Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 11 -- Boston MA @ House of Blues w/Porcupine Tree

Sunday September 27, 2009

Woke at a rest stop somewhere outside Boston. Was initially confused by the big McDonald's trashcans in the parking lot when viewed through my porthole (and those damn Mormon Baits videos last night). Bought more band aids for my stricken fingers and a chocolate milk for nutrients. Went back in to grab some food (rather than make it myself, aforementioned stricken fingers) but the only thing appetizing from one of the many fast food mini-chains within they were out of. Nice. Weather turning sour. Also nice.

The Boston House of Blues is across the street from Fenway Park, which I would have thought was cooler if we didn't have to immediately load in the rain. Jrab showed me the ropes of setting up/tearing down Jerry's drums, mainly the marks on the cymbal stands for the angles and what goes where. The only things that had me concerned (set up Jerry's drums many times on my first tour out of necessity after Jrab wound up in the ER w/the flu and bleeding ulcers 3 shows in...) were the monitor extension and Jerry's in-ears. Jrab's trailer keys were missing from last night, Jrab and Ryan tore up the bus looking for them since Ryan had them last (last night). On a whim checked the pocket of my hoodie in the closet since things that are mysteriously missing tend to wind up there. Sure enough, I had them...!

Late in the afternoon and I'd been sustaining myself on cigarettes and choclate milk. No food in the upstairs dressing room. Or mirrors, or showers for that matter. Printed signs for which room goes to who said either "PORCUPINE TREE" or "SUPPORT". *sigh* The PT crew and band guys have been really nice, guess any weirdness is coming from higher up the totem pole. Finally a PBJ on the bus, starting to feel weak.

Catered food finally delivered upstairs and was able to eat a full meal before we got onstage. Grilled catfish with pasta and salads. Was OK. Took a few pics of the Black Panther and Fenway Park during a lull in the rain. Got onstage with just enough time to soundcheck, and I didn't have any time to touch anything drum-related. An hour later King's X went on and again knocked em dead. Subbed "Black Flag" for "What Is This" since it was a more famous song. Could kinda tell the guys were struggling a bit, but that's only cause I see them every night, heh. On "Lost In Germany" you could clearly hear Dug singing "shit shit shit" instead of "dit dit dit" and he spaced a bit on the sermon but pulled it together. Writing out Ty's setlist Jrab made all the song titles taint-related (inside joke). The look on the kid's face when I gave it out after the set: priceless!

King's X

"Hey Ty!" *click*

Porcupine Tree

After the show Ryan and I met up with his friend JP who took us over for a quick tour of the Berkelee School of Music (he works there). Cool old downtown, rain finally let up. He gave us a whirlwind tour of digital and analog studios, labrynthine hallways and finally to his office for a gift: 2 big ass bottles of Victory Golden Monkey trippel boc. Awesome! Took it back to the dressing room to partake. Ty and Jerry up there talking about the new website Ty's working on. Before we dispersed to the bar wound up with Jerry talking to 2 of the Porcupine Tree guys and hung in their room a bit. As a crew guy passed by Jerry a wineglass fell and broke. Jerry was moritifed and apologetic (and comic), even tho I don't think it was his fault. A loveable goofy drunk, that Jerry Gaskill.

Wound up at a bar next door with Wilson, Ryan and JP. Gary came in upset about business stuff but didn't really join in. Dug came by for some drinks as well. Night ended quite blurrily. Ryan had to get JP a cab. And Wilson and I took an end-of-the-night cab ride to a convenience store for smokes. We could have walked it but never would have found our way there (or back).



Ryan 13 and JP



Drunkest. Wilson, Gary, Ty and Wes from PT aboard the Black Panther. Don't recall taking this one...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 10 -- Philadelphia PA @ Electric Factory w/Porcupine Tree

Saturday September 26, 2009

Woke at a Flying J outside Philly somewhere. Gorgeous weather, fresh breeze. Bus windows open to air it out. Finally one with a different layout than the last 3 we were at, was like walking into the same place 3 times but in 3 different states. Weird. Got a chocolate milk for the nutrients and made an awesome sandwich on the bus. Weather turned before we left. Clouds came in and nice breeze became chilly.

Philly looked familiar as we drove in, recognized the big ship harbor from when I was there 2 years ago w/Under London, the big bridge we drove in on last summer with The Mother Truckers. Other cities like Flagstaff AZ I've been to at least 5 times and I still don't recognize anything.

