Playing the NoteWe did a show on Saturday at The Note. The Note, unlike the bars we play, is an actual music club, where people go with the intention of hearing music and not with the intention of drinking, and “oh look, honey, they have music, too.”

Playing a music club rather than a bar is a promotion of sorts for a band like us. Bars, since they don’t need you to bring in an audience, don’t really care what you play or how you play — as long as it doesn’t bother the customers. Clubs, on the other hand, like their acts to sound a certain way or to have an audience — “the draw” — in order to bring in customers. So, playing a music club is slightly more pressure. I would like to say that we were playing The Note because we’re getting more well-known. But that might be premature. Ten Hundred, Brian’s other band, couldn’t do the show so they tossed it to us. And we were happy to catch it.

The most memorable event of the night had less to do with the fact that we were playing a club and more to do the fact that I had a pretty serious gear malfunction.

We were three songs into the set. “Rosie” set us off pretty well, warmed us up, and got us going. Then “Olivia” started our witty banter. The next song, “Remind Me” — a new one, I am still learning — was when the drummer’s nightmare occurred.

Throughout the set I noticed that the beater of my bass drum kept hitting my shin as I played. That’s unusual. Usually, if the tension is right in the spring it bounces back and hits the head before it hits your shin. But as I played it kept hitting my leg. At one point, the beater head actually got caught inside my pant leg and I stopped my leg for one beat just to lift my leg up and ease the beater out. I kept playing, though. We were two bars into “Remind Me” when, without warning, I saw my white rubber beater head fly out of the bass drum pedal and land somewhere behind me in front of a Marshall stack. My right leg was still going as if there was still a beater but there was no sound. I was pumping my right leg, but there was no sound coming out of the drum because there was no beater hitting the head. The sound of an absent bass drum is the loudest sound I’ve ever heard.

Brian had no idea what was going on. He kept playing and then looked at me when he didn’t hear the bass drum. I tried to shout over the guitar that my bass drum was broken but Brian couldn’t hear me. And we were still playing. My right hand was still ticking time on the hi-hat, my left hand was still hitting the snare, and no my right hand, to make up for the missing bass drum, was striking beats on the floor tom. But we didn’t stop. Brian launched into the verse and I tried to make up for the missing sound of the bass drum by playing the rack and floor toms alternately. I started pushing the hi-hat to keep the momentum going. The next three minutes were the longest and the most demanding of my life. I kept going, tapping out splashing rhythms on the ride to cover the empty spaces where there was supposed to be a bass drum. I used an alternating rhythm on the snare to fill out what the ride couldn’t cover and then when I could I played the rack toms in the biggest fills I could do. The whole time I pushed the time on the hi-hat.

At one point, the drummers from the other bands, rushed to the stage with their drums pedals and held them up to me to offer them as a replacement. All I could think was, “I’m in the middle of a song here…I can’t change now!”

When the song was over, I got up, walked over to the Marshall stack and picked up the beater that lay helpless on its side. Back at my throne, I spoke into my mike: “You’ve just witnessed a miracle everyone. Two bars into that song I lost my beater and it’s a testament to me that I kept on playing.”

There was a mild round of applause. Brian then spent the next five minutes telling the audience about 20th century imagist poetry while I re-inserted the beater into the pedal and tightened the bolts. When I was ready we launched into “Heavy on Me” and I tried to recover. The rest of the set I was slightly off my game, but I kept playing and in thirty minutes it was all over.

We began the race of unloading all our stuff from the stage while the other band moved their gear on. The whole time Brian asked me what happened and in dashes to and from the stage carrying my drums I tried to explain about the bolt on the pedal. The only bolt I didn’t check that night.

Later that night, at three o’clock, while I lay on the couch and Brian lay on the floor with the TV remote on his chest and a cat on his arm, we talked about the incident again.

“Actually,” Brian said. “It’s good when things like that happen.”

“I guess.” I said.

“You did the right thing — you kept playing.”

“That’s one thing I’m learning. Whatever happens, just keep playing.”

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