posted by Majestic Ape at 12:15 PM
We had our first great show in MN. After the show, we met Lori B., the drummer from Babes in Toyland. She took us home with her. I went to bed at 3:30 am. At 4:30 am, Erick hears a knock at the bathroom door (it was me, no memory of going downstairs). I tell him to get out because I have to throw up. He opens the door and I collapse to the ground. He helps me up and heads toward the stairs. Then I fall again. He gets freaked out, obviously. I crawl up stairs. Somehow I broke my ankle. I tried to tell at 4:30 am but he wasn't processing and I wasn't speaking clearly.
We got to the hospital at 12 noon the next day. I leave 6 hours later with a cast the size of a moon boot. They said I have to get home ASAP for reparitive surgery.
I wont be home till Monday morning. We aren't cancelling shows.
See you soon.
Labels: Apes, broken bones, fracture, Ghost Games, touring. rock band
posted by Majestic Ape at 5:44 PM
Round two started on Friday, March 5. We were leaving town with a brand new transmission and excitedly heading south. I was armed with a new wallet, driver’s license, and sunscreen.
We left for Richmond around 5pm Friday afternoon. Even though its only about 100 miles to Richmond, traffic on the DC beltway and on 95 South is pretty congested. I expected it would take around 4 hours. It rained most of the way. When we hit Lorton, home of the Virginia state penitentiary, Erick had to pee.
When we got out at the gas station, there were a few folks standing around smoking near the toilets. They sure looked like a band. I figured we would start running into people going to SxSW. I had to ask.
“Are you guys a band?”
“Yeah,” one of them answered.
“Who are you?”
“No way! We’re Apes!” An Albatross have been together as long as we have. We first played with them in a basement in New Brunswick, NJ. We were on tour with Liars and it was two weeks after 9/11. We made a connection then and ran into them many times over the years. I think we even played a show together in Brooklyn.
We would be together for most of the tour and it was hysterical that we happened to stop at the same bathroom, at the same time, on the way to the first show in Richmond.
They arrived first, as I got on 95 going the wrong direction.
We have not played in Richmond since 2001. The last time we played there (also with Liars), a drunk girl had thrown a glass at Erick and they got into a fight. I vaguely remember some wrestling on the floor. I think I dragged her off him. We vowed to not go back to Richmond.
The club, The Camel, looked very new, very clean, and was nicely laid out. There was a bar side with seating, and a stage side for the show. We were playing first, then An Albatross, and Amoeba Man was closing the night. Amoeba Man is the band of Jason, who is a great Richmond/Charlottesville promoter. He had promoted our show with the Slits the year before.
I think we had a blast playing. The floor was slanted as to allow people in the rear of the room to have a few of the band, who was playing on the floor. The crowd was enthusiastic and it felt LOUD.
An Albatross is comprised of five men: Phil on keys, Eddie the singer, Jay the bassist, Stevie the drummer, and Daniel the guitarist. Their music is fast, loud, screamy, and the show is HIGH energy. I felt like we were a great compliment to each other and I loved watching them play.
Amoeba Man was great as well. We spent the latter portion of the evening professing love of each other’s music.
Jason was kind enough to give us his apartment for the night. Erick and I both dreamt of someone trying to kill us.
The weather leaving Richmond was pretty perfect but as we headed south, it got quite cold and extremely windy. The wind was so strong it was blowing the van either on the shoulder or into other lanes.
We arrived in downtown Raleigh and it was very quiet. It was a Saturday night. I wondered where the people were. An Albatross had already arrived and were sitting at the bar. I met the bartender to ask about food or buyouts. There would be neither. He explained (and we already knew) that the first promoter had dropped the show very recently and he had been kind enough to pick up the pieces. He had told our booking agent that he couldn’t meet the original guarantee or rider. They were very generous at the bar though.
After our various dinners, we got to sound check. Its extremely important that we get sound checks whenever possible. Jeff is a HEAVY hitter and plays extremely loudly.
Erick’s frequencies are slightly atypical because he plays a baritone guitar. Breck is a powerful vocalist and as a group, we need sound checks. Having monitor levels set appropriately makes all the difference between a show where you can relax and let loose or be stuck trying to hear what’s going on and forcing the rest.
The show was originally going to start around 10:30, I believe. However there was a UNC vs Duke Basketball game on the television. We had to wait for the game to end.
At around 11:30pm, the game ended and the bar mostly emptied out. Showtime!
The music sounded great but for the deafening feedback that occurred several times. It was nobody’s fault but I found myself wishing for earplugs on multiple occasions. An Albatross also played a powerful set. I met several very cool people that lived locally. However, that night we were going to be staying with long time Ape friend, Mike B. Mike B and his lovely wife Sarah, had moved to Raleigh not long ago and had a house outside the city. Before we could leave, I did a live phone interview for the WUSC radio station. It was the college radio station for University of South Carolina. We were playing in Columbia, SC the next day.
