Monday, August 14. 2006
A full day off immersed of sunshine in a city with a river within walking distance, left me no option but to exhibit my expertise as a fisherman. Coercing roadie Wayno (Wayno is long over due for a dedicated blog post, soon to come) and roadie Sam into joining me on the expedition was a challenge indeed. Fist I asked them and then they said yes. Then after considerable time spent walking in circles and gathering essential supplies, we finally arrived at our destination riverside.
Tucked away on the bank of the flowing river with not another soul in sight other than the hundreds of people floating by on inner tubes, we laid our deadly lines into the watery depths.
After several hours of rigorous sitting we began to realize that it was quite obvious that the river was 'out of service.' What we did not realize is that nothing could have prepared us for what was to happen next. As Sam was casting his line in the river, just a few short yards away, the peaceful relaxation was shattered by the shock and horror of watching my cell phone attempt to take it's life by leaping into the river. Dashing to it's rescue, my selfless hand risked its own life and dived in after the distraught phone, pulling it ashore. My frivolous attempts at mouth to phone resuscitation failed as I sucked away the murky river water.
Through my grief, I was able to muster the energy to capture a picture of the scene of the heartbreaking event:
Near lifeless, it lay upon the shore and I know what you must be thinking "He went fishing and the only thing he fished out of the lake was his cell phone." And technically you are correct, but hey, how many people do you think, other than me, caught a cell phone, today? Ha ha! Still another great day as a fisherman!
Sunday, August 13. 2006
**** Approaching a Roadie - Etiquette ****
By request, I have put together a brief list of useful roadie terms. Using these words when approaching or attempting to converse with a roadie is highly recommended as it will put the roadie at ease.
When referring to a person that works with lighting, use the endearing term "Lampi" or if you really want to win their favor call him or her a "Squint."
Sound related roadies of both male and female persuasion bask in being addressed as "Noise Boys" or "Squeaks."
Any roadie having anything to do with video always with appreciates the the loving moniker "Vidiot."
Riggers who climb and do all the hanging of stuff from the ceilingÂ are always warmed by being called "Monkeys."
When approaching a roadie in the wild, it is usually best to test the waters of safety by shouting "hey roadie!" really loud from a safe distance before running towards them at a very high rate of speed.
FOH (Front of House), refers to the shangri-la of blissful happiness that holds the caged roadies on display in the middle of the audience area. These special caged roadies are generally considered safer and less likely to bite than their counterparts that are displayed behind the security forces guarding the back stage area.
SWAG (stuff we all get) would be considered the equivalent of a 'roadie peanut.' Basically SWAG items areÂ the treats given to roadies by the patrons. Watching roadies get SWAG is amusing to the givers like feeding an elephant or having a littleÂ goat eat snacks from your hand. It is always wise to bring little bits of SWAG for the roadies as this makes them very happy.
**** End Roadie Etiquette ****
Upon arriving in Boise, I spent a most enjoyable afternoon hanging with Lampi Scott and his twin 6 year old daughters whom have joined us till Arizona. All Good!
After line check Nick the Fly and I went for hike. Figuring White River Amphitheater may be actually near a river and with the little help from Google map on my phone, off we went. Hey, if you have not checked out Google Earth or the mobile Google map with satellite view, I highly recommend you do. To be able to see an accurate aerial view of where you stand is beyond cool. Ok, so we are hiking and we pass a house and then a few hundred feet later stumble across a flowers, toys, mounds of dirt and tombstones. It just is not that often, like never, that I see fresh graves in someone's backyard. Just the thought of heading out back to dig a hole when a family member dies seems so awkwardly 1800's. Slightly phased we forge ahead down an overgrown dirt road heading down. Farther and deeper we next come across another graveyard but this one is for late model trucks and an an El Camino wedged under blackberry bushes. And just then the grunts and yelps of a dozen or so in drunken party come into focus with one loud gurgle definitely tossed in our direction. We still had yet to cross the small stream with the leg of a split hoofed animal floating in it and I am having a tough time getting thoughts of the movie Deliverance out of my mind. Two small streams later, neither with floating legs, Nick and I call it a wrap and head back while the getting is good. Indian land, sovereign nation, scary while also intriguing and kind of cool in its primal lawlessness feel. It was good hike and time to head back to the rock show a half mile away.
