The burn of the lights that shone down on them could be felt even through his clothes. It was soothing, feeling the warmth on his skin as he stood, braced and ready, before the huddled masses of Fuse. As usual, the place was packed to the point of hectic. The few heavily dressed up students who were close enough to the stage were reaching out towards him. There was a sense of desperation about them all, like hungry creatures in need of the meat on his bones. It was quite beautiful really. Disbelief was standing, ready to perform for a full house that not only wanted to hear music, but who would likely stone them to death if they did not play. They craved that which Disbelief was there to supply. The very knowledge was intoxicating.
Moments like these were the ones that he loved most. The gaze of the metal fans down on the floor was burning into him as much as the lights. The music had stopped; all that was next was the performance. His hands were ready on his instrument. He ran them down the strings and felt his fingers moving slowly over the scalloped wood. He could feel every little blemish as well as every piece of perfection. He knew it so well. It was a part of him and it had been for a very long time. Music was life, and he was ready to play. Slowly, he raised the plectrum in his right hand, switched his pickup selector to his unused mids pickup and struck his D string. He quickly followed this by hitting his low D, the screwed down pickup giving him the sound of a clean channel as he alternated between the two strings. It was quiet, and it was alone, but they heard it. Every member of the crowd before them reacted at once, engulfing the sounds of each D note as it came.
The first piece of the introduction required only the index finger of his left hand to play, but nobody else was playing while he did. His left hand slid up the string smoothly, while his right alternated between soft and hard strokes. As he struck the chord that ended that first section, he heard Adam doing the same. The sheer length of the intro was more than enough to give Jace time to set up the last of his drums.
For once, there was no sense of panic; just simple and pure euphoria rushing through him at the sight of hundreds of people following his every action. It felt strange not to be shaking, and not to feel so nervous that every part of his skin was sweating. He could well recall his feeling of dread the last time that they had played, but it had vanished now, leaving behind something that Adam had never thought that he would feel: confidence.
He had no effect that could quite match the sound that was needed, but Adam wanted to give it his best anyway. The actual song had keyboards in place of what he was trying to do, but Disbelief had always been a two guitar band and they had to make do with that. The two lead lines worked together easily until Paul's bass guitar joined the mix, pushing Ed's guitar down in the order of volume. Thankfully, this was the point.
Next, with a drum roll, Jace was added in. Now, with all members playing, Disbelief were doing exactly what they were after. The crowd were clapping slowly, obviously enjoying how things were going. Some few seemed to know the song, but for most they were just showing confusion. They would love it, or at least this was what Adam expected. This was metal to the extreme, progressive, powerful and as sharp as a collection of knives. As the song continued, Adam looked over towards the far right of the stage, where Ed was playing his barely heard piece. As the drums hit hard, Adam watched for the change, and, with a push of his pickup selector, it came for both of them.
The strike of the low D was violent and strong, and the riff that followed simply dragged Disbelief along with it. Adam lost the ability to think while he played, instead getting wrapped up in the focus needed to double up with Ed and supply the raw talent that such a song required. Now, the sweat came. Now, with his every action so carefully rehearsed, smooth and fast, the nerves hit as they should have done straight away. With things suddenly becoming horrendously difficult, he began to shake from fear that he would mess up.
Even when the guitar calmed a little, Adam had to jump in to provide backing vocals, so the push was still there. This would be the calmest point of the song, with he and Ed playing power chords and the intricacies being provided by Ed alone. With sweating hands, things were made more difficult, but he moved forwards carefully, keeping in the time that Jace led and the rest followed.
Upon completion of that section however, Adam found himself in a lot of trouble. Not only did things become difficult, but things were crowded and hectic, almost painful for his hands at times. It was like being pushed closer and closer to the edge of a cliff face. At any time, it could have gone wrong and, even with a slight mistake, it would all come tumbling down. His jaw set and his teeth clenched, Adam pushed onwards. If Ed could handle it, then Adam would do his utmost.
The sort of strength, speed and unquestionable violence that Jace was having to show in keeping the rhythm of Home was painful to his arms, but he kept his cool. He felt as though he was watching the show from the outside, slightly out of time and out of rhythm with what he was actually doing. His ears were telling him that things were perfectly fitting, but his eyes were refusing to accept that simple fact. To him, everything looked wrong, but he trusted his judgement that everything was going well. Nobody seemed to be concerned in the crowd at least.
From where he was sitting, at the back, as usual, Jace could see everything that was happening both on the stage and down on the dance floor. He could see the fingers of his friends flying all over their fretboards, oftentimes doing the same things, but sometimes doing very different things. Everybody in the building was reacting. Their audience was bouncing and charging into each other happily. Some few were singing along, but not many people seemed to know it all word for word. Even if it was possible to hear them, Jace wouldn't have wanted to in case it put him off. Muscle memory had long since taken over now.
