By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Q: "What were your thoughts about playing a spring-break gig before you played?"
Todd Lewis: "I'd never been a part of 'spring break,' other than what I saw on TV. Which, it turns out, is exactly how it is. But I figured it'd be a cush gig, a chance to play in our home state. By the time we left the hotel for the show, I figured that these people didn't give a rat's ass about this music. I was resigned to doing my thing and having people not care."
Q: "And after?"
Lewis: "I dug it. When the show was on, it didn't feel like spring break. Except when you look off to the side and see these Bikini Girls dancing. It was surreal, playing in between tits. That was pretty silly. But it bought us a couple more weeks off."
12:45 a.m. Show over. Band now huddled in merch booth, signing autographs. Idea: spend next two hours grilling Aaron, the sound guy. Aaron has long black hair and wears cowboy boots, jeans, and a baseball cap. He has been Pantera's sound man for 10 years. You probably do not want to mess with him.
Before Aaron can be buttonholed, however, Ken the Crazy-Ass Merch Dude shows up with six plastic cups half-full of a non-specific pinkish substance. What with all the good cheer and camaraderie and whatnot, the intrepid reporter innocently decides to partake in said substance, which tastes like straight Everclear with a Jolly Rancher garnish. Turns out that this wasn't such a good idea, because when the intrepid reporter comes to, it's...
Sheraton, room 613, 3:49 a.m. Ken the Crazy-Ass Merch Dude sits on the bed with two Missouri co-eds, one of whose toenails he's painting black with a Sharpie. Two guys, origin unknown, are sitting on the couch, shirtless. Umbarger and Lewis are gone. Vogeler and Reznicek are drinking beer and occasionally throwing Budweiser bottles off the balcony, in the general direction of a nearby dumpster. Apparently their shooting percentage is sub-par, because someone in room 612 leans over the balcony and relates that security is presently searching his room for Budweiser bottles. The only trace of the last three hours, four minutes: some chicken scratch on the back of a bar napkin.
Apparently Ken the Crazy-Ass Merch Dude isn't quite as omniscient as was once believed. His beer resale plan has netted four dollars thus far. In a transparent attempt to save face, he wanders over and whispers conspiratorially: "What if I said I could get you laid?"
Faced with an uncommon bout of trepidation, the no-longer-intrepid reporter seizes the opportunity to exit. But first, one last question:
"What's the key?"
Ken: "Don't sweat the technique.