Another nice venue, Electric Factory a big brick building in a questionable part of downtown. Inside big stage and lights, balcony, holds at least 2000+. Word is this one didn't sell out until word was out that King's X was supporting. Then the last few hundred tix were snatched up. Awesome. Big backstage area with hallways, rooms, alternate access to the stage. Got lost a few times. Bathrooms painted in weird designs with day-glo paint. But lo and behold, a washer and dryer! Was running out of clothes at that point (recycled back to jeans from first days of tour, was elated to find 2 black shirts in my suitcase yesterday, heh).

Backstage lounge. Buncha weird shit, out of tune piano, fucked up pool table, shuffle board that didn't shuffle, weird bar in the back with Bogey and The Duke:


Washroom/bathroom area

Dressing room

Had some helpers to get everything up the big ass metal ramp, started to rain soon as we got everything inside. Hopefully it'd stop or load out would suck. It didn't and did respectively, but I jump ahead of my tale. Got everything situated, Jrab showed me some ins/outs of setting Jerry's drums up (I'd be drum teching for Canada since Jrab can't enter the country, long story). Have set them up in the past (my first tour after Jrab wound up in the hospital w/the flu and bleeding ulcers) but was nice to finally learn the 'proper' way, heh.

Catered food in a common room, sandwiches and this amazing pasta salad. Had a double helping of each to keep up my energy reserves. I'm not eating enough and am not hungry either, which makes me eat even less. Probably the cause of my general road-weariness. But also loading in/out and generally sweating my ass off around 3 separate times each day. Hence not writing much or taking very many pictures. Just kinda don't care.

Again little time for soundcheck and early-entry for VIPs, which meant scrambling to set levels and people watching. But again, King's X walked onstage and knocked everyone on their ass. Great crowd. Had to wait til end of PT's set to load out, which was in the rain of course. End of the night was out smoking in with Jrab and Richard from PT (keys). Nice guy. They are really blowing up, word is they'll be back stateside next Spring for a college arena tour.

King's X

Porcupine Tree

Then end of the night was loading merch out down the wet metal ramp and of course slipped forward while backing a dolly of boxes. My hand was still holding the dolly which slammed onto the ramp and then gravity took over and dragged my fingers down the rough metal. Ouch. Left a trail of blood drops backstage going to the bathrooms to wash it. It was bad but I'll live. Should have been wearing gloves...


Went out to a bar around corner with Jrab and Ryan, some really good prog rock band playing. Guitarist used this weird double neck guitar and did some cool midi stuff, played a xylophone solo with it. Awesome. Back at the bus this European promoter friend of Ryan came by with her friend and some beer. Wound up drinking inside the trailer since it was the only place out of the rain. Living the dream.

Day 9 -- Baltimore MD @ Ram's Head w/Porcupine Tree

Friday September 25, 2009

Woke in the morning with the bus parked nose-to-nose with the PT bus. Ram's Head up the block from the police station, non descript building but man was it cool inside! High ceiling and great lighting, 2 balconies around the floor with addition theater seating in the center. I should mention that Porcupine Tree is selling out 2500-seat theaters. GORGEOUS day, sunny and cool with a breeze.

Went for a walk with Ryan (sight-seeing/food) but got called back to load before we could do either. I was getting kinda weak at that point (not eating enough, or at least enough meals), but still felt like I could do the whole day without eating but I'd for sure feel it next day. Had some helpers to load in, set everything aside inside and then waited.

Downtown Baltimore. Must not have been having fun, these are 2 of the 3 pics I took that day:

Did get to hit the Panera Bread 2 blocks away, (turkey panini with an apple and green tea) really hit the spot. Again Ryan and I got called back before we could walk down to the USS Constitution, haven't been taking very many pics this trip and that is why, heh. Tried to catch up on sleep in my bunk but mainly just laid there.

Really nice dressing room w/shower. Changed Ty's strings just to have something to do (on these 40-45 minute sets I only need to change them every other show). Food from the venue as well, had a teriyaki-wasabi tuna sandwich that was great but I couldn't finish it. Staff very nice.

Finally loaded on stage with barely enough time to soundcheck, PT crew and band nice but not getting enough time for a proper soundcheck doesn't make our jobs any easier. That tech Tonto is a trip, real character. I'd probably be a character too if I had that many guitars to deal with every night (about 15). Again King's X won over the crowd, heads bobbing by second song (What Is This), fists pumping by third (Lost in Germany). Everyone clapping along and singing along to the breakdown in "Over My Head", Dug leading them like an old school preacher. Damn forgot my camera in the dressing room.

