I worked all day Thursday trying to finish my sound installation. I mean, from 9 am until 1 am! Tired out. But it came out nice.
Friday afternoon I went to pick up Ron, and he showed me my picturedisc lp. It was the first time I saw it! I was really excited about that. Then we had to rush to get John Wiese at the airport. John got in ok, but his bag with all his gear mysteriously vanished. Luckily we weren't playing that night. Instead we had to rush over to the opening for the show my installation was in. It was a lot of stuff all at once.
(photo by Bill T. Miller)
And then Saturday was the first show, at Mass Art. It was hard to get set up in the big auditorium. I think everyone was afraid that nobody would come. Everybody relaxed when we finally figured out what was wrong with the pa, and got it running right. I went out with Thurston and John Wiese to get dinner and some wine before the show. We got beer too, but I never felt like drinking, I just paced around a lot and snuck outside to smoke cigarettes. I couldn't believe how many people came! It was a really great show, I just wish I had played a little better. I think all the other performers were wondering if Thurston could really pull off a straight-up noise set. But he totally kicked ass! There was a really great part at the end, where he kept changing the feedback quick. I looked out from behind the curtain, and he was lying on the floor in front of his amps. When he came off stage he said he got sick of his amp blasting him in the face, so he just lay down to get out of the way.
The next night we played at the Knitting Factory. I really wanted to watch the super bowl, but everybody thought I was only kidding. I was serious! But of course they didn't have a tv that worked at that snooty bar. I asked Thurston if he brought the wine, but he said he left it at home. But would bring it to the show in Hadley. So I drank whiskey instead. The show was really terrific, and that night we stayed with Dominic. The next morning, Dominic and John Wiese recorded on headphones, at the foot of Dom and Lindsey's bed. Dominic was barking like a seal. Even though it was only headphones, it still sounded loud!
Monday night we came up to Providence, to play at Okie St. Sasha and Nicole's band Heart2heart opened. I really enjoyed it a lot. They were both shy and said it was the first time they ever used vocals. I played some new songs, it was kind of a failure but I think in a good way.
Tuesday we went to Troy NY. We played at a recording studio that's full of broken music instruments. You name it, they have it, and no, it doesn't work! It was the smallest p.a., but it played surprisingly loud. After the show I went to the grossest, smokiest, dirtiest bar ever. It made me really glad you can't smoke in bars in Boston any more.
Wednesday we went out to Rochester. We played at a gallery that the Pengo guys have something to do with. There were all these young punk kids there, plus some people I knew from Buffalo. John Wiese and I did a collaboration piece. It was fun but we only played about ten minutes. It was really confusing, because both of our set-ups were somehow controlling each other. John told me afterwards that he kept turning me off, just to try to figure out what was what — and I had no idea! That night we stayed at Finkbiener's house, and he "made" us watch the Nanny Lynne video. I don't know what the story is with that one, but it was pretty far out. Especially the Bob the Blob part! Well if you know how to get these mysterious "Meatwood" bootleg dvd's, please let me know!
Thursday we went down to Cleveland. Ralph H. was doing the sound. It was a giant p.a. But he just poo-poo'd our compliments and said it was his "small" one. John Wiese rocked it so hard that one of the sub amps shut off for a while. I thought it sounded really good for my set, plenty of room to push but I didn't have to be loud. They had a really cute rabbit named Bun-bun, I tried to make friends with her. We stayed at Ralph's that night. I loved his house, but he kept saying it was just a little one, he was almost apologetic about it. It was a beautiful neighborhood, right on the water.
Friday we went down to Cincinnati. We passed the Jim Beam brewery on the way, too bad we didn't have time to take the tour! Personally I loved this pa, but John and Ron didn't. They felt it wasn't loud enough. But I liked the way the speakers jumped in the box. I did Crazy Cat just to act crazy, that was "fun". In Cincinnati, all the kids wanted tapes, it was practically the first tapes I sold on the tour!
