The Death of a Dream...

This post at DCist reminded me of the time that I had my guitars stolen in New York City.

It all started, like so many bad things, in New Jersey. While my band was touring we played a concert on the Jersey Shore. Unfortunately we couldn't find the right mix of a hotel that:

  1. we could afford
  2. wasn't all booked up
  3. and up to health code.
So we decided to drive up to New York City, where we were playing the next night, and stay with my Bassist's brother in Chelsea.

We got up to New York, parked my 15 passenger Ford Econoline van and settled in for the night. The next night we pulled up in front of the club and went to unload our equipment only to find that all of the guitars and basses were gone. My first instinct was that we had left them in Jersey. Then my Bassist pointed out that the lock on the back door had been broken, and that our instruments had been stolen.

One of the things that was shocking about this theft was that our equipment was guarded by Animal. I figured that he would repel any would be assailants, but no; although none of the drums were taken. I took this as confirmation that drums are big and heavy and a pain in the ass to move.

So, we called the police and filled out the appropriate paperwork, mostly for insurance reasons. The cop told us to call up the local pawn shops, but that there was little chance of us getting our instruments back. He also suggested that we drive out to some park where drug users hang out, but was nice enough to add that we should call the police if we see our gear and not try to get it back on our own.

One of the bands was nice enough to lend up their instruments and we played the concert, although I was so angry that I don't remember any of it. After we finished up, we tried to decide what to do next. Two of my band members, who were being jerks, wanted to stay in New York and meet up with friends. These two also believed that we couldn't leave our equipment in the van with a broken lock. My Singer's parents were in town and he suggested that we store our remaining equipment at their hotel. What he didn't mention was that their hotel was right off Times Square. So the singer and myself drive to Times Square in my huge 15 passenger van at about midnight on a Friday night. It took us about 30 minutes to go two blocks, and there was no place to park, or just stop to that would allow us to unload our equipment.

At about 1:30 and I declare that I want nothing more than to get the hell out of New York City. So we meet up with the rest of the band and decide to drive to my Bassist's parent's house in Connecticut. Most of my friends have never seen me really angry, but when it happens I stop talking completely, lock my jaw, and just get an intense stare on my face. I also lose the ability to put up with anything. While we were leaving the city, I went through a police checkpoint. The officer had me roll down my window, and the first thing he said was "Are you Okay?" I grunted that I was fine. He took another look at me, and just waved me through. Clearly, an extremely angry person driving a huge van with out of state plates is nothing to be concerned with.

As we are leaving the van is completely silent, no one is talking and the radio is off. I haven't said a word in about an hour. At some point, a driver cut me off and I became the Mount Vesuvius of obscenity. My Drummer later told me that he was terrified to be in the van with me.

We got to Connecticut at around 3:00 or so, had a few drinks, and went to bed. The next day we borrowed more equipment for a horrible concert at a prep-school in Massachusetts. It turned out that the organizers having not planned where to put us, or how to amplify the concert so that people could hear us, or any of the other mundane things that go into a concert actually happening. So we had to scramble around to find a venue and figure out how to work the sound system. Also, a student at the school like our band and wanted to open for us, which we thought was nice and agreed to. It turned out that most of the crowd showed up for the sole purpose of heckling this kid. We had to pull him off the stage after about 15 minutes because it was just to tough to take, and that last thing this kid needed was to wind up crying on stage. We then played another concert that I was too angry to remember. That night ended with me and my Bassist yelling at each other for two hours.
Image taken by Darren Higgins

I am recounting this whole long story because this weekend pretty much killed my band. Before this weekend, everything was going well. We were developing fans and having a great time playing. After this weekend, my Singer ended up having vocal chord surgery, we spent a lot of money making an album that almost no one bought, and played shitty concert after shitty concert. Before this weekend, be use to look at concerts as competitions. We wanted everyone in the venue to know that we were the best band that night. After that weekend we started to see only the bad things that were happening to us, and that just took its toll. Arrogance is a necessary component to musical success, and after this weekend we started to lose our arrogance.

About six months later we were mostly broke in Chicago and decided to take a break and regroup. Mostly we were just tired, and after 3+ years we could no longer picture our Rolling Stone cover. We played our last concert in Alexandria, which curiously enough was the only concert we ever played that got written up in the Washington Post.

I should say that his weekend is not the reason why I hate New York City, but it is a reason why "(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea" is one of my favorite songs.


  1. this reminds me, i had meant to tell you earlier that a medill friend of mine went to hamilton and knew and liked your band. so, there's that!

  2. Really? You should email me the friend's name.

  3. darren12:24 AM

    Ah the lions den. . . you know, every time I come across that place, I think about the SG. so sad.

  4. Yeah, but there are so many things that are sad about the Lion's Den.

  5. darren10:14 AM

    very true. That place was a dump.

  6. You mean... Sasquatch isn't real?


  7. You would realize that if you laid off the cheeseballs.