Poster Children New World Record Tour 3
We OWN this town tonight. We are careening back south out of the city after our show, watching other cars get lost and take wrong turns out of the city. It's been so long since we had a good New York show - YEARS. It feels SO GOOD. It was like the old times back at CBGBs - ok, the "newer" old times, a decade after Blondie and the Talking Heads ruled CGBGs. Tonight we played at Coney Island High, which has a bad reputation, but I think they are trying to change that. The people in charge were really nice - the only problem we had was no one told the soundguy we wanted to do a soundcheck, so he showed up 2 hours late. The other problem - absolutely no monitors and only a couple of mics for a semi decent-sized room. There is a larger room downstairs, which had a show going on, and people kept coming upstairs and taking pieces of the PA and bringing them downstairs with them. And there was really nothing I felt like doing. It's New York, I kept saying to myself; you just have to let whatever happens, happen, and you just have to play a show as best you can. Everyone will be an asshole to you at some point, most likely.
But the show went fine, and it felt so much like ROCK that I had people clapping in rhythm during the beginning of Junior Citizen, the encore, and ended up introducing the members of the band during the song. I've never done that before.SpinART - King of the Indie Labels! - Amy, Brendan, Jeff, and Euvin
The Philadelphia Art Museum and accompanying French Cinema Piece
We traded in New York City today for Philadelphia, went to the Philadelphia Art Museum - we think that's the one in Rocky. We sang the Rocky Theme Song as we climbed the stairs and then the whole picture got very surreal. Let's see if I can recreate it in words. As we were climbing up the huge amounts of stairs on the outside of the museum, I noticed a couple of people climbing up in front of me, rollerblading. These people had red shirts that said something about Philadelphia Rollerblading Patrol - some sort of skating police force? Anyway, as we climbed, I noticed more and more of them, huge amounts of them in fact, and then, when we got to the huge sort of Terrace at the top, by the Museum entrance, it was full of these red-shirted rollerbladers, skating all around in a circle, and there was a FLUTE player off to the side of the Terrace, playing the flute loudly, a sort of jazzy type of song, and it was echoing loudly off the sides of the building. It looked like we were in some kind of French Art Film. It was unbelievable, like some odd sort of religious ritual!
Here you've got to imagine a bum playing a flute very, very loudly, echoing along the sides of this terrace. (the bum is off to the right; I didn't get a picture of him.)
I said, "This museum better be at least as good as what's going on outside of it!" and it was, even for $8, (which took away almost all my money I'd saved up from per diems...grrrr) Anyway, this museum had a bunch of stuff; Picassos, Duchamps, Manet, Monet, plenty of French Impressionists - it had a "Greatest Hits Room," Rick called it. I walked into a room and saw Rick standing in front of a painting, comically smug, with one eyebrow proudly raised, pointing his thumb out at the painting, like "Hey baby, get a load of what I've got for ya here" and I walked around the corner to see what it was and it was the Three Musicians, that Picasso painting - it was HUGE! There were Matisses, and this great Robert Rauschenberg - hopefully I spelled that right - a big Diego Rivera painting - I'm still not sure if I like him or not. There was a metronome with a big picture of an eye pasted on it. There was the Cornell box with the goose on it, not lit very well, off in a corner in a display case.
I finally confided to Rick that one of the things I like best about looking at paintings in a museum is the white lights they have over the paintings shine down on the paintings and sometime catch on tiny pricks of paint on the canvases, so sometimes the paintings look like they glisten, to me, anyway. I love that.
There was a couple of Rousseaus off the side of the Greatest Hits Room, the weird jungle paintings. The captions on the paintings talked about the people who collected the paintings too. There was a sunflower painting by Van Gogh that I had never seen before; the paint on it was SO THICK!! You can't really tell that from seeing it in a book. A painting that Rick really enjoyed looking at was called "Rain" or something like that - it was a picture of Rain by Van Gogh - from looking outside his asylum window. That big Toulouse-Lautrec was in there too. It was a pretty great museum, and not very crowded. I stood with my nose almost touching Miro's Dog Howling At The Moon. I was the only one in the room when I got to do this. That was pretty awesome.