On the way out of town, I finally saw the people. The intoxicated masses were spewing out of bars all over town and driving recklessly to other locations.
We got to Mike’s carpeted home around 3:30 am. New houses have very nice carpet padding. Mike offered snacks and drinks. We hung out for a bit and went to bed.
I had forgotten what it was like to play in smoky bars since much of the northeast has now instilled a cigarette smoking ban inside restaurants and bars. We reeked of cigarette smoke. Even the van smelled like cigarettes. We did laundry. I got to shower in Sarah’s shower, the girl’s shower. It was lovely. Thanks, Sarah!
The next day’s drive to Athens was largely on country roads. It was bright, warm, and the skies were clear. Its hard to be in a bad mood when the weather is perfect.
We had been warned that the show in Athens might be desolate. Athens is home to University of Georgia and we were playing on a Monday night during spring break.
Erick bought a baby’s monkey jacket from the vintage store next to the bar. He couldn’t resist.
The promoter, Gordon, took both bands for dinner at a pizza place up the street. We enjoyed our first family style meal together. They were kind enough to let me have a salad.
I have to say the sound was great at that club. The soundman was extremely well seasoned and the people in the audience, while it was only a few, were quite enthusiastic.
Gordon introduced us to Pierre, who offered to host us. Pierre and his roommate Davey made the whole stop worth it. They had a small house right outside downtown Athens.
Pierre had moved here from France a few years back and had a heavy French accent. When we got to his house, he was making polenta with ‘stinky cheese’. I proclaimed that his polenta was the best late night snack I ever had. He insisted it was terrible. He had no olive oil, only rice bran oil, which was unacceptable. He was supposed to leave the house at 8 am the next morning, because he was going with an Athens band, to SxSW. I don’t think he went to bed till after 4 am. At 8 am, someone knocked loudly at the door. I waited for Pierre to answer but he never came out of his room. I answered the door eventually and had to guess which door belonged to Pierre so I could wake him up. When I opened door #1, I saw a large fisherman sweater on the floor and a slight body underneath a sheet. I guessed wisely. When I woke him, he shouted “Oh FUCK!” which sounded great with his heavy French accent. After a quick shower, Pierre was off to Texas. I hope we see him down there.
When we got off the highway, we saw a billboard the read, “Wake up America, if racial profiling was legal, 9/11 would have never happened!” There was a animated picture of the two towers blowing up. Many yards displayed homemade signs depicting biblical quotes. Most quotes warned of Christ’s return and suggested that it would not be pretty for the sinners.
My favorite yard art was a large (maybe it was a cow) skull placed atop a long log (that was supposed to resemble some kind of Animal neck) and the body of the animal was covered with a confederate flag. I was afraid to stop for a photo.
Jeff’s brother and his wife live outside of Chattanooga. We stopped at his brother’s house to drop off our gear before going to the show. Brian, Jeff’s brother had just pulled into his garage.
“Good thing I was home,” said Brian, “I didn’t know you were coming here first.” Jeff replied, “I emailed you two weeks ago.” Brian responded, “Well I never got it,” and thus began the dialogue marked by short phrases and somewhat irritated or exasperated tonality. The Schmid men are not men of many words. While they are lovely people, they carry sort of a constant tone of slight annoyance.
I think Brian’s wife, Laura, was very happy to have new people around. We talked a lot before going to the club.
We headed downtown to the venue and shortly after, tried to go to an burrito place for dinner. The van full of the Apes and the Schmids provided ample conversational entertainment. I wish Erick had recorded it.
When we got back to the club, the first band was already playing. In fact, they were almost done. We had asked to play early because Brian had to wake up early to go to work. But it was really early. We took our time loading in and got a mini line check. Then I did a mad dash to the van to change clothes. I think it was the fastest change I ever did. When I got back, the room seemed full of people.
I had my mask on and went into the crowd to meet people. Someone grabbed my entire ass cheek in his hand. Since he got me from behind, I had no idea who it was. I made a comment about it in the monologue but honestly, it didn’t phase me. Maybe it should’ve.
For a small club with no monitors, the sound was great. Daniel from An Albatross assisted. And Eddie, Stevie, and Jay have begun standing close to the stage and clapping rhythm during a few of the songs. Its pretty awesome to hear them and see them while I am playing. Even when no one else is there, it really increases the human factor and just gives me a generalized good feeling.
Brian has a very close friend, another Brian, who Jeff has been in a band with. Brian B. also lives in Chattanooga so we went to his house after the show. He has a giant empty house not far from Brian and Laura. There is a band practice studio off the garage, and a entertainment throughout the house. We should have had An Albatross stay with Brian B.
Oh I forgot that Jeff’s obsession for the evening was finding earplugs. He planned on sleeping on the couch in the living room. His brother was going to be up at 6 am making protein smoothies in the kitchen and Jeff did NOT want to hear the blender. I gave him my earplugs.
