L’Observateur : Bombazine Black at La Scène

Onward Through the Fog: Killing the Smoke Machine

On the way to the show, I saw a reasonably well-dressed woman along the canal pulling hits off a bottle of Malibu. I couldn’t tell if it was a good sign or a bad sign.

La Scène has a lot of sound guys. Which is probably why we only got one drink ticket per person – lots of salaries to pay. On the flip side, it was a very thorough sound check and they managed to put the knobs back where they were supposed to be even after the other two bands had played.

The other two bands were not so great. Kwoon: it was as if seven random dudes met at a Guitar Center and started a band. Dirge wasn’t so bad until the guy stepped back from the microphone and started screaming “MOTHERFUCKER! I HATE YOU!!!” He was trying to be “deep” in English. He failed. It came off like crappy German performance art. He also used the words “says” or “said” in almost every lyric. Then he rode an open E chord for a few minutes, pulled his hoodie up over his head and screamed “HALLELUJAH!!!” Hallelujah is right, because it was their last song.

Both opening bands employed a smoke machine. We forgot our miniature-Stonehenge-and-dwarf set and our Van Halen t-shirts, so I demanded that the thing be unplugged before we went on. If not, I openly stated that I was going to get up in the middle of whatever song we happened to playing when it went off and unplug the fucking thing myself. I had agreement among the band, and I was doubly assured that it would be disengaged.

As this was only my second gig as a full-time drummer, nearly everybody I know in Paris was there, and Matt was all in on this deal, I got a little bit nervous. My heart was beating about 135bpm after the first number.

During the loud part of the third number, the smoke machine went off. I remained seated as I cringed and was reassured that it would be turned off. Plus, my drumming was so hot in that moment it was possible that I’d set the drum riser on fire, so I let it go.

The next song was the quietest number in the set. Halfway through, the smoke machine went off again. After the show, the Dodger said, “That fucking thing was hissing like a snake!!!”, and it was. As the rancid cloud of embarrassment enveloped Jane Tuttle like an outtake from Spinal Tap – and the hissing sound became the loudest thing coming from the stage – I stepped out from the behind the drum kit, walked across the stage, unplugged the smoke machine, and pointed it toward the wall. I missed where I was supposed to come back in at the end of the song, but I gave fair warning about the smoke machine, so whatever – women and children first. It was 1984 the last time I saw one of those things. OU812? Who’s with me?

The rest of the set went great and the people went wild. Backslapping all around. If you happen to be a musician, Paris is a wasteland of horrible bands. Big fish, petit pond, all that. Name five French bands. Good luck.

This dude from the Posies was at the show and said he might want to record some stuff. I’ve never heard the Posies in my life because I find the band name off-putting. It sounds too much like “Posers” or “Pussies.” Stupid reasoning, but nonetheless true. He sometimes works with R.E.M., which is impressive.


  1. you are on your way shining star...

    please send autographed 8x11's

  2. i saw the item in Off the Record that somebody stole the Stonehenge & dwarf set from the back of your motard while you were loading in. sorry dude but the benefit'll be cool i bet.