Out to the desert I head for a big huge music festival. Bjork headlines the main stage on friday, Peppers headline saturday and Rage Against the Machine on sunday. Plus there are 4 more stages and it is an all day event, all three days. This event is family. It was the brainchild of GoldenVoice's Paul and Rick and though Rick has passed on, Paul continues to build the dream, a giant annual beautiful euro style multi day festival in the So Cal desert. GoldenVoice is the promoter the initially put trust in us scruffy Rat's and hired us to do sound for their punk shows. Here we are over a quarter century later and Rat Sound is providing the largest outlay of sound gear and crew ever as we provide audio for all five stages.
I arrive on friday but most of the Rat's crew have been there four days already with the best of the Rat all gathered or perhaps more accurately, all of the Rat all the available Rat's all gathered, today my job is wandering and general person of hello's, a meeter, a greeter and getting a feel for what the heck is going on. The actual orchestration of the incredible complexities from Rat's end is handled by Jon, our systems coordinator. My interaction varies from year to year but this year and last year since I was on tour, I was fairly hands off except for Peppers related stuff. I don't get too excited much about about big PA systems or shows like I used to but I must admit that pulling up to park and seeing the Main Stage of my home for the next three days was pretty exciting
And somewhere in the back of my mind I feel more apprehensive than usual. Something tells me that there is a lot going on over there and I am walking right into the middle of it. And what better way to head into the thick of it than cruising in this pimping ride?
It was the last cart left in the bone yard. My chariot. So off I head in a rickety cart that you have to pump the gas to get it to start, the brakes barely work, the shocks are shot so ever bump nearly launches you. Perfect! So I tagged it with Rat stickers and put in a request to Aimee the cart master, to assign me this cart tomorrow and sunday as well. The similarities to the old thrashed old Rat trucks we used so long ago, hey, it's like the good old times!
Five stages, each unique and each with a sound system to suit and being that this blog somehow relates to sound, I may as well cling to that for a while. The Gobi tent is the smallest yet small is a matter of perspective. And while yes, in some things bigger is better, that train of thought does not slide well into the world of music and more than saying mega masses and huge distance is better than intimate up close and connected. And so goes the Gobi tent where a mixture of our future main stage artists commingle with eternal fringe. It was hard to photo the tents but I do have grainy cool shot.
Ooooh, the huge Midas XL4 driving a ground stacked Rat Trap 5 system, for all the audio fans out there. Next in line is the Mojave tent which have a bit more of a "rock" vibe.
The tent had a flown L'Acoustics Kudo rig
and also was the where I saw my personal favorite of the bands that I had neve heard of or seen before, Gogol Bordello
Pirate gypsy music with a punk rock edge and an amazing fiddle player and a whole crazy circus vibe, oh my, how happy was I? Quite indeed, I will have to seek out a CD and see if the thrill prints to plastic. The largest of the enclosed areas is the massive Sahara Tent and it is all about DJ's and dance and bands that follow that groove. Speakers were everywhere and so many sub-woofers you could blur vision. Like a magnet for beauty and motion wonderful to watch but my motions were too widespread to let myself get wrapped up in the trance. Here is an early day shot of the back side. As you can see, speakers are criss cross firing and that repeats through out the tent creating a surround sound setup consisting of a multitude of V-Dosc and dV-Dosc and way too many subs.
The "Outdoor Theater" is the next in line and ran a nice V-Dosc rig.
And finally, the Main Stage as seen from the VIP area. If you look closely you may notice that there is the fully hung dual V-Dosc rig with two 15 deep banana's per side, plus 3 deep dV-Dosc plus 6 V-Dosc and 6 dV-Dosc per side as outer fills.
Up until today seeing the rig hang was impressive but today is special. You see, this is the first time that the Peppers touring setup of a double hung system has made is into an actual festival gig and it was no easy task. While this brings me much glee, I am also getting a bit worried. Many hoops were jumped through, many strings pulled and due to logistics, the dual rig that I so vigilantly fought for had to stay up for the entire festival. Being that Rat did not have the equipment to cover it, Rat sub hired the additional speakers at considerable cost which needed to be covered somehow and that is not even the part that worries me. Oh jees, what have I gotten myself into?