Breck and I slept in a clean, lovely, guest room. Erick slept in the kitten room. Laura had rescued four kittens and Erick elected to sleep with them. He said they were only insane for the first two hours.
We relaxed for a while the next day before deciding to cancel our show in Huntsville, AL. It would have been an 800 mile drive to Houston the next day and it seemed pretty ridiculous to try to do that drive in one day.
Even though An Albatross invited us to stay go to New Orleans with them, we opted to drive and find a motel outside of New Orleans. We did not make a reservation and when we pulled off the highway in Slidell, LA, Jeff couldn’t find any rooms for under $80 a night. We only found one room for $60 that was 50 miles away. We got back on the highway.
I pulled out the GPS. Jeff has been making the calls and I thought I could do better. The first place I called was the Motel 6 back in Slidell. They had rooms for $56 plus $3 for internet. They had told Jeff a much higher price only moments before.
I told Donna I was on my way.
Jeff put on a movie when we got there but I read some and fell asleep.
When I woke up, I was quite hungry. I had seen a Cracker Barrel across the street and decided that I wanted to eat there. I don’t know why. The urge to slowly make meals smaller and less frequent never leaves you. You just have to learn to ignore it. Sometimes I don’t ignore it, and the day before had been a “light eating’ day.
So it was Cracker Barrel. Jeff went to Walmart to try to find steering wheel fluid. Breck and he had been researching how to find the power steering fluid receptacle under the van hood. Eventually Breck found a how to video that was for another type of car but seemed close enough.
After a stop at the surplus store for a new orange hat, we were on the way.
Labels: An Albatross, Apes, Ghost Games, Rock music, touring
posted by Majestic Ape at 5:35 PM
Detroit was a hoot and a holler. We got there around 9:00 pm, just in time for the van to skate across the yard of ice designated as parking lot in the suburban housing subdivision. Inside, we found a middle-aged man with a mass of curls and a button down shirt, frying up about 30 pounds of cat fish for the 20 or so misfits inside. In the library, there was a game of Dungeons and Dragons going on, and several people were watching some kind of net porn. I sat down at a table to collect myself after the tense drive. In front of me, for my reading pleasure, was a copy of The Poor Man’s James Bond. I remembered this book from my college years. It’s something akin to The Anarchist’s Cookbook. The first page was covered with hand-written text. It was titled “The Do it Yourself Home Suicide Kit”. There were precise directions for how to quickly and efficiently cut and bleed yourself to death. A razorblade was taped to the page. I went to the bathroom.
The bathroom was only half complete but not undecorated. A large orange pentagram was painted on the tiled wall above the bathtub.
I was encouraged.
There were two opening bands, both from Brooklyn. One featured a guy running a laptop, while his partner, adorned with a computer monitor on his head, accompanied with vocals.
By the time we played, the kids were ready to get tribal, and that they did. There was an impromptu mosh pit in the living room. A few very drunk kept people falling over. Despite the awkwardness of the arrangement, it felt like we played well. We certainly connected with the audience.
Jeff, at some point, had gone upstairs to use the bathroom and discovered two rooms. One was all climbing walls, and the other displayed many swords.
While I was changing back into street clothes, I listened to the dialogue from the other room. It went something like this.
“We should get naked,” from an adult male voice.
“Do you think? It would be weird to get naked,” from a young female voice.
“Wow, there are naked people in my living room,” from the voice of the host.
“We should take pictures!” from the adult male photographer that had been capturing the entire evening with very professional gear.
“I can’t believe there is a porn shoot going on in my living room!” from the host.
I stuck my head around the corner. There was the guy who earlier had worn the computer monitor on his head, now nude, with a naked girl on each side of him. They looked young: there were lots of flash bulbs.
The promoters started bringing in snow covered couches from the backyard, in preparation for the Apes overnight stay. We decided to get a motel. I saw one of the promoters hand Jeff a wad of cash.
When we finally arrived at our room at the Knights Inn following another drive through nasty weather conditions. I asked Jeff how much we made. Keep in mind that the guarantee was $500.
“60 bucks,” Jeff answered with flat affect.
“Are you shitting me? No way! That’s bullshit! Why didn’t you tell me?” I was freaking out.
“What would you have done?” Jeff responded.
“We would have taken a trip to the ATM with a tire iron! What the hell is wrong with people? We had a freaking agreement. They broke it before the show but I read those emails that stated that they would be paying almost what our guarantee was. Why is it that every other service in the world, when provided, is paid for? Why is it that people think musicians don’t need to be paid? Why are we seen as disposable? Is it because they think we are having so much fucking fun? We have expenses. We have bills. We are driving around the country in a vehicle that gets 14 miles a gallon and paying over $3.15 per gallon of gas everyday. We are not rich people!” I was livid. I am still livid. If the kids couldn’t keep their end of the deal, they should have cancelled. They should have gone to the ATM.