Got offstage and stowed the gear, into the dressing room for a beer. Forgot my damn camera tho so no pics (and no way to get it without walking across the stage). Well shit. Been trying to catch part of Porcupine Tree's set but usually it is so packed (2500 sold out) I don't want to deal with that, so no pics of them either... Took a much-needed shower.

Loaded out end of the night (loaders again) stayed up on the bus with Ryan, Ty and his GF watching these mind-blowingly weird videos 'Mormon Baits'. No way to describe it, tried to tell Wilson but we just had to show him as well. I'll post a link.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 8 -- New York City @ Terminal 5 w/Porcupine Tree

Thursday Sept 24, 2009

So the bus wouldn't start in the morning.

Turned out to be a bad fuel filter, but we were already having flashbacks of Seattle over the summer (The Gold Goose broke down somewhere in WA, leaking diesel in the parking lot, had to rent a panel truck for gear and a 15 passenger van to get to the show, and it was actually hot that day. VERY long day...). But a mechanic guy came out and he and Robert got The Black Panther up and running.

But the day for me took a turn. A forumite on StonerRock.com from Chicago went missing a week and a half ago. No word on where he went or evidence of foul play. I didn't know him personally but I built a pedalboard for him about 2-3 years ago. Never met in the flesh but shared correspondence. That morning a jogger found his body, he went into the woods and committed suicide. Man, sucks. My heart goes out to his family. If he could have seen the concern and outpouring of support on SR.com for him over the entire time he was missing maybe it would have changed his mind. Or not. We'll never know. RIP Tariq Ali, may you have found the peace you were looking for.

So yeah, my excitement for finally going back NYC wasn't what I would have liked. But on the way in exchanged texts w/Eric Tessmer, looks like I will be doing Antone's with him on Oct 8th, after doing the Continental Club happy hour earlier that evening with the Truckers. Double duty and a long night, fine by me! Other gigs and possible touring in the future as well. Cool.

Fall "color" on the way to NYC, damn tinted windows...

Manhattan skyline

Lincoln Tunnel

Got in that afternoon and pulled up to the venue at W55th and 10th Ave I believe, right by the water. Didn't have time to take a walk, that sucked. Made it as far as the end of the block and had to turn back. Vibe between crews was SO much better this time. Plenty of loaders as well, who were union so Ryan, Jrab and I didn't have to touch anything. Awesome!

Full rider, plenty of time to soundcheck. Packed house by doors. King's X knocked em dead as usual. By 3rd song in (Lost In Germany) most people are at least bobbing their heads, and most everyone cheers when Dug asks "CAN I GET A WITNESS" during his nightly "Over My Head" mid-song sermon.

Cleaned up fast as I could and hoofed it to McCoy's on 52nd and 9th I think for a quick beer with my friend Charlotte (posts on SR.com as well) and her friend, they were headed to a work party. Good to see her again, awesome person. Lotta good people on that site, have friends in most major American cities from being on there last several years. But my time isn't my own so headed back to the venue to load.

On the way out of town stopped briefly at the carrier Intrepid before stopping at this amazing pizza/burger place at 77th and Broadway. The fresh fruit market next door blew my mind. Didn't know that many kinds of fruit existed or seen it so fresh. Damn! I had a slice of pizza the size of my chest with pepperonis the size of my head. As Jerry would say, "It was AMAZING!!!"

"Hey Jrab!" *click*

This guy was as amazed by all the fruit/veggies as I was!

Wilson, Robert the driver, Ryan 13 and Gary

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 7 -- off day, drive to New Jersey

Wed Sept 23, 2009

Woke at a Flying J in Pennsylvania somewhere (rolling green wooded hills, Amish guy fueling up a van). Had a fucked up dream that a guy had jumped off a building. Was behind this wooden gate in an alley. For some reason I would be the first person to view the body. Was trying to psych myself up to do so. Got a brief glimpse thru the gate. Not enough to see but knew it wouldn't be pretty (will spare the details as I saw them in my mind).

Chill travel day in the back lounge. Started a post about Chicago but deleted it. Didn't even take pictures that day if that says anything. Watched "Superbad" and "True Blood." Checked into a Red Roof in New Jersey somewhere. Walked to Applebee's with Jrab, Ryan, Dug and Robert the driver. Had a California club, my first meal of the day. Opted to relax back at the hotel after taking a much-needed shower. Needed it after the previous day.

But by end of the evening got my second wind and joined Ryan and Jrab at the Holiday Inn bar next door. When that closed took the party back to the Applebee's until they closed. I took it easy and slept great at the hotel.

We'll see how NYC goes.