Philadelphia - The Pontiac Grille
The best thing about Philadelphia is talking to the people. I almost lost my voice talking before the show tonight.
The show tonight was pretty great. I realized we'd played this place before when it was JC Dobbs, and had a problem with the promoter. But there was a decent-sized crowd, and although while we played it didn't seem like they were moving around too much, they still wanted encores, so that was fine. (DAMN! When I looked at the audience picture it looked like they were having a GREAT time! Good think I took these pictures - maybe I should start looking at them before I decide whether or not the audience enjoyed the show! (and I suppose I should infer something from the two encores..))
Sylvain Chauveau is from France. He's in a band called Watermelon Club, and another called MICRO:MEGA and he also does solo stuff!
The best moment of the night was that we got to meet this guy from France named Sylvain - he was visiting America. He had heard of Poster Children, and was catching the show. When I pulled out a Salaryman record, Rick asked if he'd heard of Salaryman and his response was, "Of Course!" and when Rick told him it was the same people (you know, Salaryman is MUCH, MUCH more famous in France than Poster Children is - we even played on the equivalent of the David Letterman show over there!) - he had the greatest expression on his face when Rick told him that we are also Salaryman. I almost wanted to make him leave during the Poster Children set - I wouldn't want his impressions of Salaryman to be ruined!!
Many people in France think more deeply about things - ask more questions, analyze things more deeply than in America, and I love that, probably because I do that myself. He was asking such great questions about Salaryman, telling us his thoughts about the names of songs. He asked, "How do you think of titles for the songs when there aren't any words in them?" and for the first time, it hit me what a great question that was.
I asked him what he thought about America and he said that the people here were surprisingly friendly. (Wow - and he's on the East Coast!) I tried to explain to him that people in the midwest were even friendlier. I miss France now. Salaryman spent a whole month there, touring around the country, and I'll never forget that experience. I'll never forget that FOOD!!
I'm sitting upstairs of the club, in our nice warm dressing room. Rick and I are both starting to get sick, and it's terribly cold outside. I don't want to go downstairs now because I'm scared to see how many people are(n't) there. A Sunday night is always a bad night to have a show, and on top of it, I don't know how many fans we have in Baltimore. The last couple of shows have been awesome, too. I also can tell that it's going to be a LONG NIGHT - the first band is going on at 10:30 - and we're the 3rd band.. Hoo Boy..
... Wow - this show was great - and the opening bands were really terrific. One was named Dirty Sanchez, and the other was called The Brogues or something like that... Dirty Sanchez seemed like they were influenced by Devo and the B52s in some weird way. Oh, and of course, the Pixies.
I think I pulled my belly button tonight. I am going to be very, very sore and very tired tomorrow morning. I think all of us will be. It was a very late show, especially for a Sunday, and we have not had a day off in a long time. (And there are none to come, either. But we like it that way.)
Don't let that empty space in front of the stage fool you. The room was pretty packed with people - completely amazing for a Monday night. The place just kept filling up - it was wonderful!! As soon as the Amrep-esque heavy-metalish band (Kill Quota) finished playing, we got up on the tiny stage at The East End Cafe and played our little hearts out, amidst many obstacles. (The crowd, obviously, wasn't one of them.)
Halfway through the middle of the set, Howie couldn't stand the Circle Of Death (empty space in front of the stage) - and the manniquins toeing the line behind it- he ran out and danced around in front of the stage like a goof for the beginning of the song "He's My Star," which unfortunately unplugged my bass amp. By the time he made it back onto the stage, just in time for the song to "kick in," I jumped up and snapped my bass down in a total rock movement, as we all did, but nothing came out. Rick looked at me, alarmed. A drop of spittle appeared in the corner of one of the mannequin's mouths. I couldn't get behind my amp to plug it back in - I had to get Howie's attention. While he searched around frantically for the plug, Rick kept playing the beginning riff of the song and went into a long spiel about how this song was the story of "A Man Who Was All Alone Out There," and I yelled out to the crowd, "How Many Of You People Have Ever Felt All Alone Out There?" By this time, 3 listservers appeared out of nowhere, and ran up to the front of the room, thank god, and started dancing and waving their arms and laughing, and the rest of the audience actually seemed to catch on that something was going on in front of them - and I think the show got better and better from then on.