All this walking has made me hungry and though I had my share of lunch:
I am excited about dinner:
I enjoyed the first half of The Mars Volta's set before heading back to get my world together for the Peppers set. Except Mars stops playing early. I heard something about a bottle of liquid, possibly piss being thrown, landing on Omar's guitar effects pedal board and making things not work anymore. How do people come up with such bad ideas? Well, since neither The Mars nor their gear were too excited about the aerial gift that was that and that meant the end of their set. Here is what it looked liked pre-projectile:
And you can see the EAW KF760 rig provided by our friends at Carlson Audio. Visually the rig seemed to be a bit shy but actually it sounded quite good and worked just fine. It was the best experience so of mixing on a non V-Dosc system since we started the tour and the first real experience for me to have some time on this particular system type. I think I now have my second favorite rig for Peppers but it will take more than one show to know for sure.
And finally, since you are joining me on this journey, you may as well hang at the sound board for a gig and it will look something like this:
or it could look like this, depending on how much you drink:
Roadie research, must remember to do roadie research.
Friday, August 11. 2006
The way I see the world, the natural environment that surrounds us is a beautiful balance between function and ramification. Everything living is a complex combination of useful function related aspects. Whether it is the claws of a mole to dig, wings of a bird to fly or the colorings of a chimpanzee's ass that attracts a mate, nearly every aspect of all things living, almost by the definition of life itself, has a purpose that is self refining over generations. Plants, animals, insects, everything alive is either a harmonious compilation of usefulness or tilting towards extinction, inherently, automatically and naturally. Non-living entities like rocks, rivers and volcanoes are by nature, a product of ramification. Water flows to the lowest point, continental shifts force earth into mountains and pressure, heat and time can form rocks and diamonds.
When the things that we humans create encompass a usefulness, form and the corresponding beauty, they permeate our society as they are embraced by the humans that desire those beneficial and enjoyable aspects like phones, things with wheels and shoes. Conversely, when I encounter items that are promoted as amazing but lack that harmony and instead present a fictitious illusion of manipulative deception, I become filled with frustration and anger. An alertness to a trap and the defense mechanisms that we train in children not to take candy from a stranger or the distaste felt for shysters manipulating old ladies out of life savings kicks in.
Today I connected some gear together with a two foot long piece of pure silver multi-conductor esoteric hi-fi wire with shiny over-sized logo-empossed connector shells. Like a magical potion it claims on the packaging to improve clarity and transparency for the discerning ear and blah blah blah. The fact that it is just a glorified printer cable and the signal it carries is a digital numeric stream of numbers that either are right or wrong and there is not a clarity improvement option and if it does anything other than pass the fairly simple signal, it is screwing things up, must not have occurred to the maker, or did it? I am sorry to say that there is a huge industry dedicated to selling false magic to the soft minded.
I try and justify in my mind that the people suckered into purchasing these things deserve to be scammed because they are not sharp enough to see through it. Possibly the balance is perfect and the harmony of the scammers and scammed is not unlike the the cooperation of a parasite and and its host. As harmless as it seems, it infuriates me or could it be jealousy that I just do not have it in me to deceive and manipulate the unaware? Those magic knowers selling the un provable to the masses, pitching fears of 'bad sound' to open the wallets of the often normally reasonable people. Hmmmm, selling on fears and promising invisible outcomes, it reminds me of something else but I just can't put me finger on it.
Anyway, the silly cables are what came with some of the gear and having them is better than not. At least I thought so until I went to plug in these oversized cumbersome wires, with ego embossed shells and found that they were too big to fit the tight spaces and had they been normal $20 versions instead of the $250 type, they would have fit fine. Plus the super thick wire was a bummer to force in the tight spaces. A perfect example of something that should be extinct or better yet, never created.
**** Begin Audio Tips ****
Tip 1 - If anyone ever tries to sell you audio wire that is directional "It will sound better if the sound travels a certain way through it," laugh at them before relegating them to either the scammer or the sucker realm. Audio travels both ways in wire and if a wire were to let audio travel one way better than the other, it is creating distortion that would sound really bad, it is highly likely that they have been vacuumed into the realm of delusional esoteric audio, which is a lot like a cult.
Tip 2 - Gold connectors look cool and sound the same as the other ones. If you like the way they look, cool, if you think they sound better, well I have some swamp land to sell you.
Tip 3 - Great sound is an opinion, so when someone says that plugging your stereo into a $200 audio AC wall outlet will make it sound better, it could be true. Just like if someone has the opinion that 'the world is secretly run by an army of honey bees operating complex remote control machines located in the center of the sun' could be true. No way to prove either one of those opinions and in my opinion they are both about equally probable.
