1995, May 8-13
Matthew Sweet Week
Monday May 8th - Matthew Sweet Tour Day 1 - Indianapolis
LAST NIGHT WE WENT HOME!
Going home and sleeping in my own bed for 1 night, for the first time in 6 weeks really threw me off; the whole touring rhythm seems broken. I woke up for a second and thought to myself, "ha; this is funny, for a moment, I thought I was in my own bed! How silly!" (In fact, I was.) I got a couple of new clothes, Rick got his CD player, and Joe seems a little happier, so it was a good thing we went home. Our house was intact, too, and there was a LOT of mail.
MATTHEW SWEET DAY 1
Well. Today is the first day we play with Matthew Sweet. We're on tour with him for a week. On stage he announced his welcome to us, but we haven't made actual contact with him yet.
We saw his huge blue tour bus, and we saw fans waiting outside it, waiting for a glimpse of him. The road crew seems a little um... "tired."
They seem like they need a pep talk or something...
I am happy that someone has finally asked us to tour with them, but it's been a LONG time since we've been on one of these BIG tours. They are a real pain in the ass. We did a big tour with The Buzzcocks, one with Swervedriver, and another with The Screaming Trees. It's fun to hang out with rock stars and see their tour buses; they are almost always nice to us, but the rules surrounding a huge tour are different than our normal day-to-day touring schedule.
ADVANTAGES OF TOURING WITH A BIG BAND
Get to play in front of a lot of people who never heard you.
And hopefully they like you..
Get to meet rock stars and crew.
Since it's a big tour, Matthew has a huge tour bus,
and roadies and people taking care of his every need.
A Guitar Tech! One always comes with a big tour, and they
have great tools for fixing peoples' basses! Hurray! Mine is now fixed!
Rock Stars' crews sometimes do not move their drums
Matthew's crew will DEFINITELY NOT move their drums.
We have to cram into a little area on the stage around their stuff when we play. This doesn't leave us much room to jump around.
Headliner Makes You Play Quieter than them so you don't sound as good.
Sometimes opening bands' POWER is limited in the PA; we are not allowed to have as much power going through the PA as the headliner, so it is impossible for us to sound as good. I don't know if this is happening on this tour or not, but it's standard practice.
T-Shirt Prices Fixed
Sometimes (like on the Screaming Trees tour) we are forced to sell our t-shirts at a huge price so we do not undersell the headliner. This is one thing that I really hate. It seems that this will NOT be a problemon these shows. *whew*!
Get there early, Have to wait
The crew will be there very early to set up the headliner's guitars and stuff, but we will have to sit around and wait until they come out to do soundcheck, before we can get on the stage. If they are very late, we can't do a soundcheck, even if we were early.
Get treated like dirt by club owners
Since these are huge clubs, no one has ever heard of us at them, and we are not treated like a band that's been touring for 6 years. At most of the small clubs we play, the owners know us and greet us and treat us well; at these big theaters, we all have our laminates now (something we hate) in order to be allowed into the club. People ask me if I'm a girlfriend of the band; if I am, I have to leave.
HUGE TICKET PRICES!
The ticket prices are terrible! People who want to come see US are going to have to pay $$$; much more than we'd ever charge, because the headliner has a HUGE overhead; the tour bus and crew must be paid for.
Tuesday May 9th - Athens, OH - a non-Matthew Sweet show
PUNK ROK RESURGANCE
We used to play this club called "The Union" in Athens Oh ALL the time, and we ended up over-playing it. The last time we came back, we had a huge guarantee because we had done so well the time before; but this time (I think it was two years ago), not enough people had showed up to pay for our guarantee. Usually, the club has to just pay and take the loss; this is why it's hard to be a promoter, but we loved the club and the guy booking it so much that we didn't make him pay the full guarantee. (This is not standard practice; we are wusses sometimes. We were chastised heavily by our booking agent.)
Two years later, we sorta realized we hadn't played The Union for a while; and someone actually emailed me about this! Since we were going through Ohio, we prompted our booking agent (her name's Ellen) to get us a show there. $5 cover; and a small guarantee, like we deserved. She did it. We were very excited to play there.
Then I started hearing these rumors like, "Well, Poster Children haven't played in Athens because they think they are TOO GOOD for Athens." What the HELL? We'll play anywhere- and have! You know the reason why we haven't played there now; we over-played it and didn't want people to get sick of us! Anyway, we came back, had a really fun show there, except there was a guy yelling "Rock Star" at Rick the whole night, I guess. I didn't hear it. But finally, at the end of the night, Rick said something into the mic about how the guy who was yelling "Rock Star" is probably making 3 times as much money as Rick right now.
