"Oh, the water... Hope it don't rain all day."
And then it stormed on me.
Isn't that how the Van Morrison tune goes? Well it seemed fitting, anyway, for the way that the weather turned during the seven o'clock hour in Belleville, Illinois on Saturday evening. After a week of record-breaking high temperatures across the region, it was only appropriate for an intense cold front to bring the slew of hot, humid days to a screeching halt.
I can't say that I had imagined my first trip to the "Great Big Small Town" ending with shoving equipment haphazardly into the back of my Toyota Corolla during a pop-up thunderstorm, but it did allow the weekend to go out with a true "bang".
Even though the threat of rain kept Saturday's performance to a single-set affair, the trip as a whole wasn't a total wash. Upon my arrival Friday evening, I had the opportunity to explore the town of Belleville. Leading the tour was local native, friend, and musician Eric Jon Veri of the band September Lost. The lights of the historic Lincoln Theatre illuminated the sidewalk of East Main Street as we made our way, pausing briefly to take in the sounds pouring out of Copper Fire. By the time we arrived at SPACES, things were beginning to wind down.
When I returned to the venue on Saturday, it was 91 degrees and humid. Once everything was set, we hit the ground running. It was a little bit before 6:00 CST by this point. As the sun slowly began to dip down in the western sky, the high temperature dropping with it, people began to fill the empty seats and spaces like ants coming out of the woodwork. It was exciting to see and hear the street come alive with the bustle of friends and families. The energy I had experienced the previous night was beginning to make itself known during the early hours of the evening. After a brief ten-minute intermission at around 6:45pm, I began my second set. I remember making a point prior to beginning Melt's Sour Candy to share my relief that it seemed as though we were going to get lucky with the weather.
And then it stormed on me.
Without warning, the skies opened, and within moments, the ground and the people on it were drenched in that heat-breaking downpour. I ran as much of my equipment as I could to the back of my Toyota Corolla, shoving speakers, cables, and whatever else would fit into the nooks, crannies and crevices on the inside. What I wasn't able to take to my car I held, huddled with three other musicians under two large Coors Light umbrellas on the main stage where, just minutes prior, I had covered a rendition of Van Halen's Ice Cream Man.
When the weather had broken just enough, I loaded what was left of my things into my car, said my goodbyes, and drove to the nearest parking garage. Looking back, I am fairly certain that the garage that I parked in was in fact closed (shoutout to Belleville security for not kicking me out). I proceeded to unload everything that I had thrust into my car out onto the concrete to dry. I knew that with a long 8.5 hour drive back to Pittsburgh ahead of me, everything would need to be dry (or at least as dry as it could be) prior to transport.
Knowing that I wasn't going anywhere for at least the next fifteen minutes, I decided to take out my guitar and share two songs with my friends in the virtual world: The first, a new song that I had just finished about a week prior, called My Johnny; the second, a cover of 6th Avenue Heartache by The Wallflowers.
Although the weather was less than cooperative, the food, people, and energy of the small town of Belleville made my first experience memorable, and I look forward to returning to SPACES later this summer to play again... inside. 😉
Art on the Square: SPACES (Setlist)
- Valerie (Amy Winehouse)
- Special to Me
- Space Oddity (David Bowie)
- Star Man (David Bowie)
- Come Together (The Beatles)
- Calling for Rain
- Light On (Maggie Rogers)
- My Johnny
- Have You Ever Seen the Rain (CCR)
- Spinning Circles
- 6th Avenue Heartache (The Wallflowers)
- Sour Candy (Melt)
- Ice Cream Man (Van Halen)
Songs in bold are originals