The days grew longer and lazier as the Summer progressed. Often, I would sit outside on the back lawn, pepsi in hand, trying to nail one song or the other with my guitar, in the haze of the dimming sky.
At this point of time, we had been looking for a drummer for weeks, without much success. Rainn was out of town, and jam sessions with Jordan were now punctuated with a drum track.
Then one fine Friday evening, as I sat doing my homework, simultaneously listening to Journey, the doorbell rang. I paused the song and answered the door. It was Jordan. He came in and slumped onto the futon. "What's up?"
"I was studying."
"With Journey playing in the background?" He asked, surprised.
I nodded. For some reason, his forehead looked bigger and his dreadlocks seemed thinner. "You look funny. Did you do something to your hair?"
"Got my dreads retwisted." He said.
"How long have you been growing them?"
"Since I was 13." He said. He picked up my guitar, which I had set against the wall next to the sofa, and absently strummed on it. "I'll never get over this colour, man. I'm telling you, it takes balls to play acherry blossom pink, isn't it?"
"You can't judge something based on what colour it is." I said, and smirked. He frowned. "Hmm. Anyway, I would like to discuss the real reason why I came here." He put the guitar back in its place and sat up. "Let's go to the Coffeehouse, man."
The Duke Coffeehouse was founded in the 1970s, and had been a hotspot for campus bands and music acts in general ever since its inception. Beck had played here when he was a nobody, much before his smash hit song "Loser" was released.Soy un perdedorI'm a loser baby
"Can't, I have a bunch of work to do. Maybe some other time."
"Well, just do it tomorrow, man."
"There's gonna be a couple of kickass bands playing there tonight. Have you been to a gig before?"
"Well then, you need the experience!" he said. "Put on a decent shirt or something."
"Oh, come on!" He said. "David's going too. And so are a lot of hot girls!"
"Do this for me, then! I don't have a ride; you know I don't have a car! I really want to go!"
I sighed. "Let's get something to eat first."
Half an hour and a defrosted pastrami sandwich later, we were standing outside the Duke Coffeehouse. There were plenty of students around, chit chatting amongst themselves. A fair number were smoking.
"So this is it, eh? The Duke Coffeehouse."
"Yep." Jordan said. "I knew you'd agree to come." His phone rang, and he answered it.
"Sup? Yeah we're outside. Yeah, we're looking around.I can see you.you're by that tree, yeah."
David noticed us, and hung up. His big, dirty blonde jewfro flew in the slight evening breeze, as he walked towards where we were. He had grown a goatee.
"I feel like I've been taken advantage of, man." I said. "That was freaking emotional blackmail"
"This is for your own good."
David was now standing right in front of us.
"Nice beard." I said.
"Thanks, I grew it myself." He replied curtly. "So, we're all here, eh?"
"Well then, what the hell are we standing outside for?"
The place was already crowded, and I could hear a blues jam being played in the background. I leaned on my toes to get a better look at the stage, over all the bobbing heads here and there.
"The soundcheck's going onthey'll probably start any moment." David said. We found a decent spot to stand in somewhere in the middle of the place, and waited. The band started playing. It was pretty heavy, and there was a good deal of growling and distortion involved. According to the introduction given by the frontman, who was a scary looking guy with an impressive goatee, these guys were called Phlegmatic, and were a technical death metal band from Chapel Hill.
The crowd went crazy, and soon, most of the men were banging heads and making metal horns with their fingers, waving them in the air.
"I didn't know Death Metal was huge in these parts!" I yelled at David.
"You have no idea, man!" he yelled back, and started banging his head along with the riffs. Jordan followed suit. Pretty soon, the crowd had thickened so much that I had difficulty finding space to stand. Before I knew it, I was alone, surrounded by crazy students, pushed around as if I was a part of a tidal wave. My comrades were lost. Some people were so enthusiastic, it looked like their necks would snap off any second. I tried headbanging a few times but it kinda hurt, so I made metal horns with my hands and waved my arms in the air like a madman, yelling at the top of my lungs. The set was atleast an hour long; I had lost track of time. The music was great, even if I didn't understand the words through the illegible screaming. Finally, when it ended, and the band thanked the audience, the crowd started to disperse a bit and soon there was enough space to walk around.