As a first song, this had the potential to be nothing more than an incredibly awesome pain in the arse. It was very long, very taxing, and they were down to play an hour long set. This could drain Disbelief to the point where everything that followed would prove nigh impossible. It had been Paul's choice, and it could easily go either way, but Jace certainly felt that this might have been asking too much.
Looking at his best friend from the back, Jace could see Paul trying to give off a sense of stage presence, even though this was not a song that anybody could really move around while playing. Instead, Paul simply worked with the microphone, calling out his words with as much force as he could in the hopes that people would join in. Unfortunately for him, the lyrics were up for a rather major pause very soon.
The usual flair was offered until the bridge, when everything dropped back into a more easy going and relaxed state. For a few moments, neither of the two guitars were playing, leaving Jace and Paul to lead the charge alone. At this point, Jace found himself hoping that either Adam or Ed would do something to keep the crowd going and make them a little more lively, but Adam seemed frozen to the spot and Ed was just not the sort of person to offer a crowd anything but skill. The ache in his arms burning like the spotlights above him, Jace simply kept going, keeping the rhythm and the tempo until Ed joined in again, taking over the keyboard part in preparation for what was due to come next.
Even now, with no part to play for another couple of bars, the floor felt very appealing to Adam. Something about just laying down and staying as still as possible for a while was calling out to him; almost as though the stage itself wanted him to fall and give over any last energy that he had. He wandered over to his amplifier, which was close enough to be only a step away, and switched over to his clean channel in preparation for what came next. Nobody else had fallen over and given up, so Adam certainly wouldn't be the one to do it.
Ed's parts were rather sporadic at this point, while Paul and Jace were still working hard to keep the strength of the song going. Adam came in on cue, playing on the clean channel softly, while at the same time doing all that he could to relax his arms. He remained beside his amplifier, not focussing on the crowd or the impact of his work anymore. All of his attention was devoted to just getting the song right without screwing it up and having everything fall on his head. He could feel the sweat on his forehead and the heat that was now emanating just from himself.
Things became slightly more taxing when he had to switch back away from his clean channel, changing the piece that he was playing into a stronger and more direct one for the sake of impact. The solo was coming, and though Adam wouldn't be the one to play the keyboard driven rush of notes, his own collection of backing riffs would still prove to be very annoying. The impact that they offered would be worthwhile though. This was a point for Ed to shine, and everybody would be looking Ed's way, but Adam was integral to making it work.
As appealing as the floor still was, Adam pushed on, marching back towards the front of the stage until he was just out of the range of the clamouring hands that came from the front row. He played with as little effort as he could, but that didn't mean that he couldn't try to encourage the crowd. He shouted out over them to clap without the use of a microphone and, though only the few at the front heard him, the message was carried on by the action itself. It made Adam smile, though even that made him ache. He heard Ed begin to kick in, he heard the audience begin to cheer in their excitement and he took a few steps back so that Ed could shine.
As the solo began, Paul turned slightly away from the audience in the hope that they wouldn't see him clearing his throat. There was a burn in the back of it that he didn't want to address just yet, but it was more than likely that, at this point, he should sing a little less loudly.
Seconds later, he forgot all that he had been thinking about and, while his fingers played their parts of his own volition, his ears and eyes sought out Ed, exactly as had happened with absolutely everybody else in the building. Ed was kneeling at the very front of the stage with the hands of the audience so close that they could almost grasp his stray hairs. His fingers were flying through something so perfectly in time, and yet so fast that Paul could barely tell how he was doing it. He was flying, teasing them all by doing so right in front of them. It was fast, it was smooth and it was incapable of going wrong. Anybody else in the world had every chance in the world to mess it up, but it was very possible that Ed had never missed a note in his life. Everything else became unimportant, Paul just listened to the solo.
Lost in his own mind, he almost missed the return of the lyrics for the last chorus. Realising his mistake, he leapt forwards back to the microphone, to the amusement of their accrued crowd. As Paul began, Ed lifted up off of his knees and stepped backwards so that Disbelief were all closer together again. They all smashed through the last chorus together, pushing their bodies to their very limits, as Paul could feel every part of his body screaming against his continuance. Thankfully, they were nearing the end now and, with one last run through the major riffs of the piece, the finale fell to Ed. Once again, he knelt down in the middle of the stage, ripping through a guitar line with Adam harmonising occasional sections.
For the very last moment, every one of them hit their last low notes to the applause of the entirety of Fuse. Sighing, panting and barely able to tell what was going on around him, Paul considered how simple Thrillseeking would be in comparison. Then, with a smile at Ed, he gave a nod that the show must go on.