Dear Dudefest Forum,
I always wanted to be in a band. All teenage dudes feel that way. There's something about getting paid millions of dollars, hearing thousands of adoring fans scream your name, and having unprotected sex with groupies that just appeals to teenage boys. I don't remember why. I'm no longer a teenage boy. My dream now is to be an NBA center.
There was a lot standing in my way to be in a band. First and foremost, I didn't have a great guyde on the subject. Secondly, I had no friends who could play instruments (who weren't already in bands). And thirdly, I can't play a musical instrument. Arguably, that was the biggest hindrance. However, being the motivated individual that only I think I am, I was decided on it.
Given my lack of talent, I had two options. Option number one, I could be the lead singer. This, however, would not work for me.
This means that I was left with option number two. Form an air band. And form an air band I did. Inspired by a documentary of the an air band called the Cool Cats that aired as part of a Scrubs episode, four friends and I formed The Friendship League. Why The Friendship League? That's a long story in and of itself, but suffice to say we bought a couple of extra-small t-shirts that had "Friendship League" on them and correctly realized that it was the perfect name for an air band. And how did we divy up the roles? I believe we used dibs. I dibsed lead air singer. Lead singer might not work for me, but lead air singer definitely would.
With our air band assembled AND named, we only had one more thing to do. It was time to set up our first gig. This was going to be difficult, because I had never seen a live air band perform, and thus I knew of no venues that accepted air bands. Opportunity arose when I found out that the mother of a friend of mine was running an open mic night at a local library. It wasn't the Fillmore East, but it would do. I let my friend's mother know that our band would like to perform, conveniently leaving out the word "air". She said "Meh, whatever, it's an open mic night, do whatever." Or something like that.
When the gig rolled around, we found out that our air drummer wasn't coming (classic air drummer). Since we had "rehearsed" (there are going to be a lot of quoted words in this letter) with five dudes, we needed a replacement. Cue Smigoversen. He was in an actual, human band with real instruments that was also playing at that open mic night. I pitched him the idea and he was instantly into it. We were all wearing short shorts and tight shirts (we were an air band damn it), and luckily for us, he already had both of those things with him (classic Smigoversen). With our replacement drummer all set, we did a quick "rehearsal", and took the stage for the first time as an air band.
As soon as we opened with "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult, people absolutely loved it. I have no idea why. Maybe people thought that we were making fun of some of the other bands that took themselves seriously despite the fact they were playing in a library and enjoyed our parody. Perhaps they liked watching a collection of limbs flail around while three to four dudes pretended (poorly, mind you) to play instruments in the background. Possibly, some people didn't see the stereo we brought and thought we were somehow playing perfect renditions of classic rock songs with our minds. Whatever the case, the crowd of around 50 (five dudefest dozens) enjoyed it. We "played" four songs, lasting a total of about 15 minutes, and left the "stage" feeling like we were champions. Our set-list:
- "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
- "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" by James Brown
- "More Than A Feeling" by Boston
- "Pinball Wizard" by The Who
Obviously that one "concert" alone is not worthy of a letter to the Dudefest Forum, which is why the story does not end there. We were not content with "playing" a simple open mic night. It didn't truly make us feel like the air rock stars we thought we were. We dreamed bigger. After overhearing a conversation Smigoversen was having with a member of his real band, I found out there was a local of the battle of the bands coming up. I knew that would be our next "gig". I asked Smigoversen if we could do it too. He obviously said no. I did not like that answer, so I signed us up anyways, again not specifying that we were an air band. This was a fairly legitimate venue. Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers have played on that stage. And now it was The Friendship League's turn.
The day of the gig, we "rehearsed" like crazy. We were in our guitarist's basement for almost an entire half an hour running through all the songs, making sure they were "perfect". When we thought we were "ready", we headed to the venue. I spoke to the sketchy dude in charge of the place (every dude who runs a music venue seems like they'd be equally at home dealing meth to pregnant women under a bridge) and paid him two dollars or whatever the fee was for entering the battle of the bands. He let me know that our instruments could be brought through the back door, and I chuckled to myself, since we would not be needing that information.
When the rest of the dudes got to the venue, we were ready to go, with the exception of one problem. Smigoversen, whose actual band was going on after us, was worried that we would get kicked out and his band wouldn't win because he obviously be unable to perfom. Since we needed a sixth "musician" for our routine to work (we had our drummer this time, and we were naturally going to dress as The Village People), I had to do what I do best: convince a reluctant member of the crew to do something awesome. Despite initial opposition from Smigoversen, who can be quite hurtful when shooting down my ideas, I was able to convince him that there's no way anyone would kick us out, let alone recognize him if we did get kicked out and he tried to get back in. I had absolutely nothing to back that up, because I figured we'd probably get kicked out, but for whatever reason he believed me. I ended up being right, so no harm, no foul.
Our second concert was not as well-received as the first, and ended after "three" "songs" when the bridge meth dealer asked us to leave the stage. I'm pretty sure we had at least two or three more songs planned, which was way too many, so getting kicked off the stage was probably for the best. They didn't kick us out of the venue though, so Smigoversen got to go on with his real band, and they ended up winning. Win-win! AMIRIGHT? Anyways, our setlist for that performance:
- "Y.M.C.A." by Village People (intro only)
- "Brick House" by Commodores
- "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" by James Brown (again)
- "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" by Pink Floyd
After that performance, The Friendship League treaded water for a while before we eventually split up and went our separate ways. We had tried to get a third performance together, even rehearsing brand new songs ("Long Train Running" comes to mind) in the basement of one of our "roadies", but we simply lost the spark. Smigoversen aside, our music careers died with The Friendship League, and at this point the only member of our Facebook group (remember Facebook groups?) is me. Maybe some day, if the public demands it, The Friendship League will get back together, but until then, we'll always remember those days as the pinnacle of our teenage years, when six young men achieved their collective dream of being in a band.
Joe Kennedy is a staunch technophobe and suffers from a debilitating fear of human hands. If for some reason you'd like to get in touch with him, send a letter to 463 Mass Ave Cambridge MA 02139.