Mark Danger Powers

drummer • educator • author

Got any good gig stories?

One of my drum students asked me that simple question today.

I believe that my response was something along the lines of, “oh, yeah . . . most of the most fun, hilarious, weird experiences that I’ve ever had have been out playing somewhere with a band.” The truth of the matter is, many of these stories would take longer than our short lesson slot would allow and a few really shouldn’t fall upon middle-school ears.

A topic that has come up with musician buddies several times in the past: those of us that have been out doing this for any length of time have certainly amassed a collection of good, bad, often funny, sometimes scary tales. In no particular order, here is a list of some of mine that immediately leap to mind. There will be more to come. This will be the first of, I’m sure, many posts on the matter. I’m positive that a number of you can trump these (how about that New Year’s Eve show for the motorcycle gang, Nathan?), and hope that you share yours in a comment below!

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1) probably 1994 – with punk band Magenta Lip Bomb
The Emma Center – Minneapolis, Minnesota

– Tied with Sturgis Bike Week 2009 (more on that in a future post) for my all-time most terrifying gig.

– After carrying our instruments over the shelves of books in this anarchist infoshop, and into the unfinished basement, the venue proceeded to fill to well-beyond-capacity. When we set up in the far end of the room, there was no way to exit except through the solid crowd of bodies.

– All I remember about the performance is that during our entire first set, a monster of a man with tattoos covering his enormous bald head leaned over my cymbals, staring and screaming straight at me. Nonstop! I was so scared, that when we finally took a break, I just slid off the back of my drum throne and sat against the concrete wall behind me. There was no way I was going to leave my drumset unattended and venture into that sea of people.

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2) June 2007 – with Sam Winch
after a show at The Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, California

– As we walked into the gorgeous house up in the Hollywood Hills, I recall asking bassist Jason Brown, “this Barry isn’t in the band, is he?” I had yet to meet a musician with the means to live quite this extravagantly. How correct I was. Apparently, this Barry . . . Zito . . . had recently been traded from the Oakland A’s to the San Francisco Giants in a $126+million pitching deal. How were we suddenly standing in the middle of one of his many homes? And where was he? Was he cool with his pad being used for this motley crew’s afterparty? I still don’t have an answer to any of those questions. But I do know that I didn’t think twice when the offer was presented to grab a towel and jump in the hottub! Yeah, baby . . . rough life, soaking on your rooftop, overlooking the colorful nightlights of LA, alongside your very own one-lane lap pool. Rough, I tell ya.

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3) 2008 – accompanying Raks Sarama bellydance troupe
Village Ballroom – Portland, Oregon

– Even their attempt to be a bit risqué and ‘show some skin‘ by wearing fishnet cholis left our poor girls tremendously overdressed for the erotic art show that we were invited to perform at. The MC of the event was topless. By that, I mean that she was much more clothed than most others in attendance.

– The aptly described body percussion group that followed us featured participants bound by various restraints, surrounded by others using whips, spanking, and yes, electric shock to create . . . rhythms? It was like a car accident that you don’t want to witness, but just can’t stop watching.

– The goings-on in a ‘group’ room downstairs were projected on a wall near the stage, for all to view. You fill in the blanks.

– As we were leaving, we passed a photographer snapping some shots at one of the exhibits. It’s only human nature for the eye to instinctually follow the invisible path from camera lens to subject. Damn human nature. The subject was an aging bald man, clad in nothing but fishnet from neck to ankles, posing for pics while being led around by his female partner. Oh, did I not mention she was holding a leash? That’s right- Captain Winky was pierced. Ouch! Erase, erase, erase . . .

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More to come . . . and let’s hear yours!
Until next time, happy gigging!