Thursday, October 12, 2006

Notes from Rainer Maria Tour 08-10-06

Each tour is different, every tour is the same. Every day has its rhythm--lulling, even comforting. Wake, pack, drive, eat, drive, load in, wait, sound check, dinner, wait, play, wait, load out, drive, stop, sleep. Repeat indefinitely (feels like infinitely). All this you can count on.

Two other things you can count on: near-complete lack of privacy and filthy bathrooms everywhere.

I'm forever having to change clothes in the van or standing in the parking lot (that's me! behind the van in my underwear, soaking with sweat after the show), or whispering over the phone to the girlfriend back home, on the highway in the van with bandmates and crew present, music cranked and the balance set hard left to cover my voice, face turned to the window, towel over my head:

Me, whispering: "Oh my God I just really really love you."

Her, confused: "What? Sorry--[ak ak ak ak]--breaking up."

Me, louder: "What? Sorry baby, the hills, I think I'm breaking up."

Her, in rising panic: "You want to break up? We're breaking up?!?"

Me, with finger in right ear, shouting now: "I SAID OH MY GOD--"

Her, devastated: "WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS SHOUTING AT ME?!?" (a sharp wet inhalation of breath)

Three short beeps. Silence.
End of relationship.

Something's always broken, or missing. If a bathroom has toilet paper it won't have paper towels. Assuming the sink works, the hot water won't. Or it'll be scalding, with no cold to balance it out. Soap almost never, hepatitis sometimes. And apparently guys do ten times as many drugs in club restrooms as girls--what else could explain the punishing lack of stall doors on so many men's room toilets, sometimes with the toilet inexplicably situated in the middle of the room, sometimes directly facing the bathroom door, sometimes without a lock, sometimes with a clear view in from the stage--are you listening, The Living Room, Providence RI?!? Folks, your entertainment from the side stage this evening: Kyle Fischer, pants around his ankles.

Imagine: you're nervous, you're onstage in five, the woman who made your Taco Bell kept rubbing her cold sore with her latex-gloved finger (true story). Your bladder tenses, your colon FREAKS, you're at the club and thank God there's a stall but it doesn't lock and the toilet never even SAW a scrub brush before, couldn't point it out in a lineup even if it waved its arms. You're crouching, jacket thrown over the stall door to say "occupied!", one hand full of cocktail napkins from the bar, the other arm outstretched, holding the stall door shut with the toilet plunger. The drunk punks steal your money from your jacket but leave your wallet so you won't catch on til after the show. And then: no soap, no water. You ask the bartender if you can wash your hands in the bar sink. She hands you a bottle of bleach and picks up the soda gun to rinse your hands.

What's stupendous about this whole affair is that the 35-60 minutes or so we get to play music every night somehow balances all this out. Even the crap nights, like first tour nights where no one knows we're there because the bill is full of jam bands and we're listed as "Rainy Marina" on all the flyers. The door money consists of an old mason jar passed around, half-full (check my optimism!) of nickels and menthols. And nobody can figure out if they're supposed to put stuff in or take it out. At the end of the night we make $6.87 and what amounts to half a pack of Newports. We play to a dozen or so bombed hippies, the majority of whom are half-conscious at best. And somehow, I'm not sure how, I have the time of my life.

Because music--despite the mountain of books dissecting its innards with sharp instruments, despite all its schools bursting with applicants, despite the countless traditions across the world and all their virtuosos--, music is ineffable. Inexplicable. There's no reason this thing should work at all, let alone well. Sympathetically undulating waves of air pressure aren't supposed to make me cry. No. Oprah is specifically engineered to make me cry, and even that doesn't usually work.

Face it--all our daily endeavors, even weird obtuse things like coding html or designing topographical maps or being Al Gore, these things are there for only one or two of a coupla three reasons. Either you gotta eat, and it helps feed you. Or you gotta take care of the brood, and it shleters them. Or you gotta propel the species forward, and _everybody_ knows topography will get you laid. Most all our activities help accomplish those goals, by whatever circuitous routes we've devised to keep ourselves interested in the meantime.

Not so with music. Music can be so cold it makes the hair on your arms stand on end. It can heat you into a melty gross sweat. I know what you're thinking, and it can, in fact, result in the making of babies, or rehearsing for it, but not really as often as anybody wishes, especially not musicians. Believe me, I've tried. If in fact you're all mainstrEMO, your love of music will likely earn you a breakup at best. Or worse, some sort of emo handicraft (a zine, a drawing, a flyer on the importance of a regular breast cancer self-exam with a personal message scrawled on it, something like "you saved my life by ruining it") handed to you by an intentionally-awkward college student who ought to know better, and who runs away like a headless chicken, gushing.

No, sorry, music is there to shove you into the chasm of whatever depression you're teetering on the edge of, or to lift you up til your widdle wax wings melt, or to embarrass you and your pathetically fidgety milkshake, which brings the boys about as far into the yard as the curb. It will ensnare you, it will confound you, it will thrill you, it will hurt you, it might even kill you, if you love it enough. Certainly, whoever you are, it will subtract years from your life. But a year, ten even, is worth it just for forty-five minutes or so of music--I promise, I swear to you, please believe me. Come to the show.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Lara M said...

first comment alert - first comment alert
Lara x x

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Pascal said...


At 11:59 AM, Blogger mo said...


If I ever wanted to be a musician before (and I didn't) I really really don't now. Thanks a lot.

Can I book your next gig?



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