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The San Antonio Birthday Party

Another chronicle of my former life on the road

23/12/2009

Now, this tale with which I am about to regale you with is ENTIRELY true. Though some of the things stated may seem completely far-fetched, this is exactly as the events had happened.

Going back to my first tour, a 3 month (give or take) Canada/US tour with a band called Emmure. Back then they had yet to be signed with Victory records, and were on their first full US tour. I believe this to be our [bands] second. We had already made it west through Canada, lost an engine in Wilsonville, OR (Will tell that story a different time), spent a week in California and had started making our way back across to the east coast. We had made it to Texas and were having a bad string of shows.

Dan shoots himself at the Alamo

Dan shoots himself at the Alamo

Upon arriving in San Antonio, we received word that the show that night was going to be cancelled, this was typical fare for this tour. Most shows were booked by kids renting out venues to get a relatively unknown band that they hear on myspace to play. Unfortunately, these don’t tend to be the most reliable of people, so losing shows the day of were pretty common. We visited The Alamo, and spent a good part of the day in the city. By the mid afternoon, we were trying to find a place to stay, or an impromptu show. We received a message from a girl saying that we could come out and do a show in her backyard, and that she would try and strum up some donations from the kids who had planned to see us until the show was cancelled. She also said that there would be food for us (the touring bands) and room for everyone to sleep.

It was the only offer we had seen all day, and the promise of a little gas money was too enticing for us to pass up. And so we drive. After about twenty or so minutes, we have driven from downtown SA to an edge of town (I’m not sure which). We take the highway exit, and immediately thing seem, not as they should seem. We pull off onto a dirt road and it takes a few minutes more of driving to realize that all of the houses are trailers, dilapidated trailers. Pickup trucks on cinder blocks and dogs casually walking around without any defined owner. Somebody says that the GPS must be wrong, another person counters saying something similar to, “Even if it is right, we should turn around”. We should have.

We pull up to the address that was given to us, as we pull in a young girl waves us in. The GPS was not wrong. This trailer was a stationary live in that I will admit appeared to be in much better shape then the others we had passed . The faint sound of country music is playing as we arrive, from behind the trailer. We spend a few moments in the van trying to figure out a plan of escape once we get in there and realize that it is in fact as bad as it seems to be. One of us will head straight to the computer to try and find us another place to sleep, anywhere between San Antonio and our next show, the rest of us will mingle and downplay the fact that we are really trying to get out of there as fast as possible.

We exit the van and head towards the house/trailer, and are then directed around back. The country music grows louder, and louder, and louder. As we turn the second corner and walk up towards the back door, time begins to slow. Through the door I step, I am greeted by the largest woman I have ever seen in my entire life who’s movement was not constricted to a bed or Rascal scooter. “YALL HERE FOR MAH BURTHDAY PARRRRTY?!?”, She bellows; paper plate in hand, a mountain of food sliding off with every word. She meets and greets every one of us, very kindly I might add, and asks when we are going to set up and start playing. After she asks, a few typical Texans hoot and holler “yeah, yeah, yeehaw”. Yes, there was actually a “yeehaw”. We all sort of hummed and hawed until somebody says that we are going to take a break from the drive first before figuring that all out.

Now, I will take this opportunity to explain that the way I described the woman might be extremely mean. I’m only trying to paint the picture, she seemed extremely content with her extreme physique. I have no right to try and make light of her situation, they were all extremely welcoming and courteous to us, and I am thankful. I have always been, and will always be thankful for every meal we were given, every floor we were allowed to sleep on, and any ounce of gas we were bought while on tour. People treated us as family without really knowing us at all, and that is unbelievable. Having said that; I continue.

We split up, mingle with other band members, nibble on chips, and meet the various people. After about 10 minutes, I go to check and see how the search for the place to sleep is coming, things look bleak. I then head out into the living room, and join in on some children playing Guitar Hero. At this point, the game had yet to have a sequel. I play with them and show my skills, which were pretty amazing.

Looks less creepy then it actually was

Looks less creepy then it actually was

I am then schooled by a 9 or 10 year old boy who then laughs and makes fun of me. I choose to retire with a little dignity and move over to Frank. He is standing, staring at a picture on the wall; I ask, “Whats so interesting about this picture?”  Frank responds, “Take a look at this picture, and tell me, is this not the creepiest fucking thing you have ever seen?”

I looked into the picture, which was supposedly drawn by one of the aunts, the “artist” of the family. It is indeed a picture I will remember until the day I die. The picture was a collage of pictures of children. The problem is that a portrait is a very hard thing to do well, and all of the children’s faces looked as if they were the spawn of the devil, or had Aspergers Syndrome.

I went out front as the third band on the tour’s van (I forget their name right now) pulls in; as they back in, they got stuck in the lawn. The ground here (and in a lot of texas) is made up of a sand or sandlike substance, its hell on tour vans. As members of various bands help to get the van unstuck, I feel myself getting pretty hungry; I decided to have myself a few hot dogs that were offered and sitting on the kitchen table. I grabbed 2 buns and dogs, put ketchup on them and started to raise one to my mouth. I looked at the meat tube in bread blanket as I drew it towards my mouth. It took a moment, but I noticed something that shouldn’t be on a normal hot dog bun. Something blue, something fuzzy. Mould.

I immediately dropped the demon dog and looked at the bag of buns, they were all gratuitously coated in mould. This is my last straw, I refused to stand in this trailer anymore. I headed for the door.

As I emerged, I saw a car pull up and two or three kids aged 16-18 get out. I assumed they had come for the show that is never going to happen, and I started to feel a little guilty. They popped open the trunk of the small blue car ( a Tercel or something) and pulled out a couple of shotguns. They then asked, “Who wants to check it out?” We all took turns holding it and checking it out; it was the first time had I ever held a gun so big, it felt odd, and powerful. After I handed the gun back, Joe asks, “So can I shoot it, or what?”

We walked out back, and Joe cocked the gun. He took aim, at a big steel shed across the back yard, and pulled the trigger. As the sound escaped the barrel, about 30 chickens that weren’t to be seen previously started flying around. It was like they were burrowed in the sand, waiting for something to unanimously alert them. Joe’s body was thrown back as he began to slink and grab his shoulder. Apparently the recoil is far more than he had anticipated. Somebody else took a shot, and I decided to pass. I really wanted to fire the gun, but I didn’t want to risk hurting myself and messing up shows. As we walked around the front of the house, we are asked when we are going to set up and play. We hummed and hawed until Dan came up with an excuse for us to have to leave immediately. We all pile into the van as fast as possible and high-tail it out of there. We never accepted a similar offer again.

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