For South Tahoe High grad, school’s out forever
Chuck Garric has toured with Alice Cooper for five years, and before every show he goes through a routine. He plays bass for 10 to 15 minutes to loosen up his fingers, and five minutes before the show he stands behind the curtain to feel the stage under his feet. He exchanges high-fives with the rest of the band as the curtains are raised and the rock show begins.
The ritual was the same at the Reno Events Center last Friday, but the circumstances were special.
“I thought the venue was good. It sounded great but, to be honest, I wasn’t really listening at times because I was excited to be close to home and was trying to find out where all my friends were sitting,” said Garric, who had a freshly cut mohawk for the occasion.
Garric grew up in South Lake Tahoe and graduated from South Tahoe High School in 1985. He now lives in Southern California. He had at least a couple dozen friends and family members on the guest list.
So were you nervous Chuck?
“I wouldn’t call it nerves, I would call it excitement,” Garric said from his cell phone en route to another gig in Fresno. “It gives me a different purpose when I’m playing.”
Typically, Alice Cooper is the headlining band but sometimes, as was the case when it opened for the Rolling Stones or when it toured in Germany with Deep Purple, the band plays an earlier, shortened set. Such was the case last week, when Alice Cooper played an 18-song set between opener Queensryche and finisher Heaven and Hell.
The show opened with several Alice Cooper hits before going into the macabre, theatrical show, featuring the murderous and destined-to-be executed Alice Cooper with his 26-year-old daughter Kalico playing several roles. It ended with more selections from his 14 Top-40 hits, then a two-song encore with “Poison” and “Elected.”
One of the spectators (who took the photos which accompany this story) said it may have been the most fun he’s had of the many Garric shows he’s attended.
“I grew up seeing Chuck in his different bands but it was not nearly on the same scale,” said Steven La Pointe, a student at Lake Tahoe Community College. “It’s cool to look up there and think, ‘That’s my uncle, and he’s kicking ass.’ “
Another person in the audience will always remember the show. During a drum solo Garric came back stage where his 12-year-old daughter Alisha told him a classmate named Christian was in the front row.
“So I go out there on stage and I crouch down in a weird position and I point at him and go ‘Are you Christian?’ Garric said. “And the look on his face was like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He looked at me with his eyes as big as golf balls and he slowly nodded his head. He didn’t know what was going to happen. It was kind of funny.”
Cooper, who invented theatrical rock concerts, showed his savvy by out-smarting hip-hip performers, the ones who always direct the crowd to “put your hands in the air.” Cooper learned, probably decades ago, that the audience will keep it hands in the air if you keep throwing them items. No instruction is necessary.
The theatrical portion ended after Cooper was hung from the gallows. As he was taken away, Garric sinisterly laughed into the microphone.
Most everybody probably has fantasized about being a rock star. Tahoe’s Garric is living the dream.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s fun. Especially when you’re a musician and especially a rock musician and a fan. You dream about what it’s like to have the lights in your eyes and the feeling on stage and what it looks like from that perspective.”
After a two-week break in the middle of the month, Garric and Alice Cooper will head back on tour in the U.K., Russia and the Scandinavia along with Motorhead and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.