Sometimes it really takes a catastrophe to fix a show and to bring the audience together. They probably had no idea who we were, and were not used to being in this place for a rockshow - this was one of the first ever rockshows they were having at this club. So it took a while for them to warm up. But by the end, it was a wonderful show, and I even met a new person named "Ska Boy" who was dancing up a storm near the end of the set.
See Ska Boy in the middle with the odd eyebrows?
In fact, after the set, the East End Cafe people were SO NICE, we couldn't
believe it! They sent us away with 4 huge boxes of amazing food - this place
has a fantastic selection of food - we had a Middle Eastern Hummous etc. plate,
I had a huge peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, there was a big turkey sandwich,
and a huge chocolate milkshake for Howie. These people were so fun and so nice,
I really can't wait to come back there again! Someone told me that since this
show had gone so well, there would probably be more shows at that place. YAY!!
En route to Ashville, NC, Teeth.
Do you know what we did yesterday during the day? Plans for visiting a dear friend in DC got scrapped in the afternoon because we were so tired, we all woke up around 12:30pm. Then, the 4 of us actually laid in our motel room beds, watching TV for 3 hours, and then dragged ourselves out to an Olde Country Buffet, (got in 5 minutes before the price changed and ended up being there for the dinner food anyway - remember *that* trick!) - ate a bit, spent about an hour in a pretty decent thrift store, and then went back to the Motel6 and laid in bed until around 6pm again, when we had to leave for our show. The main topic of conversation was Parasitology - Jim, Rick and I were trying to convince Howie that he has a tapeworm, because he eats and eats and eats and still gets thinner. We all had a great laugh about this in the Olde Country Buffet - the regulars must've thought we were out of our minds. But MAN, were we exhausted. It's amazing how fun a day spent in a tiny motel room can be. We all needed a rest!
Today, however, we have a 500 mile drive to Asheville NC to play a show tonight. We
drove by Manasses, Virginia and had lunch across from the legendary Bull Run Shopping Mall,
the guys retelling in Tour Guide voices the story: "This Taco Bell lies on the site of one
of the most famous battles of the Civil War. In fact, hundreds of thousands of bones of
dead soldiers still lie underneath the parking lot of the neighboring Radio Shack and
Circuit City to your left; some of the bones having been relocated for the McDonalds Playplace.
On a very hot day, sometimes a tooth will resurface in the nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken
The urban sprawl (gosh, did I really just write that?) - how about, the endless strings of grimy stores, runny streets and old rusted metal signs of the northeast coast have given way to a pristine, purple-ish superhighway threading through green grassy hills and smoky brown mountains off in the distance. Howie says the road is stained with the blood of thousands of dead civil war veterans. The sun is shining brightly and there are a million shades of green along this road; lime green colored grass patches along the highway, kelly green and shiny thick blades of grass, leafy and fir green trees, mint-colored shrubs popping up, bright yellow new bushes, and faded early green new baby leaves on trees. Jim has informed us that we will be "vaguely following" the Appalachian Trail today, all day, and has also made us promise that next year, in Y2K, we won't be going on tour, but will instead walk the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. It's gorgeous outside, but still a bit cold out. Today will be our last day in the cold for a long time, I think.
James Cameron remakes "Gone With The Wind." Starring Kate Winslet. The ending line of the movie has been changed to "Frankly my dear, I don't give a fuck," to update it for the 90s. "Then he hits her really hard and shoots her with a machine gun." I believe those were Jim's words.
Asheville is one of the loveliest cities in America, and had the loveliest promoter of all. Somehow, he charmed both our somewhat grumpy manager *and* booking agent, and they are just enamored with him. I have never seen that happen - especially with both coasts, west (manager) and east (booking agent). Of course the way to charm us is through our stomachs, and he managed that quite well, too, baking us the best breakfast we'd had in years, eggs, 2 different kinds of cinnamon rolls, and huge glasses of orange juice. We also had wonderfully comfortable beds to sleep on, in a beautiful warm house overlooking a sort of green glen. What a great rest - I can't believe how painless the Southeast has been so far!!
