We have a lot of history in the now bulldozed Stone Balloon. I have to tell you, when our band played there, we used to feel as though we were trying to surf a tidal wave. That place had so much energy you could cut it with a knife. The club scene has mellowed out considerably since the golden days of the Balloon. We played a few frat parties there on campus as well, and to this day we still cross paths with many of the alumni of UD.
Quick story: the bass guitar I've been playing for the last 25 years has a deep gash in the front of it. It came from a beer pitcher that was thrown at us at the Stone Balloon, back in '92. I took the bass to a guitar shop years later to have it refinished, and when the guy asked me what had happened to cause the missing chunk, I told him about the Balloon gig. The guy freaked because coincidentally he had graduated from UD in the late '80s, and after talking about the Balloon for a few minutes, I decided to leave the instrument alone, missing chunk and all, and chalked it up to good times not forgotten. I still play it every night and I'll never repair it.
We had a lot of laughs there and the people were great. Watching the bouncers squeegee all the beer off the floor at the end of the night always summed it up for us. We've played weddings for at least three UD graduates, as well as corporate parties hosted by the more successful partiers among you, and when we heard the Balloon was being ripped down, we shed a beer tear or two. Those were great times we'll never forget from the onstage side of things, and I'm sure you'll never forget them either.
Flip Like Wilson got together in the Summer of 1995. We’re influenced by everything from Prince to Van Halen to the Beastie Boys to Frank Zappa...and all that comes between. I know our drummer attended some grad classes at the UD…he might have even earned his Master's Degree there.
We played our first show at the Balloon in the Fall of 1995. We opened for Mr. Greengenes, in front of almost no one. But, the club liked us enough that they kept inviting us back. The Balloon was one of the first places that really got behind the band. It literally changed the way other clubs began treating us. The buzz started for our band because of the exposure the Balloon and the Bottle & Cork gave us.
Two of the things about the Stone Balloon I always take with me, were the smell of the club and the temperature. People used to complain that the Balloon had a damp, beer and mop smell. When I would walk through the door and that smell hit my nostrils, I knew I was going to have a good time. It was always cold in the room during soundcheck. By the time the first set ended, you and your bandmates were soaked in sweat.
I like to tell a story about how it was so hot on stage one night, I literally felt a bead of sweat roll from the top of my head all the way down my back, into my socks. That’s how intense the heat would get on that stage. And the crowd never wilted. They would match the band's energy and enthusiasm step for step. It was an awesome experience. It was almost religious.
The people loved us for the Beastie Boys. Also, we would play “If I Had $1,000,000” by Barenaked Ladies. I am pretty sure we were the first cover band to play that song at the Balloon, or anywhere. Well, everywhere we played it, people would just look at us strangely. We then played it one Mug Night at the Balloon, and the whole crowd sang along. From that point on, we only played that song at the Stone Balloon…until the Balloon crowd started following us around, and demanded we play it everywhere they showed up! We always obliged, of course.
I have the Stone Balloon to thank for me meeting my wife…she was a student at UD. Her smile was beautiful and I saw it every time she was standing in front of the stage. We didn’t really become a couple for a few more years. But, it was her smile that first made me love her.
The Balloon’s closing makes me really sad. There will never be another room with that much history and character for local bands or national acts. It was such a great place. We were a good band when we started playing there. I think we become a much better band because the UD crowd was such a pleasure to play for, time after time. We always wanted to set the bar higher and higher each time we came back to play for them. It was a relationship built on a mutual love of music and being together one or two nights a month.
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