We looked a tornado in the eye… and Lived.

We looked a tornado in the eye….and lived!
Yes, that’s right.

Now that I am in the safety of our Detroit mothers home—Judy Judy Judy!!! I can now sit back and write a little blog about the insanity that was… yesterday

5.25.08

Were in the middle of Iowa. Better yet, were driving to the “venue”– a cornfield in the middle of Iowa in a tiny town with maybe 1000 people that live in little houses on farms in the surrounding areas… the town was called carbon.

We stop at a gas station– the only gas station before making the drive into carbon (nope–no gas station there)
I find some kids who look like potential show goers. I ask them and they say that is indeed where they are heading. 30 miles later, after following them into a lost oblivion, we get left in their dust as they were driving much too fast for our likes…and yes it was in dust—since all the roads at this point were made of gravel or dirt.

We stop and ask the only person we can find. A 5-year-old boy on an ATV doing donuts on the side of the road. We ask him for assistance and like the little red neck he was, he gave us his best directions into “town”— clearly he was NO help.
Finally a few miles later we found a woman watering her mailbox. We told her we were looking for CARBON… her response ” do you wanna take gravel?”

For those of you who don’t know this… were from Los Angeles. We all got mildly excited at the thought of this amazing new drug we might have stumbled across…. alas she literally meant… do you want to drive on a gravel road? Seeing as how that was the ONLY road into the town of carbon, we took her directions… “Straight onto the gravel. Turn right at the dead end. Left when that dead-ends. And another left when that dead-ends. There is only business in carbon, you wont miss it”
Another 15 miles later and we had found the FESTIVAL…. perfect timing as well. The band before us was just starting and we were next.

Not expecting much, due to the location, we were quite surprised to find under the tent in the middle of BFE, a good amount of people, waiting to hear their next favorite metal band. awwwww yesssss— metal!!! Been there…done that.

We set up real quick… it was hot and very HUMID. I knew things were gonna get bad when the soft serve drummer who played before us thought he was dying. I gave him a little smirk, reminded him he hardly even hit his drums and then told him to move his sh*t out of my way. He put his head down, was breathing heavy and looked as if he wanted to puke, pass out or just die. Quite entertaining to say the least when you gotta act like you gave it your all— or maybe he did–and his all just wasn’t all that much…. OK enough of me being a dickhead—- I was just put into a real bad mood (not sure how some people are naive enough to think that things just “go away and get better” and im taking it out on him…sorry man

I would also like to point out that the drum riser was nothing more then a couple tables next to each other. It gets better. The legs of these tables… on the left side, not all of them were even extending to the ground. It was an unlevel, rocky, dirt area. Some legs touched the ground, most did not. SAFE!!

So I got set up. I was already soaking wet with sweat. I walked over to the promoters tent… the same promoter from the night before who fails to understand what its like being a touring rock band–failing to feed us or do anything for us… and yes that continued into this conversation when I asked where the water was… (Let me remind you its about 100 degrees with 5000% humidity) and he says. ” Ohhh I didn’t get any water for the bands… there are a lot of bands playing… I have a lot of expenses…. there is no water”
This is of course where I said something ” RUDE” like—- are you kidding me?? Do you realize how f*cking hot it is…. ??? You don’t have WATER??? you’re the promoter and you cant even provide your bands with water???— He realized I wasn’t stopping anytime soon and quickly offered me some of his
‘Private stash’ of water and pointed to less then 1/2 of a case (IE: 10 bottles)
I laughed and said don’t worry about it man….. We will take care of ourselves…I grabbed a case of water that we keep on board our bus just for this kind of special occasion — douchebagery de promoters… and placed them on the stage.

The rock show began… I don’t think kids quite understood what was happening. I didn’t have 2 kick drums… hell– I didn’t even have a double kick pedal. The crowd sat there with a look of shock for a few minutes but that quickly turned to relief and eventual excitement. We had a great show and I want to thank all the kids who had a good time with us… video to follow soon.

I went thru 10 bottles on my own behind the drums in our 30 minute set. It was very hot, very wet, and very exhausting. Homeboy before me playing drums had half the reason to be as wasted as he was trying to act like he was—the hot and humid weather… I provided the other half… running a marathon on stage in 30 minutes. We killed it. The kids were great!!!