These people drove from Charleston to see us.
Here it is, THE SOUTH. OH YEAH. I feel terrible tonight. We did not draw enough people to the club for the promoter to make back our fee. Of course the promoter had to pay it anyway, because he signed the contract, but we HATE when this happens. The promoter was very professional about it; every promoter that our booking agent deals with is always professional, because she's got other bigger bands who draw more, and if they want to see those bigger bands come through, they really don't want to go back on a contract. Also, there's a pretty small amount of booking agents; in the US and if one gets screwed, all the rest will find out about it. And even though the promoters lose money sometimes, they make it back on other shows. We are very lucky, because our booking agent is very well respected, and only deals with the best promoters.
I did notice that there was a big indie rock show yesterday - Low - at the same club, and also, apparently tonight we were playing against another big show at the other venue in town. I also noticed posters for every band playing that week on the windows of the club - except ours. I can never understand what that's all about. But there were fliers on the walls of the club, and on the door of the restaurant, although it said "Poster Children - Tonight!" so I think that one may have gone up very recently....According to the promoter though, there was plenty of promotion for the show, and I believe him. I also believe that we're not very big in South Carolina.
So Rick and I, who had to collect the money after the show (I usually do it but I made Rick come with me this time) went back to the van and felt terrible and Howie tried to comfort us, but I know we all felt pretty crappy. We had seen this happen with many bigger bands before; especially the Buzzcocks tour; they had like, $4000-6000 guarantees, and the promoters were never able to pay them and they had to do some kind of settling. With us, the guarantee was much, much lower, but still, we didn't come close to it.
We played our ASSES off tonight though, to try to compensate, and the tiny crowd seemed kinda receptive - I think people really enjoyed the show.
The SOUTHEAST is generally known for being impossible to draw, for a northern band such as ourselves. That's why many bands skip this area - especially Florida... And we have 4 shows in that state... coming right up...
Atlanta Audience! Aren't they just so CUTE?!!
I woke up this morning with my mind completely blank, not knowing who or where I was! It took almost 5 minutes of the Maid banging on the Motel 6 door, "HOUSEKEEPING!! HOUSEKEEPING!!! HOUSEKEEPING!!! THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP!!! HOUSEKEEPING!!!" to bring me back. I never understood WHY they bang on the door like that. I mean, if someone answers them, then someone's in the room, and they are not going to be able to clean it, are they? Why not just walk into the room and start cleaning around us? GEEZ!!
I wanted to drive away from this Motel6 this morning (and it's the Motel6 of the Future, by the way, the one on the COVER of the Motel 6 Guide!) I wanted to yell, "I'll save you guys from this dangerous but beautiful state - I WILL TAKE US INTO GEORGIA AND BE OUR SAVIOUR!!" but Rick's already behind the wheel of the van, and I'm staggering back and forth staring at the gorgeous massive kellygreen forest outside the Motel6 while the woman behind the counter is yelling at me.
I guess I should worry a bit about my mental stability - I called my parents yesterday and probably sounded like a heroin addict leaving a message on the answering machine; "Hi Mom and Dad, how are you? I'm calling to check in - I'm in..uh... South Carolina, I think -- it's uh... I don't know what day it is... (looking at watch) oh yeah - the 14th of April (agonizing over the fact that my watch has DAY on it but not DATE) - I'm ok; we're all ok here...I'll try calling back later or tomorrow." I spent the first week of this tour terrified that I was always forgetting something, and now I'm no longer terrified. I'm not sure if that means I'm not forgetting, or if I've just forgotten.
Tonight is going to be a good show, but then it's going to be rough-riding, I think, until Columbia, MO.
Atlanta, GA - ODD and CONFUSING NIGHT!
