“It was our first gig outside of San Diego,” says Guava Belly singer-guitarist Dan Hammer of the band’s April 22 set at the Roxy in L.A. “The offer was to play a reggae night, provided we could bring about a hundred fans on a Wednesday.” Not knowing many people in L.A., the band chartered a bus to bring around 50 hometown friends.
“[The Roxy] is painted all black on the outside, as well as the inside, and yes, there’s a stage curtain.... The gig is legit!” Hammer exclaims. “They even provided a green room with a fridge full of beer. We cracked beers in the unearthly, ultraviolet backstage light with one of the other bands, and they asked, ‘What kind of reggae do you guys play?’”
The Roxy show was the first time Guava Belly was billed as a reggae act. “We have nothing against reggae, and we accent some of the same beats as reggae bands I’ve heard, but that doesn’t mean we’re reggae. I mean, we’re influenced by whiskey, too.”
Hammer said that during sound check, bassist James Traer had a battle of wills with the Roxy soundman “about whether or not he could rest a beer on one of the house amps. They maintained it would spill. [Traer] acknowledged that though it was a risk, it was one he was willing to take in order to make sure it was always within arm’s reach.”
The band entertained 250 people, hitting their guarantee. “With the exception of one near catastrophic slip on the wet patch of beer the bass player spilled, the gig was pretty much as good as we could ever do. Even the reggae bands nodded their approval.
“And only one of our fans got drunk and missed the bus home.”
Guava Belly appears at the Belly Up May 30.