Thursday, October 30, 2008

TVOTR Part Five: Voodoo and Animal Shit...

Somewhere driving down to New Orleans we got caught with a counterfeit $10 bill. Shit's kinda scary…cashier came out of the gas station and said "You paid me with a fake ten" and it was confusing because I paid for the gas with band money, but bought a Vitamin Water with my own dough. The lady politely told us that she didn't have any tens in her drawer before we showed up. She handed over the offending bill and it was laughable how flimsy, fake and off-color it was. We apologized profusely and after trading her a proper Hamilton for the phony, we laughed it off.

It must've come to us at the merch table in Chicago. I wish there was a "Where's George?" for counterfeit bills. In discussing how to get rid of it (as change at the merch table, at another gas station, etc) we collectively decided to end the devastating circle and instead the piece-de-resistance now resides in the lining of our three-ring tour binder (holder of all our important contracts and deal memos) reminiscent of a sixth-grade Trapper Keeper.

Arrive in New Orleans early at the site for the Voodoo Music Festival. Showing up for a show at noon is pretty surreal. We all should have been sleeping.

We drove through the winding back roads to the Playstation stage (which doubled as an oversized Blu-Ray disc player), set-up our equipment and then were whisked away on an ever-so-swift golf cart to our very own tent, not really "furnished" moreso than a couch and a table, but there was a piece of paper on the outside that had our name on it, so we felt special.

We did a photo shoot that every band at the festival was required to do…something to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Katrina. While sitting on a couch with a generic gray background and seeming like the whole shoot was to be a bust, I made a bold move and started to tickle Ko. Thus set off a chain reaction of tickling, slowly degenerating into an all-out manpile. The photog, happy, declared she had got her shot. Mission: accomplished.

From there back on a golf cart and onstage to run through a line check. A more prepared and quick sound crew I have not met. These guys knew what they were doing and it made us as a band step up our game. The sound in my monitors was perfect and for an outdoor festival, where complete and utter audio cacophony is the norm, that is no small accomplishment.

We took the stage at 2:45pm, right as the skies cleared up and the sun unleashed it's beating rays down on us. It was damn hot up there, sweatier than Larry Bird's jockstrap, and perplexing looking at acres of grass with attendees experiencing a clear abundance of personal space.

We took the adversity in stride and rocked the place. At the opposing end of the field, flanking the other main stage for the festival, were two massive video screens, showing the feed of the cameras fixed on us. There was a slight video delay and to watch that while performing is funny…like continuous access to the most immediate instant replay system in the world, where you wonder "hmmm…what was I doing .75 seconds ago? OF COURSE! I moved my arm to the left just a hair so I could make sure that the video was really of me and not some holographic, animatronic spectre of myself conjured by the mere name Voodoo Music Festival."

Seriously, I can't be the only person in the world who, when finds themselves on a monitor for surveillance or closed-circuit camera, does a unnecessary half-turn of the leg, hair flip, glance to the side or raise the roof as a way to just check the system, you know, make sure it's all working alright. Please tell me I'm not, I could really use the reassurance right about now.

Ended the set on top of Pat's bass drum with my floor tom in hand. With no actual ceiling above me, just wispy cerulean sky, I tossed that 16" blue satin flame Slingerland into the matching heavens and caught it with the delicacy of a guy on his first day on the receiving end at the fish flinging market. Confident, I tossed it again and with the throw being a little off, I veered off the bass drum to keep it from biffing Pat in the head.

With adroit skill I saved Pat's life from certain carnage, the only-slightly less destructive consequence was that my body took him out instead. Wiped out his hi-hat stand, his crash cymbal and his rack tom too. As it was happening, he said he was thinking to himself "no broken bones, no broken bones, no broken bones". To me, the entire thing looked like the scene in Nirvana's "Lithium" video, taken from their performance at the 1991 Reading Festival, where Cobain, with a running start, jumps whole hog into Grohl's drums and in the process dislocates his shoulder.

Luckily, with the film crew up our nostrils the entire time, I figured I'd be able to at least see how it looked to anyone who was fortunate enough to witness my floor tomfoolery. Given a DVD of the performance immediately after the set's completion, at the hotel later that night I was horrified to see that not only did the edit completely miss BOTH of my magnificent drum tosses, but instead of me completely wiping out on Pat for the second and most triumphant manpile of the day, the shot they did have was of Ko laughing at what had just happened out of frame.