I do not believe in violence. I do not believe raising one’s voice is an effective way to communicate or get one’s needs met. I did feel, however, that there needed to be a consequence. One must know that one has made a mistake has been made. In fact, it is very difficult to change human behavior. However, it is not impossible. Behaviors that are reinforced over and over again, will repeat. If there is a consequence for a behavior which one should change, over and over, the hope is that that behavior will change. You must teach a replacement behavior, a more desirable replacement behavior. I felt that I missed a teachable moment.
The next day we headed to Chicago where we would meet up again with Sole and the Skyrider Band. The venue was the Abbey Pub. The van was on its last legs. I could barely get it to start, to reverse, and to get into drive.
The show that night was great. I won’t drag it out. All of the bands were performing at a top notch level. The stage sound was great and the audience was great. One of my best friend’s from home, Evan, lives in Chicago now. We went to his place after the show. There was more boozing and bro downs and finally quiet comfortable sleep in a quiet comfortable house.
The next day, we ate at our favorite Chicago falafel place. There is nothing like it in DC. Breck did most of the drive to Columbus. We hit several potholes on the highway and the van would simply shut off at a speed of 75 to 80 mph.
I was looking forward to Ohio as like Pittsburgh, it had become sort of a second home.
The little bar was packed when we arrived. The highlight of the night was the two man comedy team—insert name-.
Our set was notable for a few reasons. Right at the end of Practice Hiding, Erick’s bass rig died. He is quite adept at figuring out the broken part of his chain so we were back in action pretty soon. The crowd was quite somber and I keep making mistakes. I hit tons of bad notes and the Korg fell off the top tier of the stand 4 times. I toned it down but I never felt like I recovered. I met quite a few complimentary folks after the show but the feeling of being a fuck-up had entered the brain.
However, we were staying with long time Ape friend, Gene Mullet. The man is a rock mainstay of Ohio and we were lucky enough to form a friendship. He has a beautiful clean and stylish home right outside of downtown Columbus.
I think I fell right asleep in the giant king size bed with fluffy comforter.
In the morning, I met Lindsay, Gene’s beautiful, smart, and sweet fiancée. It made me happy that he had a love connection. We went to one of Gene’s favorite places for breakfast and had a relaxing last meal on the road. I took lots of photos of other diners and their meals.
I took a different route on the way home thus avoiding the Penn Turnpike. It was a great move. There was beautiful scenery and smooth roads the whole way. When we had about two hours to go, I started to get sad. Erick was on the phone with his girlfriend, excitedly planning his first meal back. Breck had been talking happily with his girlfriend as well. I envisioned Jeff’s mom in the kitchen baking him cookies. Then I got a text message from my mom.
“Your cell phone bill was over $121.00. Stop using email. Get the rest of your crap out of your bedroom. We are turning that room into a walk-in closet.” Ouch. There’s my love.
When we got back to Jeff’s, my little old car was dead. Although, it started right up with a jump from the van, the reality of the age and life left in that car, smacked me in the face.
When I got back to my house in the city, I went to the bathroom. When I stood up from the toilet, my new cell phone, which contained pictures and videos from the entire tour, plopped into the bowl of Diet Mountain Dewed- flavored urine.
We found out a few days later that the van needed a new transmission. We had no choice but to replace it. There was no time or money to purchase a newer van before our next tour that started in two weeks. The new tranny cost about $1500.00 which was surprisingly cheap. The total income from the tour, however, went to fixing the van. Total take home pay from 2 ½ weeks of shows? None.
The shows were great. The people were great. I love our new record. I am thrilled that people seem to like it. We are adequately warmed up for part 2.
Next chapter: Tales with An Albatross.
Labels: Apes, Ghost Games, rock band, Rock music, the apes, touring
posted by Majestic Ape at 3:52 PM
There are very few highways in Vermont and in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. We were eventually to Route 90 across NY State but we had a long drive through small towns, fields and mountains to get there. When we got about halfway to Rochester, the howling winds and snows began once again. In the van, we were treated to more of the same-- no heat, no defrosters, and no windshield wiper contact on the driver side. However, I was now used to it.
We got to the Bug Jar about 8:00 pm and went across the street for food. There is an Asian restaurant that serves Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. Jeff elected to order the same menu item as Breck. Erick finds the act of two people ordering the same menu item completely intolerable. He will voice his displeasure with this choice and then mock the "doubler", even after the meal is served. He claims it violates good dining out rules. We already know.
We are hoping for a better show at the Bug Jar tonight, than in shows past. The local band, Tiger Cried Beef, was opening and apparently they were a local favorite. One of the members, Keith, had contacted us after reading an old blog that described how everyone left after the opening band played on our last stop in Rochester. He promised that would not happen again. He also offered to put us up for the night after reading about the bizarre accommodations we had previously. There have been some hard times in Rochester.
Company, from Brah Records, was going to play in the middle. They had played with us in Burlington. Nice folks. Very pretty music.
