Tuesday August 17. In the weeks before the tour, Iím limping around with my leg turned in half the time, wearing orthopedic shoes, bringing pillows to keep my bones from digging in everything, and wondering how the hell will I rock when we finally play some shows.
The day of the first show in Philly, we leave town around 6 pm. We try to stop 2 times for food. The bagel place is closed. The gas station is closed. When we stop at the Maryland House service area to change drivers (Paul will take over as he has finished his costume-sewing), I open a can of giant abalone mushrooms in the car and eat the whole thing. [Jeff: We all have our charming van habits. I sleep 99% of the day and read with one foot up on the windowsill the other 1%, using that appendage to roll the window up and down when needed. Amanda eats various reeking foods and sometimes exercises with these stupid rubber bands. I don't know what Erick does. Paul, when not driving, gets out his little embroidery kit and sews stuff to his costume, apparently feeling that the ideal place for doing detail work with needle and thread is in a moving vehicle with spongy shocks.]
We arrive at the club in Philly without incident. Itís on South Street but not in the clubby district. In fact, the neighborhood is bordering on a semi-sketchy area. As soon as we pull up, a black man with some sort of dementia carrying a guitar case on his back that is full of trash rushes over to me and starts mumbling about music and cigarettes. I say ďMan, you know what we like!Ē I said this even though none of us smoke.
The club gives us dinner and I eat this awesome Blackened Catfish with corn and bean salsa and cilantro rice. Afterward, Erick and I walk around looking for incense. We have borrowed a set of sound-sensitive colored lights (The Raptors). We need incense because the light beams bounce off smoke. We wander into 3 small grocers and none have the incense that is so abundant in DC. Back at the club, we discuss costumes and Erick is very excited to debut his brand-new, white-fringed girl-jeans. I am excited because tonight I will sing live for the first time. I am singing some back-ups that I know will be totally inaudible and Iím singing this goofy intro to Street Warz.
The show itself is fun, albeit defeaning. Erickís amp seems to be louder than Iíve ever heard it and Jeffís cymbals are literally mowing down the hair cells in my little ears. I canít wear earplugs since I want to hear how horrible my vocals sound.
After the show, I chat with the promoter, Trevor. I discover that his band (Coyote) is also on Birdman Records. He is a totally nice guy and offers to let us crash with him. He warns us that his house is a little crusty. I say "not a problem! We will feel right at home!" We hang around the club 'til he can leave and at about 1.30 am, I am so tired that I go sleep on top of our merch duffle bag on the floor and use my cat costume as a pillow. The bouncer asks Jeff if I am trashed and passed out and I believe Jeff responds that I am just really lazy. And of course, someone made the old comment that 'the crowd would have been much bigger if Sonic Youth hadn't been playing in town that night'. [Jeff: One of the certainties of touring is that no matter what, if your show is under-attended, the promoter or random kids at the show will always try to assuage your feelings and/or forestall complaints of a lack of promotion by telling you how many other bigger, better bands are playing across the street, across town, at a party, for free, whatever.]
After load out, we sit in the van and wait for Trevor and see him chasing after some dude down the street. The guy is holding a trash bag full of something. Later we find out that his friend tried to steal his trash bag full of beer. Trevor gets it back.
We drive back to his house in West Philly and Iím so tired when we walk in that I ask right away where we can sleep. The promoterís roommate is kind enough to give me the couch in his bedroom that has air conditioning. SCORE! [Jeff: The best part of touring is that Amanda immediately runs in every house and throws her stuff down on the bed, or, if there is no bed, the sofa. If there is one air-conditioned room, she's in it. I suppose we could have a mad race to the front door and end every evening with a big fight in front of our hosts over sleeping spots, but after three years I've more or less resigned myself to sleeping under pool tables, sweating, and seething with resentment.]
I wake up around 10am and shower. The bathroom has running hot water and the ubiquitous waste basket whose contents reach the height of the sink. Later, while looking for cold water in the frig, I discover about 45 bottles of that purple Vitamin Water that you get at Whole Foods.
While I wait for the boys to wake up, I check email in the front family room. Iím surprised when I hear sirens and see firemen on the front porch through the window. Then I see Trevor rise to his feet. Apparently he fell asleep on the porch around 6am and was using a sheet of dry wall for a blanket. A neighbor thought he was crushed and dead and called 911.
We get coffee and head out of town, stopping at Dunkin' Donunts for breakfast. The man behind the counter is probably a recent immigrant from India or Pakistan. He and Erick experience a significant communication breakdown when Erick tries to order a bagel/eggwich and an extra bagel for the road. Something about Erick ordering an ďeverythingĒ bagel for a plain sandwhich was really confusing for both of them.
I order egg and cheese. They give me a square egg from the pre-packaged microwave egg box. It's kind of cool.
There is a very friendly elderly lady sitting next to us. She asks us where we are from and why we are traveling. She is very excited when she finds we are on a rock band. "Oh!" she says with delight. "Well good luck and safe travels!"
I go to Rite Aid to buy water. We leave town.back | back to top | next