The next practice day arrived and the band hammered out "Black," the Sevendust song I spoke of. After that we quickly ran through our set to keep us fresh and went into the living room to simply hang out. The thing about this group that I loved was the fact that we were friends. We weren't just guys in a band who only put up with each other because we needed the musicians, we had things in common and things to talk about other than the band. Don't get me wrong, the band was our top priority, but we had fun talking about other things. We picked on Ben a lot because he was the youngest and made fun of Keith's instrumental guitar addiction. Keith was heavily inspired by artists like Buckethead and Paul Gilbert. We once asked him what his favorite band was and he replied with "Well..I don't really like any "bands," but I like a lot of stuff." To this day he will deny even saying that, but we still gave him a hard time about it. Although he was big into that kind of stuff, he didn't just listen to it, he could really play it. I remember the first time we ever jammed together. He taught me the backing chords to a Buckethead song called "Siege Engine." I played through it a few times so Darrell could figure out the timing and after a few bars, Keith roared through the 8 minutes of lead without hesitation. It would've been boring if I hadn't been so struck by the guys playing. To make a long story short, we didn't wait long to invite Keith to join our band.
A few more days passed and it was time for our gig. The show was on a Friday night again and we got there a few hours early to load in. The place was a dump near the beach, but it had people there and that's all we needed. We checked in with the owner and loaded in. We waited around for the event to kick off, watching concert goers show up and other bands load in. We were opening for a band who was getting signed, so I was pretty excited, despite that fact that I'd never heard these guys before. We played third in the line up I think. The first band was terrible. Bless their hearts. They were made up of a few skater kids who tried to play songs that were beyond their skill level. You know how it goes. They finished up and a local band from our town got up next. We knew these guys pretty well. They were good guys. Their music was a little too soft for my taste, but they weren't bad. They were a few years older than me, but Grant went to high school with them. They started and finished and it was time for us to crank up. We quickly plugged in and did a short soundcheck. Darrell tapped his hi-hats four times and we all hit a big E chord. Grant walked up to the microphone and shouted "What's goin' on, Jacksonville!?" and the crowd woke up. We played though our first song and went straight into the second one. This was one was called "The Rose" and we had written it with Tim, although he didn't help at all. "The Rose" ended with a solo from Keith and we went straight into the next. Darrell started the song with a sharp strike of his snare and the guitars came in with Ben throwing in some bass fills when he could. We played a few more songs and the crowd loved it. When we played "Black," all the metal heads woke up and realized they recognized the song with shouts and claps. We ended the set with a song called "Redemption" and got off stage.
We loaded our equipment back into the trailer and walked back through the venue's floor. We got pats on the back and words of encouragement. I wanted to see what this freshly signed band could do. To my surprise, the music was so horrible I had to walk outside. The drummer seemed drunk and couldn't keep the beat and the guitars were hard to distinguish. The whole performance was a let down. The snare drum sounded like one from a child's play drum set and out of tune on top of that. I'm pretty sure the guitar player only had a few strings left by the end of the set. I wasn't sure what style of music they were trying to play, but whatever it was, I didn't like it. How are these guys signed? I thought and I eventually asked the question to the other guys as we were leaning against the side of the building. They all seemed to have the same opinions that I had. If those guys could make it, then we could.
To Be Continued.