Music & Letting Go: Samsara's First Show
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Setting up my drum set was always a pain. It simply took a long time to adjust it just right. “Tonight I will have to set it up a on stage, and quickly too,“ I thought to myself as I hoisted my bass drum up the basement stairs and out to the car. This would not be my first time playing in public, as I had played piano for a long time and was in several school talent shows when I was younger. This would, however, be the first time I played live on the drums and that was enough to have me nervous. My brother Adam, who played rhythm guitar, was waiting at the back of his small dark red SUV. “This is everything. I think we’re ready,” I said as we gently set the drum in the back. “Heard. I put your bag in the front seat.” was his response. “Heard.” I said. My brother and I had both worked in several kitchens over the years, and heard was a way of communication we had picked up. Heard. Such an aloof way to respond.
We had broken my set down and loaded it in a specific order to least make unloading go a little faster. Adam and I drove his car while our other two band mates, Ryan and Jordan, took their own. Adam and I had been playing together and writing material for over four years. After going through several guitar players and bassists, we found Ryan around two years ago. Jordan, our bass player had come along about six months or so after Ryan. We learned a few covers that we knew would be popular with most crowds, but our pride was definitely in our original work. The half hour drive seemed to take less than five minutes, but before I knew it, we were pulling up in front of the small, punk rock bar in Old Town Fort Collins, called Surfside 7 where we would play live for the first time.
Surfside was right on College Avenue, Fort Collins’ main street. This meant that typically there was no parking available right out front. “Look at that. Three empty parking spots just for us!” Adam observed. As soon as we got out I lit a smoke to calm my nerves while Adam went inside to check-in. It was a warm August night, and I felt perfectly comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt which was good because I would get hot on stage. I noticed that the owners of the bar had put a small sign in front of the entrance, that read, ”Free Metal Show Tonight: Samsara.” Samsara was the name of our heavy metal band. I was surprised they even put a sign outside at all; this was sure to draw some randoms off the street. I was half way through my cigarette when Ryan pulled up in his forest green Jeep. All the amplifiers were packed neatly in the back of his car and as he got out I could see the excitement on his face. “Are you ready?” he asked, ”This is gonna be epic!” Before I could respond, Adam had returned outside and informed us that we were good to set up. I gave what was left of my cigarette to him and went inside to check out the stage. As I crossed the threshold the smell of beer wafted into my nostrils. Small was an understatement, as the stage was set up in the corner, with barely enough room to fit our equipment. “Who cares?” I thought to myself, ”At least you have a gig.”
I walked to the bar and attempted to order beer for us to share. The bar tender was beyond slow. I must have waited ten minutes for a simple pitcher of PBR. However, as I waited for it, I took advantage of the opportunity to observe the patrons of Surfside. Denim jackets and flannel were popular items of clothing, and I even spotted a few mohawks over in the corner booth by the window. Over the crowd of tattoos, piercings, and colorful hair, I could see Adam and Ryan had made their way inside, and that Jordan was accompanying them. I deemed it ironic that we, the band, were the most normal looking out of the other forty or so people in the bar. I collected my pitcher and glasses, and met them at a table, where we quickly went to work putting away the beer, in an effort to keep our nerves from getting the best of us. “What do you need help carrying Aaron?” Jordan inquired between gulps. “I’ll get my drums, but I’ll need help with the cymbals, stands, and pedals. Set up your stuff first though and we’ll see where I’m at once you’re finished,” I said.
Once we had downed the beer, we began setting up. I would be playing behind their amps, because drums are naturally the loudest. The stage was in a corner by the front windows and due to it’s size, my back would practically be up against the glass. The bass drum was the first thing I needed, as that determined where everything else sat. With that in place, I carried inside my tom drums. Positioning these correctly was always a bit of a challenge, and now doing so in a dimly lit room full of strange strangers watching me it seemed impossible. “Well at least you loaded them in the right order.” said the voice I hear my thoughts in. I placed them the best I could and stepped back out onto the street. I could see people walking up and down College bar hopping, and I noticed for the first time that it was a beautiful cloudless night. I hoped some of the bar hoppers were headed our way. I held all three of my cymbals under my right arm as if they were books, and carried a stand in my left. Jordan had joined me to grab my other two stands, and walked behind me through the front door. As my foot met the stage, I felt the middle cymbal begin to slip, jarring the rest loose. Before I knew it all three of them were falling from my hand in slow motion. I froze as they landed on the floor making a piercing, crashing noise that turned every head in the bar. The crowds eyes met my skin like a knife as I attempted to gather my cymbals and thoughts.“Great first impression Lynch,” was the first to come to mind, but it was not the last mean thing I had to say to myself. I looked over at Adam, who just smiled. He took a break from setting up his amp to help me finish my drums.
Release and Flow
My head was swimming in self doubt. “What if they don’t like us? What if Adam or Ryan break a string? What if I forget what to play?” The voice I hear my thoughts in wouldn’t shut up! I looked over our set list one last time, as if it was going to help. Adam announced over the microphone that we were beginning. “What’s up Surfside?! We are Samsara and we’re gonna melt your fuckin’ faces!” he shouted. Confusion ran briefly through my mind, as his voice seemed so far away. Perhaps it was just muffled under the sound of my heartbeat. I took a deep breath and heard my heart rate slow down a bit. I gave the band the count in, and there the music was. My escape of choice for most of my life had not abandoned me. I knew exactly what to do, and in an instant all my nerves were gone. The crowd was into it, and our first show was becoming successful quickly. I could not help but to smile as I knew this was going to be a good time.