I won't go into all the reasons why we shouldn't be called Rock Stars. Or maybe I will. With ticket prices at $5, no one should call us Rock Stars. Since we have no roadies or tour managers, we shouldn't be called Rock Stars. Since we sell our own t-shirts (when we CAN) we are not Rock Stars. And since we gave up our computer programming jobs, where we made at least 3 times as much money as we are now, I think we haven't SOLD OUT.
At the end of the show, I announced that we needed a place to stay because our Tour Bus's beds weren't working. We slept on our good friend Eric's floor. Except for me; I slept in the van.
Wednesday May 10th - Cleveland OH - with Matthew Sweet
Well, it finally happened. That damn Matthew Sweet Merchandiser came up to us today and told us we had to sell our shirts at $20. Can you imagine us selling our shirts for $20? We had to have a band meeting about this. If we refuse to sell our shirts, probably no one will remember who we were, and god forbid, if someone wants to buy one, they can't. We even have new CDs now to sell, and the club was taking 40% of merchandise, so we totally had to add a huge amount onto the CDs. This really sucked. We ended up selling shirts - I think we sold 7 - and I didn't show my face in public at this show, because I didn't want to be associated with selling $20 shirts. The reason I finally gave in was that Rick reminded me that people DIDN'T have to buy the shirts if they didn't want to. People had to spring $15 for the tickets though. GACK.
So we finally met him yesterday- he and his band had to walk through our dressing room to get to theirs! Hee hee... We thanked him for asking us to tour with him; because he DID, and that's rare for a band to ask us to play with them. Guess what? Matthew has the same laptop as us, and even has a connectix quickcam! I don't think he ever uses it though! We are going to have to educate him, aren't we! He is usually busy signing autographs from fans when we see him. He invited me on his tour bus last night, but there were so many fans there, I just couldn't handle it. Better to let them have him by themselves; no need for me to be hanging around there. Besides, tour buses make me nervous.
Thursday May 11th - Toronto CANADA
We had a show in Toronto, so to cross the Canadian border, we had to leave all our stuff (t-shirts, etc.) in a hotel room in Buffalo, overnight. As I said before, you cannot take t-shirts over the border into Canada unless you want them to tax you on each t-shirt. Since we don't expect to sell more than a couple of shirts over there, it'd be stupid for us to bring our 3 boxes of shirts with us; we'd have to pay a huge tax on them for no reason. So we left everything in Buffalo, and had absolutely no trouble whatsoever crossing the border. *whew*! I guess the Matthew Sweet crew had the drug-dogs pulled out on them! Dogs sniffing all around them! I suppose no one found anything; they made it over the border safe and sound.
We played at the Wax Museum in Toronto, I think. People didn't even flinch once! I have never seen a more sedate crowd- they just stood in front of us and I jumped in front of a couple of them, almost touching them as I jumped around on the stage, playing my bass, and yet no one flinched. Even the Matthew Sweet crew was complaining about the audience that night. Although most of the audience clapped after each song of ours, one guy yelled out "HOW MANY MORE SONGS?" when we had 2 left. I said, "Oh, about 8 or 9." People were still silent. It was a free show, and people there were probably not music-lovers. Howie and I were going crazy, just trying to figure out a way to provoke the audience into at least moving! Howie wanted to moon the audience; I was going to take my shirt off. I don't even think they would have noticed. How weird.
Friday May 12th - Detroit Rock City
Sometime today Rick cracked and just started screaming in the van. He was yelling that he was sick of everyone's complaining. I can't blame him; I know I was complaining about some future drives, but I didn't even think about it at the time. I am not the least bit upset about any of the drives; complaining was just something to do, like eating. Sometimes you do it even when you don't mean to.
Lots of pressure has been building up on all of us, and Rick and I have had almost too much stuff to worry about lately. The Matthew Sweet audiences help build pressure on me; although I think they are appreciative of us, it is still definitely NOT our audience; our audience is made up mostly of boys, and Matthew's is definitely a lot of little girls who don't know what to make of me. It's very hard to play in front of a lot of people who are not moving at all.
I must have cried for about 45 minutes
Right after we played today, I put my bass down, grabbed Howie, whose girlfriend was waiting for him, and screamed at him, "SOMEONE ELSE BESIDES ME HAS TO SELL THE SHIRTS TONIGHT!!!!!" and started crying and shaking. Howie says, "OK! OK!" and dissappears; in most bands, there are one or two people who do most of the work, and it's pretty obvious who those people are in our band. Anyway, I fell down behind the stage and in front of I don't know how many people, I just started pounding my fists into the stage, trying to break my fingers, I think. I screamed and cried, and people took one look at me and ran away. Rick reminded me to stop acting like an idiot, and I realized I should leave. I ran into the van and just screamed and screamed, punching at the windows and tearing our drapes. I must have cried for about 45 minutes, straight. I am sure I scared the hell out of some of Matthew's crew. When I came back to the t-shirt table, Rick was selling shirts. We sold plenty of shirts that night, and all the rest of the CDs, thanks to Matthew's merchandiser Allowing us to sell our own shirts for $15 tonight instead of the usual $20.
