Los Huevos plays Orangevale

I think it was April of 94. Los Huevos was booked at a coffee shop in a Sacramento suburb, named Orangevale in the 1930s by a development company wanting to get Easterners to the area with the promise of sun and overripe, fruit trees. What Orangevale turned out to be is tract homes and strip malls. The place we were to play was in a small strip mall, anchored by a liquor store. Other tenants were a lawyer and a chiropractor.

We pull into the parking lot and the first thing anyone notices is that the liquor store is having a sale on Old English Malt Liquor. A buck will get you a quart of that toxic brew. I should have known upon seeing the sale sign that the night was going to be trouble.

Everyone in the van piles out and all, except me, head to the liquor store to partake of the sale. The kid putting on the show asked us to show up a half hour before the first band was to start and we do. He booked five bands and I figured we would go on third. That would give us about two hours drinking time, which is the top end of what is healthy for Los Huevos. It does not work out that way.

The show is on punk rock time, which means it starts an hour after the stated time. And I am informed that since we are the “big draw,” we are playing last. And, oh yeah, another band has snuck on the bill. Our two hour drinking time has just been extended to four. Usually in this situation, cost of booze will be a regulating factor. However, at a buck for a quart of malt liquor, price is no object. I realize that the only thing keeping us in line with reasonable alcohol consumption for a competent punk rock band is will power. We are doomed.

It is 11 pm and we are told to set up our equipment. Ed can barely get his guitar out of the case. When he does get it out and strapped on, he stands in front of his amp, strumming the guitar and looking puzzled. The amp is on; His guitar is not plugged in. I plug the guitar chord into the amp and start tuning my guitar. Ed is teetering back and forth in front of his amp, hitting strings and twisting the tuning pegs. The guitar whines in pain.
Finally, Tristan, our bassist, grabs Ed’s guitar and tunes it for him.

I am pissed but I hold back my anger and patiently wait for everyone else to get done fumbling around. After about ten minutes, we are ready to play. Ed is to start the first song. It is as if he is playing in quicksand. The chord changes come at a rate that resembles Elmer Fudd on a drug trip. Ed’s 15 second solo is slurred out. Two slow, stumbling minutes later the song ends.

My mind fills with thoughts of capitulation and homicide. I snuff my blood lust and start the next song. It is a faster song. After two bars of just my guitar, the band is supposed to kick the song forward. The rhythm section comes in like a rabid bulldozer: Ed staggers in at half the pace, like his fingers have been encased in cement. Forty-five seconds into the song, I unplug my amp, grab its handle and take me and my equipment out the door.

I get to the van and the music stops. My guitar goes in its case and, with the amp, in the back of the van. Ed gets on the mike, “Sorrrrr-eye-aaahhh-noooooo!!! Sorrrrr-eye-aaahhh-noooooo!!! Please come back and playayayayay!!!” I am fuming, there is no way I’ll go back in there. We sounded like complete shit. Sloppy is one thing, but I have no intention to play when we can’t. It is a waste of time. Ed continues to yell for me over the mike. Then he says, “I’ll go get him.”

I am standing talking to someone, when two arms grab me from behind and attempt to pick me up. I whip around fast, my right arm swinging. I connect with Ed’s eye and he goes flying back, falling to the ground. He gets up and bellows, “Yooooouuuuu hit me!” and lunges forward. I dodge him as he stumbles across the parking lot. He slowly turns and comes after me again, grunting and yelling something in decipherable. I take off across the lot. Ed goes after me. The mall’s security guard, a burley dyke, steps in his way. Ed pushes her aside to go after me. Like a cartoon scene, we run around the parking lost, the chase taking place in a circle. He is too drunk to catch me. I am too smart to let him.

The security guard attempts again to stop Ed. Friends get between him and the security guard. She threatens to arrest him, as a car pulls up and level-headed minds shove Ed in the back seat. They take off, Ed yelling out the window.

The rest of the band and I go back inside and get the gear. We load up the van and take off. I get home sometime after midnight and the phone rings. I pick it up. “S-s-sorrrrr-eye-aaahhh-noooooo, yooooouuuuu hit me!” It’s Ed. I hold my tongue. “I am gonna kill you!” he yells, “I’m gonna shoot your ass!” The phone slams down.

I call this girl I am seeing and tell her the story. “Can I spend the night at you place?” I ask. “Sure, come over.” I call my neighbor. She lives in the building in front of mine. I tell her what went down and warn her that Ed might be by. I then take off.

The next day, I am told by Ed’s roommate, that after he slammed the phone down on me, he went into his room and got a handgun. Drunkenly, he stumbled to the stairs, only to pass out three steps down.

We didn’t talk or play music until six months later, after I swore never to talk to Ed about that night. My promise lasted all of three months. The band last for 4 more years. Ed hasn’t shot me yet.

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