What was your worst gig?

Rowdyman

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Um, I think he said worst gig, not best.

A couple years back, I was talking to Rachael Price, the singer with Lake Street Dive. (A great band, by the way.) And she told me a story about a bar gig the band played when it was first starting out. She was singing and a woman jumped onto the stage and motorboarded her and yelled, "Motorboard, y'all." And then jumped off the stage. I asked Rachael when she did and she said she just kept singing.

Sorry, I'm old. What do mean by"Motorboard"??

cheers, RM
 

bigbean

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A regular four night a week house gig at a hillbilly bar about 1979 or 80. This place was located literally in a corn field at a crossroads outside of town. The normal enthusiastic and friendly crowd of about 200 fellow working poor folks was there.

It's Friday night, the first set is totally normal..........

Then the drummer's girlfriend #1
(who is a friend of the drummers wife - who knows nothing of her other interest in the drummer) calls the wife to tell her about the drummer's new girlfriend #2 (who she has become jealous of).........

In the middle of the 2nd set the drummers wife shows up looking very hot and very available. She goes into the bar room as opposed to the show room, where one of the biker dudes buys her a drink........ the drummer sees this and leaves the stage in the middle of the song................and we are offff!

The drummer at some point wanted the guys in the band to back him up in a fight with the bikers. I told him that there was not enough booze available in that place to make me take part in this hot mess he built.

There was some posing but it was all just high hillbilly drama.

No hillbillies were harmed in the process and everyone in the room was entertained by the improvised theater that Friday. The element of impending great physical harm and mayhem was real enough to keep everyone focused on the proceedings.

Music wasn't any part of the rest of the evening.

That band was never the same and quickly morphed into another band with the same four night a week gig.

I don't miss that band, the gig or the woman who was a regular known as bucket mouth but that place made some pretty good pizza.
 
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teletail

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Reading all these stories makes me realize how lucky I've been. Even my "disasters" have been more funny than disastrous. A majority of these stories are self-inflicted stupidity through alcohol or immaturity. Hard to believe musicians act like that. :D

I played a "showcase" at a country bar in the 70's. The booking agent assured us that there would be all kinds of bands there along with club managers (typical lying POS; shame on me for believing him). Anyway, as you all know, it was actually a hard core country crowd, all country bands and no club managers. We opened with Train Kept A Rolling by Aerosmith and played 60 minutes of the like. The audience sat on their hands the entire set.

At least we didn't get beat up. This was the 70's and we all had really long hair.

Another time, I played a country bar in the 80's, we were a rock band. The agent knew we didn't play country and didn't warn us. The manager was giving us all kinds of friction and I finally walked up to him with our song list and said, "This is the list we gave the agent. If you've got beef, it's with him, not us. HE lied to you, not us." The manager finally calmed down. Our guitar player had played in a country band and knew all the country tunes, but refused to play them until we had a serious talk out behind the bar (he could be a real Richard Cranium). We wound up playing about half country and although it wasn't a great gig, the manager did keep us on for the second night.
 

Fiesta Red

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Two very drunk women approach me, one offering services and experiences I (as a married man) neither wanted nor needed, insinuating that it might become a manag a troi if I were willing. When I very politely declined, I was bombarded by angry accusations, questions about my masculinity and one of them putting her head on the table and crying for twenty minutes.

I had no idea I was so desirable. When I told my wife about this, she laughed her head off.
 
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Fiesta Red

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Booked to play a company/corporate picnic/crawfish boil (which we had played several times before and several times after this); we usually played in the evening(8PM-midnight), but for some reason they requested we play early afternoon—as in 1:00PM. Most of the people who were there that early were not interested in the music (possibly due to the fact that every single person there was stone-cold sober, outside of my brother—more on that later).

I’ve had rehearsals that were more lively. I’m sure most of us have had gigs like this—it’s harder to play to complacency than it is to people booing.

