Dear Diary: April 29th, 1988 – Battle of The Bands
It’s milestone Monday, and this one is a doozy for sure. Raise your bottle of Zima and break out the Bon Jovi! Twenty-five years ago this very day was my first EVER gig with a band.
On April 29th, 1988 my band, “Silent Rage” competed in the Bath Firehall Battle of The Bands. I know this not because I have a perfect memory (hell, I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast some mornings), but because I was smart enough to keep a journal of my musical exploits.
I actually formed Silent Rage in March of 1988, and can remember vividly how much we busted our asses. Sometimes we would rehearse four nights a week for hours at a time. Eventually, we got our very first show.
It was an under-21 Battle of The Bands gig in the town of Bath, Pennsylvania and needless to say, with my band’s first gig now officially booked, I was stoked. Although I honestly don’t recall who won that night (it wasn’t us), I do remember the names of the bands we competed against: Lethal Tender, Cobalt Blue, Mizery and Detour.
But as I sit back and remember this day, I do recall a bull-headed, 18-year-old guitarist who thought he knew everything. There would be a lot of growing pains for me over the next twenty-some-odd years. Pains that began that very night. For while in full rock and roll mode, I neglected to realize that timing was everything. So when we were approached by the promoter asking if we wanted to go on last, I jumped at the chance. I thought “Now THIS is a rock and roll dream!”
With the 8pm start rapidly approaching, I remember being downstairs proclaiming to anyone who’d listen how WE were the headliners that night, and how WE had that coveted final spot. Little did I know it, but my hasty decision likely led to our own undoing. For by the time we went on to perform, it was already well past midnight and most of the under-age crowd had already headed for the exits.
In true Hair Metal fashion, this was our set list that night. The first set list I ever played:
1. Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
2. You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)
3. Talk Dirty To Me (Poison)
4. Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
5. I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)
6. I Won’t Forget You (Poison)
I liked the idea of “I Won’t Forget You” at the end. Kind of made the whole thing sentimental, in a rock and roll sort of way.
Here is the journal entry I wrote after the show was over.
4/29/1988: Well, the Battle’s history. We didn’t win. We were on last and I think that was the biggest factor, because everyone was gone. I think we did extremely well and I was sweating my ass off under the lights. The songs really sounded good. The sound man even told us that ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ sounded great. I threw out all of my picks. We had fun. I remember looking out and seeing people singing along to the first three songs we did: ‘Crazy’, ‘Shook Me’ and ‘Talk Dirty’.
I was so nervous until we finally started ‘Crazy’, then all hell broke loose. My guitar solo was great. Even though we didn’t win, I’m so happy to have done it. Winning is shit, I did what I do best; I want to do it for a living.
I learned a lot that night about what to do and when to do it. I also learned the importance of group decisions when it comes to being in a band. One member shouldn’t speak for all. And I believe that had I asked what the others had thought about going on last, the outcome that night would have been different.
In the end, it was one of the best nights of my musical career. For with that killer opening guitar riff to Crazy Train, my rock and roll dream began.