Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Skids of Degrassi Street

Grasshopper was slowly gaining momentum, and we were taking any shows we could get. We took part in a few "Battle of the Bands" competitions without much luck. I suppose because of our lackadaisical playing style and limited skill, we were overlooked as a band with potential. We were swimming in a sea of mediocre rock bands who were talented players, so I guess the judges were looking for what they considered to be "talent" or "the next big thing"

One of these competitions was actually at Hot Rocks in Brampton, an infamous Rock n' Roll bar. We were slated to play a certain time slot, so we showed up somewhat fashionably late. When it was time for us to perform, we rushed on stage and began to set our gear up. The fellow who organized the event was named Donny Blaze. Don was an older, shorter, heavier set man. As we were setting up Donny walked to the front of the stage and asked us who we were. We told him we were Grasshopper, and his response was "You guys won't be playing now because you didn't show up for soundcheck" For those of you not familiar with musical jargon, soundcheck is when you play a song or two before a show is open to the public. It generally gives the engineer a chance to get familiar with the band's sound, allowing him to mix the levels of each band member.

Grasshopper generally didn't do sound checks as we were all about noise and chaos. But now it had come back to bite us in the ass. We went on to explain to Donny how we never soundcheck, to which he responded with some "no soundcheck! no performance" bullshit.
Things started to get heated in the discussion, and I eventually lost my cool. I picked up my snair drum and threw it across the club in Don's direction, just missing him by inches. I jumped down off the stage and got right in his face. A yelling match ensued and I voiced my opinion of how this was an absolute bullshit decision on his part. I went onto explain how we had spent time and money to be here, how we had transported all of our gear here, and how we deserved to play just as much as any of the other bands. I guess my intimidating strong arm tactics worked, as he finally agreed to let us play. It was the same outcome as all of these other competitions we'd played before. There was no love or interest for Grasshopper.

One day Jim, the drummer from Goatdance, asked us if we'd be interested in playing a house party. We agreed, as we needed all the exposure we could get. Much to my surprise, the house party was in Toronto on Degrassi street. Anyone who grew up Canadian in the 80s can tell you they watched "The Kids of Degrassi Street" and "Degrassi Jr.High" and now we were going to be playing on that famed street! I was a huge fan of both shows growing up, I had a few crushes on some of the females involved with the shows, so needless to say I was excited for this gig. I was convinced we were going to see some of the kids from the show. A few summers prior while visiting Canada's Wonderland amusement park, my friends and I noticed three of the lead males from the show. "Joey Jeremiah, Snake, & Wheels" We trolled them around the park while slandering them and trying to instigate a fight, but they wanted no part of us. Now a few years later I thought I just might have the chance to do it again, but I was more so hoping for cameos from "Stephanie" or "Spike" come party time.

The party actually ended up being quite lame. It was nothing like a Brampton party. Everyone was sitting around talking quietly all polite and proper like. I didn't really see any drug or alcohol consumption going on, and the bands performing were quieter than I'd normally play my stereo. When we finally got on to play it was like we woke everyone up. People were covering their ears, some ran for cover, while most finally got into party mode. We were rocking the house and injecting life into this dull party. A few songs in I looked over to my right to notice two uniformed police officers standing in the doorway smiling. I payed them no attention and kept on smashing my skins. When we finally finished that song the police informed us they had received several noise complaints from the neighbours, and it was time to shut things down.

We were kind of bummed out that our set got cut short, but on the other hand it felt great to know we were the cause of that. Our loud, pounding sound had actually caused an uproar in the neighbourhood, enough so that numerous people called the police to complain long before the allotted time slot for noise complaints. I think some of the party goers resented us for bringing the night to an early end, but we were also getting a lot of positive feedback from people. We were the party stoppers, but more importantly, we were getting noticed...

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