Have you ever watched a movie or TV show that has a scene in the rain, and you think to yourself that it looks fake, because it never really rains that hard in real life?
Well it does rain that hard in real life, and it did in Teotihuacan, Mexico during our time there.
Which brings me to today’s topic.
There was a lot more going on before, during, and after Forcefest in Teotihuacan, Mexico, but I keep coming back to mud.
When you’re a kid, playing in mud is amazing. You can stomp around in it, you can pick up chunks of it and throw it at your friends, and most importantly, you don’t have to wash your own clothes or buy yourself new shoes once you’re done frolicking in it.
But we’re adults now, and there’s nothing cool about mud when you’re at a big outdoor music festival.
And if you’re an idiot like me and you wear white Pumas, then you’re doubly screwed.
I checked the weather a few days before Sean & I flew from Seattle to Mexico City, so I knew that the forecast called for rain and possibly even thunder and lightning during our time in Mexico.
We arrived the day before the festival, and that’s exactly what we got; rain, wind, thunder, and lightning on our first night there.
When the crew arrived on the festival site the following morning, the weather was fine, but things were wet from the night before, particularly the area directly behind the main stage where the trucks load.
I don’t know what a semi truck loaded with band gear weighs, but I know that when a grassy area directly behind a stage gets waterlogged and then driven over by multiple trucks, it doesn’t take long to turn into a mud pit.
You know what happens in a mud pit? Vehicles get stuck (foreshadowing).
The festival operators laid down hard plastic planks that made a walkway from the dressing room area to the stage, but over the course of the day, they were driven over so many times that they were all covered in mud as well.
Because the thing I failed to mention is that during the afternoon, the rains fell again, and for about 90 minutes the site was dumped on once more.
And it wasn’t 90 minutes of drizzle.
It was an absolute downpour.
So the dressing room compound was soaked, the tents that house the dressing rooms were leaking, and the area in front of the compound where vans and other vehicles were picking up and dropping of artists all day was a complete muddy disaster.
Meanwhile, your heroes in Alice In Chains were en route to the festival and stuck in traffic, and phone service for whatever reason wasn’t working, so we couldn’t reach our tour manager to get an ETA on when exactly they’d be arriving.
This resulted in our production manager and I standing like morons in the rain, up to our ankles in mud, waiting for half an hour for the band to show up.
As I stood there bemoaning the choices in life I’d made that lead me there, I remembered that there were tens of thousands of fans who had been dealing with these conditions all day.
And they didn’t have the option of taking shelter in a warm dressing room, or going to catering to get a bowl of soup during the rainstorm.
So I stopped being a whiny bitch for a minute, counted my blessings, and greeted the band when they arrived.
The rain let up by the time they finally got there, and didn’t start up again until late in their set, which led to the last adventure of the night.
We all knew that backstage was an absolute disaster in terms of mud.
What we didn’t know was just how bad things had gotten over the course of the day on the road that led backstage.
First of all, I’m calling it a road, when in reality it was a path.
A path with a sprinkling of gravel, but not much else.
Vehicles had been coming and going on it all day, so by the time we were ready to leave, it had been turned into a long trail of brown pancake batter.
The band finished the show and climbed directly into two vans waiting right behind the stage.
Jerry & Sean were in the first van, and William, Mike, & myself were in the second.
We pulled out, made our way slowly around the stage to the road out, and that’s when I saw the tires on Jerry & Sean’s van begin to spin.
Then the back end of their van started to fishtail and start sliding to the right.
That’s about the time that I could hear the wheels on our van start to spin.
I looked up ahead and saw that Jerry & Sean were now at a 45 degree angle, and dangerously close to hitting the bike railing that was set up next to the road.
That’s about the point when we both got stuck.
Which was also the point that our driver started doing the exact opposite of what you should do when you’re stuck, which is to gun it and make the wheels spin even more, which digs you in even deeper.
Eventually the first van righted itself and magically got going again, and we somehow miraculously did the same.
But then we both got stuck again.
Same thing. Both vans slide out 45 degrees, both get stuck, both somehow manage to get going again.
Rinse and repeat. About three more times each. All to the soundtrack of whatever metal band was playing on a second stage, along with security guards along the road screaming at our drivers with encouragement and advice.
All the while I’m thinking to myself each time we got stuck, “who is gonna push these vans out of this muck?”
And each time I did the math; 4 band members, 1 tour manager, and me.
It was an easy answer; I was going to have to get out and push.
Oh sure, I’ve been in the Alice In Chains camp longer than everyone but Sean & Jerry, but that doesn’t mean I’ve risen to a spot on the totem pole where I can avoid grunt work.
And this would have involved some serious grunting, but thankfully it never came to that.
Did I mention that it was bumpy as hell, and I foolishly attempted to drink a Diet Mountain Dew throughout the whole ordeal?
(It may be this level of stupidity that’s kept me from ascending the AIC totem pole over the years)
Anyway, both vans somehow managed to make it out after a while, with no one (me) having to get out to push, so I considered being soaked in rain and Diet Mountain Dew to be a small price to pay.
All in all it was a great weekend in Mexico, but I have a pair of mud caked Pumas to remind me that it wasn’t easy…