We had *one* fan in the crowd, an elderly man in his upper 70’s who sang along with the songs he knew and clapped and whistles and cheered in between every song. We played the whole show *for* him (I gave him one of our CDs afterward).

During the last set, enough beer had flowed in the audience that people were actually dancing and paying attention…just in time to finish the gig.

When we wrapped up at 5:00PM, my brother (who was in attendance because he did contract work for the corporation) walked up and boldly told me that I should either, “(1) give them their money back, because nobody was paying attention and/or (2) go ahead and play four more sets for free…”

I briefly contemplated letting my bassist discuss this with my brother, because it would probably end up with a hospital visit for my brother (bassist was smaller but I’d follow him into a fight with Mike Tyson; bassist also has zero patience or empathy for drunks), but instead (for possibly the one millionth time in my life) I politely asked my brother to mind his own business; since he’d been hitting the keg pretty hard, he took umbrage to my dismissal of his opinions and instructions…he repeated what he said before and then accused me and the band of “not delivering on your obligations.”

I (still politely but more firmly) asked him to please mind his own business, and if J____ and N____ (owners of the company who’d hired us) were dissatisfied, they’d be sure to tell me.

(For some background, my brother is a Well-Noted Expert on Everything I Have Ever Done Wrong Ever In My Entire Life, and if I would only follow his advice and instructions, the entire world’s problems—including hunger, poverty and war—would cease to exist…This, in spite of the fact that he’s had far greater problems and failures of all sorts in his life; also, because I refuse to invest in his many, MANY “get rich quick” schemes, I am a miserly tightwad and a bastard. Subsequently, we don’t get along very well.)

At that point, he started aggressively barking at me, right there in front of the band and the entire crowd…so I did what only a smart-aleck little brother can do at that moment—I embarrassed the Hades out of him.

“You know, it’s no wonder Mom and Dad waited six years before they had me—between your traumatic brain injuries” (by the way, he has none) “and refusal to be potty-trained, they finally said, ‘Let’s just write this one off and try to do better with the second one…’ I know that they’re happier with the second set of results than they are with the first…by the way, how *is* the potty-training going?”

He then called me a little bastard, to which I drew close to him and replied quietly (so nobody except the bassist could hear me), “Our parents were only married for four months when you were born—they were married six years when I came along…you’re much closer to being a bastard than I ever will be.

His face turned purple, my bassist laughed openly at him and my drummer just did his patented old man I’m-so-disgusted-with-you look directly at my brother. He stormed off and didn’t speak to me for several months.

I did ask the owners if they were satisfied, and they said, “It was our own stupid fault—we wanted to wrap this up a bit earlier than last year,” (which had gone on to the wee hours of the next morning, even after we’d finished our set at midnight) “so we thought a nice early-afternoon thing would work…we’ll do it right next year.”

They continued to hire us until they quit hosting the picnic several years later.

Later, my mother called and chided me about the “traumatic brain injury” comment…”Your brother does NOT have brain damage!”

“Well, it’s either that, or he’s a b*tthole…so you choose which one you’d rather your eldest child be…also, did a forty-something-year-old man just call and tattle on his little brother? Dear Lord, he’s such a winner!”

That last statement made her laugh, and also made her drop it.
 

Fiesta Red

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This is a long story and I have posted it somewhere before, but here's my crazy gig story.

I acted as our manager, and would hustle gigs whenever we felt like playing. I saw a restaurant-with-a-local-watering-hole-type-bar-attached advertised in the local weekly alternative newspaper. I saw on their schedule that they had booked a few of our contemporaries and acquaintances, so I went to the place and dropped off our little press package (CD, band bio, etc).

Both the band bio and the CD say, "Screamin' Armadillos. Texas Roadhouse Music. Blues, Rock, Outlaw Country" on the top of the page. First paragraph of the bio describes us as "ZZ Top and the Fabulous Thunderbirds meets Waylon Jennings." That's a true, fair and accurate assessment.

Told the manager to call me if she was interested. She called me within an hour.