Moving sucks but when my mind is clear, I must follow the direction I feel. The twin shorties were 9 when I started this, now they are 11. Living an hour away was beneficial financially as I was close to Hollywood and Hollywood is full of people that love to rock. As one that connects those that rock with those that bask in their rockness, Hollywood is an open slate of opportunity where pretty much whenever I am willing to stay up late in the world of loud, I can drive home avoiding drunks with some money in the mail. That was then and this is now and now I am a bit more free to be more creative in my endeavors and less geographically limited.
1- Australian tent, don't know what they are called but they are canvas, rectangular and for camping in the rugged outback (hey, a little help from my Aussie friends on what they call these things?). I brought it home and it already is coming in handy though I wont "tent it and will just use it as a mattress.
2- Jesus candles I bought at the liquor store for illumination. That's his gig, may as well put him to work.
2- Bottles of wine that I found in the house unopened, one bottle is still unopened.
1- Liter of Fiji water, room temp. Also from the liquor store, I had them grab a room temp bottle from the back, cold water is just too discomforting to enjoy drinking, except as a shock while in overheat mode.
1- Of the shortie's sleeping bags and a pillow borrowed from the shorties' mom, thank you!
1- iPod Shuffle. Yes, I do feel a distaste for them and Mac and Apple as well as everything else that pretends to be nice while secretly trying rope me in, but the music on it is magic and makes my heart hurt but in a touching happy way and I have not taken the time to bypass Mac's annoying attempt at blocking me from taking the music off it. I kind of like the idea that the tunes are captured in a tangible entity, old school style like before all this ripping happened and I also like the reminder when I charge the iPod shuffle by plugging it into my computer that Mac's iFucked software tries to erase it and I kind of enjoy my often frivolous battles against the things with which I disagree. As in "I can't stop mosquito's from biting but I can put up a mosquito net and move on as they struggle in trying to feed upon me."
1 - Pair of old, like 15 years, little plastic stereo battery powered Sony speakers that I recently repaired that were my 'hotel room stereo' from back in the early 90's when cassette tape Sony Walkman's were the thing to have. I didn't hate Walkmans but also they did tiny policemen injected into their electronics. And no, I don't hate cops and in the words of Barfly, "I just feel better when they are not around," especially inside something I purchase. Oh, so I do a search on the little speaker's model #, SRS-57 and whoa look at this: http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/13/5/637 . Which I found quite interesting not only in the use the speakers but also in that these female birds apparently call out to their dudes to get them food and the neighboring male birds eavesdrop. Turns out that if the birdy boyfriend/hubby does not bring her enough food, she will keep calling out and nearby single male birds listen in and pop on over for a conjugal visit and the chicky birds have a go with the neighbor. Uh oh, I have this overwhelming desire to head off to the grocery store to stock the fridge with lots and lots of food and then open all the windows and listen really carefully.
1- Mini travel pack with all the stuff I would bring if I was doing a trip to San Francisco for an overnight and a gig.
1- Me. My own humanly self and as I lay here I realize that I have already mentally acclimated to my new home yet it will be three weeks or so before I can actually entirely move. I feel more comfortable here camping in a powerless house than I did walking back into full familiarity. And I realize that last night my displaced feeling was less about tour ending and more of being in the construction phases of a new home world beginning.
And speaking of beginning, here is me in the earlier beginnings of my humanly life with my pop teaching me to ski
Roller coaster. Right now I am sitting in the seat of the roller coaster of decisions I made and beyond the point of turning back, and must feel the string/sting of outcomes unfolding. Scary, fun, fast, nauseating, and everything in between. Parts I love and parts I hate but hey, I made the choices, no complaints and just because I chose to do it does not mean it will be easy. Roller coaster. Surrounded by so many people and more alone than ever, roller coaster. Re-acclimation to being home. And now that I think about it. Sitting in a seat, whether in a living room stationary or on a freeway going 60, it's all good. But introduce an abrupt transition and everything changes. Try launching a couch potato with a catapult or putting a halt to a freeway driver with a brick wall and all of a sudden that seat sitting takes on a whole new dimension. Perhaps that sheds light on the underlying trauma experienced when transitioning between the high speed motion of tour and the grounded base of being home.
