The story of just how far a fanboy will go to see his favorite band.
This story was written in July 2011 for the ill-fated fourth issue of Pins and Needles Zine that never saw the light of day. On May 23rd I’ll be hopping in my car and heading 3 hours north to Connecticut to see the almighty Overcast perform. As you’ll learn if you read on, a 6 hour round trip drive will never stand in the way of a true fanboy who wants to see one of his favorite bands play a 45 minute set.
The farthest I’ve ever traveled for a single show was for the 2002 New England Metal and Hardcore Fest in Worcester, Massachusetts. The four and a half hour trip to the 40+ band festival was made to see one band and one band only…Overcast. Overcast was reuniting for this show after having broken up in 1998 and my friend Dave and I figured this would be our only chance to see them so we called out of work and hopped in Dave’s car. We left on Friday afternoon and got a hotel room just outside of Worcester so we could be rested and ready Saturday for what would be the best live musical experience of our lives…or so we hoped. We arrived at the show around noon, primed and ready to see our favorite band and found out what time they’d be playing…”Probably sometime around 8.” Wow. We stood outside wondering how we were going to kill 8 hours (and there was no way in hell we’d sit through 8 hours of metal bands that all sounded the same) and then out of nowhere a guy came up to us and said “Hey guys, Shadows Fall is doing a press conference in the bar next door if you want to go in and check it out.” That was probably the best thing we could have heard at that moment as Shadows Fall’s singer is also the frontman for…you guessed it: Overcast. Dave and I went into the nearly empty bar, grabbed ourselves some seats, watched a fairly pointless press conference and were served Budweiser after Budweiser by the extremely attractive bartender.
When Shadows Fall was finished they walked past us and I stopped Brian Fair. This is the point in which Dave and I proceeded to fanboy-out to him about Overcast. Brian was super nice and chatted with us for about 5 minutes before going off to do band stuff. Dave and I talked for the next 5 minutes or so about what a nice guy he was and what a relief that was because if the lead singer of one’s favorite band is a complete douche - that could turn a person’s world upside down. Especially a couple of geeks who would drive four and a half hours to see a band. Luckily for us, that was not the case. After we were done acting like 17 year old girls we came to our senses and realized we still had about 7 hours until Overcast would take the stage. Uh oh. Here is a Cliff Notes version of the rest of the day: we drank, slowly but surely. We drank until we were drunk and then we drank until we were tired. We stumbled next door, found some empty spots in the balcony and tried our best to endure some of the copycat metal bands playing before Overcast. Dave fell asleep sitting against the wall and I sat depressed, with my head in my hands. Overcast would eventually take the stage and they were nothing short of amazing, but I couldn’t even remember half of their set-list by the time we drove home. Man did we fuck that one up!
The next farthest show I’ve ever traveled to was just shy of four and a half hours to see Overcast in Waterbury Connecticut in 2008. This was during their east coast tour in support of their, then, recently released album, Reborn to Kill Again. Dave and I saw the first show of this tour in New Jersey and they were so good that we convinced our friend, Rob, to make a weekend out of their show in Connecticut a week later. We arrived at the show about 3 hours early, grabbed our tickets and then hit the liquor store and found a hotel. By the time we arrived at the show we were feeling no pain but it was nowhere near the debacle in Worcester. As we walked into the venue I saw Overcast’s guitarist, Pete Cortese, standing alone against a railing and, being the true fanboy that I am, made a B-Line for him. This wasn’t the first time I’d met Pete. Dave and I (can we all see some patterns forming here?) went to see Pete’s old band, Seemless, a few times in New Jersey and New York. The first time we saw them was at a weird half strip club / half music venue so eloquently named Double D’s. After their set that night we told Pete what big fans we were and asked if he wanted to smoke with us. We were shocked when he accepted our offer and then the three of us went off to Dave’s car, where as soon as he turned on the engine Overcast started blasting over the car stereo. A bit awkward to say the least, but looking back it was not a bad, humorous (slightly creepy) ice breaker. The second time we saw Seemless was at The Continental in NYC and after their set we again retreated to Dave’s car with Pete, only this time it’s a longer story for another time that involves Dave screaming at some girls who came along for the ride and hitting a parked car, all with a terrified Pete Cortese along for the ride. Back in Connecticut now and when I reintroduced myself to Pete he was genuinely psyched that we made the trip and told me that he tells the story about the two guys who kidnapped him in New York quite often. Holy shit. Pete Cortese, my favorite guitarist of all fucking time tells a story about me! Even if the story does paint me as a lunatic, pot smoking superfan - I still left an impression and that’s all that matters. And at this show in Connecticut I still had some semblance of my wits about me and I watched Overcast perform one of the five best sets that I have ever seen by any band.
And that brings us to today. I am currently knee deep in my farthest trip to a show yet, and this time I’m by myself as Dave has relocated to the sunny shores of California and refuses to eat anything but fruit (I kid you not). Keyport, New Jersey to Revere, Massachusetts is a little over 250 miles. My journey began with a 40 minute train ride to Newark, NJ to transfer to a 4 ½ hour bus ride to Boston. Here’s where it gets good…once in Boston Pete Cortese, guitarist of my favorite band who I may have inadvertently co-kidnapped at one time, will be picking me up from the bus station and taking me to his new band’s show. His new band being Death Ray Vision which also features Brian Fair and Mike D. from (here comes another one of those patterns)…Overcast. And it just so happens that Death Ray Vision are fucking awesome. This is not a case in which I think of them as “The dudes from Overcast’s new band,” while in the back of my head I’m wishing Overcast would get back together. Not even close.
*Editor’s Note: Brian Fair was with Pete in the car to pick me up (which in lamen’s terms is like Phil Anselmo and Dimebag Darrell giving a metalhead a ride to their gig…if Phil Anselmo wasn’t the strung out sociopath that is). I sat in the back trying not to sound like Chris Farley’s amazing SNL character in which he interviewed his heroes. I think I accomplished my goal but on the way back to the station after the show I failed at this…miserably.
Now, I could spend the rest of this column telling you how truly awesome Death Ray Vision were on this amazing night, because they were. This band that is technically a “side project” sounds ten times more professional than many of the full-time bands out there. But this story is not a glorified show review. Hell - it actually started as a time killer as I was the only lone-traveler trying not to look too creepy on a bus from Jersey to Boston. It turned into a realization that even though I’m 30 and am traveling 5 hours to see a half an hour set, that there is no shame in acting like a 16 year old kid who has seen Almost Famous a few too many times. You see, I got into hardcore in 1995 and have never looked back. The only thing that bothers me is that while I was getting into it and immersing myself in so many new bands and so many new ideas, some of the bands that would have the greatest impact on my life such as Overcast, Deadguy, Kiss it Goodbye etc., were doing great things right in front of me but my head was spinning too much with new information that they passed me by until they were just a memory. But now Death Ray Vision is here and listening to their ep, Get Lost or Get Dead, makes me feel like that 16 year old kid again only now I’m like that Rod Stewart song but I actually know now what I should have known then (or however the fuck it goes) and I’m not letting them pass me by. So go ahead and judge and make fun if you will, but my years of fanboying out to my hardcore heroes has greatly paid off, making me some good friends and leaving me with some good memories. And now I’m ready for some more.
pictured: David Walker-Lecic: Harvest, Pete Cortese and Brian Fair: Death Ray Visionand Overcast