The first band walked out on stage. The front man grabbed the mic and started the crowd.
“How you (cursing) people doing tonight?!! We’re (so-and-so) and we are gonna (cursing and swearing again) tear this place (more cussing) apart! You ready to (foul and filth and foul) rock-n-roll?!!”
The crowd responded in kind, raising the noise as the first of two guitarists lit up the stage in time with the lights. The band played for about a half hour, all the while being as profane as possible to a short list of cover songs. We were next.
We only had about twenty-five minutes to get our stuff in place. The stage was dark, but there was enough light for me to navigate as I rolled out and set my Marshall stack to my favorite settings. My drummer, Patrick, he set up his kit. Bryan, my good friend and bassist, he adjusted his amp and tuned up. I had tuned up in the car on the way over. I gave it another check and then leaned my Fender Strat against the amp and waited.
The DJ ended his current track and spoke over the sound to announce us. We came up to the stage from the floor. I went straight to my guitar, and while I dropped the strap so that the guitar hung low, I spoke an introduction knowing quite well that many of the folks in the crowd already knew who we were.
“Hey, everybody. Good to see you. We’re Boxhead. I’m Chris. That’s Bryan, and he’s Patrick… and we’re ready if you are.” The crowd erupted and so did we.
We played loud and fast for a little more than an hour — a typical set list for a place like this. Never once did I use foul language. I called to the crowd and they called back. We raised our fists to the sounds and so did they. We played for an hour at least, and all but one song was an original. The floor was thundering and many of the folks who were already established fans, they were singing along to lyrics they knew very well.
The headline band came on after us, doing the same things the band before us did. And yet, our show was just as good if not better.
Now without appearing to be too vain, I tell you this as I review The Balvenie Roasted Malt edition not only because it was being distilled when I was in my rock-n-roll heyday, but because it isn’t the headline edition of The Balvenie and neither is it the opening act, and yet it is a sturdy edition that exists securely amongst so many by its own right, not necessarily needing to follow along and sell itself in the cookie cutter frames as the others do. It is an intriguing whisky and worthy of its following.
The nose is cleaner than you’d expect from a bottle putting itself forward to the word “roasted”. There are the smooth scents of something sweet but promising a spicy edge that will keep you very interested. The palate reveals well-roasted almonds and the typical Balvenie honey, but again, the spice lingers in the finish, leaving everyone in the crowd riled and wanting more. If this whisky had been in existence during my “Boxhead” days, I most certainly would have broken our “no booze before a show” rule.
I must say that I do miss those days…somewhat. Playing shows before a few thousand college students — feeling the rumbling floor of a club stage — we even played a few shows where there were scantily clad women in cages to my left and right at center stage — getting home at 3 a.m. and getting up at 6 a.m. to start a regular day — all very interesting. And still, as the comparison has been made to the distinct character of The Balvenie Roasted Malt, so also was the clean-cut “Boxhead” distinct in that we didn’t need to be provocative to keep the crowd rolling with just as much strength and enjoyment as the bands that came before or after us. We were genuine. The Balvenie Roasted Malt is genuine.
And now the road has led to bigger and better things — wife, children, theology, poetry, scotch blogging. Life is good. God is good.
To end, of course, I couldn’t leave without offering you a sample song or two. However, because I am not quite willing to pay for the “widget” that would play music right here on the site (at least until I discover there is a desire to hear more Boxhead music), I have embedded nine tracks in a Microsoft Word document and you can download it here. Feel free to keep the tracks included. Feel free to share. As you can tell, I’m still quite proud of those days. And who knows, now when you get a glimpse of a “BoXHeaD” bumper sticker (especially in the metro-Detroit area), you’ll know what it means. In fact, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see a few on some “stop” signs in Oakland County. For the record, they’ve been there for years and it wasn’t me who slapped them on. Download below.