By Mike Stevens
A Sir Robert Tale
It had been a nightmare; the debut show of Sir Robert Timkins latest and newest band; Sir Robert and the Blows. He knew he should just pack it in, but Sir Robert was nothing if not hard-headed. He’d be damned if he’d give up his dream; his dream of successfully crossing death metal with opera. In his mind, it was a totally-unique form of music that had never been tried before (he ignored all of those who told him it had never been tried for a good reason!), and just needed perseverance from someone like him, who knew it was an idea who’s time had come. Something was missing. The only thing he could think of was the name; it blew! Maybe if they changed their name? But what? He started trying to come up with something. He decided to look through the paper; maybe that would give him an idea. His eyes fell on an ad for a sledgehammer company. Hey, Sledgehammer! No, too plain, and there were a million other bands with that name. Then he came across a headline, “Commute Nightmare!” Hey, if he combined the words ‘sledgehammer’, and ‘nightmare’; that sounded good. Yeah, from now on the band would be Sledgehammer Nightmare.
He’d managed somehow to talk his band onto a festival of death metal bands, by meeting the organizer of The Cranium-Splitter Festival one night at a local tavern. Sure, the guy had been looped, and probably wouldn’t even remember Sir Robert’s name, but at this point, he’d take advantage of any break that came his way.
He’d been sitting slumped over at The Liquid Head tavern, feeling sorry for himself, and bemoaning the sad fate of his band, when he happened to overhear a guy talking about, ‘his upcoming music festival.’ He argued with himself over whether to bother the guy, and then decided, ‘What the hell!’ Now, he had decided to go ahead with his plan. He went over to where the gentleman sat, surrounded by empty beer glasses, and introduced himself.
“Hello, I couldn’t help overhearing; did I here right, you’re going to have a music festival for death metal bands?”
“Yeah, I’m putting the finishing touches on it now; would you mind telling me who you are, and just why should this concern you?”
“My name is Sir Robert Timkins, and I have a death metal band”
“Oh yeah? What’s the name of your band, cause you certainly don’t look like the type, dude; you look more like the rich bastards I can’t stand, and no offense about saying you look like a rich bastard!”
“Non taken; I don’t look like your typical death-head, because I’m a trained opera singer trying to mix the two; trying to branch out.”
“No s**t? That I would love to hear!”
“Well, if you’ll tell me who I’m talking to, we’d be happy to play at your festival.”
"Oh, sure, I’m Danny Deal, but you can call me ‘Rave’”
“Nice to meet you, ‘Rave’, and let me buy you a beer.”
And so, Sledgehammer Nightmare found itself on the bill of The Cranium-Splitter Festival, right after Lozenge, and right before Red Tool.
This was it? Sir Robert stared unbelieving, upon what looked for all the world like a muddy campground. The ‘stage’ was a flat-bed semi trailer. About 40 loser-looking youths, all male, with their average age looking to be about 15, where gathered in front of it, with a sani-can off in the distance, near the tent city which sprawled haphazardly near the trees, which filled up his vision in the distance. Just then, he spotted ‘Rave’, talking to a guy who looked like the poster child for the need for contraception. He walked over and said,
“Hey Rave, where’s everybody at?”
"Oh, we’re just starting out; this is it.”
Sir Robert glanced around at the near-empty field, and replied, “You’re kidding me; why, there’s not enough people here to do the wave!”
“What they lack in numbers, they’ll make up for in enthusiasm.”
Sir Robert watched as a couple of guys took a leak in an empty quart bottle, glanced at the wide-open door of the empty sani-can, shook his head, and responded, “That, I very much doubt.”
“Fine, you guys can bail if you want to; we can get the remaining bands to pay a little bit more!”
“Whoa, there, Rave; you never mentioned this was a pay-to-play festival.”
“Well, we came up a little short on the amount of people we were hoping to attract, and without their price of admission, we can’t pay for the flatbed and the sani-can, man!”
“A $100 dollars, you’re out of your mind if you think we’re going to pay to play!”
“Fine, then you’re band is out. We already asked the other bands to help make up the difference.”
Robert looked at the all-male crowd of losers, and thought to himself, ‘This is about as many fans as we could hope to get, so I’d better just pay this rip-off son of a b***h and be done with it!’
As they waited for Lozenge to finish their set, Sir Robert was still pissed, but the truth was, they needed the exposure. After all, you had to start somewhere. But $100?
Lozenge’s last song ground painfully to a halt, and it was time for Sledgehammer Nightmare to load their equipment onto the ‘stage’. They were ready, and Sir Robert said into the microphone,
“We’re Sledgehammer Nightmare, and you’d better find something to hold onto, because we’re going to rock heavy!”
The kid directly in front of the ‘stage’ grabbed his own crotch, and several of those around him appeared to laugh, but their laughter was drown out by an ungodly assault of noise from Sledgehammer Nightmare’s amplifiers.
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” screamed Robert.
Unbelievably, they had received wild cheering and applause after their first song, and if anything, it had only increased. They had been called back for three encores, and everyone was sky-high backstage after they had managed to escape the cheering fans! Granted, it was only 40 people, but this was what Sir Robert had been anticipating; the adulation and hero-worship; it was powerful stuff; his theory about mixing opera and death-metal had been confirmed!