The Audience at the Grand Rapids show stood so far back that I couldn't get a clear picture of them, so I jumped off the stage during a song and took a picture of Rick instead.
Grand Rapids, MI This is day 1 of our TOUR! And it was a kind of a lame start-out. I have to admit to being in a terribly great mood all day - for some reason, Grand Rapids put me in sort of a good mood. Unfortunately, Rick hasn't slept for days; he worked up until the last minute - and actually a couple of hours past the last minute- on our new VIDEO! - we were sitting around waiting for the computer to finish rendering the movie before we left for tour. I tried to convince Rick to allow us to bring the Mac 8500 on tour with us - ("What's the same size as a breadbox and can fit in the van?" I asked him), but he would have none of it. He said, "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of in my life."
Anyway, as we played tonight, the audience stood back around 100 or so feet. When people do that, it looks from on the stage like they really just do NOT want to be there. That may be a really ridiculous thing for me to think, seeing as they paid $8 to get in, but from the stage, if you don't have your head on straight, it looks like you're in a room full of people who really dislike you. And my head definitely wasn't on straight. I think that the sound in the room was atrocious, too, which might account for the lameness of the show. I actually gave a really patronizing speech about doing jumping-jacks to the audience, to try to get them all to move. Worst of all, there was a huge area in front of the stage - a huge dance floor - with people lined up in back of the dance floor to watch with their arms folded. I know some people really enjoyed the show, but I'm not sure how or why - the sound in the room sounded like a jet engine.
After the show I got really depressed, like *shit* we put on a good show and people just didn't get it at all. But then the lighting guy came downstairs and told us someone had gotten stabbed in the leg at the downstairs bar - (and he said "that should have happened upstairs; downstairs is just a bunch of drunk old guys") - of course my next question was, "Can they hear our music downstairs?" and the guys answered, "Oh, YES, they sure can! They complain all the time! They say, 'It's so loud we can't even THINK down here!' and then we say back, 'Who needs to think? It's a BAR!'" Anyway, after I heard that someone had been stabbed at our show, that cheered me up immensely. Now I'm happy.
later...the next morning....
While driving to our Motel 6 last night, we realized in a hot flash that we were driving down a road with a Chevy dealership on it, one where we'd gotten the van repaired. We'd spent hours walking back and forth on this road, waiting for the van to be repaired! That was really neat - it's always really cool to have road memories, and it's really funny to remember a place that looks just like every other; mall, mcDonald's, burger king, etc.
I'm thinking a bit about the show last night. I know that my rock Guru, Ian from Fugazi, would be ashamed of me for feeling bad about an under-active audience, and so now I'm ashamed. I better SHAPE UP! Shit, there were 85 people at the show yesterday - there's gonna be a lot less than that at the upcoming shows in Tennessee, Alabama, etc. SHAPE UP, ROSE!!
IT's a PERFECT Night!! This club is fantastic! The people who work here are all really nice, and it's a huge club with a great stage and a great sound guy and a great PA and a great restaurant and a BOWLING ALLEY where bands can bowl for free!
This night more than makes up for last, and teaches me a lesson that I know already - there are good times and there are bad times. You can't have one without the other. Duh!
As for our bowling scores, Howie won with a score of 130, Jim beat Rick by 1 point with a score of 71, Rick got 70, and I achieved a whopping 29, grimacing and angry that I couldn't bowl the whole time. One of my excuses was that I didn't know which hand to bowl with - I'm left handed but do everything righty. The whole scene was pretty great though. The last time we were bowling was with the Buzzcocks, in Nebraska. They really couldn't bowl, being English and all.
The audience jumped around while we played and even DANCED!! It was SO MUCH FUN!! After the
show we watched people walk around on the street a bit - people in Detroit are *very*
fashionable - kinda like Motorcycle Fashion. Everyone looks a bit dangerous and very hip.
It's definitely the opposite of say, Champaign Illinois, or even Madison Wisconsin.
