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We flew into the beautiful city of Guadalajara on Thursday (Mar 14, 2002). All our baggage arrived except for 1 box. (the Wings of course, more on that later). The promoters, Ricardo and Oscar, picked us up at the airport and escorted us through immigration. Richard’s English is impeccable and since our Spanish is near nonexistent we felt we were in good company from the start. On the drive to the hotel Oscar outlined the schedule for the next 48 hours.
We were taken to the Hotel Frances, which is in downtown Guadalajara. This city resembles many European cities similar to Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Most of the downtown buildings are in the colonial style of architecture and hundreds of years old. Our hotel in fact, was built in 1610. Hardwood floors 18 foot ceilings and a beautiful balcony with view of the neighboring area. It didn’t take long to realize that our hosts were a first class act.
Chris, Sandi and I had a few hours before we would need to go to the meet-and-greet. We chilled and freshened up and then explored the area around the hotel. Without exception we encountered gracious and polite people. Chris and I picked up some Cuban cigars and found an enormous indoor-outdoor Cafe. After some cappuccinos and light conversation, Oscar and Ricardo arrived and took us to Les Fleurs du Mort, a cafe and galleria catering to the electro goth crowd. A very cool and intimate space.
For the next 3 hours Red Flag music played as we autographed albums and flyers and conducted interviews with the local media. Photo opportunities were abundant as we discussed the finer points of Guadalajara’s music scene with the many zealous music lovers. We were introduced to Nexus 8, the local opening act. Jose Juan’s English was comprehendible but Omar…. well… let’s just say he’s very quiet. Great guys, Great music.
As the evening drew to a close we began to bid farewell to the club owners. We were getting tired and had only one meal that day. As we stood in the doorway shaking hands and saying goodbye, we were told that a pantomime and puppet show was about to begin and that Gerandi would be honored if we were stay and see the show.
We agreed. It turns out that Gerandi had studied Rasputin in Russia and for a short while designed costumes in Hollywood.
About 20 minutes into the entertaining show a small table was placed before us. Puzzlingly we looked at each other but didn’t know what was going on. A few minutes later, dinner was served. The meal was incredible and our appreciation was sincere. The show abruptly ended but the night was young and we were getting our second wind. Arriving at the magnificent ZZZ restaurant we were to discover that music truly is an international language. As the traditional Mexican music soared, my only regret was that I could not sing along. The atmosphere was exciting and the food delicious. From the Queso Fundido to the Chicharrones and the shrimp soup. Truly an unforgettable evening.
The night air was so warm and comforting, we slept with the windows open. We awoke the next morning to the sweet sounds of music drifting into our room. The panaderia below our window was beckoning us with her delicious pastries and treats. The city was awake and our adventurous spirit led us to explore our surroundings even further. The enormous town squares with water fountains, the detailed and impressive architecture and the generous people all combine to make Guadalajara a beautiful and intoxicating city.
Back to the hotel we discovered a piano and amused a German couple with an animated rendition of Radio Heads’ , I’m a Creep. I guess the caffeine was kicking in.
Later that day on the way to sound check, Ricardo and Oscar told us about a friend of theirs that had been involved in a car crash and hospitalized. It turns out, that this friend was a huge Red Flag fan and due to the accident was unable to attend the concert. Chris suggested that we visit Manuel in the hospital. Looking back, I think this was the high light of the trip. Manuel was so surprised and happy to meet us that he was visibly emotional. He said that he had pleaded with his doctors to push a bed or a wheelchair into the discothèque so he could hear his favorite song ‘If I Ever’. Of course, his doctors would not allow this. With emotions high we performed an acapella version of ‘If I Ever’ on the spot. Everyone cheered and Manuel’s’ mother said that her son would never forget this day. I don’t think any of us will.
Arriving at the venue we were pleased to find a very modern and cutting edge nightclub. (Black lights are all around, that’s our sunlight in the underground. Lyrics: Asylum). A large banner, hung outside, announcing the Red Flag concert that evening. The sound check went as most do. Not enough time and too much feedback. But finally everything sounded good and we headed back to the hotel to relax before the concert.
