I’m drawing on some memories that are now nearly a month old, so bare with me here. I’ve got the recently released Nirvana Live at The Paramount 10/31/91 blaring in my ears as I type. Kind of hard to focus! Hahaa!! Wow, I was 13 years old on that date and my sister had just bought “Nevermind” on tape. My Mom didn’t really like it….at first anyway!
Ok, so all of August is this blur of 1-2 hours of daily practice getting ready for the set Matt and I were scheduled to play Labor Day weekend just ahead of the PJ20 shows at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. Our first “major” gig together. I remember thinking how difficult it was practicing without Matt around and having only a CD to play along to. I tried learning both my parts and his parts so I could jump into songs different ways. It wasn’t until I flew down to Waco last weekend in August that I really felt the butterflies go away. The connection to the songs were intense in practice.
That week leading up to the show was all relaxed and easy. I was more excited for the PJ shows and of course getting a chance to actually hang out with Matt and his wife Laurel in person! It’s tough having a “virtual” friend most days! Hahahaha! So, they made it up here that Thursday and we were off! The preparation just seemed to be there and nothing else. We jammed out on some tunes all 8 hours up, stopped for a slammin’ breakfast/dinner before landing at a lovely little town called Delavan. It wasn’t minutes we were there and I saw PJ people around. The first guy I met asked me if I “knew Dimi.” (you’re such a rock start Dimi!)
Thank goodness we arrived early cos’ we got to sleep in the Friday of our show and totally relax. We took in the sights, had some tapi ‘OH’ ca (that’s a Wisconsin accent you see) and got to see a record player Matt and I were sure came from Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom. It was that old! The ladies ended up finding some ancient underwear in the same antique shop (they didn’t buy it) and we got Maura postcards from the 1940s. I recall Matt asking several times if I was ready for the show. I don’t think either of us ate much lunch that afternoon.
Back to the hotel to change and do a quick rehearsal of ones we still weren’t quite sure of. Off to the venue. It was out of the middle of nowhere! A giant Jimmy Buffet themed bar. We pulled up and were given VIP parking (haha) to unload our gear. I think it all kinda hit me when security said “the band has arrived.” Wow. No sense for what that even meant. Still don’t! **OK, NIRVANA OFF, BEER OPEN AND MUSIC CHANGED**
The place was pretty empty. There were a TON of security guys there though. Turns out the sound guy wasn’t there yet and so we just sat around and shot the breeze. Not without some weirdness though. A couple of guys sat and pretty much gave Matt and I the stink-eye from the time we arrived till some time after we started our first set. Who knows what the heck that was all about. We had bigger issues, like the fact the sound guy still wasn’t there and people were starting to trickle in. The party seemed to be a tad disorganized with people running late, and a general uncertainty as to what was to happen when. Eventually the sound guy did show up and we got things rolling pretty easy after that.
The first set was pretty calm and paced. I remember the monitors being really sharp and clear on stage, and being excited about that. It was one of those electric moments I won’t forget. A real smack in the face like “this is it, this is what we sound like in the same room!” I don’t think there were many people floating around during the first set, but it did get a bit busier as we went. Ali and Laurel were seated close enough to see them, which was comforting. I remember the song “Circle” in particular because there was a part where Matt and I started a little improv jam right in the middle of the song. We locked in a few times and traded riffs which was awesome and completely spur of the moment. Seemed like we were egging each other on musically. So, the first set drew to a close and some cheers from a much bigger crowd than when we started.
Nearly 3 hours later after a blur of chaos and disorganization we jumped on stage to find the room completely booked. Later I find out there were 1500 people in and around the venue. Pretty freaking scary to be honest. We jumped into the second set and after the first song Matt leaned over and said we needed to keep the energy up. The next hour was a huge blur of songs. I honestly can’t remember many of them. He was calling out songs out of order from the set list and I do remember a moment of panic trying to tune for “Recollection.” I am really glad we pulled that one off. It’s the one I wanted to most play off the set. Poor Matt’s voice had been sitting so long in between sets it started to go on him close to the end. By the last song “Silver Lining” he was just shot. I felt so freakin’ bad for him. I remember trying to sing the harmony parts and his voice was barely there! Other random memories from the set; a few different guys jumped on stage and asked us if we’d play Pearl Jam and one guy asked for a “sing along” at the end; two people had us sign copies of our CDs in between songs; seeing someone in the crowd singing the words to “Silver Lining.”
A huge sense of relief after the sets. We relaxed, had a few drinks and headed out. The festival the next 2 days were the most fun I think I’ve ever had! I met some really nice people and of course got to see the best band in the world play two nights. Spending time with Matt and Laurel was so easy. It was like hanging with people we’d known for years. Thanks to them both for making that experience an absolute blast!
It’s been really busy for me since that weekend. Matt’s been hard at work on new music though and I will be jumping back into the band come early October. The new tunes are sounding really great and I can’t wait to get back to creating again!