On the Road Again, Part IV
by Chuck Lazaras
Mobile is one of those towns that we tended to travel through, but had never played. What little we knew of it we had gathered from multiple passings on Interstate 10. There was a battleship, a submarine, and a tunnel. What more could you want?
I don’t remember much about the club at this point. We exited the interstate, drove through a maze, and ended up in a somewhat historic, albeit rundown, section of town. It was fairly early for rock and roll time. The sun had not set and there would be several more hours of sunlight before the comforting darkness took hold.
With little trouble we found the club and luckily discovered ample parking behind the joint for the Suburban and trailer. The club was locked up tight. With hours to spare me and the boys, Brother D and Jon, along with May (manager, merch girl, and brains of the operation) decided to do a bit of reconnaissance. Surely there was something to do within walking distance.
Jon was hoping for a gourmet experience. As a connoisseur of fine expedient cuisine Jon was looking up and down the street for the comforting glow of fast food neon. Alas, it was not meant to be. This was clearly a section of town dedicated to the metropolitan trend of local gastronomy and corporate chains were likely unwelcome in the “historic” district. The options were limited and we ended up spending some time in an authentic southern Thai restaurant.
The restaurant offered a decent view of the front of the club, which was almost directly across the street. While we were enjoying our kai phat khing and kuaitiao rat na a blue Ford van pulled into the parking space in front of the club. A gaggle of young men spilled from the vehicle and filled the empty sidewalk. Even at a distance it was easy to determine that another band had arrived.
A while later we were chatting with the guys in the other band. They were from New Jersey and had been on the road over a month. They only had a few shows left on this tour. They were flat broke. And they were hoping for a successful show to ensure that they had gas money to make it to the next gig. (Rock and roll sure is glamorous.) Their bass player was largely absent from our conversations. It seems he was having girlfriend troubles – he spent most of his time walking up and down the street yelling into his cell phone. The other guys seemed pretty cool and we traded road stories as we waited. And waited.
The sun began to set and there were still no signs of life in the club. No staff. No lights. There was a large window at the front of the venue but it had been painted black except for a small square up high that allowed a Pabst neon to show through. The sign was off. There were several flyers for upcoming shows taped to the front door, including one for this evening’s show.
The road stories grew cold and the streetlights grew warm, but there was still no movement from within the building. Both bands had tried to call the contact that had booked the show. No answer. This was the era before social media, so reaching out on Facebook wasn’t an option. It was becoming obvious that something was not right. Two of the guys in the other band decided to hike to a pizza parlor a couple of blocks down the road. Perhaps someone there would have a clue.
The news wasn’t good. The bar had been open the previous weekend, but had gone silent earlier in the week. One of the pizza guys thought he’d seen someone moving equipment out of the venue a couple a days ago, maybe sound gear. The club was closed. And the booking guy hadn’t had the decency to call the bands and let them know. Oh well, at least they hadn’t stiffed us at the end of the night.
We bade our farewells to the other band and wished them well. They were broke and pissed. Hopefully their next show would be better. Lazaras was headed home. We would get an early start this evening. Maybe we’d drive straight through and sleep in our own beds. The tour had been a blast and a hiccup the last night wasn’t going to ruin our mood. The crew and I rounded the corner of an alleyway that cut through to the rear of the club where we had parked. As we neared the truck we heard a loud bang and then the sound of shattering glass from the front of the building. The large window had been sacrificed to atone for the sins of the club. There were a few loud laughs and someone in the other band yelled, “Let’s get the fuck outta here!”
Sage advice, my friends. May the road rise up to meet you.
Check out Chuck Laaras and all of his endeavors here: https://www.facebook.com/lazaras