Seven years, people.
This may not seem like a big deal, but NIL8 is a regional band that may not play as often as they once did, but when they do, it's usually not more than an hour away from where I live. In my defense, though, this seven year drought happens to be the same amount of time it has taken my wife and I to increase the size of our family from two to five.
I showed up to the Castle about the time the doors opened with plans for my handheld Sony to capture a listenable audio recording of NIL8's set. The small line which had formed outside was just entering the venue. After being gouged for a few extra bucks at the door (not worth explaining), I headed inside and quickly realized that my plans to record from the balcony would need to change since the upstairs was closed for the night.
I grabbed a cheap draft and a shot of Jim Beam from the bar and parked myself at a table near the back of the room.
This was brand new territory for me. Not only was I "the old guy at the rock show," I was "the old guy by himself at the rock show." My brother and I had discussed this new stage in life a few weeks ago when we saw Deer Tick play and we comprised a portion of the oldest 1% in the room. Gone are the days of face-in-speakers. Say hello to the days of cotton-in-ears.
I drank my beer and sipped my whiskey while I caught up on some reading to pass the time.
There's something awesome about having a few drinks at a bar while you wait for a metal show ... and doing some reading for a study you're doing at church while you wait.
NIL8 was set to be the first of two bands -- the second of which (The Pimps) had already set up and completed their sound check prior to the doors opening. With barely 30 minutes until showtime, NIL8 was nowhere to be seen and the place was filling up.
Then there was Bruce with his bass. Then came Wes dragging in some drums. Old School Cock (Damon) had his guitar. Last, but not least, was Jeff who was cruising up the center aisle at quite a clip -- not running, but not walking. Sort of that super-fast walk kids do in the hallway at school so as to stay within the acceptable range of the no-running rule. As the guys in the band hustled to get the stage set, it hit me -- after all these years -- this is why I love NIL8.
There was no annoyance from crowd members checking their watches. There was no dog-and-pony show of sneaking the band through a secret back door. There were no nervous roadies feeling the pressure of an anxious and eager crowd. It was just NIL8 running cables and making last-minute adjustments in preparation for a gathering crowd knowing full-well that we were about to have our faces rocked off.
Anyway, it may have been seven years since I've seen a live NIL8 show but they haven't slowed down one bit. Aside from Jeff's early-in-the-show stretches, this was clearly still the same band that used to pack the Dungeon in Charleston back in my mid/late 90s college days.
Powering through an hour-long set of NIL8 classics mixed with some more recent material, my face had been figuratively rocked off in the name of amazing punk-ish/pop-ish metal.
Regular FASTE readers are likely aware of my constant efforts to fill online voids left where deserving people have no adequate tribute within the world wide web of information. I did it for singer-songwriter Todd Snider with EighteenMinutes.com. I did it for Mister Rogers with NeighborhoodArchive.com. Over the past several weeks, I've been back at it again with a new site dedicated to South-Central Illinois' finest -- NIL8. SwitchDrops.com (named for one of my favorite NIL8 classics) is in its very early stages but something tells me there are others ready to read and/or contribute to such a site.
Staying through a majority of the Pimps' set, I headed to the quiet parking lot across the street and pulled from my parking spot just in time to see Jeff stepping away from his van a few feet away. Part of me considered rolling my window down and filling him in on SwitchDrops.com and begging him for anything and everything he'd be willing to contribute. But I didn't want to be "that guy." You know, that guy who approaches you in a dark parking lot and tells you all about his new website based on his multi-decade following of your band.
That's not cool.
So I opted for a quick nod of acknowledgement and headed for home.
We'll see where SwitchDrops.com goes from here. I know there is a ton of stuff out there that could make this site something great for NIL8 fans everywhere. In the meantime, though, I assure you it won't be another seven years before this old guy at the rock show sees NIL8 again.
For the good of the cause, here's Switch Drops from the last time NIL8 visited the Castle.