Day 3 – August 6 – The Big One

Big, because it is the day that Doctor Dark plays. We get an early start with our now familiar and delicious breakfast at Pagliantini and make our way out into the town od off to the festival. We grab the Molli this time, saving our feet, and show up just in time to see Psychonautilus, a one man act from the UK. Like experiemntal guitar with pre-sequenced beats, and damn the kid is good. Really good. I could listen to a lot more of it if it sounds like that. He reminds me of some of the Bill Harkleroad stuff, but crazier.

The main goal is to grab some lunch because we are having a hard time adapting to the food and the time zone. I’m starting to adapt but I’m really tapped out. Steve is also kinda burnt. We get some good grub in the backstage mess hall and catch some more music before taking the Molli back to town for a nap. I’d love to stay and see it all but I was feeling really cooked. So back we go, naptime ensues, and I get up and decide to take a quick walk to stretch my legs. As I get back to the hotel I see Jim Cohen walking fast and saying “…you need to get in the van NOW, you need to go on really soon…” which was a surprise because it was about 5pm and we were scheduled for 9:30pm! So I go up to roust Steve, because the nice hotel owner would not “wake up the Americans” (I love those folks). Minutes later we are being whisked away … did I say whisked… I mean abducted… and taken to the festival. We catch the last two numbers from the Small Budget Orchestra (they were so good that I bought their DVD so I can see the whole set), and it is time to get set up. As soon as the MBB clears the stage the skies open up. Torrential act-of-gawd style rain and hail (ice from the sky fer crissakes) starts falling and the crowd scurrys for the “big top”. There is a huge tent set up for shelter and shade and it looks like everyone fit. The storm lasts about 20 minutes but the temperature has dropped from about 20C to about 15C, and it is windy! Perfect! So far we are following a well rehearsed orchestra, an act of god, and we are going on 90 minutes early. Check. Business as usual.

We get the intro and off we go. I’ve never been so happy to be a weiner. I’m the guy who keeps pusing for a set list at rehearsals. Sometimes I feel like it is a bit much. Not this time. Having played the set all the way through is highly underrated. But before we get too comfortable… Joe’s amplifier dies. Now, that is funny because it is usually one of his crappy rigs at home that dies, or his effect pedals or cable, but this time it is the ultra-professional backline rig, a clean Fender Twin, that lets us down. No sweat, we switch up the set so that we play the stripped down “Dust Blows Forward” where Joe won’t be missed while the new amp is brought up. The stage crew handles it perfectly and Joe is back with us by the end of the tune. The funny thing is that we were shitting a brick but most folks didn’t notice. Hey! Business as usual.

Napolean Murphy Brock joins us for the beginning of Torture Never Stops. This tune has a few guises:” slow and swampy, a rocker, and a lush horn arrangement. We do it even swampier than Zappa’s 1975 “Bongo Fury” band did it. All downbeat, no real changes… Napolean comes out and does it in what I think I can describe as an “Isley Brothers” groove. I’m floored because I’m the one who wanted this tune in the set since about the first ro second rehearsal I ever did with DD, and this is what it turned into. One of the coolest things I have ever been part of in 30 years of playing music.

The reason for the early start is that some of the members of Wstep do Zappy, and Small Budget Orchestra, co-joined bands from Poland, were in a car accident. We knew about the accident but nobody told us about any schedule change. So I wasn’t shocked, but I was surprised. What ever Doctor Dark lacks in professionalism, we make up for with our ability to adapt to crisis.

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