6:05pm: “Come to the back door.”
6:10pm: “Where is it?”
6:15pm: “It’s around the back, in an alley.”
6:16pm: “Off Folsom?”
“Jamie- how do you not know where the backstage entrance is to Slim’s? Go around the side”.
I walk up to the backstage door and am greeted by my friend Jeff and new to the area Darrell. We go inside, where our friends, Threat Signal, are still setting up. I’ve kept in touch with the band since interviewing them last time they were in town. The plan was to meet early for drinks- part Memorial Day celebration, part welcome party for Darrell, and come to find out, it would soon be TS guitarist Travis Montgomery’s birthday.
However, the band is stressed out because something is wrong with Travis’ gear. With rhythm guitarist Adam Weber tending to a family emergency, everyone is working on making Adam’s equipment work for Travis. I watch on helplessly as I take in this tidbit of life on the road.
We go down to the dressing room, where a handle of Crown Royal awaits us that Jeff brought for the evening. TS vocalist Jon Howard fixes us drinks- “say when”…..”Oh my god… WHEN!” Those of us not working on Travis’ gear talked metal for a while, which is when the moment I later had them redo for photographic purposes occurred (more later on that). Then came the part where drummer Norm Killeen started warming up to Lady Gaga, and I heard the first notes of the opener and we went upstairs.
Mutiny Within seem like really nice boys, but their music is just not for me. I just can’t deal with those vocals. Engaging performers and good musicians, though.
As Threat Signal got ready to take the stage, I crossed my fingers and toes for everything to go smoothly. As the screen lifted and the stage went dark, the beginning of Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’ played. And then they hit the stage and everything fell into place. Playing with an angry fervor, they performed like they weren’t a man down or had experienced such technical difficulties. Jon worked the crowd, showing off his seamless ability to transition from scream to sing, dousing the crowd with water all along. Travis impressed with his stoic yet nimble guitar work, with a presence beyond his years. Bassist Pat Kavanagh’s ferocious headbanging made his presence known from the other side of the stage. And Norm’s drumming…well, let me put it this way: it didn’t look like it came from someone who warms up to Lady Gaga. I’d say maybe she makes him angry and want to hit stuff- but I know this isn’t true….
Threat Signal are about to join up with Goatwhore for a string of dates…really bummed out I don’t get to see that!
There was a funny moment right before Dark Tranquillity came on where the screen that comes down in front of the stage at Slim’s went up, everyone got excited for the set to start, and then it went back down again to our dismay. Moments later it came back up and the Swedes entered the stage. They had a screen projection in the back that generally functioned as an ad for their latest album, prominently displaying the name. I’m always impressed with the respect the Euro bands show when they play for us. They recalled that Slim’s was the first place they played in SF in 2002, and thanked the fans. There are times that I like DT, but then the melodic parts get too overpowering for my liking.
About a half hour into the set, it was noted that my drink was empty and we went back downstairs for more storytelling, tour videos, and discussion of a cover that TS needs to do of one of my all time favorite songs. Once the bottle of Crown was down to its last gasps, I reminded the guys that they promised to reenact a moment where they bowed to me earlier for a photo opp; and they made good on it….even Pat, who had no idea what was going on.
Thanks to TS, Jeff and Darrell for indulging me and giving me my Wayne’s World ‘we’re not worthy’ moment.