There's even a store down the street from the club called "Stage Wear" or
something like that which is obviously a store where you can get stuff like those silver
ball-chains people have been wearing around their necks now for a couple of years.
I saw a guy with so much metal in his face he looked like a robot! It was really cool.
So we spent a couple of hours on that same road, Woodard Street, today, the same road that the club from last night was on. Jim and Howie went to the Detroit Art Museum and saw some great stuff - I'm angry that I didn't go with them because there are some Diego Riviera murals. They came out really excited about the Gordon Parks exhibit - he is a photographer, mainly - he's an African American, he has taken all sorts of fashion photographs, civil rights photographs, he's concerned with segregation and poverty, not just in America but in South America, Puerto Rico, Portugal. He lived in Paris for a while. He did a lot of stories for Life Magazine from 1948 - 1970. He's also a poet, composer, and he directed the movie Shaft.
For my time off, I spent an hour in the SHOWTIME store (it's not called "Stage Wear") and found myself a beautiful new pink dress with sequins. I had the greatest moment in there - the guys standing outside were sort of acting like bouncers - they had scary clothes on and tattooes, very stylish, and they told me I couldn't proceed into the store past a certain point unless I had a membership card, to which I replied, "Wait, I think I have it somewhere in my pocket," and I inserted my hand into my pocket and pulled out my hand again with my swear finger stuck out at them. "This is it, isn't it?" I said. I can't believe I did that! Everyone laughed, and I was allowed to proceed and buy my nice new dress.
And Rick slept. Poor Rick still hasn't caught up on his sleep loss from finishing our video.
Where to go on Easter?
So we're trying to figure out what we're going to do on Easter, which is in a couple of days. We have the night off, and we need to figure out what to do in between Cleveland and Albany - it's too bad it's a holiday because everything will be closed. No museums for us on Easter. But Howie found a place that's in between, and it's called "Horseheads." Upon closer inspection, we realized that this place is full of Mark Twain stuff- his grave, a house, a State Park for him! That will be cool! And there's a Motel 6 there too! Woo HOo!
Well, this show went off a bit better than I expected. We used to have amazing
Cleveland shows at the Euclid Tavern; once even, I remember Helmet was on tour,
had played an early show and had come to see our late show at the Euclid- the
crowd was so wild that people - including members of Helmet - were jumping off
the PA cabinets. Tonight, the crowd was silent and staring, dumbfounded. "This
was a tricky crowd," Howie said tonight. "They were completely still, but they
really enjoyed it; you could tell from how loud the encore call was." I agree.
Seven Miles from Friendship
We're driving through Western New York right now, and the highway is much higher up than the area around us, which is covered with small mountains. The terrain looks like a game board, strewn with little toy barns and deep green toy fir trees. The grass is the color of wheat, and there are dirty lumps of leftover used snow in shadow patches. Everything is waiting to be reborn again.
I'm reading a slightly irritating but fun-to-read cyber-punk book that has too much sex in it, everyone else is silent, taking in the surroundings. Jim is driving and Howie is in the front seat. I asked Howie where we are right now and he replied, "We're seven miles from Friendship."
Jim just said, "These trees are purple."
Mark Twain's Grave
We stayed in Horseheads, NY last
night, which is very close to Elmira, which is where Mark Twain was buried.
So we went to the gravesite today. He is buried along with his wife's family,
because I think he was very broke when he died. Rick said something about bad
investments, or gambling or something like that. Then also a couple of miles
away there was the The Mark Twain Study - it was in the middle of Elmira College
Campus, a little shack that had been moved from his home, I guess. It wasn't
We also stopped to see Hal Roach's grave - he was a silent-movie producer.