**** End Audio Tips ****
Ok, done having a tantrum.
**** Begin Actually Posting about the Gig ****
First show kicks off the US tour and it is all good! I love Europe, I love traveling and I am so happy to be in my home time zone. Fluidity, everything is so much easier here. Phones work properly. Cars are all driving on the right side of the street and have stopped trying to run me down for looking the wrong way. I no longer need pile of various adaptors to plug in my stuff and and I can severely curtail my usage of the word 'what?' when addressing just about everyone that is not traveling with us because the local accent/language is incompatible with my hearing and my I can give my poor tired passport a well deserved rest.
It was a busy day reconstructing all the production for everyone. A lot of the gear is the same but a lot is different as well. Even slight changes create assorted interface and cabling issues. We actually left the main Rat Sound PA system in Europe to be reconfigured and do the upcoming Pearl Jam tour over there. For Peppers US we have a nearly identical but a bit larger system.
And as an added bonus, we pick up Mars Volta as the support act and they are a truly unique, powerful and incredible band to see.
I have mixed sound for them in the past, toured with them previously and am quite happy to have more good friends around and a whole new set of roadies to document!
The Peppers show was refreshing, raw, enjoyable and set a great tone for the many shows ahead.
**** End Gig World ****
The occasionally traumatized
Thursday, August 10. 2006
IÂ awoke sleeping next to my laptop andÂ while cell phone was getting all excited about it's morning alarm sound, and a good morning to all the wires and lights. Attempting to check my email before having coffee I found my eyes were not quite ready yet for that adventure. What they could see though was "Terror Plot Thwarted!" humans captured and a picture of lots of people hanging out at an airport.
Hmmmm, maybe this is good news. I do like people and maybe some of them will be hanging out at the airport that I am heading to. I begin to think of all the new friends I could make. I also begin to think about how I may need to allot some extra 'friend meeting time' into my pre-plane-flight-day and start to wish I had finished packing my bags yesterday.
I did some reading and found that it may not be the best plan to carry liquids on the airplane today, I also read that they were banning laptops, cell phones, car alarm key chain things and iPod's. The liquids I can deal with but all that other stuff brings thoughts of horror to be separated from all those roadie necessities. Anxiety sets in, while I remind myself that it is only a two hour flight.
**** Highlight of the Day ****
Just a minute or so after the taxi picks me up, my phone rings. It's my neighbor Judy. She has lived in the house next door since she was a young girl, takes walks every morning with her sister and is just amazing. Well, she knew I was leaving today and was waiting for me to head out but was not fast enough to catch me before I zoomed off. She called to be sure I knew about all the plane traumas. It just made me so happy that she was looking out for me. Judy is cool!
**** End Highlight of the Day ****
Turned out that the liquid ban was real, the laptop/cell ban was not, at least where I was flying from. Must have been a guy writing those rules because I can bring a laptop with wireless remote capabilities powered by batteries that can explode and emit toxic gas if you mess with them on the plane while the women are denied their strawberry glitter lip gloss. Let us take a moment of silence in remembrance of the thousands and thousands of cosmetics that will pass away today and be forever separated from their female companions. Tears were shed but safety first.
Earlier when I was checking in my bags, the airline lady says to me "Do you have any liquids, toothpaste, water, liquid medications without a prescription or and thing in a gelatinous state in your carry on luggage?, these will need to be checked and will not be permitted in your carry on bags." I tell her that I have already put that stuff in my checked bags and then I asked her "What about all the other stuff that used to be bad like stuff given to me by a stranger, packing my own bags and firearms, are they ok now?" She laughed and and told me that they just assume we already know that. Hmmmm.
Personally, I think I prefer the old way and I fear not the lip gloss itself, it is only when it goes on the lips of the wearer that it becomes potentially dangerous, but I am pretty sure airplanes are immune to that type of danger.
All in all, travel restrictions and issues tend to be less than optimum for the touring industry, lets hope the powers that be can keep their heads on straight and not make any irrational decisions. Hee hee hee .... no lip gloss!
Oh, and since I hate to deny you at least one photo, here is another blast from the past.
This was taken on Black Flag's Slip It In tour 1984 and is the opening band, St. Vidas setting up their gear. Take special note of the sound system to room ratio. If you are curious about a bit more on that old school Rat PA gear, take a look here: http://www.ratsound.com/evolution/evol1.html
The often puzzled
Aug 7- 9
I have now reached the point where being home is the perfect harmonious blend of the appreciation of relaxation mixed with scrambling to maintain some form of structure in my seemingly collapsing life. The AC unit now leaks water in the house, black widow spiders are only outnumbered by the crickets in my back yard and anything resembling plant life has taken on a brownish tinge. Tour life on the other hand has become fluid and fairly effortless, all I need to do is make sure I pack all the right stuff and get out the door in time to catch the plane and I will be home free, literally, for the next three weeks.
