Somehow every outdoor show on this tour has coincided with some “totally strange for this time of year” cold front where it’s 48 degrees when Guster has to go on stage, and Ryan always makes the announcement that the crazy hand-drummer man has heroically chosen not to invoke the “if-it’s-under-55-degrees-we-don’t-have-to-play-but-you-still-have-to-pay-us” clause in our contract. It’s not like I’d ever be that guy, sitting there on the bus watching ESPN News highlights on a 30-minute loop, dipping my Fritos into my Fritos Bean Dip, shrugging my shoulders, pointing to a thermometer and blowing the ink dry on our check while the crowd dejectedly shuffled home. The clause is mostly there to scare the school into having an alternate indoor site, but it never happens. I always go out there and play through the numbness of the first few songs, ending up with raw, cracked fingers at the end of the night. I am truly a martyr for the cause of Jewcussion.
photograph recycled from may 4th, 2001
Friday night was the second time we headlined the Terrapin Stadium at the University of Maryland. Capacity is probably about 100,000 if you pack people in tight. This year we filled up 3% of the place, which is better than the 1% we did back in 2001. And like many of these college Spring Fest Bonanza shows, there was an eclectic (but not eclectic enough to satisfy the student body — see Univ of MD pissy student editorials from the last few weeks) line-up of bands designed to appease as many Terrapins as possible. So the Gin Blossoms went on first, followed by Chevelle, followed by Guster.
It’s the same student activities logic which has landed us on stage with Ludacris at UMass and Nelly at UConn in the past. It’s kind of fun, but generally there’s a wholesale turnover of fans between the bands. Not the most fluid concert ever designed, but no one ever said Spring Fest had to flow. Clearly, heavy metal muppet rockers “Chevelle” had never heard of Guster before. Guster had never heard of Chevelle either, but we went out to the soundboard and watched thirty seconds of their show for the sake of curiosity anyway. It was cold, and they were loud, and I wish I’d watched maybe ten seconds less than I did. Granted, the kind of music Chevelle play is not my cup of tea, but I like Metallica and Dinosaur Jr and other bands who rock hard. I’m just wishing I had those thirty seconds back is all.
Apparently, Chevelle were very impressed with their own set. After they landed their last note, the singer was so inspired by his own performance that he actually went up to the mic and yelled “Guster WHO!!??” before leaving the stage. One-sixth of the crowd went wild!
I am sure “Chevelle” have sold more records than us. Most bands at this level have (the Gin Blossoms have probably sold 8 milliion more records than us). But to pick a fight on stage with a wuss-rock band like Guster, presumably because you feel like you should have been headlining the University of Maryland Spring Concert Day is… well…. too amusing for words. When reports of the incident reached us in the dressing room we called an emergency meeting where we decided what action to take on stage:
OPTION 1: At the end of the night say thanks to “the Gin Blossoms and the Shirelles” for playing with us. This one is good for a laugh, but you come across as self-consciously addressing the situation. We would rather go for something that made us seem aloof, even though we clearly knew the band was “Chevelle” — afterall, they had a huge banner behind them with their band name on it while they were playing.
OPTION 2: At the end of the night say thanks to “the Gin Blossoms and Chevette.” This one is a believable option. Supposedly the trio of brothers from Chicago based their band name on the old Chevrolet Chevelle they used to drive. But something tells me many a heavy metal marquis has made the Chevette miscue before. We needed something more original.
OPTION 3: Thanks to “the Gin Blossoms and Chanel.” As in Chanel No. 5 — isn’t that a kind of perfume? Wouldn’t a mistake like that really make their testosterone boil, if only they hadn’t already packed up and left the venue by the time we said it?
Ultimately we went with Option 3, but Ryan kind of mumbled it. Poor Guster, after all these years we’re still afraid of getting our asses kicked by people with tattoos.