It’s like we knew the show would go badly before it even started. Adam accused us all of being neurotic, including himself, and passed out tabs of Vicoden five minutes before stage time. Matthew waved his away, causing a collective grumble—“Drummers…”—and took up watch at the back door while the rest of us struggled to stay upright. The seesaw seemed perfect, almost like a schizophrenic barometer following its own mood swings. Violin gave the rest of us a grin. Ah, the confidence. It was sadly inflating. We marched into the dark like drugged rioters ready to throw flares. Noah fake-shot himself with an index finger just before the lights hit, and it made Rex feel like puking, but he held it together long enough for the intro, at least.
We were crashing, crushing simple crackers between thumbs in the crowd. Somehow Adam let it get to him, though. It’s what started the tidal wave—a missed fret, but just one, like one missing nail in a structure that seems unimportant until someone stands on it. The fret become a chord, and Noah looked back, knocking over the mic stand, exploding feedback into everyone’s ears. The sound of a real gunshot.
Or was it? Even our collectively enhanced brains couldn’t tell. Matt said it was a blank; Violin insisted we’d had a popular hallucination—something he’d learned about in an online psych class. But there was nothing scientific about what happened next.
Noah freaked out. The crowd thought it was a stunt. They half hung back, waiting for something else to happen, something cool involving strobe lights. Nothing did. Matt had stopped playing, and we slounded like a boardwalk with no planks between our feet and the sand, so we dug into the sand like crabs.
Someone threw a full glass bottle. It hit Noah’s knuckles, which were still covering his ears, and slammed into a nearby post. We felt like the stage should fall into itself like a collapsed lung, but everything stayed. That was the worst of it—through all the booing, rioting, disappointed faces—nobody disappeared. No curtain was dropped. No superhero swam into our midst to save Noah and our show. Everything just stayed put, and Adam had to apologize, and the staff had to call an ambulance for formality’s sake even though it was obvious no one had been physically injured. The show had to be cancelled without a real explanation. It was like one big bullshit basketball fake-out.
We couldn’t blame Noah, or the gunshot noise. We couldn’t blame anything. Violin said it was a classic example of the principle of chaos, but we all knew it was just pointless. You want everything in rock and roll to mean something, but like a hacked album, a few tracks just sound like filler. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from taking up space.