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THE CONCERT at the “With Full Force” festival was one of the biggest of Down By Law’s career. The biggest thrill for me, though, was shaking hands with a legend. Held in a Woodstock-like setting (a farm far from Anywhere, Germany, packed with about 30,000 people in various states of intoxication), the three-day festival featured some of rock’s heavy hitters. The main stage headliners were Slayer on Friday night, Motorhead on Saturday and Machine Head on Sunday.
In fact, I was a bit afraid that Down By Law’s melodic skatecore punk wouldn’t go down well with the masses of rockers dressed in black. I knew we couldn’t out-tough this crowd, so I just wore blue jeans and a white T-shirt. After announcing “Hi, we’re the Bee Gees and it’s great to be back in Miami!” we launched into the first song.
We were playing on the second stage, called the “tent stage,” as it was beneath a truly enormous tent. The tent held about 5,000 people, as opposed to the open-air fields for the main stage where you and 30,000 of your closest friends could listen to the soothing melodies of Slayer and Motorhead.
When we played, at about 5 p.m., the tent was mostly full, and, thank you, God, the kids went bananas. It was a huge relief and a lot of fun. The pit was the most crazed it had been all day, and when we had the crowd sing along to the chorus of “Gruesome Gary,” it ruled.
For me, though, the day would not be complete until I met Lemmy. Lemmy Kilmister is the legendary singer and bassist for Motorhead, and, along with Angus Young, one of my all-time rock heroes. Lemmy is a tall, tough-looking rocker with, of course, long black hair, a walrus moustache and white cowboy boots. He is the essence of hard rock, and one of the last of the truly great rock singers.
I’d seen Motorhead years before, in a comparatively small club in Boston called the Paradise, and been blown away by the sheer power of the band (and the volume of the music-to this day, Motorhead remains the loudest single concert I’ve ever seen). But this was different-I was hanging around in the backstage area, guzzling free Red Bull (an energy drink) and on the hunt for Lemmy.