Tiger Cried Beef came through with their promise. There music was great. They had a good crowd. The crowd stayed. The crowd showed enthusiasm. I began to think that our prospects in Western NY State were improving.
After the show we caravaned to Keith's palatial home. Our van was barely operable. I could not get it to reverse at all. I could also only barely get it into drive after having it slip in and out of gear and not catch. These were not good signs.
We arrived at Keith's and all piled in (Company stayed there, too). Keith gave us the tour, which was extensive. The house was absolutely huge. I was also struck by the cold inside temperature. I was EXTREMELY grateful for the bed to sleep in. I was EXTREMELY grateful for the clean showers, great company, great food, and good stories. I was also just quite freezing.
That day I purchased the little chemical foot warmers that you squeeze and the chemical reaction from the two solutions mixing, produces several hours of heat. I stuck them in my socks, put my hat and coat on, and went to bed around 3 am. I think it occurred to me that if I got up to pee, I would step on the warmers, spill the chemicals and give myself burns. What happened was I woke up in two hours with my feet wet and cold. I don't know what happened.
The next Keith fed us delicious home made food and entertained us with rock 'n roll stories. We only had a one hour drive to Buffalo. It was 17 degrees outside. I started calling mechanics to get an oil change before we left town. Keith gave me a coupon for a $15.00 oil change. I made an appointment for 5pm. Jeff didn't want to wait. I thought that was ridiculous. We needed new oil. We needed our wiper fluid replenished. I was hoping they might be able to give us the slightest idea of what the hell was wrong with the van. I was overruled.
We drove through snow showers to get to Buffalo. The GPS was giving us wacky directions. Actually now that I think about, we simply didn't see the club, as it was not clearly marked from the street. It was so cold in that van that I didn't care if we lived through the evening. When we finally found the club, I was desperate to get inside. It wasn't much warmer. The dressing room was heated but that was it. I planned to isolate in that room for the evening.
We loaded in down a set of wet and slippery back stairs and had a decent sound check. The sound man and the promoter were both named Mike. I think they were two of the nicest guys were met on tour. Mike the promoter drove home before our set and brought me back a silk undershirt. That's real kindness.
We got burritos that night. Then we drove around in circles trying to find a grocery store so Jeff could get cliff bars.
Back at the club, they had turned off the heat in the dressing room. The girl who played first also worked at the club, Bev Beverly. She released a bunch of balloons throughout her set. The audience seemed to have a blast throwing them around. I pocketed that idea for future shows. I thought it looked great and gave people a great chance to interact without actually having to dance. Not everyone likes to dance. Next up was Hotel Nourishing. The self-described math rockers had quite a bit of innate musical talent. I will be interested in seeing how develop over the next few years.
I think we had a blast playing that night. A decent sound check goes a long way. Thanks, Mike! After the show, we met a lot of very cool people who had many kind words for us. We were introduced to Kyle, who would be hosting us for the evening. Kyle informed us that he was house sitting for an older gentleman who owned a massive loft space above a huge artist studio. He promised he would crank the heat. Kyle kept his word. The place was huge, clean, and warm. The space had an indoor garden, abundant musical toys to play, and ample space for us to spread out. We talked to Kyle for a while and went to bed quite late, warm and happy.
The next day Kyle had invited us to eat lunch at the coffee shop where he worked. We ate well. The soups were delicious. We had to set out for Detroit early as we had to go through NY, Ohio, and Michigan. Typically you cut across Canada but I had no ID.
The van barely started and was cutting off once we hit the highway. We HAD to find a mechanic. Using my GPS I found a place called Mohawk quick lube, about 8 miles off a nearby highway exit. It quickly became apparent that we had entered an Native American reservation. When we found the location that the GPS directed us to, there was only a little house back in an empty field. I looked closely and saw that the sign above the garage read "Mohawk Quick Lube". It did NOT look like we'd expected. We were expecting the typical urban jiffy lube.
The fellow who serviced our van was clearly Native American. He charged us $17.95, with no additional taxes, fees, or instructions to replace our rear differential. It may have been the cheapest and most interesting oil change we'd ever had. While we waited, Breck and I wandered a bit on the snowy grounds outside, taking pictures of empty fields.
Back on the road, we had a long ride to Detroit. Jeff took out the laptop and set up a movie. We watched "The King of Kong", the story of the quest for the title of World Champion of Donkey Kong. It was a great story. I highly recommend checking it out.
The snows began again about 2 hours outside of Detroit. I no longer batted an eyelash at the weather. No one else up here seemed to either. When we pulled off the highway at the GPS directed exit, I was struck that we were CLEARLY in a residential suburb. I did not have a good feeling. I knew that the venue had changed, as Scrummage University had just been unexpectedly closed down.
When we pulled into a suburban subdivision, I wasn't altogether surprised. When we found the house, there was no real driveway. There was a sheet of ice and various cars parked in odd locations in the yard. The house looked like a hansel and gretel cottage.