After very brief negotiations, she booked up to play two Saturdays on a row. The next day, I return and she signs the performance agreement I wrote up.

Very decent money ($100 per guy + tips), two free beers per band member (which meant the other guitarist and our bassist would get four beers each, since I don't drink and the drummer usually drinks one beer a month), unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, and a meal each (this place served cafe/diner food until 9PM, bands played until 1AM).

We advertised the heck out of the show, wanting to bring all our regulars to this (new-to-us) venue, with the hope of making it a regular gig.

We showed up Saturday, at 7:00PM, set up our equipment, ate dinner (decent but not worth writing home over). Chatted with manager. She is happy, because about 50 of our friends show up, too (none of them had ever been there)...the place only holds about 150, so we are already awesome in her book.

We start our first song promptly at 9:00. Sixty seconds in, she storms onto the stage and starts screaming,

"YOU ____ING LIAR! Y'ALL ARE A ____ING BLUES BAND!"

Confused, I said, "Uh...yeah, we are..."

"YOU SAID YOU WERE A COUNTRY BAND! WHAT THE ____ IS THIS ____?!?!?“

At this point, I lead her away from my microphone and told her to quit saying the F-word in front of my family and friends...and then I said, "Did you listen to the CD, or read the band bio?"

"NO, WHY WOULD I DO THAT?!? YOUR BAND IS CALLED THE SCREAMIN' ARMADILLOS, YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING COUNTRY!!"

At this point, several of the patrons--both the people we brought in as well as other people in the audience were dumbfounded and watching her more than the now-three-piece group who are playing the longest instrumental version of our opening song ever. The other guitarist in our group (who loved to irritate people as much as possible) was grinning like a maniac and had taken the song into even harder-edged rock and roll territory...bordering on Yngwie-shred territory.

I signalled for the band to wrap up the song. I pulled her into the corner, and said, "You booked us. I gave you all the information about our band you needed. You chose to ignore it. We will play our normal show, and will sprinkle a couple of country songs throughout the sets, just like we always do. Stay off my stage, stay off my mic, don't cuss at me...and don't you dare call me a liar again!"

I stormed back on-stage and launched into the angriest, hardest-hitting version of a goofy blues song I wrote...I glared at her as I sang, "Leave My Guitar Alone." (Sample lyric: "Yo' momma might hate my guitar, but my guitar hates yo' momma, too!"). That was the most intense solo I had played in a long time.

She disappeared into the back of the club/restaurant and never returned. The bartender smiled as he paid us, and said, "Y'all were awesome...plus, that's the only time that ______ has ever shut up since I've been here. Your crowd was cool, too. Bought premium drinks and tipped well. Thank you."

He then explained that she'd gone to Nashville 20 years earlier, trying to become the next Loretta Lynn. Well, "real" country wasn't selling at the time and she wouldn't compromise, so she flamed out. She decided to come back to Texas and run a "real" country place that played only "real" country music. He said the acts were varying in talent, but mostly them were mediocre "fool on a stool" storytellers that drew few patrons and generated little interest. Anybody who "rocked it up" (even if it was country-rock) was lambasted and not booked again. She had developed a small group of regulars who were similarly close-minded in regard to music.

The following Monday, she called me and said she was going to cancel the gig we arranged for the next weekend. I said, "No problem. I'll be by to pick up my check at 5:00.“

"WHAT CHECK?!? THE BARTENDER ALREADY PAID YOU!"

"Yes ma'am...you paid me for last Saturday. If you look at the performance agreement--remember, the one you signed? It says, 'If the venue'--that's you--'cancels the performance for any reason, 50% of the agreed-upon price will be paid to the band. If the venue cancels within 48 hours of the performance, 75% of the agreed-upon price will be paid to the band. If the venue cancels within 24 hours of the performance, 100% of the agreed-upon price will be paid to the band.`...And at the bottom of the page is your signature and my signature. So I'll see you at 5!"

"THIS IS NOT BINDING! I'M NOT PAYING YOU A _______ CENT!"

