The Better Than Ezra Tour Part II
We're a Touring MACHINE!!
September 9, 1995 -- A Great Day
We woke up in the van this morning!
Howie insists that he slept better in the van than he does in some motels, but I think he's just crazed.We drove another hour, it seemed like, past Providence, to a THEATRE because today we decided we would SEE A MOVIE! After fighting about either seeing Babe, The Talking Pig Movie (Rick was open to this, but I refused) or MORTAL KOMBAT (Jim and I wanted to see this) we chose MORTAL KOMBAT and well, let me just say that it was everything you could expect. The most amazing thing was the soundtrack and also, the credits were longer than the movie, I think!
When the crowd came running into the room today I could swear I heard them screaming already. It was like that weird Milwaukee show we played with 4000 kids screaming like we were the Beatles or something. When we took the stage (billed as Support #1) the audience screamed. We started playing and they were all over each other, 3 crowd-surfers by the first chorus of "New Boyfriend," the first song! It was really cool to play to such a rapt audience; I jumped around a lot more than I usually do; it was easy to get my feet off the ground tonight.
Guys were screaming and shaking their fists during "Revolution Year Zero." People were watching, and really getting into the action. I looked over while on the stage and saw Jim bouncing up and down, and I think Howie took a little bit of MORTAL KOMBAT with him onto the stage. Rick was screaming more throatily, too. The audience was going nuts.
After the show, I sprinted off the stage to go and sell t-shirts; we hadn't hardly sold any before the show, so I figured there'd be a rush right after the show, especially since the audience seemed to love us so much - I got back behind the t-shirt counter and a huge line appeared - all wanted Better Than Ezra shirts. People stared at me wondering why I was so sweaty.
I felt stupid. Then a guy brought to my attention that the audience was STILL crowd-surfing and going nuts - and it was in-between bands. *sigh*.
Good Audience Comments Tonight
You were good - how long have you been in the band? I was told you just joined.
I *liked* you guys. You had a lot of Spunk!
Can I buy a Better Than Ezra shirt from you?
Do you work for this club? (asked by a Better Than Ezra crew member)
Are you guys Canadian? (this was taken as a compliment)
September 10, 1995 -- Brownies, NYC - with Brainiac!
We have a day off of the Ezra tour to play a show in a teeny club in NYC called "Brownies." I am a little sad that we're not playing at CBGB's tonight, but we are playing at the smaller club because we will not be able to fill CBGBs and it'll just look pathetic.
Both Brainiac's and our booking agents agreed this, but we still feel bad, because the CBGBs people are so nice to us all the time. Still, sitting down on that pristine toilet in the bathroom at Brownies made me glad to be there; the CBGBs toilets are..well.. an experience.
Brainiac rules again! They are so...colorful!. They remind me of Devo for the 90s. It's nice to play with a band I really love though; on a small stage. It is a nice break from the Dambuilders/Ezra tour.
Contact with Better Than Ezra's Bass Player
So the bass player from BTE was backstage in our dressing rooms in Providence, the other night, asking us why we weren't completing the dates they asked us to play on; the southern dates. All we had heard was that the promoters were offering us much less (in a stronger market for them) and we would only be allowed to play 30 minutes instead of 45 (HM!!!! Little did we know...) so Ellen (our booking agent) turned the dates down. We'd have to drive all the way down to New Orleans, just to play a couple of shows for too little money and time; it didn't seem worth it.
Chances are the Better Than Ezra guys weren't told this; and they have no control over what the promoters will offer. Now that we know it, somehow we're going to have to tell them why we're turning down their shows. It would be easier for us to accept them if we were taking tour support like any other "normal" band, but we aren't. Anyway. BTE are really turning out to be nice guys; I don't want to hurt their feelings. Maybe their booking agent will tell them the whole story.
September 11, 1995 -- Day OFF!
I feel like we went to work today! We went to the Time/Warner Building here in NYC to meet people who work for Reprise. We didn't see any rock stars. Everyone was really nice to us, and we met a division that is in charge of Latin music that is being marketed to alterna-people which we think is a really cool idea. We looted a WB cabinet and came back with some great CDs each - I scored a Stereolab "Space-Age Bachelor Pad" CD - I hope I like it. The best thing we got is about 1000 little PROMO cassettes of 3 of our songs that we will be giving away - they are just straight from the CD, and they are for people who don't own the CD yet. It is something we thought might help us get our music out to people, and make them intrigued. We went to lunch with the guy who signed us, so many years ago, and then we went to the Museum Of Modern Art.