Outside we were greeted by a young fellow in a print hoodie wearing some kind of gold chain. This was our promoter. I had been reading some email exchanges about this show and I vaguely remember the promoter PROMISING that even though Scrummage had been shut down, he was still almost certain he could get us almost $500.oo. I was now very doubtful.
Next section-- Satanists? Anarchists? or just a very nice bunch of people
Labels: Apes, Buffalo, Ghost Games
posted by Majestic Ape at 11:25 AM
Pictures from the Black Cat Feb 29,
These beautiful photos were taken by Fernando. Infinite thanks for your interest, execution, and brilliant artistry. Also, your quick action in posting is quite admirable. MANY THANKS!!!! We love you!!!
Labels: Apes, Black Cat, Ghost Games, photos, the apes
posted by Majestic Ape at 12:19 AM
We went to Whole Foods after leaving Breck’s sisters house on Thursday afternoon. I had begun using my new cell phone as my navigator. It has an internal GPS and this GPS, unlike Jeff’s computer, will detect one’s location and give verbal and visual instructions to your destination. Jeff needs your present address and then he needs to know which direction you are facing. Then he is quite lousy about telling you each direction as they occur within any trip. He prefers to update Apes data in Excel Charts, or watch fights that he has downloaded. Once I liberated him from his duties of navigator, (this happened today), he plugged in headphones and watched a boxing match on his laptop. Every few minutes he would make sounds of shock or surprise in a sharp pronounced “OOH!” or “EEW!”. I asked him to stop because it sounded like he was reacting to me about to hit someone or something on the road.
The drive to NYC was lovely. It was the first clear day and my Ipod was choosing to play lots of Rush, CCR, Sandy Denny, Love, and the Who. It was so wonderful to drive without relying on ANYTHING for guidance.
We got to NYC around 8:30 and Zach from Ex-Models helped us load in. Shahin appeared shortly after. We have known these guys for years. We did some of our first out of town shows with them. I had a flashback to 2001 and sleeping 7 people stuffed on a filthy floor in a house in the woods by some train tracks in Athens, GA. I had to sleep in the kitchen that night because there was simply no other available floor space.
After loading in, we chatted with people and then I tried to go off with Jeff and Pat (from Liars and currently, These are Powers). I did NOT want to eat Indian food with Erick. Sometimes I just need to get away from him. I was less than a half block away when I heard, “Kleiny! Wait!” I shouted back at him that I was going with Jeff and Pat. He chased after me. I caved. We got food from a little Indian carry out place that was more like a deli. There was counter for people to stand and eat lining the narrow store. Mature Indian men lined the store. I got two little piles of veggie curries, one spinach and one squash. I gave Erick the rice.
We went back to the club, where the show had started. I talked to Shahin for a while and then, my ex-boyfriend appeared. I had not seen him or talked to him since CMJ 2006. There was no ill will but he was the last person that I dated seriously, and we were together when I was not too much fun to be around. It was truly GREAT to see him. I was reminded of what a NICE guy he was.
Lots of DC folks showed up. It was a bit chaotic during set up. The stage at the Cake Shop is at the bottom end of the basement level of the club. When there are four bands playing, it’s hard to find your equipment. Well, we got set up quickly and launched into our set.
It was a fun set. After we finished, I sat by the merch table for a while. I talked to our friend Mark from Queens for a while. Then I met J.R. He was definitely cute and definitely my type. He told me that he had seen us many times over the years, in lost of strange places. Modified Arts Space in Phoenix was the first show he mentioned. That brought back some strange memories. He told me that OddEyeSee was one of his favorite records of all times. He understood the record on the level that I had always hoped people would be able to connect with it. I think very few people understood that record.
I had to go upstairs when These Are Powers were playing. They are a fantastic band and extremely talented people. I simply had no ear plugs and their set was one of the loudest I had heard in a long time.
So we loaded out, when back to our friend Greg’s place andsuddenly it was 3:30 am.
We met our friend and booking agent, Michelle, and her friend Dan, for breakfast.
When we were heading to the BQE, I was in the left lane on Meeker Ave. There was an old man in a Lincoln Town Car in the left turning lane, one car in front of me. When the light turned green, he starting waving wildly. I had no idea what he was trying to communicate. He got out of his car and started screaming at me.
“Can you see I am trying to back into that space?” He was screaming his bloody head off. There was no space. He was trying to pull backward into the right lane. There was a line of cars in the curb lane.
I opened my window and smiling sweetly, I said to him, “Hey, everything’s okay!”
“What are you, stupid? I know, I have a wife!” He jumped back in his car and tore off to the right, around the corner.
The drive to Boston was long. Traffic was heavy, probably because it was a holiday weekend.
We pulled up in front of the club. The wind was howling and temperatures were bitterly low. Erick and Breck hopped out of the van and went in the club to pee before we attempted to load in our gear. I sat with Jeff for a moment but then decided that I may as well pee, too. I walked up to the door of the club and pulled the handle. It was locked. I looked around for another door but didn’t see any.
