By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
On the bus, the band members greet my wife cordially, but they begrudgingly acknowledge Hanson when they realize I've managed to slip someone else on the guest list. Mind you, Hanson has known them just as long as I have, shooting several videotapes of them in their old Sunset Strip days (at his expense and their request, for which he was never compensated, by the way) and actually went so far as to meet up with them in Germany on one of their tours years ago. Now, for some reason, he's persona non grata.
At the Shrine, I make my way backstage. All the dressing rooms branch off tiny corridors, making interaction with other performers almost nonexistent. I find the dinner room, and while I'm eating, I hear some commotion and a lot of murmuring. Lo and behold, Courtney Love staggers in, draped in a raggedy old mink coat, with a phalanx of security and hangers-on. She doesn't look too healthy.
I'm soon hurried to the revolving stage and escorted to my station. We're barely plugged in when the stage starts rotating left. Since I'm stage left, I'm the first person the audience sees. And since I have the same facial hair as the singer (and I started wearing it first, mind you), I actually feel screams of recognition hit me.
After two songs, Blue and his friend take the stage. He has shaved a 2-inch-by-1-inch rectangle on the top of his head and painted it green (not unlike a putting green) while spraying the rest of his hair blue; glued plastic bolts to the sides of his neck (à la Frankenstein); borrowed a pair of handmade, fashion-designed jodhpurs from his mother and pulled them on over fishnet tights; put on Doc Martens about four sizes too big; and topped it all off with some sort of chain-mail body stocking. His friend looks even worse. In a panic, Blue completely forgets his words. His buddy plays the notes to some song that neither I nor the rest of the band have any knowledge of. I stand there and act like I'm playing. The Dynamic Dunces flee the stage after the singer introduces them to the unimpressed crowd.
We get to the song that was a hit from the summer of '97, at which time the singer decides to play the sympathy card to full effect, dedicating it to his recently deceased Snot friend. About halfway through, he runs in front of me, gives me a sorrowful look (to which I give a sympathetic nod), and then turns around and gives a tech a very contrived Bono-like hug in front of the stage, thereby ensuring crowd pity. The tech, stunned, shakes the singer off to get to a problem he's trying to fix. After our show, the stage revolves back, and I go to get a guitar I'd left backstage. One problem, though—security won't let me because Courtney Love has put a strict ban on anyone being backstage. The ban is eventually lifted, and after wandering back to the dressing room, I turn a corner and run dead into Billy Idol, nearly knocking him over. Which wouldn't be too hard—he doesn't look so healthy, either.Dec. 13. Las Vegas. On the plane, I feel myself getting sicker by the minute. By the time I check into the hotel and get settled, I have a 103-degree fever. I'm miserable. I wander down to sound check on time to find that the other band members aren't there and won't be for another half-hour. The singer, of course, is never bothered with sound checks.
I decide to forgo seeing opening acts Vanilla Ice and Less Than Jake to get some rest. During the show, I'm once again behind the bass amp, but I really don't care at this point. I just want to sleep. In the dressing room afterward, the singer is throwing a fit about people taking the band's beer, and he establishes a new band policy: drink our beer; get punched in the face. Apparently, there have been some people spilling over into our space from Less Than Jake and Vanilla Ice, and the singer is ready for some action—even though he has never won a fight in his life.
Back in the hotel room, an ex-No Doubt tech (with whom I'm bunking) is getting ready for a night in Vegas and asks if I want to go out. I tell him there's no way in hell I'm getting out of bed until I absolutely have to. "Don't you wanna rage with rock stars?" he asks (half of No Doubt are also in town). I tell him I'm not all that impressed by rock stars anymore and go to sleep.Dec. 17. Another attempt at Tucson. We start the first song, a hard-rock no-brainer, and halfway in, the barricade that was set up five feet from the stage collapses with a forward thrust from the crowd. I see little girls tumbling over, getting caught like rats in a trap. They have to be pried out when the barricade is lifted off the ground. There are hurt ankles, legs and heads. When the barricade is removed, we continue as if nothing happened.