Day 6 -- Chicago IL @ Vic Theater, w/Porcupine Tree

Tues Sept 22, 2009

Cleveland at the House of Blues was pretty good. Porcupine Tree was running hella late (coming straight from LA I believe), but a few of the crew guys were there and seemed nice. We squeeze onto out designated stage area no sweat, set up and are ready to go in 15 minutes if that. Crew morale high, band morale a bit low. Before we went on PT's tour manager informed us that their one guitar tech would be taking up most of Ryan's side of the stage (stage R). No problem. King's X able to walk onstage from behind a curtain. Dug peeked through, came back with a shocked look on his face: "Holy shit, this place is packed!!" People in the crowd whistled and yelled "King's X is in the HOUSE!" Nice!

Cleveland House of Blues, PT fans lined around the block and into the adjoining alley

Ryan 13 and Jrab having a pre-show beer in my guitar world

Ty's new accessory case has made my life SO much easier

Backstage band graffiti

They went on, did their truncated 45 minute set and knocked em dead. Great show! And with the help of the loaders we tore gear off the stage in 5 minutes flat! Such a good load out I had an adrenaline rush as if I had just played. Awesome! By then PT was loading in and the show was going on as planned (King's X may have had to play a few more). Ryan said he had a brief meeting with PT's guitar tech. Ryan introduced himself, the tech replied in a weird deep voice with an English/German accent: "I'M TONTO." Nice

King's X @ Cleveland House of Blues

Don't get to check out PT, but Dug comes back onto the bus rather upset. The aforementioned techtold him he wasn't allowed to watch from the side of the stage. Aw man. Set the tone for the next show unfortunately.

After the show Ryan and I escorted Dug and Jerry to help this drunk cousin of Jerry's GF find some friends. Wound up at some bar on Prospect, don't recall the name. The cousin is a good-natured drunk and buys us a round or two. But this is where the security aspect of my job comes in. Keeping an eye on the band members when out and about. Outside we'd always get hit up by people asking for change... "I just got out of jail" "My daughter was killed and the guy got 19 years". Fuck man. Ryan and I hung out but also had to stay sharp and make sure nothing happened (in the past band and crew have been robbed). Nothing happened but still sucked tho.

For Chicago we roll into the Vic Theater at 12pm and load our gear across a busy street inside without setting it up. And then wait for more than 5 hours. Downstairs the crew had only chips/salsa and candy to eat, as food from our rider had been cut. Spent my $10 buyout at Subway. We had only time to set up and check levels, as we weren't given time for an actual soundcheck. And there was an "early entry" which had the venue filling up while we are still checking mics. Doors were still in 20 minutes. No time to run through a song or two so Dug could dial in his in-ear monitors.

King's X had to go on for a now 40 minute set w/o proper sound check but they still knocked em dead and won over new fans. Then again with the help of house loaders we were offstage in 5 minutes. We did our jobs and got the hell offstage and felt good about that. But still was not a good night.

Checked out some of Porcupine Tree's second set, and could def see what the hubbub was about. Very professional and def a production. One tune very Tool-sounding with a Tool-esque video playing on the screen behind them, music perfectly in synch with the edits of the video. Then a laid back Pink Floyd-esque tune where the only light onstage was the video screen on the singer's guitar. I need one of those! Then another more uptempo rocker with a movie behind them about pills and drugs, perfectly synched to the music. But still was not a good night.

Spirits were a little better on the bus at least as we left to begin the long trek to NYC. Hung in the back lounge as Ty schooled me on some great music, Wattie Wattell (very famous early 70's guitarist), Free (proto Bad Company) and lots of other great shit I'd never even heard of. I almost feel embarrassed to be living under such a rock sometimes as a player myself, heh.

The only pic I took in Chicago was of authentic Chicago deepdish pizza. Was like eating a cheese pie, holy cow!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 5 -- Cleveland OH @ House of Blues, supporting Porcupine Tree

Fucked up dream this morning:

Dreamt I was still living in Corpus Christi and there was a huge wildfire breaking out. I could see the huge flames and columns of smoke shooting up from Ocean Drive and they were headed due East towards Flour Bluff where I used to live, even tho the wind was coming from the North off the bay (big flag flying). Went back into the house (Gina and I's house, not my mom's) looking at the weather radar with the smoke headed this way. In a panic had enough time to throw on some clothes and drove down the JFK causeway towards Padre Island. Of course, once I got onto the road (no way to turn around) I realized I left all the pets, all my guitars, all my B&W negatives and photographs, my laptop, etc etc etc. Went to turn around at some kind of refugee camp at the chainlink gate but these 2 big biker motherfuckers with their huge pickup truck pulled in behind and weren't going to let me through. They had a doberman as big as I was and was worried they'd sic it on me.