DRIVE THROUGH OHIO
We had a wonderful drive through Ohio the next day to Louisville- at some point, we were driving through a vacation area of beautiful Ohio and I saw, far up in the distance, a beautiful nuclear plant with steam rising up out of the cooling tower. We call it "nuke patrol" when we are scouting for nuclear plants. We drove straight toward the cooling tower and ended up driving right past the entrance! It was amazing- it was "Wild Bird Day" at the plant, and visitors were invited in! Howie took many pictures of the tower, but we didn't have time to stop. There were lakes all around this area - it's a vacation area! People fishing, and tons of boats and piers and campsites, all within site of this huge cooling tower. Ohio astounds me. I still won't drink the water there. No offense.
Saturday May 13th - Louisville KY
I am now really sick, probably something to do with playing that 30 degree show outside in Vermont and then 100 degree show in the oven in Athens OH. We get up early again today to drive all day in order to get to the show on time for soundcheck. We arrive with plenty of time to spare, and have to sit around and wait for Matthew's band to show up to play their instruments for the soundcheck. The crew always has everything set up for them, but we have to wait for the band to show up to soundcheck. I hope I don't make it sound like they are assholes; they are REALLY, really nice, but like I said, it's hard to open up for a Big Band. These are the breaks, and if we ever get bigger, I hope we treat our openers nicely.
Anyway, after the band finally shows up, we are told we have 10 minutes left for soundcheck. We hardly had time to set up and play a half-a song, then we were told to stop playing, and the doors were opening.
THE BIG PROBLEM
So here's where the real problem happened. We were told to go on stage a half-hour earlier than what was on our contract, and were told to play 30minutes. Usually we play 45 minutes; that's what's on our contract. Anyway, I ask the person telling us this (the promoter? or toadie?) "WHY?" and he says "This is from Matthew Sweet's people." Now I KNOW that Matthew Sweet's people would not be telling us we had to play only 30 minutes; so I say that. The promoter/toadie asks the Sweet Tour Manager how long we should play in front of us and of course the Sweet's Mgr says, "45 Minutes!" But we are still told to start early. "The whole show is starting early," toadie says.
So of course we do as we are told. That may be a defect in our Poster Children system. There were plenty of people there early, so we had a good crowd, and we made some new friends. However, later on as we were selling t-shirts, a steady progression of kids came up to us, telling us that the show-time on their tickets was 8:30pm, and we had started at 8pm. People had driven from Cincinnatti to see us and had missed us. There was much anger. On top of it, I had to sell them their shirts for $15 instead of our normal $10 price, thanks to the club and Matthew Sweet's merchandiser. Our Reprise rep had dragged a radio guy to see us to try to convince him to play us on the radio; (seeing our live show seems to work wonders on people) and they'd come in half-way through the show.
NEWSPAPER REVIEW: MAKE SURE YOU MISS THE OPENING ACT
As the night progressed, more and more people came up to us, complaining, asking us why we started so early, so finally by the end of the night, we were about at our boiling point. On top of it, we had heard that the local paper had previewed the show, actually telling people to arrive late so they'd miss OUR show! What the HELL? So by the time I went up to get paid, I was fuming mad. I started yelling at the promoter, who is a very important promoter for this area, and who, for some reason now had decided to start treating us with a lot of respect, but it was too late. So I yelled, and the poor guy just kept giving more excuses for the night. "Matthew's sick so we had to start the show earlier" and "I DIDN'T even know you had to go on early - I wouldn't have let it happen" and "Well, you agreed to go on earlier" etc, etc. I left angry, even though the promoter did everything he could to try to make me feel better. Anyway, Ellen, our booking agent, will talk to this guy and everything will get straightened out. We just hate being treated like idiots, even if we are idiots.
I feel a little bad because we just left without saying "goodbye" to them. We were in such bad moods. Matthew was very nice, although he couldn't spend much time with us because he had to attend to his fans, but he was wonderful and charismatic to be around, and a good performer. We are grateful that he asked us to open for him! His drummer bought a Poster Children shirt! It seems like he is very famous and still very nice, and I know he has worked hard and is deserving of his fame. But we see a little bit of the "price of fame" - he can't walk into the restaurant near the club without people swarming him, and he has to be nice to all of them, even if he's in a bad mood. He isn't completely in control of his shows, and even if he wants US to be able to sell our shirts at our own price, he probably has no control over it. It's too bad. You lose control as you gain fame. Hopefully this won't happen to us.