Start Poster Children DDD Tour Reports
1. SXSW - Austin - pools of water reflect the sky like mirrors
When we left Champaign, buildings were being torn down left and right. There is destruction everywhere, I was thinking we'd return home and our house would be reduced to a pile of rubble. And of course with destruction comes rebirth - we are about a week from getting to see our magnolia tree in our backyard bloom
It's near 9pm, we're driving through southern Illinois and the sky is illuminated like a huge computer screen with darker pastel colors, blue and pink, the ground is black outside the van except for pools of water which shine and reflect the sky like mirrors. Everyone has been discussing different ideas but now we're all silent and it's apparent to me that we're once again free, this time for 2 months straight. How can we continue to feel like this when we return home to our jobs?
Southern Illinois at Night
BOOMLAND! Southern Border of Illinois!
The people at BOOMLAND today have a sense of purpose, no one is loitering around. It is either locals or late-coming college students on their way to the warm south. The snack-shop is being redecorated. We can't justify filling the van up with fireworks right now because there's no room in the van, anyway. I found the greatest item - a small block of shellac-ed cedar with a see-through restaurant glass ashtray set into it and next to it, glued on, a plastic unicorn. There is no setting in our house that would do justice to such a piece. I would have to build another house just to put it in. I realize now that our last tour in the US ended at 2am walking around in a dream-state in BOOMLAND, buying fireworks.
We are starving, looking for a familiar chain family restaurant, something with its name sterilized by Corporate America, and there is nothing around. We drove around Cairo, Illinois, which looks like a ghost town in western Texas. It was gorgeous, but there wasn't any non-life-threatening-looking restaurants.
So, in BOOMLAND, I ask the locals for a restaurant recommendation and a 200-year old lady directs us to the Sunshine Diner (she wanted to know what it was called when you can go up in the restaurant and 'git yer own food') - we found this yellowy diner attached to a "Stuckeys Express" gas station, peeked in it looked like The Headquarters (that's my code word, short for "local KKK Headquarters" - there were tables full of guys with huge white cowboy hats (we're STILL in Illinois, they have no business wearing cowboy hats in here!) and scary-looking women with tattooes and biker shirts on. Howie and I walked towards the entrance to check out the food and I looked at him and became fearful for our lives - good thing tall blonde Rick came along with us.
The food was really great. Meatloaf, breaded-fried squash things, corn smothered with butter. Best corn I've had all day!
I'm so excited about this tour. Mostly I'm excited to go to Reno again, for 2$ steaks. But I'm excited about everything - even driving through southern Illinois seems so exotic to me today. We're taking our time to get to Austin - getting ourselves back into the swing of touring.
It could be warmer. It's about 65 degrees out. But it seems like we've been in the van for all of 2 minutes - got to discuss how cool the movie "eXistenZ" is and all of the sudden we're here in Texas. I think that touring in the US is going to be so much easier now that we've spent the last couple of tours in Europe. Nice to have recognizable snack-food in the gas stations, too.
We spent the day sitting in parks in Austin. Rick and I are added last-minute to a panel discussion entitled "DIY Internet" so we had to go get our badges, which meant going into the Convention Center Mouth of the Hell. I don't know why I hate things that I am a part of - I glare at everyone wearing dark clothes with messed up hair, talking on a cellular phone while I am wearing dark clothers, my hair is messed up, and my cell phone is in my pocket. But I hate all these industry people - everyone in this building is either a tool or someone using a tool. When I see a band scouting around, looking to get signed, it just pains me, because I know that if they are desperate enough, they'll sign a terrible contract and get taken advantage of. Other sleazy-looking individuals abound; big fat guys in suits and cellular phones looking for bands to manage (if you're a manager whose band gets signed to a major label, you get 15% of the label advance, and many times a label won't sign a band without a manager, so you have to go looking for one at the last minute when you're about to be signed.) And then the third type is the Rock Star - a tarted-up girl standing in the middle of a dark room wearing dark sunglasses, waiting for someone to recognize her. Someone who has undoubtably appeared in ads for the bar that she regularly sings at.