Spent the rest of the morning dreaming about what I would grab when back at the house.

Yesterday sucked ass. Days off can be cool or crummy. Def crummy, was raining all day so no go carts. Couldn't really walk anyway due to the weather. That is where I do miss the mobility of a van. You can go anywhere and do anything, rather than be limited to doing whatever is in walking distance. SO I laid around the crew room most of the day watching football with Jrab and Ryan 13.

Wasn't a complete loss, Holiday Inn internet was fast enough for me to upload alot of pics and put them on this blog. Finally walked to an O'Charley's for dinner (only meal of the day) about 5pm. Had a greasy 3-cheese bacon burger. It was OK. Later on the three of us finally walked to a nearby Kroger's for a beer run but they were closed. Luckily as we turned around Gary and his parents drove up in their mini van and took us to a Meijer's instead. His folks are a trip, really nice people and a funny as shit couple.

And that was really about the extent of what we did that day. Laid around the rest of the night drinking beer and watching these awesome Pacific Ocean docos on Discovery Channel. Livin the dream, baby! Since Ryan and Gary were sleeping on the bus I took the other bed in the crew room. Why let it go to waste? Wonder if I woulda dreamt the same shit on this bus...

Today is the first show of the run supporting Porcupine Tree. Hopefully their crew is cool, and that we had 2 shows to get warmed back up setting up King's X's gear. Still raining this morning on the way to Cleveland.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 4 -- day off (somewhere in OH)

Yesterday at Phoenix Hill was good. Really bad ass old cemetery across the street from the club that Ryan 13 and I checked out after soundcheck

Awesome van by the cemetery gates

Ryan 13 approves

Old headstones dating back to the late 1700's even. Walked leisurely around, checking out stones with Freemason symbols and pentagrams and shit. Cool! Huge ancient Lord of the Rings trees. But the cemetery just kept going... and going... There's this old bricked up crematorium on a hill in the back. Very creepy. Still had the old rusted to shit smoke stack as well. And then beyond the brick wall with razor wire (keep zombies in/out?!?) there was another veterans cemetery with rows of white stone stretching off into the trees as far as the eye could see. Wow. One of the reasons I love traveling. Heard later on that parts of the cemetery scene from "Night of the Living Dead" was filmed there. FITTING!

They're coming to get you, Barbara!

This thing is in full view of the elementary school across the fence! Bet they have a lot of great ghost stories about it

The old smoke stack

"I'll live again..." as a Zombie of Satan? Crazy

Guess there's an old Civil War battlefield nearby?

Lunch was provided in the dressing room, this little old 2-story brick house. Upstairs the bathroom had this tiny little toilet that the guys said Tazz (old tour mgr) had to squeeze on to in use the past. Which is funny cause Tazz is 300 pounds and built like a brick shithouse.

Dressing room

First band quite good. Hung with Ryan at the bar in a daze from our unexpectedly long walk through the cemetery. But an early night, King's X on at 9:30. Room sounded great, Gary really had the system dialed in. King's X had a much better show than last night and a much better crowd. The even played "Goldilocks" and were obviously having a good time.

King's X @ The Phoenix Hill Tavern

After party planned but nothing really crazy. Chill night drinking beer in the dressing rooms, then hanging with a drunken Jrab at the bar. Stood around in the tiki bar with some friends of the band and watched as at least three people got carried out in chokeholds. One of them the dudes GF in a full-nelson. Kentucky on a Saturday night!


But there was an incident involving Wilson which I don't want to get in to just yet. But let's just say he got drunk and belligerent and was very disrespectful to the club and the bouncers who were there to help. Not good, can't do that shit. And I like Wilson a lot. Sucks.

Ryan and I bought more beer and wound up in the back lounge with Ty and Jerry who were yelling drunk. Good times, sorry to anyone trying to sleep. Sat with Ty talking gear after Ryan and Jerry disappeared for awhile. Turns out they were outside watching a passer-by defuse a possible domestic disturbance. Then the guy is taken down at gunpoint by the cops, bags of drugs appearing like magic from every pocket. You try to do the right thing... Wound up under an eave to be out of the rain with Ryan and Jerry at 6am, still laughing/yelling drunk. We raced back to the bus in the rain, Jerry's flip flops flying. He won. But we let him win. Don't need a 52 YO drummer slipping in the rain while on tour... heh!

We are parked outside a hotel right now. Most of crew watching football in the room. Rain stopped overnight but threatening more. Hope it clears up, there is a go cart track nearby!!!