"Bull Shit" -- quoth the Door Man at the Paradise Lounge.
We played a place we've never played before here in SF because PRiMus was playing an unnanounced show at Our club, the Bottom Of The Hill. I have never heard of the Paradise Lounge before, and when we walked in it looked like a nice enough club, but again, there were stickers all over the club, I mean ALL OVER the club by bands I'd never, ever heard of. That is ALWAYS a bad sign. See, in Fargo, ND, there was a lone sticker, "Man Or Astroman" stuck in a corner of a room somewhere in the club. I immediately felt at home. But in this club, there are stickers from bands like, "Barf Butt" or "Tightwad" or "The Stiff Richards". The "Bad Asstards." The last two aren't made up. This says to me that the door people are not used to having bands coming through on tour. Which also says to me that it's possible that there could be trouble.
There almost was. Sometime during the night before we played, a huge doorguy came up to me and said, "Excuse me, but do you know how much you are supposed to get paid tonight?" "I said "Yeah, I have it written down, why?" And he says, 'Well, you're not going to believe this, but I have written down here some Exhorbitant fee, a fee we'd never, EVER pay a band to play here on a Monday Night. So I called the club owner and he said you're getting [much less than that]. That's not a problem, is it?" He looks at me. (Hm...Can I bully this girl around?)
My eyes got really big, and I said, "Hold on please. I will go to the van and get our contract." Thank GOD I had a contract for this show, signed. The guy looks at the contract and says "Bullshit." And repeats that they never pay a band that much to play there on a Monday night. (Gosh, should we come back tomorrow?). I try to 'comfort him' by asking, "Do you usually have a $6 cover on a Monday night?" And he attempts to stammer "no, not usually. well, sometimes."
Anyway, after saying "Bullshit" he turns the page and there was a signature of someone who made him instantly decide to treat me a lot differently, apparently his boss or something. All of the sudden there was no problem. It was pretty scary to me. That's all I had on my mind all night tonight, even as we played I kept thinking about it.We've only been screwed by a promoter ONCE before. Our booking agent has a very good reputation and also never books bands with bad promoters. Now Rick was laughing at me, saying, "YOU wanted the Punk Rock tour. YOU wanted Do-It-Yrself. Well, you got it."
THe funniest thing was at the end of the night when he was paying me, this guy actually attempted to stiff us $20. I watched him count out the money and I actually watched him take $20 out before he handed it to me. My mind goes, 'Ok, he must either 1) think I'm stupid, or 2) Be very stupid himself.' What is the best way for me to deal with this human? So I pretended to be a Stupid Girl» and counted the money and said, "Oh, would you look at that, there seems to be $20 missing." I decide he's just stupid. He goes, "Oh, here's where that extra $20 went" and puts it back into the pile. Unbelievable.
Meanwhile. We haven't seen Mike from Steel Pole Bath Tub for over a year. He was there to talk to. Then there was Russ from Gavin Online who invited us to see their office, something I really, really wanted to do. Then there was Dirk, who made me a beautiful necklace so many years ago. And Nat, who showed us Virtual Reality about 6 years ago, the first time we ever saw it. Then there was a guy from Apple who invited us to visit. God, I would have LOVED to do that! And an invitation to tour the WIrEd offices!! And the great opening band, Action Slacks, who gave me the new issue of Snack Cake with a huge picture of me on the front (which I wanted to hide from the rest of the band cuz it was just me on the cover) and they asked if we had extra space on our guest list which we didn't. I didn't want to deal with that doorguy more than I had to. I just wonder how many people we offended tonight. Maybe we won't get famous and change; people will just get pissed off at us and not like us anymore...
We are driving over the Grapevine, the magic thread that connects the middle Southwestern California desert over the mountains to Los Angeles - I say magical because it's about a 45-minute drive over a mountain pass and the temperature on the east side can be 100 degrees like it is today and the temp in LA could be in the 60s. There could be an ice-storm on the grapevine, too. Anything could happen.
So we're driving into LA now and the sun is shining on everything, making me look tan, the words on the computer screen look platinum-engraved, and the mountains look gold. I am pretending the mountains all around us are actually made of gold and only I can see it; the people who live here are living all amongst riches but they can't see it. It's a game we used to play when we were smaller (but not really small enough) - we used to pretend we were elves and could see magic and beauty and life in things that no one else could. Maybe we still play it. Maybe you play it too when you watch small bands come play in your town. Last night I saw Mike from Steel Pole Bath Tub and he said, "[our band] won't break up until we die!" That made me smile today.
Salaryman @ Spaceland
Not much to report. There were some people there. We went on really early. I looked at my amp near the end of the set and noticed that the microphone on it had no cable attached to it. Someone forgot to hook it up. I wonder what else they forgot. Thank God we have a soundguy so I don't really have to worry about this stuff.
My cousin has two bunnies. We are staying at his house with his bunnies. They hop loosely around the house. They are very furry; you can pet them. I petted one of them for a while, but I found it really disturbing because its head is really warm; Cousin Rick says they run at around 110degrees. It's like petting the head of a person who has a fever.
Today Poster Children played outside at lunch at University of Cal, Fullerton, in about 110 degree sun at high noon, to about 30 people sitting 100 feet away on a small hill and another 100 people walking by, looking confused, or eating lunch behind us. It's really very hard to play in a school situation, because you're sort of invading someone else's territory; at a club, you know that most of the people have come to see you. Here, you're just in peoples' way. I couldn't help but feel like if we were a funk band or at least if we were better promoted, people would care about us. It was a challenge to play this show.