As we loaded off— my head turned to the sky. In the distance there were clouds. I let coatez and Sweeney know my predictions on the weather. SERIOUS RAIN coming very soon…. lets get our gear put away.
I went to the merch table and let them know that we should start our count out and prepare for rain…. the sun still shining, the weather still hot.

The band after us starting playing… bobaflex started unloading their gear to prepare to play next. I mentioned to Marty (guitar/ singer of bobaflex) that the rain was coming and to make sure he went and settled with the promoter before chaos ensued. The promoter had already mentioned to me that if it started raining- the show would be postponed- as I said before, the drum riser was made of tables, and I could only imagine the corners cut on the rest of the production expenses. Rain + electricity = not a good idea…

This is when all hell……. broke loose.
A few drops began to fall. Within minutes those random drops became a thunder, lightning, wind and hail storm within seconds. People running in every direction…. merch tables being knocked over…. the tent in which the show was being held was being lifted from the ground. It quickly turned into a mud pit. People falling to the ground, slipping and sliding, yelling… total chaos. The merch count out was quickly cancelled and everything was thrown into our tubs as rapidly as we could. Yanking the power on all the lights and cables that ran across our feet. The sound/ light guy —- yeah BUMMMMMED
As all of his gear got destroyed in the torrential downfall…
I picked up the camera and attempted to film, but our tape had run out. Sweeney took on the task of trying to make it to the bus to get a new tape. He returned within a minute and looked as if he had not only been swimming in a pool fully clothed, but also looked like he was hanging in one of those spinner rides at a carnival which their only purpose is to make you throw up. He got the tape and I gave the camera to frost to start filming…

We made a ” B ” line for the bus with our merch (more appropriately known as an ” I ” line by Dane cook) slipping and sliding through the mud. Opening the trailer and just throwing everything in with little to no care of the pack. Then we got inside the van and accessed the situation. I sat in the drivers seat. Turned on the engine, defroster and lights…. within seconds Shaun from bobaflex said, ” DONT even think about driving right now… BAD IDEA!!!!”
We collectively didn’t know what we should do. Were used to sun and earthquakes out in LA… so we turned on the radio news and Sweeney went back inside to find out what we should do.
At this point things got really hectic and im not sure in what order or how we got what news…but I will do my best to interpret what I remember.

Sweeney jumped back in the van… he seemed calm but the news he shared was anything but calming. ” A tornado has touched down 5 miles from us “- at the same time we heard the news on the radio confirming this… meanwhile as we were trying to help bobaflex get their gear back into their trailer –Marty from bobaflex was heard quoting the sheriff and shouting ” everybody run for the ditch… were all gonna DIE!!!!!!!”

Determined to not go out that way…. I shoved the van in drive and was gonna get us out of there…. NO SOUP…. we had already sunk into the mud from our weight alone. We were not going anywhere unless it was up and around in the incoming tornado. lightning was striking all around us, on top of us, and the thunder was GINORMOUS!!!
The radio buzzed of tornado ALERT!!!!

Sweeney ran back inside to find out of there was a tornado shelter/ basement… what he discovered was even better… he runs inside and asks ” what do we do? Where do we go? Is there a basement???” The person looks at him, turns and points to the bar ” that’s all there is left to do”
At the bar are some Iowans who have ultimately accepted their fate, their death, and were tilting their heads back–shot after shot—- drinking the misery and the pain away…

Meanwhile we were outside still trying to get the van and trailer unstuck… putting sticks and stones under the tires to try and grab traction… people were pushing and doing everything they could. The wind was crazy… the thunder and lightning was beautiful and beyond scary all at the same time…
Out of nowhere a 4X4 truck pulls up in front of us…. hitches a chain to us and with a little team effort, yanks us out of the mud and onto some gravel and we were free to drive… if we wanted to.
The saint behind the wheel of the 4X4 says ” if you’re gonna drive…. drive north…and drive fast… tornado is incoming”
I made sure we were all safely, yet muddy, in the van and drove off into the darkness of power outage. We seemed to stay with the lightning for an hour, and we got to witness and amazing light show…. we continued listening to the storm news and soon enough we made our way out of the storm.

Video and photos coming soon…..

I just got off the phone with my mother, she mentioned that on the news she saw the damage caused by the tornado. It was super close to us, and I want to send my condolences to those who weren’t as fortunate as we were to escape fairly unscathed. Many died, many more lost their homes that were in the path of destruction. We drove away with an amazing story of yet another day on the road and in the life of The Bangkok Five.

~Blanco

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