Saturday, September 06, 2008


I was home for a short, sweet 5 days and then it was up to Seattle for a single show. Back to living out of a bag, wandering the streets for a decent cup of coffee, and writing essential information on myself with a marker, you know, the usual.

The band was closing the Bumbershoot festival. An annual affair at the base of the space needle in Seattle that has been going on for thirty years or so. It was the big hometown blow out for those dudes, and, while it was a bit of a wedge in the middle of my month off, it was a good time. I spent most of my first night in town tapping away at a lighting desk. When I made it back to the hotel I collapsed in a pile, fully dressed and woke up late the next morning having no idea where I was.

Apparently I had awoken in 1993 as the festival was good and going with the likes of The Offspring, following Stone Temple Pilots, following Beck, following Nada Surf, etc. It was a veritable cornucopia of early 90's auditory abuse.

Nothing makes 15,000 people shit themselves faster than a bunch of fireworks. Towards the end of the set we lit off a spark curtain and, apparently someone fainted from excitement in the front row. Maybe they just thought it was a sure sign of the apocalypse. Either that or the last thing you expect at the climax of an indie pop show is something bursting into flames. 

I was back home the next day and began a 24 hour rash of home improvements that culminated in the purchase of an antler candle holder. And now I'm spent.

Friday was Nine Inch Nails in Oakland.

The show looked incredible.

Like really, really incredible. It was at the local Oakland enormo-dome, and if I'm going to a show that I'm not being paid for these days then I prefer to drive there, wander in 10 mins before the band goes onstage, and leave before the encore to beat the traffic home. It was a perfectly ideal concert-going experience (since that's exactly what it was, no social calls, no work). I am basically an old man who complains about loud noises and the rising cost of camomile tea at the grocery store. That said, go see Nine Inch Nails.

I am now fulling embracing my time off by rediscovering my inner sloth-like, lethargic self. I'm thinking of taking mushrooms and going hunting. Something to spice up the afternoon.


Home now. Feeling a little restless, unrested, tired, hungry, confused, hungry, slow, anxious and other than all of that, pretty ok. I was home for a few hours after a seemingly routine 14 hour flight home from Australia before a good bunch of friends and I hit the roller derby down the street. It was obnoxious and loud and the most fun that my poor jet-lagged ass could have had my first night back.

We had a few drinks on Haight Street until the big sham of a music festival in Golden Gate Park let out spilling fans and bands alike into the Haight. The last thing I remember was someone shouting with glee that he was the only thing  keeping Ben Harper's keyboard player upright. I think he also might have been holding Tom  Petty's hair back in the men's room.

The next day I sweated out some airplane food and a 1/2 pint of Absinthe (I can't quite figure out when or why I thought that would be a good idea) by walking up to Tank Hill with some pals. The music festival still raging in the park we could hear the makings of Jack Johnson lulling fifteen thousand people to sleep with a ukulele.

Jamie was in town from NY and taking a break from The Dandy Warhols and from trying to find a sucker to rent a room in his spendy alphabet city pad. We had a few days so we went camping up in Mendocino.

The weather was pretty perfect, and it was a nice way to ease back into the land of the living.

Shrimp. On the Barbie.

I made it home and headed right down to Carmel for a few days. Big Sur (the bits that survived the fire) is alright.


Hill of Content

You can smell a roadie prank from miles away. It almost always involves luminous green or yellow tape and occasionally a flashlight, and they are usually pretty enterprising. In this case there was a path of arrows that led straight to Andy's door. When I was going back to my room a gaggle of drunken ladies were following it down the hall just to see where it led. I'm sure he got a lot of that that night.

I always have a great time in Australia. It really felt like home, especially since I'd been there 3 times so far this year. It was still the tail end of winter down there, so it was about 30 degrees cooler than the previous few weeks of the tour. Sickness was pretty much a given considering those circumstances, but it was only a week and then it was home for us all.

To acclimate myself, and fight off a bit of residual travel restlessness I went for a walk around Fitzroy, the Eat Berlin of Melbourne. The rain let up, I had some amazing coffee and Nick and I wandered into one of the best bookshops that I've been to.

I finally managed to score a copy of this Chris Connelly book that I'd been looking for. It's a tour diary of sorts about his days with Ministry and RevCo. Sort of like Get in the Van,  but with more laughs, more drugs and less pretense. It was strange to read while on tour, and knowing many of the same places and people made me pretty glad to be doing what I do. The fascinations and the hardships seem to be pretty universal which is, for some reason, pretty comforting:

A 2001 tour with Pigface made me realize that I had come to dislike touring. It was just a series of episodes where you tried to find a clean bathroom and something to eat that won't poison you.

In that spirit we were shot across Australia half in an airplane and half in a van gorged and bursting with luggage and equipment. This is Ben, our Aussie minder opening the door and getting caught on the landslide.

The show in Fremantle was at one of my least favorite places on Earth. This strange little club is horribly ill-equipped to host any band with more than a banjo and harmonica in tow and the stage, which they refuse to cover, looks like the door to the X-men's secret lair. Brutal. That night, the same as the last time I was here I walked straight out the back door of the club, still listening to the ringing feedback of an amp on stage, and right back to the hotel. It is pretty defeating most everything seems that way when you are tired, hungry and worn out.

The last show was in Brisbane. I'm not even sure how it went, but I did get to see my friend James, who's wife just gave birth to their first child (and who they named Frankie Trouble). He was holding it together just barely. He treated a few of us to beers and his version of 'tapas' at his bar. After we gorged ourselves on 2 plates of all things fried we watched the Hoodoo Gurus play a few songs and then called it a night.

And just like that we were done....