So yesterday we flew home and enjoyed all the associated amenities that go along with trans-earth travel. Van rides, airport lines, shuttle busses, security lines, airplanes, more shuttle busses and finally a town car home
and the occasional oddity catches my eye for a picture.
Now, I guess that in the realm of avoiding being offensive to our neighborly fellow airporter's this makes sense but one has to wonder what could have possibly occurred where spitting in trash cans became such and issue that they hires a graphic artist, translator, metal plate maker and a handyman to create and install anti-spitting signs. One could also wonder about the cost of the endeavor as well as ponder whether airline passengers who find themselves encountering this sign while also in spit-preparedness-mode, would actually go "Oh, wait, I was just about to spit in the trash can, but I can't spit here, I wonder where the toilet is? and I sure hope there is not a line for the toilet."
I started out this blog with a loose structure and momentum and here I find myself now feeling more like it has been captured by the ways of the wind as my life transitions back from tour to day to day life. The words I write are focused on the concept of a life in motion and as the tour winds down, it involves less and less of the world I live. But it's not over yet as there are more adventures ahead and as I lay here in ben I wonder and hope that I have accomplished what I set out to do so many months ago. I guess time will tell as I must wait for hindsight to tell me whether the bloggery adventure truly captured the sensation of the state of mind, or states of mind of what it feels like to let go of life at home and tour and travel as a way of life.
And enough of that noise, I just got home, change gears and rock on in whole new direction. If it does not make my heart hurt when it ends, it was not worth starting in the first place.
Oh, so I wake up in the morning and up and out for coffee and the local paper and hey look, there is a show review as the quite often is. Hey, wait a minute, that's not nice! Seems our little reviewer friend has an ax to grind with Anthony and at least in my opinion comes off as a bitter woman spitting spikes cause she wanted a bit more attention from him, it reminds me of a guy that asks a girl out and when she graciously declines he walks away muttering "bitch" under his breath, except she did it in pen in public. But hey, all good, as I guess it is a reviewer's job to stir up some controversy. Or wait, maybe it is a reviews job to be in touch with the pulse and sensation of truly being there and connected to capture the experience into words and to share it with the people that were unable to attend.
Hmmmm, well, I was there and I don't know where she was but I was surrounded by euphoric fans with loud voices singing and dancing and radiating so much thrill it gave me goose bumps at times. Anyway, what concerns me more is the sound comment that touches on some frustrations I have been facing for the past two shows. Then I get a text message from someone close to the band who read the same review online. "They are talking about sound issues and it is not you, you ought to go set the record straight, they are posting comments."
Hmmmm, well my first reaction was that each person is entitled to their own opinion and though I may disagree, fair enough but then I started thinking about it more in depth. What were the issues? What caused them and how can they be solved and it dawned on me that perhaps to respond and clarify could illuminate the issues that could be solved, and so I did, I write an email comment in response to the moderated forum.
Nothing happened, oh well, I figured perhaps my words were not compatible with posting. Nothing happened that is till the newspaper's fact checking editor emailed everyone at Rat on our contact page, got confirmation and printed my response as entertainment headline news that is.
Oh jees. What have I done? Hopefully what I have done is created enough momentum and focus that the venue will get sonically tuned up. Arena's are not great sounding things to start with so to get acceptable audio in them is a challenge indeed so having a venue that completely disregards acoustics is really a bummer. Just out of curiosity I now do a quick internet search on Vector Arena Sound, curious to see if there is a history and it reveals that I am not the first to point out it's sound issues there has only been one other gig at Vector and it was called "opening ceremonies!"
Well, very cool, I hope they fix it, I hope I helped, I am home and I hope I did not piss anyone off in the Peppers camp with my antics, though I doubt it. And then comes an email, and another and another. Uh oh! Oh no! Now this is where it gets good, "Hey Dave, I just saw them talking about you on New Zealand TV National News on Channel 3, talking about sound at Vector Arena, here is a link"
And though the TV news invariable bumbles things up a bit, hearing a serious newscaster read some Dave Rat sarcasm I found really amusing.
