug, 2004 at 10:24
Headline: The Big Ones, part 2

Greetings & Salutations!

...wake up, get dressed, into the truck, off to work...

The Darrington show was simply amazing. From the second we stepped onto the ampitheatre grounds we knew we were in professional hands. Matt, the crew chief, took us on a tour of the stage, showed us our backline options, had his people help us with unloading and various set-up stages (we had a little more work to do in that area than the other acts on the bill, what with the screen, the plane, the Big Damn Gun, etc), provided everything we could possibly need mere moments after finding out we neded it, and then had the unbelievable humility to tell us that he was impressed with our punctuality, focus, and organization.

It was so far above our usual experience of venue staff (even the good ones, of which we've met many) that I found myself pretty well stunned...or at least I would have if I'd had time to consider it, for we hit the ground running from the moment we stepped off the truck. It was only a couple of hours later, in the middle of dinner, that I stopped to marvel at it all. That attitude of friendliness and professionalism flourished everywhere, from the lighting director to the sound engineers to the stage manager, to the catering people, security, and right on down the line. Because we were the last act on the bill and would not be hitting the stage until midnight, we actually had a few hours to relax between set-up and showtime, an extreme rarity for us. I alternated chilling in the trailer and wandering the grounds with Fozz, checking out the vendors and the crowd, and most importantly, the bands.

El Loco had the beards, the back-up dancers, the whole ZZ Top schtick, and sounded great. Clearly very experienced and polished, they bounced from one song to another quickly, with little or no pause in between. I actually headed down to the stage and joined in the throng for their rendition of 'Stages' (an all-time favorite of mine, despite being a minor hit from an album that had some pretty major ones) and enjoyed it thoroughly. Since they performed as a trio, a lot of their keyboard parts were sequenced, which worked surprisingly well since as far as I could tell no one on stage was triggering them.

"I think I'm in love", Greg exclaimed when the first notes of 'Shoot To Thrill' came rocketing over the PA, thus announcing Thund-Her-Struck's set. An all-female AC/DC tribute band (one of several, it seems) from Los Angeles, they definitely had the crowd's blood pumping the entire time they were on stage. Tons of energy, and right on with the tunes. I never got a chance to meet any of them at the show itself (they had a meet and greet right after their set, and by the time we finished tearing down after our show, everyone had pretty much cleared out) but I took a look at their web site after coming home, and was impressed yet again -- not only are they good at what they do, but they've been doing it a lot. Shows all over the map, including some time spent in Iraq entertaining the troops. I sent them an e-mail expressing my congrats on their great set & current success, and my relief that we didn't have to directly follow them. ;)

To Be Concluded...