Tour Diary – Spring, 2000: Fear and Loathing in Louisiana
February 11, 2000
Venue: The Thirsty Tiger
City: Baton Rouge, LA
It was a brisk December’s night in the BR and an early practice session with new She-Devil drummer, Rob Payer, was coming together nicely. Since it would have been selfish not to share this magnificent sound with the world, we began discussing some potential live shows.
Rob volunteered to book us at the Thirsty Tiger since he’s tight with the owner and the regulars. He suggested that we make it our warm-up show and not charge a cover. That way we would be assured of a large turnout. Sounded good to me. I would much rather have loads of people there than go home with a measly extra $30. Plus, it’ll be a nice introduction for the new band and a chance to give something back to the local community, which has given us so much.
Two months later…
Rob arrived at the Thirsty Tiger shortly before our set was scheduled to begin. The opening act, Fingerhut, was in the process of wrapping up a tremendous performance. Rob motioned me over from across the room and asked, “Do you know why there’s no cover tonight?” I immediately thought to myself: Wow, Rob actually had some sort of ulterior motive for wanting this to be a free show and now he’s going to divulge the secret reason to me! Playing along, I came out with one of my typical sarcastic answers, “Um…the goodness of our hearts?” Uh, no. Rob actually denied ever suggesting a free show, going on to say, “It just would have been nice to go home with a little extra money in my pocket is all.” Rob wasn’t ready to accept my hypothesis that he was suffering some sort of lapsed memory episode. He went on to say that he has never played a show for free in his life. Therefore, I feel extreme pride to have formally initiated Rob into the Musicians Occasionally Not Getting Really Excellent Loot club or M.O.N.G.R.E.L., for which I’m executive vice-secretary. I assured Rob that in the future we will gouge our fans for all they’re worth.
Maybe, since we had so few actual shows booked, he decided we no longer needed a warm-up show. It’s not easy to book shows around Rob, but that is made up for to a large extent by his excellent drumming. My favorite show-nixing Payer excuse so far was the one about how he “will not sleep in Ruston”. What, just because I used to live there? If Rob’s internal logic went anything like that, I didn’t hear about it. Of course, all of this discussion is completely overlooking the real possibility that I’m insane.
Getting back to the rock show, it went over quite well. The place was packed with people, as Rob was quick to point out during our money discussion. Gee, I guess the no cover plan worked out. Bada-bing! In the end, we got thoroughly shown up by Fingerhut. It was probably their last show and they seemed to be pulling out all the rock and roll stops. I mean, they were throwing special Fingerhut underwear into the crowd for chrissakes! The Ross band was way too loud for the space we were playing in. Also, the set was peppered with song structure problems of varying degrees of severity. Despite that, one fan came up at the end and said we were in “great form”. What does that say for our average show?
February 18, 2000
City: Lafayette, LA
Venue: the truck
Not a banner evening.
The Countess, Robbo and I roll into the steamy swampland of Lafayette only to discover that our scheduled show at the Rinky Dink had been double-booked with a techno dance night. Or, more accurately, the Rinky proprietor, Bernard Pearce, did not even remember talking to me. We had set that date when Bernard called me up to postpone our original January 23 date. I hesitate to speculate on Bernard’s proximity to a calendar or writing tools during that conversation. He was very apologetic and bewildered. Of course, all of this discussion is completely overlooking the real possibility that I’m insane.
Mr. Rob was definitely put out. He’s not much of a “roll with it” type of guy on the road. Plus, it didn’t look like he was going to get paid that night. At least he didn’t have to play for free.
Scrambling for a replacement show almost worked. Our fellow rockers Santeria were playing that night at Grant St. Dancehall, which is a considerably nicer club than the Dink. They were very sympathetic to our situation and more than willing to help, but it wasn’t actually their show. They had been called up only a week before to support a stuck-in-the-80′s heavy metal band called Sleeping Village. The sheer hugeness of the Sleeping Village drum kit was enough to put Spaceman Bill to shame. Also, it was a black Sonor kit, keeping their headbanging heritage as intact as possible. The stage was complete with fog machines, laser lights and huge solid-state amp stacks. The highlight of the evening was checking out the Grant Street green room. The Santeria boys were excellent tour guides to this backstage world. They showed us all their favorite band photos and graffiti. They had to move a refrigerator to reveal the treasure in the green room trove: the signature of Stevie Ray Vaughn. According to our Santeria sources, after Stevie died, Grant Street management moved the refrigerator there to protect the precious autograph (not a bad idea considering the rampant autograph defacing back there).