Something freaks me out about the last show - we have to fill out these Soundscan forms, each night we can record how many of our new CD we sold, and get a signature from someone from the club,and that will record our club sales for Soundscan. Soundscan results tell you who is the best selling rock band, etc. There are ratings posted at radio stations, etc., and they sort of help determine what bands are most popular. Anyway, the girl who signed off on our sheet at one of the clubs told me, "Now, of course you lied about this and added 10 or 15 more albums to it, right?" and I said, "Of course we didn't do that!! Geez!" and she said, "You're kidding, right? Everyone lies about this stuff! All bands lie on their soundscan results! You guys are so pure!" She couldn't believe us.
It never even occurred to me. And I'll never, ever do it, even if all the other bands do it. What the hell will that do for us? It'd just be falsifing something to appear to score better on a false list. Screw that!
The First Poster Children Shirt ever made - has Flower Plower on the front in case you didn't want the name of the band to show.
It's always really wonderful to play in Boston. People get the jokes, and you get to eat good Indian food, if you play at the Middle East. You never have to worry that someone doesn't understand you in Boston. You just have to stay out of their way because they'll probably growl at you or yell at you if you get in their way. The funniest part of the show for me tonight was I asked from the stage if anyone knew how to do a screen capture to the buffer in Windoze, and, after someone yelled, "Traitor!" someone else offered, "Oh, just Read the Fuckin' Manual" and someone else giggled hysterically. I thought that was very, very funny. I had to answer, "I never got a manual!" and then magically, Howie started the encore. *whew*.
We walked around the area for a while before theshow today - it smelled like New York used to smell - faint urine smell, and lots of garbage; old city look and smell. We walked to Harvard Square which smelled a bit more pungent and had some hippies and punks hanging around in it. It looked like a mini-Madison. Oh, I need to mention all the listservers who were at the show - and once again I'm so sorry that I didn't mention it from the stage. We got a beautiful hand-crafted glass to match the last one we received in Boston - and it's engraved with a thank you note from Ryan, who left his backpack in our van last time we were up there. Thanks so much for the beautiful glass! I really wish we had more time to talk with people tonight. I think I got so caught up in trying to put on a good show that I don't really remember what else happened tonight - I remember each song vividly, and what I liked and didn't like about it, but other than that I remember faces of people and I don't remember being able to communicate enough.
I have no idea what or who is going to come to our show tonight! It's an all-ages show - it could be incredibly great or no one could show up. We've never played here before, and only once really in Connecticut. Anything could happen!
Wow! I LOVE NEW LONDON!! We spent a couple of hours on this deserted beach, it was gorgeous but just a little cold. Perfect deserted beach weather. There's nothing more wonderful than a deserted beach. I can tell that this place is probably teeming with families though, in the summertime. It's a lovely little east-coast sea town - and it's also got the greatest anime/cartoon/comic store I've ever been to, called Sarge's. It was all I could do to stop myself from buying a hanging "Jackie Chan Drunken Master II" banner. I just felt it wouldn't be fair to Rick, who isn't as much into Kung-Fu as I am. After we ate very hot Thai food and then walked to the venue.
Which brings me to the Venue - it's called "Temporary Autonomous Zone" and it's the best little homey coffee-shop place I've ever been to. Couches, carpeting, books, christmas lights, a VCR with dusty videotapes laying around. Howie commented that he looks for this sort of place to hang out in when he's home! I wish I could open such a place in Champaign. I must admit it was kind of hard playing a show there just because it's been a while since we've played the sort of in-store/low-key type of show, and I wanted it to be a total Rock Experience and there just wasn't any way I was gonna pull that off there that night, I thought. People seemed to enjoy the show though, and that's all that counts. I really wanted to give people some kind of night to remember, to really touch them somehow, like I've seen a couple of other bands do, and I didn't feel like we pulled it off. How can I ever know if we succeed at that, though?
It's just going to take a while to settle into playing Good shows.
There's a guy driving a huge 18-wheeler type truck next to us that's filled with chickens; bright white little feathery blobs going off to their execution. I asked Jim to take a picture of it for me, and he said, "They're staying in the room next to us." Rick adds, "Watching the food network."