This landscape makes me sick to my stomach, so naturally I try to think of ways to have some fun with the people while I wait in line. I pose Howie with the cell phone, loudly, and take pictures of him, pissing off some people in line, and cracking others up. The people behind the booths who were there to help us were really nice, so that's good. On the way out, I notice that they are giving away free issues of SPIN to the thousands of people registering- and this just happens to be the issue with the PosterChildren/Salaryman record reviews in it! LUCKY!
I nearly got into a fight with the guard at the door of the club. Actually, he wasn't going to let me into the club. I had been walking in and out of there, in front of him with my little club pass for hours, and all the sudden he decides to stop me and ask me for an ID. Now, what the HELL does he need to see an ID for? What is he going to check my name against? I tell him, "I'm playing here tonight. I've been in and out of this club 10 times, walking in front of you. You are not checking anyone else's IDs- why all of the sudden do you need to check mine?" And he stammers something. Now realize, this is a huge black guy standing in front of me, wearing a huge yellow raincoat that says "Security" on it, he's in charge of letting people into this tent; this is who I'm yelling at.
The thing is though, really, why does he need to check MY ID? He really isn't checking anyone else's. And what will he learn from my ID? And a manager-type guy comes up to him and tells him, "It's OK, she's playing tonight" and he says, "I don't care, she's not getting into the club without an ID." So I just said, "Never mind, I will come back later," and patted the worried manager-kid on the shoulder saying, "Don't worry! It's fine!" I don't want to go back into the tent anyway. It's teeming with people wearing black on cellphones. Why don't they talk to the people around them - why do they need to be talking to people who aren't there with them?
Enough complaining. I even apologized to the Security guard later, who told me he would have let me in if I had waited. Duh. He would have had to; he would been holding up the show otherwise!
Talk about the weather
Let me tell you about the weather here. IT was around 80 degrees all day, and then the sky turned bright blue and it started pouring and then went down to about 45 degrees. It was about 30 degrees outside in the tent and hailing outside while we played. It sounded like massive applause when we got up on stage - and it was just the ice pounding on the tent roof! I hear that the back half of the tent collapsed while we played - I think that's good, because it will give people something to remember about the show. Although people seemed to love it, it was nearly impossible to play in 30-degree weather, water dripping on us from the leaking tent, wind whipping around, and through all of this we're trying to play brand new songs that we've never played in public before! That is SO HARD! But people still enjoyed it, and I'm very, very glad! (pictured - during our show, the tent is leaking on Howie and stagehands are attempting to fix it)
It was so great to see so many recognizable faces, too! This is going to be a great tour!
See John Doe, who played after us, and the drummer who also played in X - on our equipment!! WOO HOO!
DIY Internet Indie Style
Today Rick and I were on our "DIY Internet Style" panel - Jenny Toomey, indie-rock princess from Tsunami (and godmother of Salaryman - we started because she asked Poster Children to back her up on her solo tour when she came through Champaign and she asked us to please play something "different" - that's how Salaryman was born!) anyway, Jenny was the moderator, and the guy who does the Rocket From The Crypt Fansite, which is amazing, (www.rtfc.com) was the other guy on the panel. All we did was basically talk about the different things we have on our sites, and someone asked what format he should use if he just wants to put songs up that don't take a lot of time to download and I said "realAudio." Rick mentioned that he didn't like sites that took a long time to load, we were all very impressed by the use of forms to update the RFTC page, and that was pretty much it. One guy asked, "I have made my webpage, it's all done, and now what is the next step? What should I do?" and I answered, "Go on tour." How many bands have gotten famous through their internet sites and mp3.com downloads?