After breaking down gear and toweling off the gallons of sweat, we drove the van back to our tent only to discover that it now belonged to Joss Stone. BOOOOOOOOOO. I think even the trail mix and Pepsi they'd put in there for us was gone. Out with the old, in with the new, kicked to the curb…it don't feel too hot. With dinner not served until 5:30, we killed time.

Zack and I sidled up to a Playstation for a friendly game of NBA whateverthefucktheycallit. I chose Cleveland, wanting to fully utilize the skillz of Lebaron James and Zack grabbed LA so that he could gloat "KO-BAY!" every five seconds.

It'd been awhile since I'd partook in any Playstationing and I needed a bit to get re-acquainted with the controller. Even so, it seems I'd forgotten the Left/Right buttons for each respective forefinger and thus missed out on the advantage that is "turbo".

Zack blew me away. We played 7-minute quarters and I lost by no less than 40 points. His outside game was strong and my domination in the unintentional intentional fouls/missed shots from beyond half-court tandem notwithstanding, I had fun. Upon completion Z commended me on my sticking with it for the entire duration, even though having been statistically eliminated from actually winning around the start of the second quarter. He said it showed character and that he himself would have quit long ago. I felt proud for losing with dignity.

5:30 rolled around and the wait for catering was instantly long, the serpentine chow line overflowing with everyone from festival volunteers to security guards to the artists themselves. Out of nowhere, Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 (who were shitty, but at least popular) and the lesser-cared-about (and playing Voodoo) Angels and Airwaves, is dropped off in one of them snazzy golf carts. Like it's no big thing, he cozies up to some friends/buddies/fellow douchebags toward the front of the line and slides in like it ain't no thing.

People in his position would usually just get someone else to grab their food for them, But no, this self-centered asshole saw nothing wrong with cutting in line in front of at least 70 people. WHAT-THE-FUCK? I wanted to go up to the idiot and ask him if he just didn't happen to notice everyone else waiting in line or if he thought it wasn't a big deal or what. Funnily enough, once I finally got my food, he'd already finished eating and was long gone.

Worst part about the wait was that the food was bad. The Italian sausage was barely passable and everything else was just slop. And having to stand in line for 30 minutes for it made it that much worse. I ate alone at an empty table before it filled up with college-aged volunteers excitedly discussing the minute details of a conversation one of them had with, you guessed it, Tom DeLonge. I quit.

I didn't watch any of the other bands play. This only hypothetically disappointed me if Stone Temple Pilots did "Big Bang Baby" or Wyclef Jean did ""We Trying to Stay Alive" as those are both my jams.

Before we left Joss Stone's drummer commented on how much he enjoyed our performance. That made me happy. There's hope for us yet.

Instead we trucked out early so we could make it to Atlanta in decent time. Ko was frazzled and when, in trying to ask the rest of the band a legitimate question I made some joke about "anal", she shutdown and would not say anything other than "just forget it."

I apologized for my admittedly awesome joke and tried to get her to come back to the rest of us, but she refused. It was awkward for a moment until Zack climbed on top of her and through either tickling, fear, fear of tickling or some Jedi shit, got her to laugh and open back up and all of us be a happy family again.

This will forever be known as the Zack Attack. You should be so lucky to find yourself on the receiving end of one at least once in your life.

Watched the DVD of the Voodoo performance in the hotel that night. I, among other band members, was not pleased with my appearance. Where'd that beard come from? Why didn't someone tell me I'm fat? Shit, I gots to get on that Nordic Trak soon.

Little Five Points in Atlanta was bumping, bumping…like someone forgot to turn the hipster faucet off. The new location of Criminal Records was nice, we manged some free pizza and I grabbed vols. 2 and 3 of the Mad Mike comp series on Norton as well as the Complete Motown Singles box Volume 9 (1969) with the lovely touring musician discount.

From there I walked around the corner and in trying to avoid what appeared to be some doctrine pusher along the lines of (but not) a Hare Krishna, I stepped in dog shit. Kindly enough, the fellow warned me about it AFTER I'd squashed my heel in it. I dragged my sole along the brick sidewalk and eliminated any sign/smell of the offense.

Not sixty seconds later, I'm standing outside a vintage clothing store with Zack when I am alarmed by the sudden appearance of black spots on my arm. Confused, I look at Zack and ask, "Did I just get shit on by a bird?" He replied in the affirmative and then told me to stand still as he would shake the fecal matter out of my hair. All that managed to do was get bird shit on him. I found the whole thing completely hilarious.

