You never know what you are gonna get when you play at a club for the first time. Every club has it’s own upsides, and of course has it’s own downsides, quirks, and other weird happenings. The Atlantic, in Springfield, MA had it all. Before I get into the downright ugliness, let me mention the good things. It was a very big room, had a huge stage (I think the biggest I’ve ever performed on), and a great looking sound system. I say “great looking” coz we didn’t actually get to play through it. We were playing through a much smaller PA brought by the sound guy, which was not much different than what we practice with at home. But I digress…
My ladyfriend and I arrived at The Atlantic to find Chris, and a couple other bands waiting outside to be let in. It was freezing outside. It had to be in the single digits. We were not allowed inside until the sound guy showed up. It’s never a good sign when you have a lackadaisical sound guy who shows up late. About a half an hour later when we were given the green light to load in, I noticed that there were a couple cops in the building. Evidently, this club is in one of the crappier areas of Springfield, so they have cops working detail, frisking people on the way in. That was a first for me. I’ve never played a show with UBT or Streak where people were getting frisked. I guess it’s a good thing there was a police presence, though.
After loading in, I realized why this place is called “The Atlantic.” It seems they try to keep the temperature in the club about the same as the ocean. It’s pretty bad when you have to wear a coat inside, keep your hands in your pockets, and blow on your hands when you are on stage to try and warm up. I know times are tough, but come on! Crank up the heat a little! I wish I had a thermometer on me… I would have liked to known what the temperature was in there. It’s a good thing I have a nice winter beard going to keep me warm.
I needed a beer, naturally, so I headed over to the bar to see what they had to offer. Western MA clubs usually have some good brews… Berkshire Brewing Company, Opa Opa, and Paper City Brewery are all very close to Springfield, so they must have something good, right? The bartender starts rattling off:
“Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, Miller…”
OH NO! FIZZY YELLOW BEERS! HELP!!!
“… and Sam Adams Winter Ale.”
So I was reduced to a few Spam Adams’. I say “reduced to,” because I’m not a big fan of Sam Adams. Don’t get me wrong, it’s much better than a Bud Light or a Colorado Kool Aid, but I would much rather have something else, especially when so many great microbreweries are nearby. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, they only had about 6 or so bottles of Sam Winter, and between me, Chris, my buddy Tom and a couple other people, they went fast!
We played 3rd out of 5 bands, a good time slot. Like I said earlier, the sound guy was nothing to write home about. We were all set up, ready to get hooked up to the house equipment, and he was nowhere to be found. He finally emerged from wherever he had been, and we soon realized he had no interest in sound checking anything other than the drum kit and the samples. He figured he’d wing it with the vocals and the guitar. As Streak Super-Fan Josh said, we were “sonically violated.” Apparently the mix was awful. It’s hard to tell on stage, especially for me because I control my own mix with in-ear monitors. At one point he had me turn down the amp for the drums. I’m not sure why he couldn’t just turn down the level of the drums for the PA on his own, but anyway. Now the drums were too quiet on stage, so we had him turn up the drums in the stage monitors. He cranked them up so loud that that was about all I could hear, even though I have ear monitors that block most outside noise! Chris said it was so loud it was echoing, and he wasn’t sure which drumbeat to play to! It’s always amazed me how some sound guys are so thrown off by an electronic drum kit and a backing track of electronic samples. It should be very easy to handle, but it’s different than your typical Singer, Guitar, Bass, and Acoustic Drummer set up, so it just throws some sound guys into a tizzy. Like I always say, “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
After our set, I wanted another beer real bad, but they were out of Sam. I didn’t feel like getting a $7 mixed drink that was tiny and loaded with ice, so I did the unthinkable. I got a Coors Light. Let me preface all of this by saying that I am very ashamed of myself. It did, however, make me remember how good real beer is. It was in a can, not a bottle. Even more ghetto. Even worse still, it had ice in it! It was like a beer slushy! I’m way too nice… I should have complained. If it was a good beer, I would have, but since it tasted like water anyway, I figured why not have a little ice with it?
It was not one of our more memorable gigs, but of course the fans there made it worth the while. Thanks for coming out, and we’ll see you at another show soon! And remember, stay away from those Fizzy Yellow Beers!!!
Currently drinking: Harvest Wet Hop Ale (6.7% ABV), Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA