The first time is never easy.
Ours was a long time ago, in a town not too far away. Grunge was still king. Prince had unrepentantly changed his name to a tattoo, and the Beastie Boys had recently told the world to Check Your Head.
Spaceship Days wasn't even a glimmer in our alcohol soaked imaginations, and the birth of grey was still months away. We were actually on our third or fourth band name by then. This one was less embarrassing than those that had preceded it, but only just; we stuck with it anyway, because we'd been putting the word out about the Big Debut Show and it just wouldn't do to confuse people by changing our name (again) at the last minute. All the cool bands picked an name and stuck with it, no matter how bad it was.
We had been a band for about a month. In that time, we'd already cut our first demo, and had spend the following weeks leading up to the Big Debut Show strutting around like peacocks with our cassette tape feathers stuck up in the air. It wasn't that the recording was especially good (it wasn't) but we were the only people we knew who'd ever even had the brass to try and make one and that meant something. That belief in ourselves carried us along way, and picked up quite a bit of the slack we needed for our skills to catch up.
Still, beneath it all we were only four young men: Matt, Chuck, Greg, and Aaron. Just a breath out of our teens and sitting on the floor of an empty room, we were anxiously waiting to stand in front of everyone we knew and put on our first live performance.
The Big Debut Show was at Aaron's place. He was the drummer so it just made good sense. It was easier for myself and Greg to transport our gear, which included the little 50 W Gorilla Amp that Matt would be using for his vocals. Sure, all the cool bands had PA systems, but we hadn't quite discovered that yet. Our stage was the back porch, which was great with us. The small-ish concrete slab faced a courtyard of sorts, and where our delusions lived that space was going to be jam packed with adoring fans.
Earlier that afternoon Matt had used a sharpie to decorate a semi soiled bed sheet with a picture, and a poem called The Uncoiling. We hung it from Aaron's bedroom window so it could dangle above us as we rocked out because, you know--all the cool bands had a banner. The fact that it was a good ten feet above our heads made no never mind.
I personally remember feeling like I was going to throw up, and then maybe have an accident which no doubt would have led to throwing up again. Throughout all this gastrointestinal distress I held on tight to my 'I'm not scared' face. It wouldn't due to upset my band mates, who were all clinging to their 'unimpressed by this building terror' faces too. Mostly.
Right before it was time to go on, and I had assured myself for the seventh time that my bass strap was not going to spontaneously snap off leaving me guitar-less and mortified, someone started giggling. To this day I still can't remember who, or why but after a moment we all were.
It turned out to be just what we needed. Through the aching ribs and sore from smiling cheeks I suddenly had the sense that no matter what happened everything was going to be fine. We weren't going to melt, or spontaneously combust--we were only going to play some songs for some people. Just as we'd always dreamed.
The four of us will always be connected by that night. It was tense, awkward, amazing, and a more than a little bit frightening in turns but we wouldn't change a thing.
"Hanging From the Satellites" is a tribute to that evening. It coils and slides through the anxiety and exhilaration we felt in the long, long minutes before we began, and hints at the calm out of body surreality of the performance itself.
At the end of our first number, while we were listening to what (in our minds at least) was thunderous applause, we weren't really surprised when the police arrived to shut us down. That sort of thing happened fairly regularly at the swim team parties we frequented in those days. The Big Debut Show was over quickly, but we all were somewhat thankful for the save. Better to leave them wanting more. Just like all the cool bands.
We only had three more songs anyway.