Disbelief had always been a fairly successful band, with each member blaming a different person for their success. However, nobody recognised the amount of pure luck and blind faith that it had taken to get this far than Paul. Their first performance could easily have been a colossal failure and, even so, they had been given the gig by another band that they were on good terms with. The lighting issues at Mountford Hall had served to establish and solidify their reputation as a live act more than just worth watching. Of course, the performance that they had given at Fuse only served to increase that reputation.
Then, of course, there were the people who had made it all happen. Bands such as Redchip and Bloody Breakdown had done Disbelief some huge favours in the past. As difficult as Paul found it to admit, Matthew Cooper had been giving the band quite a boost of late also. Hopefully, at least in Paul's eyes, Colt would be taking up Cooper's position soon enough. Ultimately, Paul still felt as though it had all been leading up to this moment. It was show time for Disbelief at Indy's.
Standing before the microphone, Paul surveyed the scene before him. Though there weren't as many people as there had been at Fuse, it was only because there was no room to fit them. All eyes were focussed entirely on Disbelief, whether they belonged to people that were sitting, standing or leaning. Truthfully, he found it quite intimidating, but Paul remained steady.
Casting his eyes around, he found Ally, Veronica and Anna sitting near the window and watching him. As he caught her eye for the first time since she had kicked him out of her room, he was disappointed to see her avert her eyes. She had butchered her beautiful long hair. It was possible that he would adapt to her new style, but he found it unlikely. These thoughts were still assailing him when Jace hit his Hi-Hat and Disbelief came alive. Quite suddenly, Paul's head was dragged to exactly where it needed to be, as were the fingers that he was holding against his bass guitar.
Their opener was to be their only cover of the night. It was a cover of Iron Maiden's 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'. The slow intro caused confusion for a few of the Indy's patrons, but most of them recognised it as soon as Paul began to sing the intro verse. From there on in, the song was left wide open for any member of Disbelief to steal the attention of the crowd. This song was little more than an organised declaration of war. As the song picked up, so did each member of the band. The strike of stick on snare became more vicious, the harmonised leads took on a competitive streak that could be heard around the room, while Paul, his bass near forgotten in the mass, simply raised his voice to make himself known. It all felt intoxicatingly glorious.
It had taken a while to get Adam capable of playing this song in harmony with Ed, especially at the speed at which Disbelief were playing. Nevertheless, Adam has gone at it with a cold fury, desperate to show himself as prepared. As challenging as he had found it at first, having Paul and Ed help him through it, slowly but surely, he had managed to get a good grip on it. Now, Paul listened to his two guitarists working in perfect sync and wondered if it might have all been a strangely lucid dream. He could barely tell which was which without turning his back on the crowd to find out, and no front man was dumb enough to turn his back on his audience.
As they all worked forwards in thrilling harmony, the song eventually came to the solo section. This would undoubtedly be Ed's time to stand out and get an advantage over the rest of the members of Disbelief, but that didn't matter; Ed always won at this game. Their mute guitarist slid down slowly and then, quite suddenly, no single sound that came from Disbelief could be considered slow. Ed drew attention like a fire in full bloom, causing such an uproar with his guitar and with his very presence that Paul could see people in their audience with their mouths open in wonder. Ed was a godsend for Disbelief.
They brought the song to a close with another burst of energy, but the battle had already been won. Ed's abilities were simply staggering, and he most definitely had the best opportunities to use them and show them off. Several more harmonised lines followed, with the cymbals coming crashing in for the finale. The lyrics complete and the guitars fading, Paul led the song end with one last outcry into the microphone.
The cheers of the crowd were as welcoming as ever. Their approval fed Paul's urge to continue. They had been allotted a small, but nonetheless worthwhile, slot. Their first song done with four more to go, Paul had given them a little time to breathe whilst he introduced them all to the people watching them.
"Hello fellow music lovers," he said calmly into the microphone in front of him. He received the reaction that he had expected. Everybody in the room who loved music, this being virtually everybody in the room, gave a small cheer and being included. "We're Disbelief," Paul continued, being careful not to hold eye contact with anybody in the crowd for too long. "We're going to be opening for Redchip tonight. I know we've just been playing Iron Maiden, and that's good, because we love Iron Maiden, but I'm afraid we won't be playing any more covers tonight."