"Oh, so your signature and your word are no good? Well, shoot...I guess I'll just call the musician's union and see what they say about this..." (Note: I was not and have never been in the musician's union. I was bluffing...hard).

She fumed and grumbled and said, "FIVE OF MY REGULARS LEFT BECAUSE THEY WANTED COUNTRY MUSIC! YOU HURT MY BUSINESS!"

"Ma'am, if those five people eat as much food and drink as much liquor as the FIFTY people I brought to your place, they need to join a support group AND a 12-step program. I made you more money than you lost."

"________ YOU. ALL RIGHT, YOU CAN PLAY, BUT I'M NOT FEEDING YOU AND NO FREE DRINKS!"

"Well, ma'am, I hate to break an agreement, but I'll work with you there. We'll eat beforehand and try not to die of thirst during our performance."

The following Saturday, we all pointedly brought food from Jack In The Box, along with large cups that we prominently displayed on our amps...but she didn't show up. The bartender paid us (and slipped us drinks...I drank my weight in iced tea), the waitresses hustled tips for us (they walked around to the various tables and filled up half a 5-gallon bucket with money--of which we promptly gave a percentage to them to show our gratitude), and our crowd of fifty people drank and tipped according to their normal actions. It was a great gig, and we had a lot of fun.

...and the manager? She ended up being fired about a year later, because so many bands--even country bands--refused to play there. I'm assuming her five regulars supported her during her unemployment.
 

nickmsmith

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I’ve had quite a few when basically nobody showed up. That’s not that interesting.

the worst was probably in my metal days (back when local scenes were a thing) probably 15 years ago or so. We got to play at the ”big venue” in town. Looking back, it was a dumpy coffee shop with a stage in the basement, that only emo teens frequented.

we were playing with a popular local band. Retrospectively, they were awful as well, objectively. I’ve listened to them since.. and it’s just not very good.

We were the opener. Great. Cool.

Last minute, they moved us, to play AFTER the popular band. All of their fans left after they played, of course. Left us with an empty room to play to.

I’ve never worked harder for no payoff, than with original music at that time.
 

bigbean

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One of the first paid gigs I did with a full band including a bass player and drummer was at a Jr Highschool dance at a different school system than ours.

I was young enough that I way couldn't drive so maybe fourteen. One of the guys Mom brought us to the gig in the family station wagon.

We had about Zero PA. I owned a Bogen PA Amp that had been scrapped out of a closing grocery store.

I think I ran it through a Traynor bass cab. Anyway, during the second song the PA head caught on fire. Flames, smoke and major stink.

First we had to talk the chaperones out of evacuating the gym. After that we had to figure out a way to perform with only mics (all Hiz) plugged into guitar and bass amps first channel.

We finished the gig and got our $15 a piece.:)
 
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Tim G

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I was in a band in the early '80s that the singer's girlfriend was married to a biker. The singer always wore a vest long enough to hide the 38 he kept strapped to his waist. The drummer kept a gym bag next to his bass drum pedal with a 357 with a 6'in barrel. The guitar player always had a coat over his amp even in 80 degree weather. Under the coat was his 9mm. Certain clubs he would bring his violin case. In the case was his machine gun. I only saw them pull their guns once. Some guy thought he would help us load out, he walked out of the club with a mike stand and found three pistols aimed at his head.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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A regular four night a week house gig at a hillbilly bar about 1979 or 80. This place was located literally in a corn field at a crossroads outside of town. The normal enthusiastic and friendly crowd of about 200 fellow working poor folks was there.

It's Friday night, the first set is totally normal..........

Then the drummer's girlfriend #1
(who is a friend of the drummers wife - who knows nothing of her other interest in the drummer) calls the wife to tell her about the drummer's new girlfriend #2 (who she has become jealous of).........

In the middle of the 2nd set the drummers wife shows up looking very hot and very available. She goes into the bar room as opposed to the show room, where one of the biker dudes buys her a drink........ the drummer sees this and leaves the stage in the middle of the song................and we are offff!