Later tonight Salaryman played at a great record store called "No-Life Records" here in Los Angeles. The store looks just like someone's living room, it is amazing. It has an Atari 2600 and tons of games - I had to play Adventure! We played to not many people, but again I think Salaryman is getting better each time we play. It's really good practice!
After this show we went to our manager's house where the lead singer of the band "Sound Of Speeding" made us some incredible chicken tacos and we talked about a lot of intense stuff about our band. Like, how should we feel about people saying, "I'm so glad you are persevering like this." I was laughing at first, saying, "my god, don't they understand? It's like me saying, 'Wow, I'm so glad you are persevering at Breathing; I mean, you have to keep taking new breaths, you know. It's not really working, is it?'" We think we're having a great tour, all by ourselves, usually around 100-200 people coming each night to see us, with one or two exceptions. Each night has been better than some of the lowest-attended shows where we've opened for other bands! I thought that was something to be proud of! But now I worry that we look pitiful to people. And we don't want to look like that.
So I thought about this for a while. I know there are plenty of bands who do worse than us, and we are still getting fans. We just don't feel like giving up. We certainly don't have to. I guess being here in LA you get a lot of people looking closely at your Career In Rock, to see where you are in it; whether or not you're gonna get famous. We never look at it that way when we're not here. Soon it will be time to leave.
It was totally cloudy today on the drive down to San Diego because of the hurricane. It was cool and there were huge grey clouds. There is a rest stop that I love to stop at halfway between the two cities because it has the weirdest grass and trees and plants.
I had a crisis for a while today, until I got on stage. I was really thinking about whether or not we *are* pitiful. When we went on stage I guess I felt a little pitiful too, except I was having too much fun most of the time. By the time we got off, I was just like, OK, so what if we look pitiful to these people. If we can still be happy, we are winning.
Fri Sep 26 - Los Angeles
I'm glad the sun is out again here. The chalky pastel orange-y colored buildings actually seem to clash with a grey, cloudy sky. Art Bell last night was talking about the hurricane making the desert all soggy. It's hard for me to imagine a soggy desert.
Tonight there was a ton of people at our show here in LA - and I guess I couldn't figure out why! I know the opening band brought a lot of people in; they were called Polar Bear and it's basically the bass player from Jane's Addiction's band. They kinda sounded like the Red Hot Chili Peppers to me, except good. The bass player had his shirt off for the entire show.
Even if the people came for Polar Bear, they sure stayed until the end of the show. And they stood up front too, while we played and danced. I guess they were there for us, for real, in Los Angeles! We've never really had fans in Los Angeles. Paranoid, I started thinking that maybe our management was responsible, like somehow they got a bunch of people to pretend they liked us and stand in front of us. But that's really silly.
I don't ever remember missing someone terribly 5 minutes after I leave them - except maybe Cousin Rick's mom and dad. I missed Rick right after we left his house today. I guess some family is just like that, you just instantly bond even though you see them once every 5 years. Cousin Rick has written some tour reports which are in the next section.
The desert IS soggy!! That is the weirdest thing I've seen in a while! Wow, huge puddles of water amidst the cactii! It's bright and sunny now. There must have really been a lot of water if the desert is still wet!
Tonight we played at our usual place, the Hollywood Alley, and only 91 people came. We usually bring a lot more in, especially on a Saturday night. The promoter tells me that there was a huge radio festival this week, Rage Against the Machine and the Foo Fighters, and there are tons of shows coming up. He also says, "Your label is really fucking you over, isn't it." My only consolation is that we sold just as much merchandise as we usually sold at a big show; many people bought shirts for friends who "couldn't be here." I guess people still like us.
This is going to get depressing. Here we are in Albuquerque, the town we keep trying to play, keep trying to get a fan base in, and we keep playing on the "wrong" day; we played against Jon Spencer Blues Explosion once, we played against a special benefit that happens every year where every local band plays at this one club. This was in the past.
Tonight we go eat dinner at The Frontier Restaurant, open 24 hours, a huge mexican diner. The restaurant is full of college kids who look like they should come to our show; everywhere I see punks and people with concert t-shirts, people who look just like our Madison, WI audience. I want to grab a guy who's just walking around aimlessly in the restaurant and shake him and yell "COME TO OUR SHOW!" I feel like I'm encased in some glass enclosure, screaming out to people and they can't hear me.
Well, I knew it. Lately we've been getting around 80 people in to our shows here, but this time, there were 15 people to see the show. There were more drug dealers walking around the outside of the club on the otherwise empty street than there were people in the club. I guess Pavement played here two days ago and last night was the huge band benefit. The promoter says he knew this show was going to do really badly. It's not the worst show he's had, either, he says. Just too many bands this week. They warned us before the night even began.
He talks about other bands like Stereolab and Pavement, easily getting 400 people here, even last night's (Phoenix) promoter said, "We had 300 people in here last night for [some band I'd never heard of] and I'm starting to feel like crying. There really isn't anything we can do, is there. There is no "buzz" on us, there's no reason for people to come out to see what we sound like. We get reviews saying, "I told my friends that RTFM was easily the best rock record of the year and they looked at me like I was crazy." Why is that? Why are you crazy to like us?
Rick and I discuss this in the van on the drive away from the show. We should know better than to let ourselves start feeling this way around the Southwest; this is the one area where bands always do their worst. But a bad night for Pavement is 150 people, where a bad night for us is 15 people. What do people think about when they see our posters in their city? Or read about how we have a great live show in their paper? What kind of music do they think we play, and why don't they want to come see it?