The general reaction to this message was none at all, as Indy's was a place where originals were welcomed more than covers. In truth, the necessity of opening with a cover had been questioned strongly, but it had done the job well. Everybody in the place knew that Disbelief meant business.
"So," proclaimed Paul, "it's time now to continue right from where we left off."
As he was speaking, he could hear Ed behind him, playing B minor on his acoustic channel. A few familiar faces in the audience recognised the intro for Thrillseeking, but for the rest they seemed genuinely confused as to what came next. For Paul, this was more than mildly exciting.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Paul added with a smile on his face, "there is so much more to come. The next song is one of the usuals in our arsenal. For those who know it and for those who don't, this is Thrillseeking."
Right on cue, Adam's heavy distortion came crashing in with the main riff of the song. The simple drum beat that fell behind had Paul clapping along in time, convincing everybody standing before him to join in. This riff was catchy. Paul knew it, Adam knew it, and now so did everybody who was listening to it. Paul added the bass at the same time that Ed changed tact, now playing a lead line on his lead channel. It was a simplistic song, made specifically to get stuck in the head of everybody around. Thus far, it had always proved successful in this.
He added in a scream just before the lyrics were due purely on whim. He was lucky, people seemed to like it. As Ed switched to a quieter riff, Paul shifted with him to a walking bass line and began to sing the lyrics.
Thrillseeking had always been a song for Adam and Jace. The drums led the track, while the riff sat on top of everything, at times even over the lyrics. Everything else was sandwiched in between. Ed's lead lines, as well as Paul's bass were of very little consequence to the casual listener, so both of them were rather self-indulgent. Despite the simplicity of the song, the bass line was incredibly intricate. At the same time, Ed's technical prowess came into play whenever there was a spare moment in which to do so. Even though nobody was paying attention to their parts, that was no reason to slouch, so everybody remained as intense and well practiced as ever.
It was not a long song, but this time around managed to they stretch it out a little. As Paul chanted the last chorus, he could hear people singing along. It was only one or two people, but they were singing loudly and proudly, obviously very glad to know the words to a Disbelief song. Singing the chorus a few more times, while Ed kicked up his volume to lead Adam and Jace, Paul managed to bring in a few more people to chant the chorus, showing their support for the performance. It wasn't the whole crowd, nor was it a decent percentage, but it was enough. They ended the song on a high note with one last run through the main riff and one last B powerchord.
With no laptop present today, A Fish Named Goat had been vetoed in favour of a few different songs. They had been practising the next song on their set list for a while, including during the time that they had spent at Colt's studio. Heavily influenced by Dream Theater, the next song began smoothly after Thrillseeking.
"The next one's a new one on our list," Paul began, speaking almost directly to the few Disbelief fans already in the audience. "Hopefully we'll have you singing along at our next gig. We'll let you know when that is. Until then we still have three songs to go."
Taking the hint, Ed, now back on his clean channel, started playing a calming little piece, making strong use of major chords arpeggios and both suspensions. Adam came in soon after, offering the full and undistorted chords that matched Ed's playing. With this backing, Ed started adding accidentals to his play from the Phrygian mode. All in all, it sounded distinctly different.
"This is A Hound's Hell," announced Paul, mere milliseconds before he turned up his bass and struck his A string violently. At the same time, Jace hit fever pitch, hitting his toms and his bass drum with what seemed to be a ruthless temper. Ed and Adam halted their clean channel play two bars later and went into heavy distorted harmonised leads. The power that was unearthed in those two bars was quite immense, but it was nothing compared to the song that followed. Everything that Ed played was technical enough to embarrass most modern musicians. His fingers flew in odd directions, through odd time signatures and different modes, and all the time followed near perfectly by Adam, while Paul supplied the necessary notes for Ed to be beyond amazing.
Two minutes into this spectacle of harmonised semitones, rhythm and lead and time signature madness, it was Paul's turn to start adding the lyrics in. Feeling thoroughly outclassed, but loving every minute of it, he took a deep breath and shouted into the microphone loud enough to draw the focus back to him. The first song might have been over, but if Ed was playing like this then the competition was not.