The drummer at some point wanted the guys in the band to back him up in a fight with the bikers. I told him that there was not enough booze available in that place to make me take part in this hot mess he built.

There was some posing but it was all just high hillbilly drama.

No hillbillies were harmed in the process and everyone in the room was entertained by the improvised theater that Friday. The element of impending great physical harm and mayhem was real enough to keep everyone focused on the proceedings.

Music wasn't any part of the rest of the evening.

That band was never the same and quickly morphed into another band with the same four night a week gig.

I don't miss that band, the gig or the woman who was a regular known as bucket mouth but that place made some pretty good pizza.
Can this be made into a movie please?
 

draggindakota

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Two stand out for different reasons:

2. This one was more just funny. Different band: We played a show out of state, and the main act for the festival tells us they want to swap spots so they can get on the road for the next gig, weather or something, I don’t remember. So we’re like, sweet, we’re the closers!

The crowd is packed for their set. Everyone in the crowd immediately leaves after they finish. We’re playing for just the sound man...and then the sound man steps out for a cig, so we played to zero people. We just laughed it off and goofed off through our set.

That reminds me of a show I went to a few years back at a local flea market. It was a few local acts opening with a semi-local band that won a national TV show competition headlining. There was a decent crowd before the show, probably 150-200 people in the little bandstand area at the market. The opening acts did their thing and by the time the headliners hit the stage there were 6 of us: me, my wife, her brother and his girlified, and another couple we were all friends with. The band was great though, we all got a kick out of our private show.

My whole experience "playing out" was in our church band as a teenager. We had a standing thing every other Saturday at the nursing home my mom worked at. We'd play for 45 minutes or so, the pastor would give a short sermon and we were off. One time one of the residents decided it was hot and stripped down to her depends right there in front of where we were set up.
 

THX1123

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The one in Florence, SC with a terrible country cover band I joined was mostly really bad. The band was put together by a Dad for his daughter, who could actually sing relatively well. It was the only gig I played with them.

The drummer was a recovering crackhead who would get distracted and then get lost in every song. The other guitarist was zonked on pain meds and had a full 5150 stack with two 4X12s. He couldn't actually reach the amp knobs. The bassist and I were the only competent players, and we were both really embarrassed at first. We had to go for a sneaky puff at half time. Then it became like a Saturday Night Live skit. We actually played Sweet Home Alabama 3 times. I turned my guitar volume all the way down and just mimed for most of the second set and nobody knew.

The best part of the night (besides actually getting paid) was when the super-hot High School singer-girl wearing a denim mini skirt and a bikini top rode the mechanical bull face to face with her hot little similarly dressed friend. Her Dad's face turned so red I thought it was going to explode.
 

freshmattyp

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I’ve had quite a few when basically nobody showed up. That’s not that interesting.

the worst was probably in my metal days (back when local scenes were a thing) probably 15 years ago or so. We got to play at the ”big venue” in town. Looking back, it was a dumpy coffee shop with a stage in the basement, that only emo teens frequented.

we were playing with a popular local band. Retrospectively, they were awful as well, objectively. I’ve listened to them since.. and it’s just not very good.

We were the opener. Great. Cool.

Last minute, they moved us, to play AFTER the popular band. All of their fans left after they played, of course. Left us with an empty room to play to.

I’ve never worked harder for no payoff, than with original music at that time.

