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Reunion Show

The Knights of Columbus parking lot was smaller than he remembered. It fit the same amount of cars — two rows of twenty on the side, and four rows of twelve in the back — but it looked more like an outgrown toy than something real. He remembers the way it used to look on the night of a show, like the busiest joint in town, the countercultural hub of the universe, with kids shuffling in from all across the state to catch the next new punk rock band that would blow up on the scene like a roman candle before their chords would dissipate into the air as the reverb faded away into hushed suburban legends of what could have been.

Kevin found a parking spot one block away on the street behind the venue. He immediately flashed back like a war veteran to that irrational panic of getting his car towed by the fascist neighbors hellbent on shutting down the show, but his fears subsided when he noticed that his was the only car on the block that wasn’t covered in stickers of some obscure bands, as well as the only one that looked like it could actually run. He double-checked to make sure that he locked the doors. When he did he become such a grownup, scared of what the freakshow ruffians might do behind his back? When did he become The Man, and so afraid of what he used to be?

As he shuffled between the cars and made his way towards the door, Kevin took note of all the fresh familiar faces that filled the parking lot. He didn’t know any of them specifically, but he knew their types — the smokers, and the older kids pounding PBRs in the back, the unhappy but supportive girlfriends who can’t stand the crowds, the kid who’s pacing around in hopes that he won’t have to pay the five buck cover, and what he could only assume was the Scene Queen and her flock passing judgement on their subjects. He wondered if he looked as alien as he felt, returning to the place he once called home.

Then he noticed the sign on the door: “Epidural Colonic Brigade Reunion Show – One Night Only!” and he wondered why he came, why he told the rest of the band he wouldn’t play, and why he still decided to show up tonight, return to the world he thought he’d left behind. Kevin heard the back door to the club swung up open with a sudden bang, startling the collected drunks, and he watched as a pair of sweaty, sloppy teens struggled to carry a Marshall half-stack across the threshold. The boys both glowed with that post-coital radiance of young love. But it wasn’t for sex; it was rock and roll. And then he remembered the feeling, that adrenaline thrill of shitty sound levels, playing on the floor on the same plane with the audience, and for that brief flash of time, ruling the world.

Set List For A Washed Up Rock N Roll Band

1. Open up with a deep cut from the first (successful) album. Let the crowd know that you know that your first album was totally fuckin’ awesome, even though you wrote all those songs when you were like 20 and now they’re kind of embarrassing.

2. Poorly received single that is still loved by diehard fans.

3. The 3rd best song on your 3rd album, which was a return to form for the band but an absolute critical failure that got you dropped from your major label deal.

4. Lead track off the 4th album. Not that anyone gives two shits about your creative output past the first album, but now that you’re in your 40s and married you might as well play that song you wrote that one time when you were actually sober about the woman who would later be your wife, right? Which totally won’t alienate your crowd at all, I swear.

5. Third track from the 2nd album which was a miserable failure as you tried too hard to capitalize on the success of your first album by releasing some contrived over-produced pop bullshit, but the third track still stands out as being a half-way decent effort despite how terribly Disney-fied it sounds on the record.

6. Bring it old school with an updated version of a song from your debut EP, or other slightly obscure work that pre-dates your mainstream success. Make sure you mention that “We’re gonna bring it old school right now” in the introduction to the song.

7. Drop in a live favorite, something that’s enhanced by the crowd, preferably with a sing-along or clap-along section. You know your fans love the clap.

8. Lead single from the 3rd album. Dammit, that really was a good record, looking back on it. Too bad it didn’t take off the way you wanted it to.

9. Now is a good time to play that new song you guys just wrote that no one in the audience has heard yet. They’re in a good mood, so they’re more willing to forgive the miserable ennui they’re about to experience for the next 4 minutes.

10. Ease the crowd out of their nap with either a re-worked version of an acoustic song that builds in dynamics, or a quiet version of one of your more rockin’ hits that doesn’t actually get rockin’ again until the very end. They’ll be that much more excited once the good part finally happens.

11. First track off the first successful album. This is an abusive relationship between you and your fans, and it’s time to remind them why they love you.

12. That Other Good Song From The 4th Album

13. A cover song, but not one that you’ve previously performed. Try an ironic cover of a presently popular song, or a real old school throwback to your influences’ influences that you used to lie about being influenced by but now that you’re older you actually listen to them.

14. A fan-favorite B-Side, or maybe a song that was only released on a soundtrack or something.

15. That Other Good Song From The 2nd Album

16. One more gem from the 3rd album

17. Just play the god damn single already, that’s all they wanted to hear in the first place and by now they’ve put up with enough of your narcissistic bullshit that you may as well give in.

Reunion Tour (1.1)

I think it was Dylan who found it first. I say this because he was the only other one with keys to the ambulance, since we don’t have to worry about him staying sober. At least not anymore. When I got back with Stuart from grabbing breakfast inside, the ambulance was gone, and he and Alex were gone with it. Gabriel was gone, too, but in a different way, as we’d quickly discover. I’m not entirely sure what drove Stuart to look in the bathroom of all places, but midgets are compelled by all kinds of weird, outside forces that those of us at normal heights will never understand.

I’m not sure what killed him — he could have drowned for all I know, since we found him face down. There was a trail of blood flowing from his nose, but it had mostly stopped by now. Maybe that had something to do with it. I don’t know. I was a little surprised at first when Stuart asked me to join him in the shower; it’s not that I have a thing against midgets, I just thought, you know, that Stuart had a thing against guys. But then again, I think he’s European.

The water was still running. I asked Gabriel what was going on, and why he was sleeping in the shower, but he didn’t respond, so I gave him a kick. He and I have always had that kind of relationship where you can just kick each other for whatever reason and it’s usually cool. Not with Dylan, though; he was always uptight. Personally, I liked him more when he still drank. Then at least we could get fucked up, and he’d stop being a prick for a few minutes anyway.

Stuart did the right thing and called the police. He always makes good decisions like that. That’s why he’s our manager, because he calls the cops when he finds one of our band members dead in the shower while Dylan leaves the crime scene with our tour ambulance and abandons us at this ghost town truck stop. See the difference? We don’t really trust Dylan with anything except the car keys, and clearly even that was a mistake.

Although, I guess we trust him to sing, too. He’s good at that at least.

The cops were convinced that Alex and Dylan had killed Gabriel together, and had taken off in the ambulance. I told them that the whole theory was ridiculous, although I guess it explains why they left. Dylan’s temperamental and impulsive and all, but I can’t see him killing anybody, and Alex, well, I think she did all the damage she could when she lied about the miscarriage.

It took me a while to explain to the police that our tour van was actually a converted ambulance, but they caught on eventually. I’ve got to say, as far as reunions go, things could be going a lot better.

(to be continued)