This crazy story from the road was written by the indie pop band, TeamMate. You can check out the band’s story, after the break.
There was an eerie silence all over Charleston, WV when we pulled our 15 passenger van into town that summer afternoon. There were no cars on the streets, house windows were dark, no one was outside and it was hot… scorching hot. It felt like we had driven right into some post-apocalyptic scene or a possible zombie attack or a fast-moving viral epidemic. It was like one of those rapture movies Left Behind meets 28 Days Later meets Outbreak. When we finally saw other humans, they were in a massive line of cars and trucks snaking around a local gas station and pouring out into the street. The convenience store shelves were ransacked and emptied. Refrigerated cases that normally stocked every brand of bottled water from Aquafina to Voss were empty. Every once in awhile someone would wander by carrying a bag of ice. The street lights and signals were fast asleep. And as it became evening, the town began to feel even darker and even quieter. After turning on the radio, we realized that nearly 1/3 of the state of West Virginia and more than half of the entire city of Charleston was without power. News reports estimated the outage was going to last a few days at least leaving people without air conditioning, without refrigeration, without lights, without internet or cell service and understandably panicked.
We pulled up to the venue to see if our show was still happening and noticed that the lights were still on. Inside, there were several customers trying to escape the dark, heat and boredom by drinking and talking politics. The bar was on the side of town that still had power and that meant the show must go on. While we were setting up, tired and sweaty people would come in asking to buy cups of ice from the bartender.
So, with that scene as our backdrop we played our show for more people than we would have expected to be out during what seemed like the End Times. After our set, we considered starting our drive to our next town, Columbus, OH, until we found out that anywhere within a several hundred mile radius in any direction was without power. Plus, pretty much every gas station along the way was completely depleted of their supply of fuel and junk food. We were stuck in town for the night. Band versus wild.
Luckily, some friends of ours in town had snagged one of the few remaining hotel rooms in Charleston with electricity and invited us and our tour mates Donora to sneak in and crash with them. After loading out of the club at 3am, all 5 of us quietly and cartoonishly tip toed past the concierge counter with our arms and backs full of luggage and equipment. Using hand signals and whispers we came up with a plan. We silently and quickly made our way to the elevator then figured out the least conspicuous route to our room. We had to blow up our air mattresses in the vending machine room so we didn’t wake up our guests but also in a way that wouldn’t alert the hotel staff that they had illegal crashers. Then, one by one we slowly walked back down the hall and into the hotel room. We found our way in the ark, stumbling over beds and suitcases and furniture and each other and laid down on any soft horizontal surface we could find holding in our breaths and laughs the best we could.
In the morning, we got up, took advantage of the free hotel breakfast then got the hell out of town. The interstate west was full of cars driving towards civilization. We eventually found a gas station that was still open in Ohio just across the state border and made it to Columbus – where most of town was without power… except for the venue we were scheduled to play.
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