We are SO CONFUSED. There are so many mixed feelings now about Atlanta. There are a bunch of really WONDERFUL things about this club and some kind of awful things. The club - the Echo Lounge - is gorgeous - the lounge on the side looks like the Corova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange! The people in the club were very nice, too. I had a very fun interview on WRAS. Then we did a soundcheck. That was fine. Then we ate at this incredible Carribean place down the street - that was the best meal of the tour. Then, I watched people stream into the club. The club was pretty nicely full of people - and it's a huge club - but I'd say a good 200-300 people were there, which is great for us on a Thursday night in the South! We were very happy! The 2 opening bands were scarily professional - the first band was the Young Antiques who were great, and the 2nd band, the Tender Idols, came on stage and basically looked like Echo and The Bunnymen and sounded like Oasis, I guess. They had haircuts, leather coats, black pants, a fog machine; it looked and sounded like an MTV video. That was truly astounding. (The most astounding thing was, I noticed on their record that they had been mixed by Bryce Goggin, who did our Junior Citizen and RTFM records!!)
Then we went on with our little punkrock selves. No leather jackets to take off on stage, no fog machine. I hoped we didn't look too unprofessional. The earlier bands really rocked out! We clowned around for a bit at the beginning of the show - everyone was trying to get their equipment to work. I talked to the audience for way too long, waiting for the rest of the guys to get ready. I even made us walk off the stage after we finished setting up and then walk back on again. The clowning was fun, although once we started the show, I became unbelievable tired and freaked out. I am really sick now, but I'm eating ZINC lozenges, so my body may just be a lot sicker than I feel. I was in pain most of the time on the stage; I wanted so desparately to give a good show and I felt like we were sinking in a lake with bricks tied to our feet!! We just kept trying to put on a good show, but just kept feeling like it was terrible. In between each song you could hear something feeding back. Rick was watching the audience and said they didn't look happy, except for a few people "rocking out." Howie said he was in excruitiating pain during the set. We can't figure out if it was the stage, or what?!
The thing that was so confusing about all of this is we got 2 screaming encores. And we thought we played like crap. Maybe the stage is just weird. I have no idea what it was. But personally, I played like crap. I could have done better and I'm ashamed. Perhaps the club is so ROCK that the audience can't tell? Or we just don't have that much variance in between shows.
But HERE'S the really odd and confusing part. For the first encore, I was so glad people gave us an encore because I wanted a second chance at giving a good show. But we walked back on the stage and the soundguy had already turned the background music on!!! That's really rude; that usually never happens. People were still screaming and clapping for more, and Rick said he looked back at the soundboard and the sound guy had his head in his hands. When he turned back on the mics, the whole system started feeding back again - Rick had to notify him from the stage that his mics were causing the feedback. Then the feedback went really loud, and paranoid, I figured he was trying everything to make the audience leave. Anyway, we played 2 more songs and thanked the audience and left. After that the background music came on louder and people started screaming for MORE again!!! When we came back out this time, the soundguy had gone backstage and had already turned off all the microphones!!Tracy's here!
Well, after all of this, we still got to play another encore and after we finished, I was informed by the soundguy that the "Rule" at the club usually is that the band will tell him beforehand that they're going to do Encores. I informed him that we're not the kind of band who plans for encores; if the audience wants, then we do them.
If not for the couple of mean people at the club, this club could easily be the best one in the country! The dressing room at the club HAS A POOL TABLE - the promoter and club owner are WONDERFUL! The club had made limited edition hand silk-screened posters for the show!!! Everything on our rider appeared in our dressing room! The bartender woman chided us for not drinking a lot! BUT, at the end of the night, they were screaming at people and telling them to leave. I cannot STAND clubs that do that. On top of it, as Rick and I were loading out our stuff, a bouncer came up to us and told us to HURRY! That really pissed me and Rick off to no end. That and the soundguy trying to rush us out of there - I mean, the 2nd band played until after midnight - that's why the show went so late. It's not our f*&$ing fault.
And the promoter said it was the best show they've ever had at the club?!! So there are mixed feelings about Atlanta. Rick says he would rather either really hate a place like that or really love it. But not both!!
In the dressing room at the club