March 5, 1999 - Rockford, Il

Oops. What a way to start out the new year and the new record. This was a one of those "Learning Experience" shows. The venue changed at the last minute, we drove 4 hours through a heavy snowstorm to get up to Rockford, I forgot my coat, wallet, and when we got up to Rockford, in a blizzard, we found out that there were parts to the PA missing, the only reason we had microphones and cables for the show tonight was that Jimmie our Soundguy had brought some. We spent about 2 hours trying to figure out how we were going to rig up a way to hold the microphones up in the air so we could sing through them until I finally asked the 3 people in charge of the venue (who couldn't care or know less about what was going on tonight) the right question to get us to meet the Advisor, who was going to help us get mic stands.

Now,the people in charge of this little venue that the promoter had been forced to move the show to were completely helpless - and by that I mean it was like pulling teeth to get them to help us. It was just totally not their scene at all; you could tell they didn't want to be there, and they weren't going to lift a finger to help us out. That was kind of sad - I wanted to explain to them that I've been touring around the world for the last 10 years of my life and they were pretty much the most unhelpful people I'd ever come across in my life. I even got the feeling that these people were making fun of us as if we thought we were some big rockstars who weren't very big at all... "Wow, look there are people camping out outside to see your show!" one of them said, when there was obviously no one in sight. What the hell did he mean by that? I hope I'm not sounding too mean about this - I felt compassion for them because I knew they probably didn't want to be there, but I wanted them to know what kind of people we are, and that we are nice and professional.

"Do you base yourself off of Dave Mathew's Band's music?" the same student asked, and when I said I'd never heard their music, he was aghast: "How can you play on college campuses if you don't know Dave Mathews' songs???!!" (Is that what it's like on college campuses now?) In short, I try to be friendly with all people, but you never know what they're saying about you behind your back.

Worst of all was the "Faculty Advisor" we met - this "advisor" guy was certainly not anyone whom I'd call an advisor. I've never seen anyone really act as childish, snooty, and assholey as this adult, and he's called an "advisor?" That made me feel really, really sorry for the people whom he was advising. I felt like more of an advisor than he was. Perhaps he was just having a really bad day, but man, was he unprofessional. He basically yelled and sulked around saying that this was a terrible experience for him. I just don't understand *how* one little show could have been such an extraordinary problem for him, especially since he wasn't even paying for the show, and especially a show with a band like us, so responsible and so intent upon trying to make this show work out (shit, if we were Pavement, we would have been out of there so fast we would've melted the snow) - why couldn't this so-called Advisor just act like an adult and help us solve our little problems without being a whiny butt? I know there are many sides to every story, and he even apologized to me and said he wasn't angry with us, but that he was very upset about this show. I told him that perhaps things may have gone better if the show hadn't been moved at the very last minute, (it was moved TODAY because they said something else was going on in the room, but when we got there we found out nothing was really going on.)

The Advisor got angry when he found out we planned to go on at 10pm - "I HEARD 8PM!!" "No, Door s are at 8pm," I explained, very calmly, and provided him with a copy of our contract, which he sneered upon. "PERFORMANCE CONTRACT?" he read, mock grandiously: "People will come here and just sit around for two hours until the bands start to play?" He was in disbelief. Also, poor Wolfie, who was the opening band, was another point of contempt - "I heard NOTHING about an OPENING BAND!" He had nothing else really to say. I still didn't get what his problem was, especially since he was not putting up the money for the show. I hope he's nicer to the students whom he is paid to help, that's all I can say. What an example-setter.

Anyway, the promoter and co-promoter were very sweet, and I'm sure they learned a lot from this. They totally made sure we were happy, but it sounds like it was very hard to deal with the venue and college. It sounds like a real lot of communication problems went down. Anyway, we had a fine time playing - and we're definitely rusty after not having played in many months, so it was a very good, intimate practice-type show. Near the end, 3 famous people from Oshkosh showed up with prized "Pop Machine" pencils, after having gotten a flat tire on the road on the way to the show.

Which brings me to my next point. Wolfie. They were supposed to be opening for us tonight, and they never made it to the show. We are very worried about them. There was a terrible blizzard on the way up here, as I mentioned, and I'm really afraid something happened to them.

Anyway, the *poor* audience tonight - especially the 3 college kids forced to enter this odd scene that they'd never have crossed paths with before. As one of them said, "I've never, ever heard or seen anything like that before." Playing in Rockford was sort of like playing in El Paso.

And of course, in normal fashion, I'm terrified about the show tomorrow. Our home town, and no one knows who we are. Thank god that the Empty Bottle - Chicago - show is right around the corner.


Champaign show

Well, this went a bit better than I expected, probably because about 1/3 of the audience was comprised of people from out of town! People drove hours to see us - and I think it freaked out the normal Champaign crowd a bit! People were trying to figure out "why are all these people watching this band and dancing around?" Must be from out of town. People in Champaign don't dance - they sit still and watch and take notes.

We played very well tonight, if I don't say so myself - especially for being so new to these songs!


Chicago - March 20 - Empty Bottle

It's hard to write a tour report after I've spent about two weeks suntanning on a beach in Florida. No kidding! What a way to recuperate after surgery!

What I remember from this show, Pop Machine was amazing, and I am SO happy that Water Between Continents came up with us from Champaign to play. I knew everyone would absolutely love them - I used to watch Brian play drums when I was really, really depressed and just seeing him play would totally cheer me up for months. Watching him again that night reminding me of how great it is to watch a live band.

For our show, I was kind of already in pain because I had a bit of light surgery earlier this week. I couldn't move the way I wanted to, and I really felt bad because I didn't want to gyp the audience of a good show. I also didn't really want to tell everyone I'd been cut open in my belly button - like I didn't want to give excuses. But halfway through the show I was already worrying that people were comparing it to the last Chicago show. But everyone seemed really happy.

The greatest thing that night was that so many people from the Pkids-List drove up to see this show - some people even FLEW up! I hope everyone had a great time - I used to always be leery of people who drove hours to see our shows - it scared me, because I worried that people might feel they wasted their time - but everyone seems happy, and it's not really up to me to make sure people enjoy themselves anyway. I suppose I'd have a great time if I drove up to see a band; I like to travel, anyway. So it was really, really great seeing everyone at the show. I thought about how they were all staying on Chris's (from the list) floor, and how they were all meeting each other for the first time. It's kind of like the pkids-list is a sort of soap opera, and they are the stars of it. I love it.

We're playing a bunch of really new songs *and* a bunch of really old songs - and the old songs are even harder to play - and remember! - than the new ones most of the time! I can't believe I wrote bass parts like these! It's a lot of fun though; especially to play "Modern Art" - I always wonder who in the crowd would recognize these old songs.

Oops. Plane is landing. Put computer away.

NEXT