I went to the bar and sat down on a stool, turning around so I was facing the stage. The second act, a three member band, were carrying out a soundcheck and adjusting their gear. They introduced themselves as "The Desert Roaches".
As they burst into action, the crowd slowly began to go back to its former density. The music was groovy as hell, with a heavy, pounding bassline. I deduced the genre to be Stoner Rock. This time, I could actually understand what the singer was saying. Three songs later, the crowd had gone back to its previous density.
I picked my phone up and texted Jordan.
Where the hell are you? In front of the stage. Screw it, I'm staying here.
The band itself was pretty tight, and their playing was flawless. This time, I could actually understand what the vocalist/lead guitarist was saying. These dudes had a terrific stage presence, as if they had been playing for years. I looked to my left. All the members of the first band were sitting and drinking together a few stools away, talking amongst themselves and laughing. I got back into the crowd, but stayed close to the bar this time.
After watching the rest of the set, I went back to the bar. I looked to my left. The frontman of the first band was sitting there by himself, sipping beer, two stools away.
"That was a killer set you guys played up there, man." I said, turning to face him. "Phlegmatic, right?"
"Yeah. Appreciate it." He said, smiling. He looked even scarier up close.
"You look like you play an instrument."
"Well, yeah, I play guitar. How did you know?"
"I can tell. Dudes with your hairstyle are usually either stoners or musicians." He laughed, and gulped down the remaining beer. He called the bartender to refill his glass. "Have you got a band of your own?"
"Nah. We've been searching for a drummer."
"There's plenty of drummers around here, man, if you know where to look." He said.
"Where should I look, then?"
"Hmm. I'm not sure." He laughed. "Word of mouth works best. Talk to as many musicians as you can." The bartender asked me what I'd like, and I ordered a soda.
"Underage, hm?" he asked.
"I remember when I was your age" he said. "I used to be scared of getting caught smoking weed all the time, but somehow I managed to get high whenever I hung out with friends."
"I'm Rob, man."
"I'm Viv." He said.
"Anyway, what's your story, man? I mean, with Phlegmatic and all?"
"Hmmm. Well, one day, as the four of us jammed, we decided to get together and make some music, ya' know, seeing how there are hardly any decent bands around these days.we wanted to make a difference. And yeah, that was basically it."
"But was it hard getting gigs and everything?"
"Not really. At first, we just stuck to college gigs.open mics and festivals and shitover time, we got really tight on, like, an hour's worth of songsgot noticed by this guy who owns a bar in Raleigh, he asked us if we'd like to play there a couple of times a weekdidn't pay much, but we needed the attention, so we got along with it. Pretty soon, we made a demo and started sending it here and there, and we just played wherever the organizers or owners liked us. It wasn't too hard, and we made it work so that none of us had to miss classes or anything. It helps that we're all engineering students at UNC." He took a sip of his beer. "A word of advice: buy a big amp, and keep practicing and getting better. A drummer will show up pretty soon. You can always find a lonely kid and teach him how to play, if nothing else works."
"I have a bassist, and a practice amp." I said, sarcastically.
He laughed. "Try acoustic gigs, then. Anyway, I gotta go, man. Hit me up sometimeadd me on facebook or whatever. Look for Vivek Kannan, or Phlegmatic. I'll see if I can find a lead on your drummer thingI have a few friends out here in Durham, they'll probably know something."
"Peace, and thanks a bunch." He got up and left.
As the night wore on, several other bands played onstage, and the genres varied from alt-country to post-rock to god knows what else. I checked my watch. It was already 11:30. Sick of the crowd, I texted Jordan to meet me back at the bar. My eyes were spotty after all those flashing lights, and the place had a weird smell that comes from smoke machines and handheld flares.
Ten minutes later, Jordan showed up.
"I just talked to the frontman of Phlegmatic."
"Those death metal dudes?" He asked. "Scary looking one with the beast goatee?"
"Yeah, him. Turns out he wasn't so scary after all. He said he'd check with his sources if there's a drummer available for the picking, and he probably knows a lot of people."
Jordan laughed. "Way ahead of you, man."
"What the hell d'you mean, bro?" I asked.
"I think I might have already found us one."
"You're shitting me. Really?"
"Well, it's not final yet." He smiled. "But it's looking pretty damn good, man. Let's get out of hereI'll tell you the whole story on the way home."