"Hey, Mark, are you with us dude?" asked Scott.
"Huh, oh, yeah. What's up?" I asked.
"You've only been staring into space for 10 minutes. Is something bothering you?" he asked.
"No, I've just got something on my mind." I replied.
Just then then came a knock on the door. "Well, you better get it off of your mind because the guys are here."
I guess now would be a good time to give you a little who's who of my life. First off, my name is Mark. I was really shy and didn't have many friends during high school, except for my three best friends: Scott, Brian, and James. We were a band called "Weathered". We have always been into music, and with none of being popular, music consumed our lives. As soon as we got home from school we would practice for hours straight. But, we wouldn't let anyone hear us.
We practiced like this for two years of junior high and four years during high school. As you can guess, we were pretty damn good in my humble opinion. We just completed our second, and last, year of college, and we played a lot of parties and clubs. It was a total 360 degrees from what high school had been: we all had new looks, and everyone wanted to be our friends, but we mostly kept to ourselves.
Which brings me back to now, I am 20, and we all decided to temporarily leave school to concentrate on our music "careers". We didn't get a lot of gigs because we had to much to do at school, but we were done now, and that would change.
Scott opened the door. "Hey guys, how's it going?" I asked Brian and James as they came in my house.
"I'm great", Brian said.
"I'd be a lot better if we win that contest on Saturday.", was James' response.
Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to mention "the contest". A local radio station was hosting a Battle of the Bands this Saturday. The winner gets to open up for The Backstreet Boys concert. If we won, this would be just what we needed to get into the big time. OK, maybe playing in front of 40,000 screaming girls wouldn't get us there, but the record executives sure could help.
"Let's get this party started", says James as he begins to set up his drum kit.
As you can probably already tell, James is our drummer. I am the guitarist, Scott is on vocals, and Brian is the bass player. I warmed up on some scales while the guys got their things set up. My house was basically a concert stage. My parents died in a car accident a few years ago, and I got the house. Yeah it was sad, but I am over it now, plus it was some great motivation for song writing. I had PA speakers, guitar amps, and bass amps set up in the living room all the time: it was just easier that way.
Each band was allowed three songs to play at the contest. We went through our songs that we would play at the contest at least a dozen times. Finally, at 11:30 we decided to wrap it up for the night.
We exchanged our good-byes as James, Brian, and Scott left. The rest of the week went prett much like that, intense practice sessions. But, we were damn sharp by the end of the week.
It's finally Saturday morning. We decided to meet at our place at 6:00 in the morning to load up our gear and get ready to kick some ass.
We arrived at the amphitheater where the contest was being held at 9:00. We went through the registration, yada, yada, yada. At 11:00, the first band was announced to the stage to play.
"Damn, they're horrible." Scott screamed over the noise that the band produced.
"I hope they're all this bad, it'll make things easier for us." I told him. He nodded his head in agreement.
"And now, please welcome our last band, Weathered." shouted the radio DJ who was hosting the event. We went up on stage and played at the top of our game. We even got a standing ovation from the audience.
"So, what do you think of our chances" asked Brian with a grin on his face.
"And the winner, to open up for the Backstreet Boys at the brand new American Airlines Center, by unanimous decision, is Weathered." the announcer said and the crowd screamed it's approval.
We now had to go meet with some "officials" to finalize the deal.
"Well gentlemen, I would like to be the first to congratulate you all on your amazing performance out there." said a Jive record offical. "If you will just sign here, here, and here. And, I'll need you to initial here, here, here, and here. And right here." We all did as we were told. "OK, the concert is next Friday, August 31. We will need you at the arena at 1:00 for a sound check and to set up your gear. Your will take the stage at 6:30. The Backstreet Boys will go on at about 8:00. Any questions?
Seeing that we had none, he wished us a good day, and we walked out of the door. As soon as we started walking towards the parking lot, the screaming began.
"Damn man, do you know what this could mean for us?" asked Scott, who was, as always stating the obvious.
We all talked about what we would do if we made into the "big time". We got back to my house at about 8:00 that night. The guys decided to stay, so we watched TV and ordered pizza. The guys were the only people who knew that I was gay. They were all as straight as an arrow, but the great thing is that the didn't give a damn about it. I knew that they were true friends. And let me tell you, my musical career wasn't the only reason I wanted to open for the Backstreet Boys. I have always had a crush on Nick.
