“…A festival staffer checks our vaccine cards against our picture IDs and hands out a green backstage pass. Everyone is masked up, so it takes me a minute to register that Pat Sansone is helping Ian Olvera move his keyboards and stands onto the stage. When it’s time to check the center mic, Trapper launches into Dylan’s “Meet Me In the Morning.”
After soundcheck, the group strolls into the dressing room. I’m fascinated by Pat’s shoes (slippers?). They look comfy. I can’t quite hear his conversation with Trapper, Ian, and Matt, but my guess is that they’re recounting studio memories, trading inside jokes. The familiarity is apparent in the body language, the laughter visible in their eyes.
As we near show time, the band changes outfits. It’s not just the clothes—there’s such a fascinating transformation that takes place in the minutes before everyone takes the stage. I somehow manage to forget that my pals are rock ‘n roll musicians until they re-materialize in the cross-beams of the stage lights, all eyes on them.
On the rail are fans sporting Trapper T-shirts, including ones reading “This Isn’t Fun Anymore”—a line from “The Scat” (a song inspired by a ride at the Bay Beach Amusement Park), which has become the pandemic mood tee. The crowd is into it, and Trapper and his band play a barn-burner of a set. The set focuses on the new album with older favorites sprinkled in, ending on the blistering “Freight Train,” a song originally written and performed by San Francisco alt-rockers Sister Double Happiness, which chronicles the height of the AIDS epidemic. From across the stage, I see Pat sitting in the shadows, watching his friends perform.
I’m breathlessly shooting, trying to do this justice. At the end of the set, the lights are turned way up. As Trapper raises his guitar overhead, I can see the crowd for the first time, stretching all the way back to the far reaches of the lawn…”Follow Trapper Schoepp on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Pick up a copy of May Day here.