I get to the studio before everyone else.
The rehearsal space is an unpleasant hole in a not great part of town. Inside, I find our rock cell and undo the multitude of locks on the door.
I step inside and close the door behind me. It's mostly quiet, save some metalhead shredding down the hall. I like this time. It's a brief moment of calm before the storm. I close my eyes and try to relax.
I assess the situation. Guitar player 1 has his gear packed and ready. I disassemble Guitar player 2's rig. Most of the cables go into the rack with the effects unit. I bring his guitar and his backup.
I coil up the cables for my microphone and effects. Pro tip: always bring your own mic. It won't smell too bad, is unlikely to give you a social disease, and you know what it sounds like and whether or not it works.
I finish as the keyboard player arrives. It's just the two of us.
I am reminded of my first few teenage shows, loading all the band's gear into the back of my car. As we're finishing, the drummer arrives. He loads up his items and heads out. I lock up and head for the venue.
"Two minutes until Pants time!"
We've been here for 2 hours already, mostly sitting around waiting. There's a lot of waiting in the rock life. We watch the headlining band make typical musician jokes while the sound team fiddles with the PA, snake, and various microphones.
Now we're backstage. This is perhaps the nicest backstage area of any of San Francisco's clubs. There's a couch and some drinks and it's almost cozy.
The band talks nervously. These moments before we start seem to last forever.
The band files out onto the stage and launches into "Baby Space". I hang back in the dressing room, as much to savor this brief moment as to make a grand entrance.
I pull open the stage door, smiling, and leap onto the stage. I wave at the crowd. The venue seems full - it's hard to tell with my sunglasses on. (I do wear my sunglasses at night.)
I grab the mic and pull it from its clip, and stomp the effects box to life.
The next 45 minutes are typically something of a fugue state for me. I know my voice is strong and the notes ring out true and clear. The band sounds great. I move, I dance, I sweat, I talk, I sing, I entertain.
People don't dance. That's not unusual. I hope they are at least having a good time.
...and then suddenly it's over. No encore when you're opening. Which is fine.
While the adrenaline is still online I hoof as much of our gear off the stage as I can.
I move back into the crowd. I talk to my friends, to my fans, to the club owner. The headliner goes on. They sound great. Very professional.
I've returned all the gear to the studio with the rest of the band. Pretty sure we didn't leave anything at the club.
I drop Guitar Player off at his house.
The fog is rolling in. I'm tired.
At home, I park the car and listen to the hissing of the air at 1 am. I sit in the dark, a drink in my hand.
Being in a band is hard, hard work sometimes. Leading a band, moreso. Hard to understand unless you've done it.
The wind blows, and the windows rattle.
I don't know how much longer I can or want to do this. But I sure am glad I did it tonight.