This is part 1 of a series documenting my adventures during a trip to Monterrey Mexico to guest conduct my God Of War Suite in a Video Games Live Show.
It is April 8 2014 and Im flying back from a trip to Mexico and Texas that was equal parts exhilarating and frustrating. It was another Video Games Live related excursion. Video Games Live (VGL for short) is a traveling orchestral video game music concert that saw its first show in 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl and has, against all odds and adverse market conditions, continued to circle the globe to this day racking up 271 shows on every inhabited continent thanks to the abject fanaticism of its co-founder and star Tommy Tallarico. Ive seen my GOW suite performed at 20 VGL shows, conducting it myself at 6 shows any of which could fill its own blog post. I plan to document some of them here in the future.
The trip started like every trip I ever take: with me running around like the proverbial headless chicken planning, packing, doing laundry, shopping for potentially useful items, etc. I would think Id be more organized by now, having done quite a bit of traveling in the last several years but the night before I fly anywhere, even for a quick in/out, is usually an adrenalin addled late night affair. I got it together in time to do a quickie emergency voice over replacement for an old friend’s kickstarter campaign just before walking out the door to LAX. There were to be two shows, one in Monterrey Mexico on 4-5-14 and one in McAllen Texas on 4-7-14. I was to connect through Dallas but the weather around DFW turned nasty while we were in the air; tornados and hail effected a total shutdown of the airport. Our plane was told to circle for at least an hour but we were low on fuel so the pilot decided to land in Lubbock TX to gas up. The flight attendant also informed me that we were also down to “one warm budweiser”. Thankfully they let us get off the plane during refueling as I was wedged between two land walruses. I beelined for the bar for two shots and two beers and had some good laughs with the other folks there. I was flirted with by both a scraggly white trash meth enthusiast chick from Lubbock and a spiffy lispy dude from Vegas. I quickly tamped down the hypothetical “three of us on a desert island” question that started to form in my mind on my way back to the shamu sandwich for a quick uneventful flight to DFW where the storms had completely disappeared. My connecting flight had long since been cancelled with me being automatically rebooked the next morning. The Hotel Tonight app got me a room at a nearby Crown Plaza for only $145 which was a steal considering it was Final Four weekend AND some NASCAR race or another was in town. I found out that Texas doesn’t allow package alcohol sales after midnight when I tried to buy a 40 at the next door 7-11 at 12:05, which I guess was just as well since I was joining a nice Mormon family I met in the elevator for dinner at Whataburger, which is no In-N-Out but perfect at midnight after a long flight with only jerky and pistachios to eat.
My flight the next day was delayed a few times. I had an app updating me but when I strolled up to board the gate guy gave me grief for waiting so long. Then we sat for 40 minutes waiting for the pilot. I hope he got the same grief. One of the drug dogs at the Monterrey bag claim had a hard-on for my guitar case, leading me to wonder if the guy who restrung it was burning a doob at work. Another dog really liked my carry-on, probably because of the jerky in it. Thankfully neither of these dogs sent me to an impromptu prostate exam. The guy picking me up in Monterrey didn’t have a sign and was in regular not so nice street clothes. He walked up and reached for the bags in my hand without fully introducing himself, saying “I here take you hotel” (sic). A brief conversation assuaged my kidnapping spider sense and I got there just in time to say hi to Tommy and fellow guest composer/conductors Russell Brower and Eimer Noone on their way to the first orchestra rehearsal.
I dropped my bags and changed to shorts for the heat and was driven separately to the rehearsal, which didn’t have click or video playback due to a gear shipping snag. The orchestra was young and green but eager. I also worked with the choir a bit and assisted in selecting the soprano for the solo in my piece. They had been singing the part as a section and only two of them had the guts to try to sing it solo. Unfortunately the best of the bunch was too shy. I could tell she had a crush on me but I couldn’t even use that to convince her to try. Oh Well. Back to the hotel for dinner and drinks. And drinks. And drinks. Then one of the promoters shows up asking why none of us are at the autograph session for VIP ticket holders. None of us knew we should be there so off we were whisked to the baseball stadium where the concert would be held the next day. We were all half in the bag by then so it was a comedy show…