The Vail gig is a strange one, and we’ve done it twice now. It’s a free outdoor show on the main street of the little fake hamlet downtown, just a two minute walk from the base of the mountain. Luke soundchecked in ski boots after we got to ski a few runs in the afternoon. It was cold, up there on the chairlift, in my longjohns, mittens, and big poofy jacket that my dad bought for $30 at Caldor when I was a kid. So cold that we opted to take the gondola most of the day where you’re shielded from the wind and cold, and where everyone takes out their smart phones and checks their email nowadays. Back in my day we didn’t have smart phones. We had to talk to the other skiers in the gondola, or look out the window, or study the trail map. Now it’s like when the Q train goes over the Manhattan Bridge… you’ve got five minutes to get your 3G fix before you’re back underground.
It’s fucking cold in December in Vail Colorado. For all the luxury and swank of the ski town, you had to credit the residents for showing up at outdoor concerts at night, with temperatures approaching single digits. It’s pretty rock and roll.
As for the band, and the drummer who hits cymbals with his bare hands, I really wanted to be rock and roll about it too. I took off my mittens and soundchecked a hard-hitting number during the day. Barrel of a gun! About 30 seconds into it my finger froze on me and I had to stop. Adam lent me a pair of thin gloves, and I put my numb hand in it and tried to play. The glove, at that point, just served to seal in the cold in my ghostly-white ring finger. I hadn’t really thought this through. Something had to be done.
And so I did nothing at all. I watched the sun go down. I watched the crowd fill into the town square, with their fleece hats and fuzzy mittens. We aimed the on-stage propane heater toward the back of the stage where the drums were set up. I hoped for the best, but mainly I thought of that last scene in The Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke climbs to the top rung, beckoned on by the crowd, in fierce defiance of his doctor’s orders. An entertainer to the end! The bitter end! That scene gave me comfort.
The show was totally fine. It stung a little, but the ibuprofen took care of that. I wore a t-shirt. The one with the intestines and other innards labeled, scientifically, on it. I sweat a little because of the propane heater. It was a great show, and people rubbed their gloves and mittens together after every song. It had a weird effect, like a muted smattering of golf applause. There was a lot of “woo” ing.
You can all see Adam do it again Saturday night in his celebrity band, Yukon Kornelius. There is a guy from Pearl Jam in that band with him.
And here’s a bonus shot of me and Andy (guitar tech) and John (drum tech) at the Denver Airport, where there’s family-friendly New World Order artwork to enjoy on the walls. I can’t wait to show this particular mural to my daughter (she loves gas masks). Say cheese!