There I was, back stage, gazing out at a sea of over 2,000 music fans that swayed back and forth like waves. Defrayal, the band that I was in at the time, had been asked to open up for KIX, a Baltimore-based hard rock band who made their name in the late 80’s and early 90’s … these guys are legends and veterans.To say I was nervous is a flagrant understatement. However, I was also ecstatic. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin and lose everything that resided in my stomach at the same time.
It was a warm, mid-October night and as the time neared to take the stage, I remember my palms sweating and my mouth being robbed of all moisture. I had performed hundreds of times before, and this had never happened. But this was different. This was huge. Try to imagine taking everything that you’ve worked for, balling it up, and throwing it out to a horde of seething critics. If we succeeded in winning this crowd over, then our reputation would continue to grow as a well-versed band and I as a capable singer. However, if we choked, all the momentous accomplishments in our past would be forgotten and this would become our “crowning” achievement. That’s just how the music industry works. It’s a harsh, in-your-face reality and if you can’t handle it, you will be eaten by the sharks that swim around you.
Oh God, almost time. The event host, Rich, was introducing us and I could feel my knees getting weak. C’mon legs just get me on this stage … please! Rich proudly spoke, “I know a lot of you out there have seen Defrayal before, but for those of you who have not, prepare yourselves. These guys fucking rock! Please welcome DEFRAYAL!” Wow, thanks a lot Rich, no pressure now; nothing to live up to. No matter anyway, there is no turning back now.
I climbed the long set of metal stairs following my fellow soldiers, Jake, Joey, Josh, and Kevin, into a melodious battle to win over an adversary that, in my mind, just wanted to see KIX. I told myself, “Don’t forget the words, don’t trip over anything, don’t puke, and please get ahold
of yourself.” I didn’t think I was going to make it, but something came over me when I reached the top of that mountainous staircase. I could see the crowd, I could feel the energy, and I didn’t give a damn who they initially came to see. We, but more specifically, I, was going to give them the best show of my life and leave them wondering what the hell hit them.
I walked to the mic looking out at the first few rows of people. The light flickered on their faces as though the night were lit by a giant bonfire. I could feel the pressure of the sound waves coming from the horde hitting me like a hurricane. I shielded my face from the glaring spotlights above and stared at them with a fire in my eyes. I could see that they were eager to receive
who we were, but again, would turn on us in an instant. Suddenly my palms stopped sweating, my mouth felt normal again, and calm came over me like I’ve never experienced. I suddenly found that “zone” that I always hear about and the world went silent.
The sound of Jake’s drum stick hitting the metal hi-hat crashed through the hush counting off, “1…2” – I quickly focused in on the kill – “3…4” – the battle had begun. We hit that crowd with an energy and vengeance that would not soon be forgotten. I don’t know what pushed us, but I can
remember thinking we have never sounded like this before. It was as if we had nothing to lose; take us or leave us, we didn’t care. I could feel my body shaking as emotion poured out of my mouth and into that black microphone wrapped with electrical tape. I closed my eyes, stepped into a different world, and commanded that stage like a lion amidst a field of sheep.
Four minutes later the first song came to an end with the sound of the cymbals shimmering and guitar distortion slowly fading. My lungs sucked as much air in as physically possible as I attempted to catch my breath. That eerie silence fell over me again, but this time it wasn’t just in my head. The crowd stared back in stillness. “Oh no, they hated us” I thought. Then as sweat slowly ran into my eyes, blurring my vision, I saw thousands of devil horned fists fly into the air and the crowd exploded with an energy that shook my very soul! We did it, we really did it! We gave them all of us and they in turn, they gave their respect.
We forged ahead for the next hour expending all remaining energy into that crowd. I poured my heart and soul out on stage that day and in that very moment of acceptance and appreciation; I realized how much all of you mean to me. It is an overwhelming feeling of elation to see thousands of people not only receive and respect you, but to also relate to the art you create. That day will forever stand out amongst the rest of my days in this life. Thank you for listening.