By the time Leno came on, they decided that is was getting late and they needed to get home. James and Scott had girlfriends, and Brian had just recenly broken up with his. But, after the concert next Friday, he shouldn't have a problem getting hooked up with somebody else.
Friday, August 31, 2001. The big day. This performance could change our lives forever.
It was 11:00, we had just finished loading all of our gear into the van. "So, you guys wanna go grab some lunch?" I suggested. The various nods showed that they were ready to go. We all got into the van and headed for McDonalds.
"Hey, maybe we can help hook you up with one of the Backstreet Boys." joked James. If he only knew how right he was. We arrived at the American Airlines Center at 1:30. We pulled up to the security booth and gave our names. He showed us how to get to the back of the arena where the crew would unload our gear for us. We walked into the backstage area of the arena after getting cleared by security again.
We sat in our dressing room and waited until they were ready for us for the sound check.
Meanwhile, in the dressing room next to Weathered, the Backstreet Boys waited for a meet and greet session...
"So, who's opening for us tonight?" asked AJ.
"I dunno, some local band, I can't remember their name." Brian answered.
"I sure hope they aren't as bad as that band that opened for us in Toronto." said Kevin.
"Actually, I heard that they are pretty good. I saw something about it in the newspaper." Nick said. 'And the guitarist is pretty cute', thought Nick.
"Hey, maybe we should go talk to them. I'm sure they haven't been up in front of a crowd this big before. Maybe we can give them some tips." Kevin suggested. Nick was secretly delighted at the idea of seeing the gutiarist in person.
"I agree," said Nick.
Back in the dressing room of Weathered...
"I wonder if we'll get to meet the Backstreet Boys," I wondered aloud.
Just as Scott was about to answer the door opened. I watched as my blond object of affection walked in. He immedialy made eye contact with me. I nearly fell out of my chair. They talked for about 20 minutes, and I tried to sneak as many looks as I could at Nick. On several occasions, I thought he was looking at me to.
Then there was a knock at the door, and a man with a clip board entered. "We need the Boys for the meet and greet, and Weathered we need you on stage now for sound check.
I watched Nick go with his group, for what I thought would be the last time I saw him in person.
We were lead to the stage. My knees went weak as I stepped onto the huge stage and looked over the sea of empty seats.
I got my trusty Paul Reed Smith guitar, and it had already been set up to my Mesa Boogie triple rectifier which fed two Fender cabs. We played some bits of songs, just enough for the sound engineers to adjust our levels for the building's PA system.
We returned to the dressing room. The guys were thinking about the upcoming performance; however, my thoughts were elsewhere. I thought about Nicks eyes, his perfect lips, his wonderful..."MARK," James yelled at me.
"Huh?" was my response.
Did you hear me? We have to be on stage in 15 minutes." he said.
Back at the dressing room of the Backstreet Boys, after the meet and greet.
Nick was daydreaming of what it would be like to be with Mark. His short blond hair, his deep blue eyes, his marvelous..."NICK, pay attention", shouted Kevin.
"Sorry, I was just thinking about something." said Nick.
"Well, you need to pay attention to what we're talking about." replied Brian.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Weathered", the announcer shouted into his microphone. We took the stage.
We had just played our last song. The response from the crowd was astonishing. "Thank you very much, Dallas." said Scott. We took a bow and left the stage. We were soon being congratulated by people from every direction backstage.
Back in our dressing room, there was a knock at the door. "Come in," I yelled. The man with the clip board entered once again.
"Guys follow me, you are wanted in a meeting," he said. We all looked at each other and shrugged. There was a thunderous cheer as we walked towards the conference room. Backstreet must have just taken the stage I thought, smiling.
We walked into the conference room, and I didn't like what I saw. About 7 men in dark suits seated around a table. "I wonder what we did wrong" I whispered to Scott, who only shrugged his shoulders.
"Have a seat boys, we need to talk to you guys about something." said a large man in a black suit. We looked at each other and took our seats.
"Your performance was amazing. We are willing to offer you a full contract and put you on tour with the Backstreet Boys right away..."