There is a Disney Animation exhibit at the MoMA right now that is pretty cool. It's great to see cels from animations done in the 1940s, sitting there right in front of you! There was a sketch of Goofy from 1938, describing how his eyelids should always be drawn uneven, to give him that "Goofy" look.
There is also the techno exhibit downstairs, with tons of television sets; and the most amazing thing I saw at the museum was this terrible little doll, about a foot high off the ground, hanging from a stand, with a tiny face that was projected by a tiny tv set. The face screamed and cried and wailed and sometimes just looked up, pathetically. I couldn't stop watching it. I heard myself crying just like that, a long time ago. There was also a dark, square room, with dim images of people walking around the room, projected on the walls, and also some white, projected vertical lines roaming around the room. The music was just bells ringing, ambient, really beautiful and eerie. I stayed in there for a while.
Out of the Frying Pan...
I took a picture of the "gorgeous" drive between NY and Philly. Ick. No wonder people insult New Jersey all the time, the parts you drive through to get to major cities are really, really ugly.
I'll be glad to leave New York City, but we're only going to Philadelphia, which is sort of the nastiest, dirtiest parts of New York City combined with the nicest people that you'd ever meet. We have had some terrible housing experiences in Philly so we have a rule now; we stay in motel rooms in Philly. I don't know about the other guys, but I'm physically exhausted, and I don't know why.
September 12, 1995
Philadelphia - The Trocadero
The Trocadero in Philadelphia is located in Chinatown. It's one of the most beautiful sounding rooms you can play in - we once had the extreme pleasure of watching the band Codeine play here; it was like an awesome (big, not 'rad') dream. The club is big; probably around 1000-seat; maybe more. The people who run it are all very nice to us; on this sort-of debasing tour, it's nice to run into people who "know who we are." After all, we have been touring for at least 6 years, and we've worked long enough so that we are used to getting a certain amount of respect, with older people in the business who have been around as long as we have. With people newer to the business; they may have never heard of us, and there's no reason for them to treat us nicely. This is just the way it goes, and I understand it completely, but I don't have to be happy about it. In a perfect world, everyone should be respected; newer band and older bands alike.
Tonight I saw the differences in the way 2 stagehands treated us; when we went onstage to soundcheck, one guy asked us how we usually set up and then told us the way he wanted us to set up; bass on the right instead of the left. It makes a huge difference to set up another way; and he obviously wanted us to set up this other way just so he didn't have to move a speaker (i.e. do his job). We just looked at him and told him we couldn't set up a different way; we used to change our setup on command maybe about 4 years ago, but we have learned not to do it anymore. When he started getting angry, another stage guy, who had seen us many times play in Philadelphia, cut in and started talking to us like we were human beings; talked to us about our old shows and asked if we were going to play "She Walks" (from 5 albums ago!). This made me a lot more comfortable.
The guys have found a new pasttime, playing cards in the dressing room as I run around frantically getting t-shirts set up and finding us water.
The biggest problems with this tour are 1) The 30 minute time limit and 2) BTE and the Dambuilders take so much time soundchecking each night that even though we are early each day to load in, we still have to wait around and then we get pushed onto the stage usually right when doors open and told we don't have time to do a soundcheck. Or worse, "OK, you can soundcheck but you HAVE TO HURRY!" and we get rushed on and off the stage.
We are also taking much less money than we'd make playing alone. It's more of a respect issue; if we were the headlining band we'd do everything we could to try to make the openers comfortable, if it was a long tour.
The biggest advantages: Obvious.
1) We get to play in front of people who have never heard of us, and 2) We get to play big all-ages shows. These outweigh the disadvantages.
Another thing should be said about both bands: the musicians are all extremely nice, and are all very talented. Also, we have gone into this tour with a little bit of an attitude; we've just been at this a little too long. 4 years ago we'd be kissing the ground walked upon by everyone involved in this tour; nowadays, maybe we are just a little bit jaded. Or experienced.