Alice In Chains played the Bataclan in Paris, France on Thursday, June 22nd, 2006.
It was probably the hottest gig I can ever remember them playing. Condensation coated the walls, people were covered in sweat, and it was so hot and humid that the power actually blew at one point.
But I think tonight in Cologne surpassed it.
The previous night in Berlin was pretty uncomfortable as far as the temperature and air flow inside the venue were concerned, but tonight was downright ridiculous.
First of all, there was no air conditioning in the venue (last night or tonight).
It wasn’t a particularly hot day, but there was no air moving in the venue.
We opened all of the windows in the production office and dressing rooms, but it didn’t seem to help at all.
By the time the band showed up and made their way through their press schedule and soundcheck, everyone looked ready for a cold shower and a nap.
As we inched toward showtime and more and more people filled up the venue, it got even more oppressive.
And then it was time for the show.
I usually watch most of the show, but on this night I spent the majority of it upstairs in the dressing room area dealing with some other stuff.
When I went down towards the end of the set, I couldn’t believe the difference between the floors.
Upstairs it was hot, humid, uncomfortable, and miserable.
Downstairs was like walking into a blast furnace with a really good soundtrack blaring.
Turns out that it was nearly 100 degrees on stage, which is pretty uncomfortable, but when you add in the fact that the air was absolutely stifling, and not moving at all, it was like being in a sauna fully dressed with a ton of other people, topped off with the light hint of cigarettes and stale beer in the air.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but it wasn’t a madhouse like we’ve seen recently.
I think it’s mainly because any added exertion would probably cause anyone there to crumble into a fit of body cramps, or even spontaneous combustion.
It was brutal.
When the show ended and the band made their way upstairs, I walked into the dressing room and naturally assumed William had sought relief by dousing himself in cold water.
He was completely drenched from head to toe simply from sweat.
I mean he was dripping, like he just stepped out of a shower fully clothed.
He looked at me and said, “That was like Ali-Foreman in Zaire”.
Jerry talked about how he must have looked like Popeye up there, because he constantly had one eye shut from all of the sweat dripping into it all night long.
Every time he got a chance to reach up and wipe the sweat from his eye, it would drip into the other one.
It all sounded pretty miserable.
But if you’re me, it gets worse.
Because everyone was absolutely soaking wet.
And they were undressing and toweling off and changing into dry clothes.
And some poor monkey had to go around the dressing room collecting up the sopping wet clothes.
I was that monkey.
This job has its perks.
I’ve gone places and seen things and met people that I never would have dreamed possible.
But I’ve also picked up grown men’s dripping wet socks and underwear off of a dressing room floor in Berlin.
I’m not a religious person, and I’m not certain that karma exists, but this may possibly be my punishment for dropping out of college after only three days to major in rock and roll, with a minor in underachievement.
All in all it was a good night though.
The fans saw a great show, the band survived intact, and I washed my hands in refreshing cold water for five minutes until the last trace of drippy underwear was gone (at least from my hands. There isn’t soap strong enough to wash that memory from my mind).
Sean said on the drive back to the hotel that this was one of the top 4 or 5 hottest gigs he’d ever played.
I think he was suffering heatstroke, because this felt like #1 to me.