All the people in the room were OLDER than us! I realized that's probably because the younger folks all know how to take care of themselves on the internet, and plus, Chuck D was on another panel at the same time as ours. I don't know what his panel was. But anyway, I liked our panel. I thought that one day maybe I'd like to moderate a panel. I will have to think about this somehow and maybe make a proposal - I think a "ragging about what has happened to my band on a major label" panel might attract a lot of attention and bands - and might be really informative and fun. Or, how to survive on a major label. Do they have panels like that? "Straight Talk About Major Labels." And you have Howie Klein, Steve Albini, us, and someone whose band has really gotten screwed over. Or maybe, Chuck D.
So after this, we went to the ICAST trailer and Jenny interviewed all of us there. The interviews will show up on demand on the icast website which I hope is www.icast.com. Jenny is wearing lots of hats during this convention! I'm starting to think it would be neat to capture her and make her tour manage us on this tour. I'm sure she'd love that.(haha)
It's Friday evening now, St. Patrick's Eve, and downtown Austin - 6th Street - is a zoo. A sea of humanity flows butt-to-butt up and down the street with little inlets into each bar. Live music blares out from everywhere. Rick and I get carried downstream about a mile when we finally find a restaurant - The Spaghetti Warehouse - a chain restaurant - and we seat ourselves and eat some 7$ spaghetti - and I had an $11.99 salmon steak, which tasted like fish. The place is decorated with old American product signs plastered all over the walls and chandeliers and carpetting, like an upscale Cracker Barrel, with Frank Sinatra music blaring. Everyone in the entire restaurant is drunk, and it's only 10:30pm. Rick seems to think this is a place where you go to eat dinner after you've been drinking all night, probably because he returned from the bathroom telling me that someone 'blew' $6.49 worth of spaghetti into the sink of the mens bathroom. The women in the women's bathroom could hardly stand when I was in there, they were so drunk. A man from the table in front of us got up and hugged the waitress and the women at the table were stuffing money in the busboy's shirt. Two white men with long hair in ponytails at the table behind us were smoking illegally and singing along loudly to the Frank Sinatra music, and next to me, a hispanic woman sat alone and chowed down her food while her poor sick-looking little boy stood in front of our table and coughed and stared at me and Rick. When she got up to leave, she said to us, "They have to get some new music in here."
We made our way back to Atomic Cafe, where Salaryman is scheduled to play tonight. It's a fetish bar, and scary goth people are hanging around, and there are whipping posts, candles, cages, and girls with blood red hair and earrings in weird places. I find myself liking the atmosphere here for some odd reason - at least there IS an atmosphere here! - ever since I heard the Peanuts-sounding girl on "This American Life" (our favorite radio show) talkiing about the idea behind Goth, I have been intrigued. It sounds so cute.
On our way back to the Atomic Cafe, I found a girl's wallet, complete with student ID, driver's license, bank card, and 1 dollar in it, so I spent about $20 dollars on my new cellphone trying to look up this girl's information so I could call her somehow and let her know that her wallet is OK. I finally got the number connected to her driver's license and it was disconnected, so I had to wait until we got home that night to go on the internet.
The Salaryman show was wonderful - it's so fun to play to Americans and I know that they are all Poster Children fans and they are all excited to see us do something different. It's such a joy! Even all the bar people enjoyed Salaryman too - the soundguy told us we were the only band who didn't irritate him all night, and the other bar people bought CDs. A large man in leather and a beard informed me that if we would dress "a little more GOTH, we'd really have something going here." I'm all for it!
Later at night we got home and I got on the internet and searched and searched and searched for this girl. I found a page at the University of Oklahoma and typed in her student ID number and pulled up a menu that would give me her class schedule, her grades, and probably lots other stuff about her that I never, ever want to know. I felt very scared looking at that webpage and of course I didn't click to go into it - mostly because I know my paths would and could be traced, anyway. I finally found the girl's phone number, called it, and got voice-mail for another girl. So I left an exasperated message and gave up and decided to turn the wallet in tomorrow to the police. I am sure they will be better than the French police the last time I found a wallet.