So it all seems to be settling down and other than the phone call I got from a New Zealand radio station, it seems to be done from my end at least, well except I am getting emails now from other bands headed down there wanting to know how the arena is to work in sound wise. As far as the New Zealand fans, stay on them till they finish the room. And to the Venue folks, I highly recommend getting the room acoustically dialed in, no reason to have a less than stellar venue in such a wonderful place because isn't the whole reason of having the the big new arena to attract great bands and happy fans? Very good sounding, well laid out and wonderful to work in arena's have been popping up worldwide for quite some time now, the knowledge and know how exists, it is not like building a decent sounding arena some revolutionary concept.
Bungy jumping yesterday was so fun that we really had not much of a choice other than to go do it again. Plus, last night while out having some drinks with the Bungy crew, Roadie Daniel somehow agree to join us, much to his dismay we had no intention of forgetting.
**** Roadie Research Segment ****
In the wild, roadies are adventurous creatures filled with unbounded curiosity. Just feel the excitement that roadie Daniel radiates while exuberantly joining the other roadies on hunt for adventure
Look! Roadie Cliff has cleverly hunted down some food that was located in the Bungy office fridge, don't attempt to touch a roadie while eating.
Roadies, by nature, are extremely supportive of their peers, this deep compassion and sensitivity can be clearly seen below as roadies Cliff and Manny comfort roadie Daniel as the reality that he has actually agreed to jump off of the non-burning bridge, begins to set in.
Another aspect of merit that roadies are known for is fearlessness.
Please don't be frightened by the next photo as observing a roadie in 'fierce mode' can be quite traumatizing to the unprepared. Here Roadie Daniel is clearly a force not to be reckoned with
As the moment approaches, roadie Daniel could hardly be restrained as he dashes toward the precarious precipice
Looking downward, only further enthralls this adventurous roadie with determination and glee
Perch in attack mode, notice how Roadie Daniel's firmly grips the fabric of his handler's shirt utilizing the "pinch" method of attaching himself to the fabric. This is a rare and never before seen roadie trait. Legend has it that many centuries ago when roadies were wandering warriors, they would latch themselves onto their foes and hurl themselves from high places. Perhaps this fabric pinch is a genealogical instinctual remnant action from ages past?
And then after what seemed like an eternity, because it nearly was, roadie Daniel leaps to his destiny which was to dangle on a rubber cord over the water.
**** End Roadie Research Segment ****
OK, for those of you that ant to get better idea of what it feels like to actually Bungy Jump, here is a video where I leaned backwards over the drop and was let go while I held my little camera in my hand.
And finally, thank you to the AJ Hackett Bungy crew, here we all are up at the jump site
And back the the whole crew all together. Thank You!!!
And if you are ever in Auckland, pay them a visit and tell 'em the Peppers roadies sent ya!
So I just realized that I skipped a blog of the last show of the tour and I had a few lonely pictures. Looks like Josh is going to be joining us on and off for more dates as well.
And Chad wearing my favorite jumpsuit for the grand finale
As each and every adventure eventually does, one thing is always for sure, it is bye bye time
Alone. Some people fear it, some savor it and whether you find it relaxing bliss or filled with anxiety, the fact remains that it is just a matter of perception and perhaps decision. And some alone's are better that others as I guess it really just depends on what is on your mind at the time.
Tomorrow I move my body home in airplanes so I can move my stuff in boxes so I can move the life I lived before I left to a new home. While the concept of moving excites me while the process fills me with dread. But I don't mind the dread because I am clear in the decision, so it just comes down to hacking away in the desired direction.
Day 333 April 21st - Mini Blog, Bye Bye Ground, Hello Air!
So in an early morning excursion in time not lost, the decision was made to venture off. Strong presentations with hidden reluctance. The shells of confidence surrounding internal hidden apprehensions unspoken. And off we go to experience the sensation of basking in pure gravitational pull. Roadie jump off the bridge!