I thought I heard someone say, “Are you in a band?” The voice was quiet and I almost thought that I had imagined it. I turned to look in the direction where I thought the voice came from and saw no one.
“ARE YOU IN A BAND?” This time I heard it. I turned in the direction that it came from and saw an old leathery man standing on the sidewalk near the other side of the door, smoking.
“Oh yes, I am.”
“Look at me when I am talking to you! What’s the matter with you? Don’t just ignore people!” he continued at a volume I would call shouting.
With a broad sincere smile, I answered, “Sir, I have hearing problems. I wasn’t ignoring you. I didn’t know which direction the sound came from.” Still smiling, “It’s not very nice to simply start shouting at people.”
“You’re pretty rude to ignore people!” he bellowed as he unlocked the club door.
I walked in and stopped to survey the scene. There were multiple meat-head looking
fellows scattered about. We were in for a helluva night.
After load-in, the four of us went to a Thai restaurant. Erick mocked Jeff for most of the meal. Jeff made fun of us for years because of our preference for “world foods”. I am not a fan of typical American fare. But until recently, I wouldn’t eat most foods, American or “worldly”.
Back at the club, people were starting to gather. I would classify this crowd as a “white hip hop crowd”. I mean nothing by this statement. I am simply trying to create a visual reference point. Anyway, I didn’t think we would go over so well.
We scattered. I spent some time talking to Ryan, one of the musicians in the Skyrider Band. He was young, tall, blond, and HYPER. But we had plenty to talk about.
We played our set right around 11:00 pm. I played terribly, at least in my mind. When the show was over, I hid in the dressing room. I actually tried to sleep in a pile of our dirty clothes on the floor.
Our friends Andy and Makoto, from Tunnel of Love, had come to the show. About 5 minutes before Sole was finishing his set, I went downstairs to hang out.
Jeff reported that an audience member came up to him and said, “I wasn’t that into your alls music but I have to give you props. I have never seen a drummer get his stuff off stage that quick.”
We went back to Andy’s house. We were staying in the attic bedroom of his parents’ home. He and his girlfriend lived separately in the basement apartment. Erick immediately found several old guns- -a bayonet, and a hand gun. He just started aiming them at us and firing. The guy is a jackass. He had no idea if there was even the slightest chance they could be functional and loaded.
Erick slept in the laundry room. Jeff and Breck slept in the bedroom. I decided to sleep on the wood floor in the computer room since I have been told that suddenly, on this tour, for the first time in 8 years of touring, I am snoring. It seemed polite to try to separate myself.
At 7:45 am, I woke up and started vomiting bile. Bile is a greenish-yellow fluid that's essential for digesting and absorbing fats and for eliminating worn-out red blood cells and certain toxins from your body. It is a base (as opposed to an acid, different than acid reflux). Vomiting bile in your sleep is a violent act. You wake up choking and spewing yellow fluid from your mouth. It burns intensely and the only way to stop the burning is to consume an acidic drink to neutralize the bile. Diet coke or coffee or orange juice would have helped. Normally I would drink one of those fluids to reduce the burning. But this time I was not in my own home. The parents did not know we were there. I couldn’t go digging through their kitchen. Additionally I had inhaled some of the bile. I just ran into the bathroom and tried to get it out of my nose and lungs. I was pretty disgusting. I drank a bunch of water and eventually the pain subsided a little, enough for me to lay back down on the wood floor of the computer room to try to go back to sleep.
About an hour later, someone started shaking the doorknob.
“Why is this door locked? Who is in there?” It was Andy’s father.
I thought I would die. I opened the door and explained who I was and apologized profusely. The only reason that the door was locked was that the wind kept opening it and slamming it shut. I didn’t want it to make noise and wake people.
I grabbed my bile encrusted sleeping bag and got out of there. The dad actually took me downstairs and made me a pot of coffee and we chatted politely about our respective careers. The coffee did help the throat pain but I was having trouble breathing because of the bile now in my lungs.
I gave up sleeping and took a shower. Several hours later we all went out for breakfast but I couldn’t eat. I sipped on a nice Diet Raspberry Snapple Iced Tea.
We were playing at a club called The Living Room. Erick went to Rhode Island School of Design and any time we play in Providence, it feels like a little homecoming. The heat wasn’t working in the van and it was about 17 degrees outside. I was still feeling quite ill from the episode in the morning but now I was dizzy and had chills. We walked into the club and the temperature felt no different than the outside. The Living Room has a very ‘down and out’ feel. It is a very bare bones old music venue and the inside looks well worn. Sole and the Skyrider Band had already arrived and I chatted with my buddy, Ryan, after we loaded in. When it was time for find food, Erick recommended Apsara, a Laotion restaurant that he used to frequent back in his RISD days. We found the restaurant using my little navigator and off we went. The van had just started presenting with a new ailment. It wasn’t shifting into reverse, and it was dying when I shifted into Drive. Its always an adventure with the 87 Ford.
