My Band Is Awesome, you'll see! -This Kind of Thing Only Happens To Me
Updated: May 18
Let's step into a time machine, shall we? And travel 18 years into the past.
It's April 9, 2001. It's spring time in the Chicagoland area. It's a beautiful day, the sun is out, the temperature is pleasant, and my brother and I have tickets to a concert (Slaves on Dope) this evening. He's only 15 at the time, so he's still in high school, I wait around for the school day to end, then we'll jump in my Neon and hit the road, up to the Metro in Chicago, at the time THE place to be.
School ends, and I pick up my brother, we quickly head home to change clothes for the show. We think "do we need coats or a hoodie or something?" As I said, it's April, and it's NICE outside. What we didn't factor in is it gets a lot colder when you're close to the lake. We get into the city, clad only in shorts and t-shirts and decide "wow...this sucks!" it's COLD! We walk towards the venue, and we run into Jason Rockman, the singer from Slaves on Dope. He stops, talks with us for a few minutes, signs our CDs, and excuses himself, as he's on his way to dinner.
We're waiting at the door, but decide "seriously, this sucks!" because it's too friggin' cold, so we wander into the little record store attached to the Metro (the name of which escapes me now). This record store was AWESOME. It had CDs, stickers, posters, patches, cassettes (it was the early 2000s), records, shirts, pins...everything you wouldn't find at a typical chain store. A lot of indie labels, a lot of harder to find stuff...I think I bought something every time I went there (and I went there a lot).
Now, we'd noticed on the door, the names of the night's support bands, one being Chicago's own No One (a band I'd seen several times previously and enjoyed) and the other a band we didn't know, or had ever heard of for that matter. So inside the store, while flipping through CDs or whatever, my brother and I begin to talk, he asks me "have you heard of that first band?" I hadn't, so I responded "no, I can't even remember the name, I just hope they don't suck." [Side note: this is me when I'm 19, I thought I'd seen a lot of bands at this point (I hadn't) and I thought I had a pretty good radar for what "sucks" and what "doesn't suck" (I didn't) - I was a dummy...but hey! I was 19]
As soon as I finish my reply "I just hope they don't suck..." a hand grabs my shoulder, it's the person standing behind me, just some other dude in the store looking at stuff (or so I thought). He pulled out a CD, one of those street team 2-track promos that you use for free giveaways and presses it into my hand. "My band is awesome, you'll see."
The name of the band on the CD was from the night's opening band, Drowning Pool. The guy who'd given me the CD was Dave Williams. He was right next to me, and I didn't know it, because I didn't know him. Dave and I began to talk, he told me about his band, how they're from Texas, this is their first national tour and today is their first visit to Illinois. He asks me what other bands I liked, I mentioned Pantera (because who doesn't like Pantera?) and he told me he was friends with Dime and had spent considerable time at his house. Just because, or to impress me (who knows), he (Dave) whips out his flip phone (remember, it's 2001), calls a number and puts it on speaker. A voice answers, it's Dime himself... Dave goes "hey Dime, I'm here with a kid who's never seen my band, tell him we're awesome." without hesitation, Dime goes into almost infomercial mode "oh man, they're so fucking awesome brother, you're gonna love 'em, they rock, they kick ass etc etc." Dave thanks Dime for the minute of his time and hangs up. He looks at me again and goes "hope you enjoy our show" before excusing himself.
A few more minutes pass, and doors open. My brother and I and only a handful of other kids are there as doors open, so we get inside, and get right up on the rail. The lights go down, and Drowning Pool come out, they've got songs from their debut album "Sinner" ready, they have the confidence of a band playing a stadium, but they're playing the Metro to maybe a hundred kids, they don't care...they CRUSHED it. Dave even had a shovel he'd hit the stage with, kinda in time with the songs, I'd never seen anything like that before or since. I proceeded down to merch after their set, I look at what they have, they have one shirt, no album (it wasn't out yet), and some free CDs. I buy the shirt. I'm told "this is the first shirt we've sold in Illinois" which I thought was pretty cool.
I go back into the hallway, and run right into Dave, he goes "how did you like us?" I hold up the shirt to show my support. He goes "hell yeah! thank you." Then he asks me "you goin' to OZZfest this year?" I said I was, I liked a lot of those bands, and was looking forward to it. He tells me Drowning Pool were on the lineup, but were playing FIRST, at approx. 9:30am every day. He asked if I'd come out early to make sure I saw them again, I agreed. Chicago (well, Tinley Park) was the first date of the tour, so they were pretty much opening the whole festival for the year... He saw me up front and thanked me for coming out early to see him and support his band.
The story of Drowning Pool takes off pretty much like a rocket from here, they didn't last long opening OZZfest, they were promoted to main stage pretty quickly, "Sinner" came out and sold a million copies, Drowning Pool was on OZZfest the next year, and Dave sadly passed away, peacefully, in his sleep, on the bus, going to the next gig.
Many people remember him fondly, as a nice person, genuinely happy to be doing what he was doing, I know I do. There are many others that knew him way better than I did, but you gotta admit, this story is pretty awesome, and another example of this stuff only happens to me.
P.S. - The photo I've included here is from the night in April, at the Metro. Dave on the left, myself in the middle (wearing the Drowning Pool shirt) and their bass player Steve Benton on the right (and a PERFECT example of photobombing going on in the background). And if you're wondering, YES, I still have the shirt.