As I was out in the crowd midway through the set, a big dude jumped right in my face and started screaming and banging his head.

He was uncomfortably close, and absolutely hell-bent on sharing his special moment with me.

He was probably 5 inches from my face and banging his head so much that I was having a hard time getting a good look at him, and when he slowed down the headbanging to scream in my face I realized that I didn’t know who this guy was.

All I knew was that there was a blur of teeth and spittle and breath, and none of it was pleasant.

He didn’t care who I was, he just wanted someone to direct his drunken enthusiasm at, so why not make it a complete stranger?

I’ve been drunk a whole bunch in my life, but I’ve never jumped in a stranger’s face and howled like a feral dog.

And this dude would not stop.

He disappeared for a minute, then jumped back in front of me and shrieked some more unintelligible gibberish, which is about the time that I thought to myself, “Now’s a good time to not be here anymore”.

I realize that it’s a rock concert and that people are here to let loose and have a good time, but when listening to the band is actually part of your job, interference isn’t always so great.

So I took off and sought refuge backstage.

But one fanatical fan can’t spoil my night, and I spent a good portion of the remainder of the show watching from the side of the stage.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about on this run so far has been the people coming to the shows.

I always watch you guys, but lately I’ve been thinking about what sacrifices people make to come out to a show.

I look out in the crowd and wonder all kinds of things, like was the ticket no big deal to buy, or was it a bit of a burden?

Did the person travel a long way to get here?

Did they miss work?

Will they have a great time and be happy they came to the show when they wake up tomorrow morning?

I hope so.

I don’t have a family, and I don’t have a normal job.

But tons of people who come to Alice In Chains shows do.

When you’re young and unencumbered by lots of adult-y things, going out to a show is easy.

As you get older, factors like kids, baby sitters, waking up early to go to work, and just generally being old and lethargic come into play.

When I look out into a crowd I see a decent amount of people in their 20’s or younger, but mainly I see people in my age range.

In other words; full grown middle-age adults.

As I’ve gotten older I can barely muster the energy or will to get off the couch to go to the kitchen, let alone a rock concert, so I have a massive appreciation and respect for people who feel like I feel now and somehow still manage to come out to a show.

I said something to Mike years ago that he still brings up from time to time.

I said that every single show they play is someone’s first time seeing them play, and someone’s last.

Every single person who comes out to a show has a story, and every single person sacrificed something to be there.

I know that, and the guys in the band know that.

So to everyone who has come to a show so far, and to all of you that will, thanks for coming out and supporting this band.

It’s very appreciated.

Just keep your unhinged headbanging and screaming at a safe distance from me when I venture out among you…

Rainier Fog

Available August 24