That sounds like Gee Coffee in Olathe, KS
 

Fendereedo

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When I was 19, my band, Revolver, got a gig at the Villa Capri Motel here in Austin.
The bar was called the Club Caravan, and was considered a good/upscale gig at the time (1976).
The band was myself on guitar, Craig on keyboards, Dave on bass, Bob on drums, and “singer” Jeff.
Jeff was older than the rest of us, about 26.
The rest of us were around 20.
We were doing a Deep Purple tune, and Jeff was murdering it.
He was a friend of the Craig’s, but we all knew he was awful.
None of the rest of us sang, at all.
He was mid-screech when I walked up behind him, put my foot on his arse, and pushed him off the slightly elevated stage.
I’ll admit right here and now that I was wrong to do this.
It was unkind, uncool, and uncalled for.
He wasn’t hurt, except for his pride.
He came back onstage, and made a little noise about fighting me.
It would have been extremely unwise of him to do that, and he backed down quickly.
I asked him, incredulously “Man, can’t you hear that?”
Poor guy was seriously miscast.
He looked a bit like Joey Ramone.
Tall, skinny, long dark hair.
He went on to great obscurity.
Silly story, eons ago.
I split my SG over the singers head, but it was a long time coming.
 

Greg70

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It was February 3, 1994. My band had been rehearsing for several months and had a short set list ready consisting of a cover and 5 or 6 original songs. We got a gig at a small local club with a few other original bands on a Thursday night. Not a lot of people but a great start for us, or so I thought.

The drummer, bass player, and I had been rehearsing and writing together for about 8 months before this. We had gone through a few singers and I filled in on vocals when we didn't have anyone. We finally settled on a guy named Mike to round us out as a four piece. He was perfect for the spot. Tall, good looking, beautiful long dark hair, and a voice like Eddy Vedder. I had always been extremely nervous playing in front of people and had some anxiety the day before the show but was comfortable that I knew the material well enough and would be able to focus on my guitar work while Mike stole the show. I also had previously played bass guitar for a few gigs in a hardcore band so I figured I could handle the stage fright. However, the day of the gig I started having weird feelings that I had never had before. I thought that I was going crazy. I couldn't concentrate on anything. I paced all over the place. My heart would race. I just thought I was nervous about the gig.

I went by the drummer's house and we loaded up our stuff and headed down to the Landing, a bar district in downtown St. Louis. We got our stuff unloaded and I told my drummer about my strange nervous state. We agreed that I'd feel better after a beer and that I would be fine after the gig. The beer calmed me down a bit but certainly wasn't a cure. It now was our turn to play and I rolled my half-stack onto the stage. The soundman had me strum a chord and then said "Whoa! That's one of those that goes up to 11!". I still had it at practice volume and turned down the MV for him. The rest of the soundcheck went fine and we were given the green light to start our show.

The drummer counted off four clicks and we hit our opening chord. Five seconds into the song Mike starts his part and... his voice immediately cracks and breaks apart. Mike stops singing. We play a few more bars and then he turns around to us and says "I can't guys. I just can't. My voice isn't working." and then walks off the stage. We were dumbfounded. The drummer, bass player, and I stared at each other in disbelief. I walked back to the drummer, called the bass player over, and we quickly determined that we could do a few of our originals that we had rehearsed without Mike and that I could sing them. My nervous fingers started shaking even harder. We threw a few lyric sheets at the base of the mic stand for cues and I took over playing and singing. At this point we only could do about three songs so we did a couple of them twice and threw in some extended improv. My anxious fingers jumped all over the fretboard and didn't respond the way they did in practice. It was a mess. I was a mess. A person in one of the other bands yelled out "learn to play guitar". Thanks, buddy. I thought I would be relieved once it was all over but it didn't stop. The next day those same strange feelings only intensified and began to consume me. I couldn't even go to work for over a week and had to seek medical attention. And thus was the start of my decades long struggle with panic and anxiety disorder.

The club owner was actually impressed by us and appreciated that we were committed to performing despite losing our singer. He invited us to come back again. Unfortunately, I needed to leave the band and focus on myself.
 

fendrguitplayr

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Many years ago, we had a van and drove 2 hours to a gig and back to Boston for four consecutive nights. Hours were 8 - 1.
On the final night when we asked for our money, the club owner said he gave it to the agent that booked us there. Of course
at 2am he wasn't answering the phone so we packed up and left. Next day called agent who claims he never got a check from
the club owner.

We took the agent to court but his lawyer got him off saying the club was under new management and they couldn't locate
the old owner. Lessons learned!
 




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