By Patrick Salerno of Grave Next Door
Wednesday, March 18th, 2020:
Around midnight last night I woke up in a pool of sweat. Tony and Kyler were out in the jacuzzi drinking beer, while I went to bed around 10pm. I had Kyler feel my head and he said it was warm; I was pounding water, gargling with salt and warm water. I woke up again at 2:00 am with my nose congested, went through my gargling and hand washing protocol, and drank two bottles of water; I cannot afford to get sick. I will not get sick, this is just a cold — I’ve had the flu before and this is not it. IF I have COVID I’m far from home. What would happen if we were quarantined somewhere? I push these thoughts out of my head and close my eyes.
I awake feeling refreshed and meet my band mates at breakfast. The news blares on a television COVID this COVID that. An earthquake in Utah, I want to launch something at the television, so much negativity. I check Messenger to see if there is any news about my gig. My brother heads back to the room — he coughs, the housekeeping woman he just passed coughs, I think everyone has it. We finish our breakfast and head back to our room. We have time to kill so I ask for late checkout. We go to an Aldi’s grocery store to get provisions for the road. A lot of the shelves are empty. The employees seem really tense. We make do with tuna kits and organic apples. We arrive at the venue super early.
At 4:00PM, we load in and set up. As I set up my drums Black Flag’s “Rise Above” comes on! This is an omen! This show is going to go very well. Jason Hubbard shows up to greet us. I hang out at the Merch table and talk to a lot of cool people who are digging the COVID-19 Tour shirts. They are a big hit! COVID is all anyone talks about.
Void Vator is playing the next day at the venue and their opener couldn’t make it, so we are asked to stay another day. Void Vator is really great band and we are stoked! They were our festival mates at the now cancelled Spider Ball 2020 and now we get to share another bill with them. Jason Hubbard lets them know and they are stoked as well.
But twenty minutes later, we learn that Void Vator are canceling their tour as well. I’m somewhat relieved; a call back home reveals that three of my loved ones may have COVID-19. I have two people in my family who are battling cancer. I think of them — what if they become infected? Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids is out of tests. What are we going home to? Kyler’s roommates won’t let him back into where he lives until he gets a test and that’s warranted because his housemates have a newborn.
The Texas heat feels really good. I can’t wait to play. We sound check and we are ready to play. I’m in the zone, sweat pouring out, this is our last show, my brother and Kyler are into the set! We are in the groove. Towards the end of the set, Trey Alfaro (the drummer from Holy Death Trio) shows up; he was also a festival mate at Spider Ball. He’s nodding his head as I pound out the groove. I love Texas.
Everyone at Division Brewing was super cool. The general consensus of the patrons there was that this whole COVID-19 thing is an overreaction and fear caused by the media. The greeting of the day was the elbow bump, though I did shake hands with a few people. Several people thanked us for traveling down. They said most bands had been canceling and they have been a little depressed. There was positive energy in the air. After playing, we loaded up gear, took pictures, and headed home with Jason Hubbard who graciously opened his house to us for the night.
The COVID-19 shirts were a hit, we made new friends, and we almost had another gig with Void Vator but it was more roller coaster rides. We need to get back, we need to get off the road. We feel that we’ve done everything we can do. As far as the virus goes, we don’t know what the truth is anymore. We’re tired of the news, what does it matter if you have it? There is no cure, no treatment, no tests available, no one’s coming to help you. Drink water rest, and heal. Several people I spoke to said they thought they had COVID-19 as far back as December. Anything’s possible. My throat is hurting again. I just want to lay down and close my eyes.