When you play in a punk band long enough, you see and are also a part of some events that people who don’t play in punk bands can’t even fathom (see: Ghostbusters – “I’ve seen shit that will turn you white”). The time when no one was at a show on a tour with Mishap in Southern California except this shitfaced punk rocker who proceeded to start a one man mosh pit with a chair for the duration of our 30 minute set and somehow the chair kicked his ass. Those other (countless) times when it was funny to watch other bands get into fistfights because one or more of them was way too drunk to be onstage. A few times when WE got in fistfights because our singer was drunk and pissed off that we always got booked with horrible emo bands so he’d start fights with said bands from stage – on the mic – in front of the entire crowds. Another time when a crazy taxi cab driver called the cops on me for nothing at all and I ran out the back fire exit and dove into a dumpster to hide and they asked my Asian buddy with a mohawk if he knew any Asian guys with a mohawk. “Nope,” was his one word reply to that bullshit (Thanks Pete!). There was even that one time when some dumbass invited The Eastbay Shitbirds to play a funeral memorial show and we showed up wasted from the night before, stole all the beers out of people hands, made fun of the dead guy (via drum roll during eulogy), pissed off the entire crowd, broke the other bands’ drum kit by diving into it a few times during our set, and to top it off, right at the last song the drummer rolled a joint onstage and we got 86’d from the bar with threats of police being summoned, Yeah, that kind of crazy shit.
Nothing before or after in the over 100 shows I’ve played through the years could top what happened on the Johnny and The Pachecos 2008 “Cheaper Than The Gas” USA tour in Little Rock, Arkansas.
We left Las Vegas after missing our first show of the tour altogether by drinking way too much at the Luxor pool (I managed to pass out at the pool on a chaise lounge and pissed all over myself in front of a family with 2 young kids -- one of whom was the one that pointed out to the rest of the band that I was pissing all over myself) and we all passed out back in the room and slept right through it – bad start. It was 108 degrees that lovely hungover morning when we hit the road for the longest drive of that non-air conditioned tour – 28 hours non stop from Las Vegas, Nevada to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was the end of June and the weather sucked all the way to Arkansas. We were so late (hungover) that we also missed a day show in Little Rock earlier that we were supposed to play, but somehow we managed to cross the better half of the United States in one shot and found ourselves in Arkansas. Our really great friend Robin lived there at the time, so we shit and showered at her place before we headed to the club which she cautioned was full of tweakers (meth heads) pretty much 7 days a week and to watch our backs.
When we arrived at the club I realized she wasn’t kidding. There was this weird gay/skinhead (please lookup what a non-racist skinhead is – I get really bored of explaining it to people – there are lots of gay skinheads, just not the Nazi variety most people know) vibe there, and Robin was right – everyone was high out of their brains on meth. It was strangely free hot dog night there – strange because people high on meth don’t eat anything for days at a time but I wasn’t complaining. Free food on tour is life. I ate a few and then went to check in with the clearly fucked up on meth sound guy to tell him that we were in from California. To my surprise he was busy cramming 2 fully loaded (ketchup, mustard, relish, kraut, onions – the works) hot dogs into his pants pockets. WTF? “Gotta save those for later when I get hungry,” was his sheepish reply when he finally realized I was standing there talking to him. Wow. This dude wasn’t even in the same galaxy. Somehow as he was wiping the hot dog shit off his hands onto his pants, we managed to figure out the set times for the other bands and me and the boys settled in so we could start drinking off the horrible hangover which was made worse by the plus 95 degree temperatures in our non-air conditioned van over the course of a 28 hour drive.
The band that played before us was a three piece. They were all completely fucked up on meth and wouldn’t you know it, all of their songs were about meth. Now when I did meth for 3 years, we kept that shit in the closet. It wasn’t really that cool for people to know we did that shit. It’s not like we’d hit a party and bust out a bag of crystal meth and scream, “Hey! Who wants to smoke some meth!?!?!?” These guys were all about it. “Crystal rocks. Crystal Rocks. All day all night, crystal rocks,” were the only lyrics that I can vaguely remember, but every single one of their songs was about how much they loved smoking, snorting or shooting crystal meth and were damn proud about it. “Little Rock is one really fucked up place,” I remember thinking to myself as these guys were playing.
I also remember specifically noting two people there that night. The drummer was this little short punk rock chick and she was hot. She also looked like she played the drums because (not sure if just her basic personality or the meth) she was 24-7 about to knock someone the fuck out and she also looked like she could back it up if push came to shove. One of those kind of chicks that should have a neon sign attached to their heads that read “DON’T FUCK WITH ME.” There was also this really wasted short kid. I mean wasted to the point that he didn’t know what he was doing and kept bumping into people and spilling their drinks. It seemed like he did this all the time as all the locals were just basically ignoring him. It was funny because all of these corn fed Arkansas dudes were fucking twice this kids’ size. I also noticed right away that this hot “DON’T FUCK WITH ME” chick was one of the corn fed dude’s girlfriends, so I tried to stare as little as possible.
