I come to you in the dawn of a new year, fresh with memories of a 2011 filled with Cougar-hunting, a liver-killing tour through upper Iowa — thank you Boji Boji Boji – and the most financially successful band year ever; we’re ‘this’ close to achieving the much ballyhooed VH1 Pop-up Video status!
But I digress. My reason for laying down some mad font action on you isn’t necessarily related to the aforementioned successful 2011, but to reflect upon the departure of our good friend and second most feminine group member, Laura Van.
Before getting to the good stuff, let’s throw 1.21 gigawatts at this byatch and let the Flux Capacitor do its thang! “When this baby his 88 words-per-minute, you’re going to see some serious shit!”
We’ll take a look at a few seminal events / happenings / rituals and, at the end, I’d like you to leave your comments as to what your favorite Laura stories are:
The year was 2005 and I met Laura – then in her mid- to late teens, she confessed – as we were both recruited by self-described super group Dave and Joe Lover to join them in their band. Our tryouts were to be held in some hoity-toity neighborhood 190 miles from civilization. Having never sing/sang/sung, aside from a stint as alto-tenor in a high school production of “Ice Ice Baby, the story of Rob Van Winckle,” I was scared out of my mind. Laura, too, hadn’t been involved in many things music, aside from playing the sadomasochistic cheerleader for local S&M band, ‘Sexxxplosion’ – yes, a real band name. Laura made an immediate impact on the two brothers with her band gear. Instead of bringing a typical bass amp, one which would require a tag team approach to lifting, Laura brought with her an amplifier that couldn’t have been larger than a pack of Tic-tacs.
Laura and I were asked to audition along with Joe and Dave to the tunes of Hootie and the Blowfish and Peter Cetera; yeah, we knew right away this was the group for us. Laura, visibly nervous – and a precursor of what was to come for the next 6+ years – was having trouble with her digestive system and barely made it through the night with bouts of “touching cloth” or “head of the turtle.”
Long story short, we made it and the rest is history. Sort of.
The band would be called “The Subsidies” because apparently all the other good band names were taken. We spent the next four years perfecting our craft while touring the Midwest in venues ranging from depressing to somewhat depressing to not too bad to “we shouldn’t be playing here … we’re not worthy” awesome.
Each and every show it was me up front and Laura behind – literally and figuratively – to my left; your right.
As the only member of the band without large equipment – <insert joke here> – I made myself useful by spilling beverages on the other band members’ gear AND carrying Laura’s stack (stack = band term for heavy shit). Each show I would lift, drag, pull and kick Laura’s equipment from her car to the gig and on stage.
One eventful evening while playing at O’Gara’s in St. Paul, Laura and I came to blows. Well, verbal blows, but blows nevertheless. To get stuff off stage at O’Gara’s, you have to traverse a series of steep, non-up-to-code stairs that were used as extras in the ending scene of The Blair Witch Project. As I was want to do, I was going too fast and Laura, who was lifting the backend of the stack, stumbled, telling me to slow down. I – always the gentleman – replied to her with “Carry your own shit then.” You ever say something and before you’re finished saying it immediately regret it?
Well, Laura had the perfect comeback: “Doooosh,” she said while shaking her head in disgust over me.
This was really the first time I had seen this side of Laura and was one side I didn’t want to revisit. Luckily, like the two giddy school girls we were/are, we made up shortly after and were able to go back to spilling vitriol about Joe and his penchant for making us do things we didn’t want to do, like be successful.
“HIM, HE’S OK, BUT HER …. SHE’S HOT AS HELL”
It’s pretty obvious when watching us perform that Laura, aside from being a very talented bassist, serves as the band’s sole form of on-stage sex appeal (not counting the one time when Joe flat ironed his hair. Hot!).
It’s one thing for flocks of men (is it “flocks” or “cacophony”?) to drool over Laura, which they did each show (less so once she started dressing in corporate casual stage attire) but shortly into our tenure as Minnesota’s Best Cover Band it became evident that members of the female persuasion were equally into Laura, as well. This hit home one snowy night in Mankato.
Laura had an unusually large following this particular night. The men were crowding the stage in an attempt to let Laura know that she was more than welcomed to come back to their parents’ house for a little dry humping. Laura “loved” attention like this and did all she could to escape it on stage. I believe at one point of the adoration she crawled into Dave’s drum kit to play her bass.
We finished our set, got off stage and were immediately met with a gaggle of “fans” many of whom were looking to marry Laura and have as many as 3 kids. One person – an attractive woman in her 20s – in particular walked up to Laura and myself and let us know that while “he is ok,” she said about me, “but she is fuckin’ hot. I’d hook up with her.”
BATHROOM! I NEED A BATHROOM”
Laura has the digestive fortitude of a 2-month old child. One way – many pontificate – that Laura stays so slim is due to her having horrible bouts of diarrhea prior and during each show. This is a statistical fact. That is all. I am sorry. It seems her pre-show ritual is made up of getting the “loosey poopsies.”
“JUST PLAY SOMETHING. ANYTHING”
Some of us screw up on stage. Even Grant. Once.
When I make a mistake or forget the lyrics, I go with it and simply replace the proper lyrics with, well, improper ones. Big deal. Wanna fight about it? Example. The song “Pour Some Sugar On Me” has a stanza that is SUPPOSED to go as follows:
“Do you take sugar? One lump or two?” = Correct version
“Do you like peaches? One lump or two?” = Collin’s version
When Laura screws up, she shuts ‘er down. It’s over.
Laura’s first bass amp was equipped with a Knight Rider-like set of red lights that, when the bass is played, are supposed to light up in synchronization. So, if the lights are blinking, she’s playing. If they are not, she is not. There were plenty of occassions where you could look over at Laura, flush with panic, and see that indeed her stack’s lights were darker than American Horror Story.
I’ll miss that.
CONCLUSION … THE FINAL SET
I hope each one of my 2 readers will use the message board below to write their favorite memories of band Laura. There are countless memories and tales.
I just want to end by saying that, at its worst, when the audience wass in the 10s or the show was going horribly or I’d simply lost the will to survive on stage, it’s always been comforting to have my anchor, Laura, back behind me, to my left; your right.
Better yet, when we’re having one of THOSE shows – those shows that are epic(!) – it’s even better to look back and see Laura’s joy and share in that experience with her. From Rock Cancer to Boji to the $10-a-night hotel in St. Cloud to sleeping on a tarp as to not get AIDS in Iowa to a rancid RV trip through Michigan to Pan-o-Prog to … well .. to all of ’em, Laura, it’s been an absolute honor to do this band thing with you. To destroy bathrooms. To bitch and laugh with you. To learn how to be in a band together. I wish you the best in your next endeavor and I look forward to carrying your stack, anytime …
… SO, what are your favorite Laura tales … ??