This trip I am going to go once again with a three bag system consisting of a backpack/carry on, a small roller and a large roller with handles forming the push me-pull you method of self relocation. I remain convinced that it is the most efficient method for a human to interface with the planes, trains and automobiles. Packing for a solid 12 days so I should be able to do just a single mid tour laundry day barring any unforeseen mishaps. I have also added a collapsible fishing pole, a skateboard and drastically altered the pants to shorts ratio, gambling on warm weather, smooth floors and inhabited bodies of water in the near vicinity of wherever I end up being.
Oh, in a sudden and unexpected rush of generosity I donated the charger and battery belonging to my small camera to the hotel in Japan. Though I am sure I must have had a good reason for doing so at the time, I am beginning to question the sensibility of the choice. Anyway, it turns out that my little camera worked much better when the battery was less than 6000 miles away and hence you may have noticed and I apologize that my picture taking ability has been somewhat curtailed.
So that visual boredom does not set in and hopefully you will find this as amusing I find it embarrassing, here is a picture of me when I was 19 years old sitting on the first PA system that Brian and I built. Of special note is, of course, the very cool vintage Rat shirt with my name on it.
The often forgetful
Sunday, August 6. 2006
Acclimating to the comforts of my new home for the day:
Festival day and did a bit of cruising around and the Shins were cool to watch. I caught part of Reverend Horton Heat's set and I had forgotten how much I enjoy seeing them. Queens of the Stone Age are old friends and always great to see:
And surprise surprise, I can not believe it but there they are, the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
I must say that I expected to be let down a bit by the festival. Even though it does not have the crazy circus feel that was so prevalent in the touring version, Lolla was well laid out festival in an awesome place and lots of good bands. Top that off with the fact that Chicago is such a cool place to begin with and I was much happier to be there than I thought I would be.
As far as the PA system, well, it was alright, I miss the real but it met the key requirement of "good enough."
The somewhat weary
Saturday, August 5. 2006
**** Begin Old Roadie Stories ****
Last time my destination was a Lollapalooza was maybe 1996 or 1997? Whatever, it was the one Metallica headlined. I was mixing Rage Against the Machine and we were a guest act for some shows back east. I remember there was some crap going on where a bass tech for a well know band on the tour(not Rage) had some racist "white power" stickers on his workbox. I also remember some of the non-white touring security staff being less than excited about the stickers. And I recall a rather heart warming story about a certain individual being 'inadvertently surrounded' after a show by several of the security staff in a community shower area while he was naked. I guess by some strange coincidence. Well, what better time to have a little discussion with the person they referred to as "Little Mushroom Cap" about his sticker collection. Oh, and mixing Rage Against the Machine was like having a sound-octopus stuck to your face while getting run over by a tank. And as fun and intense as it was, I honestly do not miss the sonic abuse, glad I did it and glad I don't anymore.
Previous to that for me was Lollapalooza '94. I mixed L7 for the first half of the tour before my good friend Deanne, who also mixed the Breeders, took over for me so I could go mix another band somewhere. Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, that was good times and great people!
And of course there was the '92 Lolla with the Peppers, fire helmets and the giant mechanical hypnotic wheel as the stage set. My first real festival tour and one of the most memorable tours I have ever done. That is where I mastered the art of borrowing golf carts. Eight seconds from access to driving away. But those mischievous days are over because now I am a perfect angel and never do anything wrong!
In 1991 I went to see Lolla when it came through Los Angeles. To me it was a turning point. Music that I considered to be good was actually popular on a large scale and not shoved off to the side to make room for more record company designed prefab rehash bands. Unbelievable! A bunch of post punk/alternative music club bands get together and sell out amphitheaters. I had engineered live sound for Janes Addiction early on when they were playing clubs and turned down touring the "Janes Says" tour, instead choosing to stay in LA and continue pressing forward with our struggling sound company business. Now seeing them on a huge stage was jaw dropping. In a world of soda pop, candy bars and fast food hamburgers, I had never dreamed that music I loved and worked with would ever actually get popular.
**** End Old Roadie Tale ****
Off to Chicago,
The Fairly Old Dave Rat
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