The conversations were moving into prolonged gaps of silence that were filled with lazy swirls of smoke from long-ashed cigarettes. Backstage, at large music festivals, there is a surreal carnival-like atmosphere created by the rows of wooden banquet tables and chairs. Overfull ashtrays and empty beer and water bottles decorated the tables like flowers at a wedding. In the background girls with tight clothes and other hangers-on were jockeying for position amidst the loud calls and responses of light and sound crews tearing down the stage.
”Johnny, you old dog! I was hoping you’d still be here! I might have known you’d be burning the midnight oil when you should have been in bed long ago.” Said a voice from somewhere behind the group.
At the sound of the voice, they all turned around and Johnny looked up, a warm smile of recognition crossing his face. Gigs, a lighting technician, was walking towards them.
”Gigs, you look great! I thought I detected some of your light wizardry during the show. Like the laser spread.” As Johnny spoke he rose to bump Gigs’ hand fist-style, like knights of chivalry, not the flimsy handshake of a businessman at an obligatory greeting.
“I worked the lights for your show but had to leave right after to take some lovely ladies home,” Gigs replied. He added, “The band sounds great and gets better and better each time I see the show.” There were smiles and nods from everyone as they heard the old familiar refrain.
“Thanks,” Johnny said. “You’re full of shit, but you know you never get tired of hearing you’re the greatest.” Seemingly on queue they broke into a fragmented rendition of “You’re the Greatest” by Ringo Starr. The song ended in a round of laughter. Introductions were made around the table.
“You remember Ginger and Mike – we played together in ‘Blind Owl’.”