I never thought this group would make it as far as it has. Wow. It's already been 7 years since we first got together and it has flown by so fast. Signed to an independent label and on a small U.S. tour. Anyway, I'm Vince. I play bass for "The Musique-Making Dragon-Slayers." Don't laugh at the band name. Yes, of course it was a joke. We were in high school and we named it that just for laughs. We never knew we'd make it this far, but when we gained regional fame, people had learned our name so we really didn't have a choice in changing it by then. We laugh at the name on a daily basis and so do the fans. I think it's like a gimmick of ours, the crowd thinks it's hilarious. Stupid band names aside, The Dragon Slayers aren't a joke band. We take our music very seriously and I dig it.
We're playing a medium sized venue in Chicago tonight. It should be cool. I'm backstage tuning my four string when Wayne, the drummer casually walks in. "Dude, the place is filling up. Should be a good night." I nod, looking at the tuning key that I'm turning. Wayne is the token care free guy that almost every band has. He really doesn't have a care in the world. He doesn't practice whatsoever, but he always seems to nail his drum parts without any problems. It's pretty impressive. Lance walks in behind him a few seconds later. "The floor is packed, Vince." he says. "Yeah, I already told him, Lance." Wayne says with a chuckle. Lance and Wayne are polar opposites. Let me put it to you this way. If Lance won the lottery, he'd go to the grocery store and buy this week's ration of food before anything else. Being responsible isn't a bad thing, but we give him a hard time about his uptight attitude sometimes. Wayne on the other hand, would spend all his money on drum accessories. Lance plays rhythm guitar and sings lead vocals.
We go on in only a few minutes, so we jump up on stage and begin to plug in. Angel, our lead guitar player is already on stage, wearing his single cutaway Paul Reed Smith. Angel is a black guy, 245 pounds of pure muscle. We give him a hard time because of his name. He can't help what his parents named him, I know, but it's ironic to say the least. Angel is the nicest guy you'll ever meet, but on stage he acts like a tough guy. He's wearing a sleeveless, flannel shirt and jeans with holes in the knees. As we plug our guitars in, the crowd can hear the buzzing of our cables being inserted into the input jacks of our amps and a little feedback from Lance's les paul. They turn around to look at the stage. We're not just some unknown band from the city, these people came to see us. I look down to the front of the stage and see a drunk guy with his fingers in the classic devil horns pose as he screams "Dragon Slayers!!!" at the top of his lungs. I see this 4 or 5 nights a weeks, but I never get used to it. I love the feeling of knowing that someone likes my music.
We kick off the set with one of our hits. Wayne's drumming starts us off and soon the guitars come in with Lance and I playing a slow, heavy riff and Angel's speedy licks form the intro solo. Not a moment too soon, the song is over and we start the next one. This song is one from our first album. I've always liked it. Lance wrote it when we were in high school, it was about an ex girlfriend, but it's certainly missing the crappy, generic sound that most of these rock love songs have, this one's heavy, the way I like it. The crowd likes it too because I see them singing along and head banging. I thump out the last notes on my bass before we end it with a big explosion of the root note. We start the next song and by this time, my mind is elsewhere. I'm playing the song perfectly and everything, but I'm just not dwelling on it. I don't have to, we wrote the songs and we all know them like the back of our hands. I'm thumping along, but I begin thinking about other things.
As much as I enjoy touring and entertaining these people, I just sort of wish something different would happen. These people listening paid to see us and I appreciate that, but just because their favorite band is in town and they get to witness us play their favorite songs....do they ever wonder what we think? I do this almost every day to a different handful of fans who say this night will one they will never forget. Will I remember it as well as they will? Probably not. Don't get me wrong, I'd never think about choosing a different career or anything, I love it, but it's just like any other job to me now. The routine is almost...dare I say...boring.
Orange flames begin to burst from out of the front and back of the stage. Lance has to jump backwards to avoid getting burned. These are some sweet pyro effects, but they could have warned us before we played tonight. Lightning strikes from the ceiling. Is this a light show gone wrong? The people in the audience seem sort of nervous, but it's just part of the show. It's just part of the show, isn't it? The fire begins to burn the stage quickly, drawing in closer from all sides of the platform. This isn't part of the show. No. We are going to die. Wayne has already jumped from his drum kit and is standing in the middle of the stage with us. I see my amp catch fire and melt in seconds. This is no ordinary fire, this is like...center of the earth fire. The crowd begins to shuffle out of the doors, trying their best to run for their lives. They really loved us, huh? The sound guy is gone, the road crew is nowhere to be found. Nobody even tried to help us.
The flames draw closer and the electricity and wind roars around us. It's like a thunderstorm in this place. I close my eyes and say my prayers. I've never been in a life or death situation before. I open my eyes. The fire is gone. The wind is gone. The lightning has disappeared and so has the stage. We are no longer in the venue. I'm not sure where we are. It looks like we're at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or what I'd imagine the bottom of the grand canyon looks like, I've never even been there. It's calm here. There's a river flowing a few yards away from us. We are surrounded by pillars of rock as far up as we can see. There is no fire, so we can't be in Hell, but I don't see any streets of gold, so Heaven isn't an option either.
"What just happened?" Angel finally asked, breaking my observation from our surroundings. Angel is rubbing his head, but I don't think he's in pain, just confused. "I haven't got the slightest idea, man." Wayne replies, sitting on the ground. I notice that I've still got my bass slung on the shoulders, so I lay it down on the rock hard ground. Lance finally speaks after taking a few minutes of looking around as I did. "Did anyone else see the stage burning? Wasn't there like lightning over our heads?" We all nod and Lance finally gives up asking those questions. We all obviously experienced the same thing he had. We sit there for a minute in confusion and awe. "When I asked for change in the daily routine this isn't what I meant." I whisper to myself. The others look at me. "What?" Wayne asked. "Nothing." I say, pacing back and forth, brushing my dark hair out of my eyes. Wayne stands up, brushing off his jeans. "Okay, so what are we supposed to do now?" he asks to no one in particular. "We figure out a way to get the hell out of here." Lance says with a hint of frustration. "And how do we do that?" Wayne asks, also a little pissed off. They continue to argue for a few more minutes until I finally walk over and give them a hopeless look. "Alright... I say we try to find a phone or something." I say, trying to keep the peace. "Oh great idea, Vince!" Lance says with as much sarcasm as one person can. "Look at this place, man!" He says holding out his arms and looking at the sky. "There's no phone here! We're in the middle of nowhere!" he yells and then drops his arms in anger. "Hey easy, man" Wayne pipes up. "Vince could be onto something. There's bound to be civilization somewhere." Wayne says, but he's not really convinced himself.
"I think this might be some sort of different dimension, brother." Angel says calmly. "Oh don't start with you're Dungeons and Dragons crap, Angel." Lance says in a frenzy. "That's impossible and you know it." I stay silent as I don't know any more of what has happened then the other three. "Oh really? Have you ever seen a stage catch on fire and send the band to some random place?" Wayne shoots back at Lance. "Well... No." Lance says. "So you agree that it's not impossible?" Wayne says shooting a thumb in Angel's direction. I just let them argue, pick up my bass and begin walking in a random direction until I find something out. "Vince, where are you going?" Lance calls after me. "I told you. I'm going to find a phone." I say, not looking back at them. "And who are you gonna call?" Lance calls back again as they all jog after me. I shrug and keep walking. "Alright, we'll do it your way." Lance says, out of breath from running to catch up with me.
To Be Continued.