The tweakers finished loading out all of their shit and we got all of our gear setup to play our 23 minute set. After the humiliation of waking up after pissing all over myself and realizing that we missed the first show of this tour, we all were ready to rip the roof off of this place. Johnny and The Pachecos is hard, fast thrash punk and it was perfect for this amped up crowd. We cracked through our first two songs and everything was clicking. The crowd was getting into it, we were playing great and nothing could go wrong at that point in time. A few beats into our third song, we all realized something was horribly fucking wrong and stopped playing. The wasted short kid was in the process of being dragged into the back corner of the bar by 7 of the huge corn fed dudes and having the living shit beat out of him. Wow. I looked down on the dance floor and our buddy Neil, who was with us to drive, sell CDs and shirts and to make sure we didn’t get too fucked up was standing there looking like he’d just had an out of body experience. “Uhhh, uhhh I think we should get out of here now….fast,” was all he was able to mumble out. I suddenly realized he was standing in a pool of blood (not his) and a pile of broken glass.
“What the fuck just happened man,” I screamed while the kid in the corner was STILL getting the living shit kicked out of him. He went on to explain that the drunk kid thought it would be cute to grab the “DON’T FUCK WITH ME” chick’s ass while he was shuffling around. Apparently the chick wasn’t having any part of that shit and immediately punched him square in the nose and then grabbed a beer bottle off an adjacent table and proceeded to break it on the table and then break it on the kid’s face. She basically shanked him with it, he said. “Holy fuck!” Everyone then decided Neil was right and immediately started breaking down our gear to load into our trailer and get the hell out of Dodge. We had half of our stuff loaded up by the time the cops showed up and the corn fed dudes stopped kicking the little kid’s ass. By the time we had all the gear loaded, there were 8 cop cars, 2 fire trucks and an ambulance there. Dude, Little Rock is fucking nuts.
We had our shit loaded in record time. As anyone who’s toured the road in a punk band will tell you there are 2 real goals on tour: 1) Don’t wreck the van and 2) Never ever ever have a single interaction with cops. We wanted nothing to do with any of these meth heads or the cops, and we wanted to get the fuck out of there posthaste. I was about to get into the van when I realized that this was one of the shows that was actually paying us (the reality is in most van and trailer touring bands punk or not, that you don’t make a whole lot of money, and any chance on tour that you can get to get money is a windfall). They were paying us 150 bucks and that is an assload of money to a touring punk band. I ran back into the bar and immediately found Mr. Fucking Hotdog Pockets. “Dude, you need to give us that money. We want no fucking part of of this shit.” He mumbled a bunch of stuff to himself and handed me over a handful of ketchup and mustard covered bills. “Fuck it, money’s money,” I thought and raced out to the van to make our getaway. When we finally got out of there and collected our heads, I counted the money. The hotdog dude gave me 280 bucks! Hahahahhahaha. 280 bucks to play 3.5 minutes of music. Fantastic. We all went back to Robin’s house, got drunk courtesy of Hot Dog Dude and the next day, tour continued.
Fast forward to 2017. I hadn’t talked to Johnny Pacheco a whole lot in those following years, and through the magic of social media, our paths crossed again. “What ever happened to all those videos you shot on tour,” I asked him. He mentioned that he had a bunch and that he’d post them sometime. One day, he sent me a random YouTube link and said I’d be stoked to see it. It starts pretty innocently – just us in the van the next morning after that crazy Little Rock show. We were looking for some nonexistent diner and wondering if people in Arkansas ate breakfast or not. Then suddenly, it clicks over to a dark grainy video of a bar. “NO FUCKING WAY,” I thought to myself. This was the bar that that crazy shit happened in! There were the gay skinhead tweaker dudes. There was the super drunk stumbly guy. There was the hot drummer punk rock chick. Then we start playing on the video. I was shaking with the excitement that I might see what actually happened that night. Sure enough, there’s the “DON’T FUCK WITH ME” girl on the video punching the dude into oblivion and then stabbing him with the bottle. There was one of the cornfed dudes throwing him into the corner where he probably saw his life flash before his eyes that night as the rest of them beat him within an inch of his life. It was as if seeing this video suddenly made it real – not just another “fish that got away” story that people may or may not believe. I watched it over and over again. It was awesome because a lot of times, you can’t see shit from onstage and I was really fucking bummed I missed this whole debacle. I swear if I live until 95, I will never be a part of anything that completely out of control again. It was like the perfect storm hit that shitty tweaker bar in Little Rock that night. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself:
11:38 pm Playa Dominical, Costa Rica
“We try the best we can
Fuck around every now and again
Work hard every day
Unwind by the fuckin’ keg
Don’t you wait on me…”
Johnny and The Pachecos – “Don’t Wait on Me” – To Be Pachecoed… 2008