On the way back Chris flirted with a sexy woman in the car next to us.
Back at the hotel, we received a message from the airport. After more than 36 hours, the wings had finally been located and were in route to the hotel. In the nick of time as it turns out.
We arrived back at the club shortly before midnight. The place was going off! Ushered to our dressing room, we changed into our stage clothes and got psyched for the show. We hit the stage at midnight and started the set off with ‘If I Ever’. The place was in frenzy. For the next 70 minutes we played our hearts out as the crowd pushed the envelope. Security was lax and more than a few people climbed on stage in a momentary show of affection. During ‘All Roads Lead to You’, a young girl was singing so loud that she caught my attention. Impulsively I handed her the microphone.
( I feel the flame a temptress called fame — Lyrics: Curtains )
Pandemonium ensued as she completed an entire verse. The song finished but the crowd was just warming up. I’ve always felt that the real show takes place in the audience. Well, that night the crowd was in top form and did not disappoint.
Nearing the end of the set the wings were taken off and we broke into our rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Immigrant Song’. What was simply pandemonium now escalated into sheer madness. By now the entire crowd was fully engulfed in the musical chaos. An incredible audience, in a terrific venue. How strange it seems to me now, how so many people knew all the words to our songs, yet we were unable to converse after the show.
As we finished the last song in our 3-song encore, I promised the crowd that we would return in a year. A promise I hope I don’t break.
The next morning we were on our way to Mexico City. One problem arose however. How were we going to tell the folks over there that we didn’t have any CDs, t-shirts or posters to sell? Guadalajara had bought everything. Oh well. I suppose I shouldn’t complain.
Three hours sleep was all any of us had. The drive to the airport was a blur. Fortunately the next flight was only one hour. Arriving at the airport, we were greeted by our old friends from Mexico City. We had a gig here last year and were invited back by the same promoters. It was good to see Ricardo, Donovan and Dylan again. On the way to the hotel we caught up with the past years events and reminisced about last years concert.
A quick stop at our hotel and we were on our way to DaDa X for sound check. The PA system in a word is Over-Kill ! And the sound techs are first rate. After a few technical glitches and some cable swapping the sound check concluded, everyone was hungry a ready for dinner. Well, almost everyone. To this day I don’t know what it was that Chris either ate or drank but Montezuma was about to make an appearance and he was pissed off or should I say vengeful. The promoters were more than a little concerned. This was a big night for them and a lot of money was on the line.
Chris was on his death bed and there was nothing anyone could do. Showtime was an hour away, the venue was jam packed. Chris was in a cold sweat as he sat backstage. He assured the promoters that he would be fine by show time. Other than Sandi and I, no one was buying this. But we had been in worse spots and I knew Chris would pull it together. We have never cancelled a gig and we weren’t about to let a little botchulism or dysentery stop us now.
Someone suggested that Chris lay down and pour a little alcohol in his belly button. At times like this I suppose almost anything sounds good. Maybe that’s how superstitions come about. But I digress. Logical men use logical methods and it was time to break out the big guns. Ricardo and Sandi arrived with the Pepto-Bismol.
One bottle of Pepto and 45 minutes later Chris emerged from the dressing room. As pink colored adrenalin pumped through his veins, the crowd welcomed us to the stage. The next hour is a blur. I recall however looking over to Chris at one time and seeing that secret smile. You know the one. The one that says everything is good.
With our set and encore complete we exited the stage as the crowd yelled for more. But we were spent and I wasn’t about push Chris. Blood is thicker than water and thicker than Pepto as it turns out. We hung out at DaDA X for the next hour and welcomed all who entered our circle.
The next morning our 3 amigos took us to the airport. The flight was forgettable but we arrived home exhausted but no worse for the wear. I awoke as if I were in a dream. Or was this a dream within a dream. Sandi and I rehashed the 72 hours prior. So many memories in such a short time.
Well, that was our weekend.