Before doors opened at the Bristol show, I watched from a distance as three fans stumbled into Darwin outside the venue. They exchanged a couple of words and then Darwin ducked inside. During his exit, the girls clamped themselves up like shook soda bottles. When Darwin was fully out of sight, they leapt into the air with gleeful squeals and raced down the sidewalk.
It is certainly wild to watch a friend grow into the place where he’s inciting those kinds of reactions. This week, we had the delight of discovering Darwin to be a cover boy on NME, dubbed “The 10th Coolest Person in Music.” These happenings are especially astonishing when I juxtapose them with the quite recent memories of the Darwin Deez band buried below the bottom of the totem pole, in the humblest, homeliest of circumstances.
A particular moment I’m reminded of was around December 2008. At that point, Darwin had been adamant for months about this crackpot theory of his, that it is a waste of time to play local shows in New York City, and that the best way to get famous is to tour the eastern seaboard (John Mayer was oft cited as a success story of this business model).
So one day he rallied Greg and I into the truck. Our vehicle slowly crept through the Chinatown traffic madness of Canal Street. At one point, Darwin scooted from the moving car so he could score some ultra cheap (mega junky) mixer cables at one of the endless, indistinguishable electronic shops. He caught up with the car a few stores down. I was not thrilled about this last minute decision to head up to Massachusetts, and complained to Darwin, “Are you sure that we’re even booked for this thing?” “The booker hasn’t gotten back to me yet,” Darwin informed in that frank, intent, unshakable manner of speaking he uses in these sorts of situations. We tolerated the five crammed hours of driving and pulled up at a large, sparsely furnished new house somewhere in the woods. About twenty inhospitable college kids were starting their night of partying. Maybe half of them watched our set in the basement, disinterested, as we tried our darndest to light up the night. We closed with Radar Detector and danced like madness to Double Dragon music. The reaction was half hearted. The following band took the stage, composed of partying locals, and we watched the audience come alive through the basement window as we lugged our amps across the icy backyard. At the time, Darwin Deez was playing 3 shows maximum per month, and often one or no shows. “This band is going absolutely nowhere,” I grumpily declared to myself.