We made it to Apsara, had a great meal, and headed back to the Living Room.
There were several larger bald guys wandering around now that were not there when we arrived. One of them was the hip hop artist known as Prolific. He happened to be the first guy I met at the merch table. He was a lovely person and a great performer. Telephone Jim Jesus played and then it was our turn. I finally felt like I had a kick ass show. We all did.
Erick’s friend Brian, from Lightning Bolt showed up and invited us back to his warehouse. He warned us that it’s wasn’t heated. I called Andy. We decided to drive back to Boston. Breck drove. I had a fever but was not revealing this information. We made it back to Boston safely and I slept like a rock.
The drive to Burlington, VT was breathtaking. We were essentially driving through snow covered mountains the whole way. The weather services were reporting a wintry mix for the next two days and I was hoping that we would get to Burlington before this wintry mix rained down upon us. We were all pretty excited to get to Burlington because Jeff’s close friend from home lives here now. I have written about Neal before. He is the guy that likes the Seven Layer Burrito from Taco Bell. Neal and his lovely wife, Annick welcomed us into their home to drop off our gear before heading to downtown Burlington. We ate Indian food and then went to the club. The promoter called Erick to ask him if the other bands could use our gear. It always amazes me when local bands call to ask to borrow our gear. If they are in their home town, and have their own equipment, why would they want to put extra wear and tear on our gear while we are on tour? That was the first thing that I asked the promoter when we got there. He explained that this was simply to minimize change over times. I didn’t push the issue.
The bar had a few folks inside. Erick and I began observing the guy who was supposed to be collecting money at the door. He let six people in without paying. We were only getting a percentage of money taken from the door that night and there were four bands on the bill. I walked up to him and told him that he needed to charge everyone. Erick and I watched him like a hawk for the next 45 minutes. Now I feel a little bit bad about this because maybe we freaked him out. I don’t know. He got someone else to cover the door for the rest of the night.
The first two bands played. We went on about 11:00 pm. The kids in Burlington were AWESOME! They danced like crazy. That is the best feeling. It provides the ultimate fuel for a show. I think all in all, it was a great show. However, I was totally wrecked and couldn’t wait to get back to Neal’s house.
When we got back, I went into the guest bedroom. There was half-eaten kale leaves on the floor, a large kitty litter box, and a black and white rabbit hopping around. I had forgotten about the rabbit. He has some real personality, this bunny. I did remove several hard little rabbit turds before going to bed. Bunnies miss the box sometime. I could picture getting up in the middle of the night and getting turds embedded in my socks. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Burlington day off
I woke up at 9:30 this morning. My breathing was a little easier. I set up the laptop for the first time in days and got to work. We went to downtown Burlington at about 2:00pm. One of the kids from the show last night (another major promoter in town) told us to go to the restaurant where he worked and implied he might be able to hook us up with mimosas. We went to the said restaurant and asked the waitress if the kid was there. He was there and we told her to tell him that Apes were here and said hello. At some point during the meal, he walked by and waved and walked away. Jeff was the only one who saw him. It wasn't his fault. We weren't in his section and the restaurant was quite busy. The food was great though and the server was very nice. After that it was ‘book store’ afternoon. I was in heaven walking around downtown Burlington. It reminded me of Eureka, CA. There was an abundance of folks representing all sorts of counter culture and subculture and just as many yuppies. After I had my fill of the book stores, I went back to van. I didn’t eat with everyone else because I had to budget my per diems (wallet gone, no money). I had an apple in the van and I was starving. When I got to a traffic light, I observed the white flashing hand that said pedestrians can now safely cross. There was a bus coming around the corner and I stopped to wait for him to make his left turn. Then I ran across the street. Some guy in a car rolled down his window and shouted, “DIDN’T YOU SEE THE STOP SIGN, STUPID?!”
I am beginning to really enjoy getting screamed at. When the guy looked at me for a response, I smiled and put my finger in front of my mouth to signal him to “Shhhh…”
We went back to Neal's and I spent the rest of the day writing and catching up on email. The boys watched Ultimate Fighting. We were all glued to our laptops.
Dinner was at Moe's-- a burrito place in town. When we walked in, we saw a line of about 30 people in front of us. Apparently we went to the restaurant on the anniversary of their opening and they were having a Moe's birthday party. To celebrate they were handing out free Moe's t-shirts, birthday cake and balloons.
I tried to get Jeff a balloon but the blowing lady never returned. Haha.
When I was getting ready for bed, the bunny got friendly. He hopped up on the bed, started sniffing my toes and then chomped. When I yanked my foot away in response, he ran up to my chest and jumped on my tits. I lay face to face with the bunny. We had about an inch between us. Could it be I've found a friend?
I have photos. Coming soon.
Labels: Ghost Games, Rock music, the apes, touring, vans