As anyone not currently suffering from a coma knows, summers in Texas can be hot. So hot you're sweating by the time you reach your car when leaving home. So hot you can become a dehydrated mess, dazed by the sunlight and wondering how in the hell one place can become hotter than, well, hell. But, as with anything else, there are highs and lows, times when the summer sun does more damage than usual. To give you a good rule of thumb: August is the worst month because the heat has been building up since April, and dusk is the worst time of day because the heat's just been sitting all day--waiting, waiting for another victim.
Such was the setting--a late afternoon in August--for Marky Ramone & The Intruders' appearance at Austin's now-defunct Southpark Meadows during the 1998 installment of the Warped Tour. The songs, off the band's self-titled 1997 debut, were essentially what I expected: fast, catchy punk numbers that sounded a lot like The Ramones' entire back catalog. (That album has since been followed up by 1999's The Answer to Your Problems, though only the title is different.) After all, Marky Ramone joined the classic American punk band in 1978, in time for Road to Ruin, and stayed with them pretty much to the end. At the very least, it was better than neo-metal-hip-hop-rock hybrid of The Deftones, who were bashing guitars and melodies on the main stage.
But then came the embarrassing moment, the only thing anyone seems to remember about that particular show. I didn't want to look, but I simply had to, unable to move my legs and avert my eyes. While bassist Johnny Pisano and guitarist Alex Crank shared vocal duties during the majority of the set, for the last song Marky himself came out from behind his drum riser and took the microphone, sweating horrendously from the activity and his all-black attire. It looked bad from the outset as he labored for the energy to belt out a Ramones classic (and the first song Marky Ramone ever recorded with the band), "I Wanna Be Sedated."
Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. The then-43-year-old Marc Bell wilted in the 110-degree heat, unable to keep up with the mile-a-minute rhythm of the song and causing bandmates Pisano and Crank to look at each in utter confusion. Do we acknowledge it? Do we slow down? Because of the song's sub-two minute duration, the pain was over almost as soon as it had started. It wasn't a bad idea, since the band is not known as Marc Bell & The Intruders. People want to experience a bit of the Ramones magic, and covering one of the group's "hits" is a good way to acknowledge his 14 years in the band but still keep a tiny bit of distance. The crowd, which had more or less enjoyed the rest of the Intruders' set, momentarily frozen in its tracks by the uncomfortable moment, quickly turned its attention to Ozomatli, who started up the moment Marky Ramone & The Intruders left the stage. I later saw Ramone drinking buckets of water to rehydrate himself. I wanted to say something to him but, it was hot and I realized the need to conserve energy.
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