12/6/2010 12:59 PM
In 1974, I was 16 years old,
and my group was getting
ready to play a battle of the bands as the local favorite. I had the brilliant idea to include a fog
machine, which my friends and I designed. We cut a six-inch hole out of the side of a small metal
trash can, and attached a large hose. Our intent was to fill the can with water, place it over a
portable gas barbecue, and when the water began to boil, drop in some dry ice.
So we hit the stage to a screaming audience, and as we reached the middle of “Echoes” by Pink Floyd,
my buddies tossed a piece of dry ice into the can, and slammed down the lid. A small puff comes out. I
yell, “More ice!” Another small puff. I scream, “Dump the whole bag in!” Within seconds, the lid blows
off. Thinking quickly, two of my buddies shut off the barbecue, slam the lid back down, and sit on it.
Suddenly, fog comes barreling out of the hose like water pouring from a broken water main. People in
the front row freak out, and run from the wall of fog, until they realize it’s all part of the show. Simultaneously,
I walk to the front of the stage and—wham—I’m on my back in a huge pool of water and
covered by fog. We didn’t think about the condensation! I’m dripping wet as we launch into our last
song, and the crowd starts going absolutely bananas as plumes of smoke float above the stage. I
think, “Wow. I didn’t know we had a smoke machine.” We didn’t. The old-fashioned lighting panel is
totally in flames, and my friends are running around screaming for a fire extinguisher. Finally, they
find one, and let it rip all over the fire as we play through the chaos. The audience eats it all up, and we
win the battle of the bands, achieving local-legend status in the process. I will never forget that
show—it was truly a night in rock and roll boot camp!—CHRISTOPHER CHARLTON
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