We were having lots of fun, but eventually the Village showed up, and as it turned out, they were far less interested in letting another band on the bill. Susan, the sound person (or, “production”, as they say in Lafayette) who had initially expressed openness to us playing, changed her tune when I wasn’t standing there. She hadn’t been feeling well that night, but I still appreciate a straight shooter.
Now that we had wasted a couple of hours hanging around Grant Street, we took to the phone and yellow pages. (We had wanted to do this earlier but naturally the Rinky Dink has no telephone.) One club had a jazz band; another had karaoke and a third was having a reggae night. I think it was at this point that I lost hope.
Before leaving Baton Rouge that evening, I had gotten word that not only would my father and stepsisters be in attendance at our show, but also my grandparents. I appreciate the support and all, but I don’t think this is their kind of music. At least they got out of sitting in a smoky bar in the wee hours of the morning and then having to pretend that they enjoyed our set.
March 1, 2000
Venue: KLSU Live Broadcast
City: Baton Rouge, LA
You know you’re in trouble when your local college radio station needs to have an indie show. Most college stations ARE one big indie show. KLSU on the other hand, is a one-station ska punk revival. Woe. Sure, 91.1 has the superficial markings of college radio: studio cluttered with stickers, DJs who say “uh” in between every other word they speak on the air, being situated on a college campus, etc., but I don’t think it’s really expanding many horizons.
One thing to love about KLSU, however, is its local show, the Saturated Neighborhood (naturally, they corral all the local music into one two hour period each week). You can always count on goofy, if not witty, banter from the local show hosts. You can also always count on bands dialing up the station to request themselves.
We didn’t perform on this occasion – only chatted with the venerable local show hosts Skip and Daniel. I explained how our move to Oregon was simply to further my career as a Bigfoot hunter and how my song “Your Guitars” was a musical examination of Daniel’s Freudian psychosis about letting other people touch his musical instruments. I neither confirmed nor denied allegations that I dye my hair, but we successfully gave away a pair of tickets to our Spanish Moon show. Skip threw in a pair of my underwear to sweeten the deal for the lucky winner.
March 3, 2000
Venue: The Spanish Moon
City: Baton Rouge, LA
Our original choice for an opening band, Slobot, had been dragging their feet on my offer [read: ignoring me]. Since Santeria had been so nice in trying to help us out in Lafayette, I offered the opening slot to them instead, pending the approval of Slacker Steve Jacobson, the Spanish Moon band liaison/soundguy. When we stopped by Steve’s new & used music gear business, Galaxy Music, he eventually conceded the idea. Delighted, I confirmed with Santeria and everything was all set.
There’s a physical infirmity that is often contracted by members of the alcoholic beverage retail profession. Its fearsome name: Bar Owner’s Disease. It takes control of the upper cerebrum, causing barkeeps to jerk bands around. Sometimes I wonder if the typhoid Mary of Bar Owner’s Disease had a cough in Steve’s direction.
A couple of days after our Galaxy meeting I called Steve again to re-confirm the show (I’m feeling a little overly cautious for some reason) at which time he decided that we and Santeria were not a good match afterall because, among other things, Santeria is too loud and rocking. I guess that means we aren’t. Furthermore, Steve wanted instead to put a country swing band in front of us. Um…is this supposed to be a better genre matchup or something? In the end, we reached a compromise whereby Santeria would play first, followed by the Red Stick Ramblers (no, you didn’t just misread that), and then us. The Countess and I met one of the Ramblers at M’s the week before the show. He was giving us the pompous local-music-guy act about money and who draws what crowd and which band is playing when and how at the Thirsty Tiger each band member can sometimes make “one bill” if you talk to them right. It was very tiresome considering we’ve had this show booked for months and their unwelcome addition had occurred only three days earlier. Kids these days!
S-T-E-V-E with an ambulance and Gabe Daigle, music industry professionals.
Every band in attendance played really well. Santeria put on a phenomenally rocking show complete with kicks, back-bends, fists in the air and general shirtlessness. I highly recommend these guys. The Ramblers also sounded really good, but in more of a consistent, non-threatening, country bluegrass kind of way. The bikers in attendance definitely dug them. We put on what Steve described as my “best show ever”. He went on to praise the terrific bass sound he achieved in spite of our “crappy” bass amp. The show felt pretty good, though we were forced to cut about ten songs due to the length of our opening bands sets. It’s all supposedly been recorded on DAT, so maybe it’ll be part of some live release some day for which Steve wants 20% of my cut plus 5 points and mix credit. It either sounds really good or he was really drunk.
Santeria rocking hard at the Moon.