Several years back, well before my 21st birthday, the band would take just about any show, anywhere. When you come from a relatively small town, playing in LA or SF was a badge of honor, no matter where within those cities we actually were playing. Turns out that the specific location does matter. And while San Francisco is very relaxed in most ways, it is not when it comes to liquor licenses. Couple this with the fact that I looked like I was 12 until I was 18, and I was basically the plague for any 21+ venues.
Some of these venues were kind enough to let me in and bring my drums inside, while others took one look at my baby face and said “Looks like you guys are gonna have to play acoustic.” I had made it a habit to sneak in with the other band members, obscuring my entire body with a kick drum and then hiding in the green room or as far from the bar as possible.
At one such show in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, I was forced to stay outside while Clark and Devin set up gear inside. I was terrified, and with good reason. Within 30 minutes of sitting in the car, two men came up and leaned against the van. I was reading, so I didn’t see them come up; I just felt the car move. Thankfully, they couldn’t see me through the tinted windows and they assumed no one was inside. I’m 99% sure illegal contraband was exchanged before they walked away. I don’t know if they looked inside because I was literally lying down under the window closest to them face down.
We made it out alive and managed to leave with all our gear intact and in our possession. One of the other bands wasn’t so lucky and their van broken into.
Pro Band Tip: Don’t Play Shows Where You Might Get Stabbed AKA don't leave your kid brother alone in a van in the middle of the worst part of San Francisco