No one here gets out alive…

Warclaw, Poland – 2007

I had never been to Poland before. Why would I have? I’m not much of a vacationing type and Poland is probably not on anyone’s Top 10 Destinations list.

Normally, we (the band) would drive into town and then keep driving until we saw the town get a little dark or dangerous looking. As the area got worse, you always knew the gig was just around the corner.

Poland was a little different. I didn’t notice a nice part of town. But I did notice, everywhere I looked, some of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, and they were just walking around on these shitty streets.

The club was down a back alley in a basement. I was the first to climb down the stairs that went to the center of the club. The stairs had rusted chain link fence on either side so you wouldn’t fall over and off. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, the three people in the club looked at me with a look that said, “Who the fuck are you?”

During sound check, my rented JCM 900 amplifier stopped working. The road manager said, “Get your back-up amp.” I said there wasn’t one. He then went insane, ranting and screaming at me how he couldn’t believe the last tour manager left him with such a fucked-up mess of a tour.

There was talk that I might not play the show and possibly not play several shows until a replacement amp was found. No one in the band did or said anything except the other guitar player, who let it be known that it wouldn’t be a problem to do the gigs with just one guitar player: him.

I was outside trying to figure out how to get a taxi to the nearest airport, when I remembered my 3-watt Smokey cigarette pack practice amp. I had read a review once where Keith Richards had used it in the studio and that it was capable of powering a 4 x 12 Marshall speaker cabinet at low volume.


I had the sound person mic the speaker cab and then put me in the monitors as loud as it would go. It worked… just barely.

By the time we went on, the club that could hold about 100 people had nearly 200 jammed in. The stage was only four feet deep and five inches high. The audience—full of giant Polish men and beautiful women—was right on top of us. If they rushed the stage, there was nowhere for us to go.

I start the first song. Our singer walks onstage and his costume immediately gets caught on the drummer’s overhead mic stand and it falls over. The singer panics and stumbles a little, knocking the drummer’s cymbals over. Trying to avoid further disaster, he swings around 180 degrees and catches a fishnet part of his wardrobe on the tuning keys of my guitar.

I use every ounce of my strength to pull myself free in one snapping yank away from him. The fishnet does not break free and he falls further in my direction, pulling parts of the drum set down with him. We stop and there is yelling and laughing from the audience.

Everyone untangles themselves and I start the next song. The audience goes nuts. The beautiful women are right up front, elbowing and slamming into the giant, scary men. I feel that we are just seconds away from a totally out-of-control riot.

I’m on a 5-inch stage with my back against the wall, half thrilled and half terrified, playing out of a cigarette pack amplifier as a Polish audience sings along with our lyrics in English. I keep my eyes open for an escape route. There isn’t one.