Saturday we zipped up to Detroit. I liked Greh's house right away, it reminded me of that building 10 Williams St. in Dudley Square, before it got totally lame (condo-ized) there. But everybody was drunk and rowdy. Plus there was a Valentine's day dance party right down the hall! When I started trying to cast my spell, it was really hard to get everyone's attention. I felt like I was trying to tame a bunch of ravenous lions. But finally everybody settled down, and I did my song, and it worked out great. Then I proceeded to get drunk. Me and John Wiese danced together at the Valentine's party for about 10 seconds. Finally I just had enough, and I set up a bed and went to sleep, I didn't care that all the gnarlers were still playing noise and talking about records. Woo hoo!
Sunday we drove around the lake to Chicago. We were playing at the Empty Bottle. Talk about a killer sound system! For me, this was definitely the sound highlight of the tour. The bass was extended so low, but in such a natural way, it was just amazing. Somehow it interacted with my synth, so that when I tried to come back down to the coda part of the spell (where I sing the first three verses backwards), it just got stuck. Some bizarre mischief!
Monday was down to St. Louis, John's home town. It was also Valentine's day. What to say about the show? Well the kids in St. L are amazing! But that place Radio Cherokee sucks! The owner was so mad at me, after I asked him to be quiet while I was playing, that they wouldn't sell me a bottle of water later! Oh well, Joe Raglani was such a great host, he more than made up for it.
At Angle of View, I was getting hit on by a Connecticut city councilor, who was down in Nashville to go to court to clear up a DUI charge. He was charming and I gave him my number, but it's probably for the best he hasn't called I guess. After the show, we stayed at John Sharp's house, and I got mauled by his dogs. They covered my shirt with mud and nipped me on the face. But I couldn't stop laughing, like when someone's tickling you, but they were definitely "a little" rough. I was commiserating about prisoner friends with the kids from Atlanta. I felt like I was living the song I played: 1 chance, 1 life, risk it all!
Wednesday we drove back North to Lexington. Spencer Yeh came down to meet us. He and I cooked up a plan to collaborate. But unfortunately I wasn't up to the task. I ended up trying to turn it into a replay of a Carly Ptak/Peter Blasser mindgame "collaboration" I saw. Sorry Spencer! It was a big echoey room with a totally rag-tag pa, definitely not the right kind of set-up for my spell to work. But it was really fun hanging out with Spencer, and I found Auk Theater to be very enjoyable.
Thursday it was back to Ohio. Now if that bar in Troy was gross, well imagine an even grosser bar, that was also a taco restaurant! Ugh doesn't begin to describe it. Plus, there was something SERIOUSLY wrong with the pa there. While John Wiese was playing, a girl was sitting at the bar not ten feet from the speaker, talking on a cell phone in a relaxed voice. But the lights said it was clipping? I almost went off the deep end when some guy called my synth a toy. I had to hid in the bathroom with Sarah Cathers for a few minutes. Ron did an a capella set, including parts of Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate, and that Merbow/Killer Bug joke. I ended up playing a private show, I sat on the stage in front of the monitor, and asked the eight people who were there to come up and sit behind me. So in the end I really felt pretty good.
Friday was my favorite town, Baltimore, and we were playing at Tarantula hill. Awesome time, totally fun, good sound, and freezing cold! They only have a wood stove that heats two rooms, it's 1800's style. After the show we hung out in the room with the wood stove and did this weird sharing/trust exercise. It's like hippies who hate hippies. Baltimore rules!
Saturday was a long drive, up to Hadley. It felt like homecoming style, even though none of the kids who were living at the Schoolhouse in February were living there when I first played there, and two of them moved out since! Transience. I asked Thurston if he'd brought the wine, but he forgot. He better not next time! I decided I wanted the whole crowd to do the pig song, and Jacob Berendes suggested I sing a line, then they'd all sing it back. Everyone sang, even John Wiese! (He's a vegan.) At the end of the song I squeeled with glee and jumped up and down. And then I realized, I'd finally played my favorite show of the tour! Hooray!
Thanks so much to Dominic, Lindsay, Sasha, Jason, Joe T & Finkbiener, George, Ralph, Ron, Greh, Andy and Camilla, Joe R, Robert and Irene, Cathers, Twig & Carly, and Vanessa and Will! Also to Kye, Raphael, Bill, Travis, Andrew, Joe, Nils, Bobby, and everyone else who sent us recordings and photos of the shows. And especially Greh, Ron, Darryl and Charlie, for the killer mix tapes! (And even better - I ended up with all of them!!!)