Off to the Tabernacle and we passed by Martin Luther King Jr's birthplace and the church where he served as pastor. Was bummed we didn't have time to check them out any moreso than from the van. Club used to be a House of Blues and still held all the requisite folk art and general good club amenities like big individual dressing rooms, private one-person bathrooms, catering, etc, etc. Before HOB it used to be an actual church and that's usually a good sign.

Did an interview before the show in my socks. Tried to grab some sleep during TvoTR but was unsuccessful. Saw Janelle Monae backstage, but didn't know who she was until I cracked open an old ish of GQ in the van a few days later and asked "Wasn't this girl at the Atlanta show?"

After the show we made it to the monthly dance party in the basement of the Highland Inn. What a fun, vibrant and completely impossible in Detroit gathering it was. We'd missed Greg Cartwright perform with a last minute Reigning Sound (including onetime Dirtbomb Adam Renshaw on drums) but instead enjoyed him spinning records. It was late but there were still kids on the dancefloor and the fact that they seemed into 60's psych records was encouraging for Atlanta, depressing for Detroit. I guess these are costume affairs and tonight's theme was Warhol characters and people seemed to take that shit seriously. Why would this never work in Detroit? Is funk night the only DJ'ing that gets hipsters dancing? Is ATL just experiencing the positive aftershocks of Cartoon Network/Adult Swim slowly taking over the city?

Talked with Jared from the Black Lips briefly. He said their new album is done, whereas when I saw him last, in July, he said they would be recording it themselves and "taking their time." Them boys are funny.

After slight confusion with street names involving the words "peach" and "tree" (in Atlanta? Really?) we checked into the Double Tree in Bucktown and had to share a mere three chocolate chip cookies we'd received on check-in.

Zack and I flipped the channels between "Knocked Up" and "Deal or No Deal" with Zack consistently criticizing EVERY decision the young pregnant contestant made on "Deal."

"She's too greedy"
"This is where everyone blows it"
"I can't believe she just did that"

It was hilarious to see how INVOLVED Zack got with the entire show. With two suitcases left, $1 million and $200k where the contestant is given the choice of switching briefcases, Z opened up

"Shit…that's fucked up they offer that."

And finally, when the contestant became the first to ever win $1 million, Zack admitted that, clearly, his critiques would be probably be best-leveled at another contestant.

Then out of nowhere, I spot something crawling up the wall out the corner of my eye. I exclaim dramatically (but not too loudly) "What the fuck is that?"

Upon closer inspection, we had a 2" long cockroach visiting our room at the 4-star Double Tree. Like a pair of 6-year-olds holding an old mayonnaise jar with a twig and some grass shoved inside, we deftly caught the offensive insect. Once imprisoned, I asked Zack what we should do. He excitedly replied "Let's get some free shit!"

Z hurried to the front desk and presented the bug to a startled clerk. With our rooms booked via Priceline he was not able to comp us. But he did give us five passes for free breakfast, a voucher for free parking and the code for free internet. Oh yeah, Zack was in his underwear when he negotiated this.

In hindsight we realized it naïve to take FOOD as compensation for discovering a cockroach in an establishment. Nevertheless, as Ko and Zack and I can attest, that Sunday breakfast buffet was tasty and worth our momentary stint as D-level Bindi Irwin's to get it.


Buz Sawyer said...

Ben is so gay for Zack.
Ahhh, young love!

Leyland "Lee" DeVito said...

I saw Angels and Airwaves open for Weezer. Onstage, Tom pranced around, spoke like a mythical creature, didn't play guitar, and was otherwise the antithesis of Blink-182. At one point he donned faux night-vision goggles that shot green laser beams into the audience as he sang "I love you". There is no doubt in my mind that the man is insane. It would seem that Angels and Airwaves' only purpose is to make Blink-182 look retroactively not bad.

Anonymous said...

Bindi Irwin? Nice reference! But then again did Larry Bird ever wear a Jockstrap? I didn't know that Basketball players got hit in the nuts that often. Would Pat need one while attempting to avoid falling drumsets/drummers? Probably.. but Larry Bird? Maybe when playing the Sixers, but otherwise I don't think he was too worried about it.

Anonymous said...

The expression is "I was sweatin' like a sissy in Boystown"

sports if.

Forest said...

Larry Bird wears a jockstrap in the same world that "Lebaron" James is a basketball player.