11 shows in 11 days in 11 states in 2 countries.
Doesn’t necessarily read like much, but it was a motherfucker.
In those 11 days were various amounts of 9-hour drives, 2-4 hours of sleep, heat exhaustion, screwjob set times, weak merch sales (directly related to the set times), wireless interference, cramped split stages, the works.
Then came the downpour.
Toronto’s forecast yesterday featured a 30% chance of thunderstorms. That 30% hit. Hard. Right at the beginning of our set.
The clouds weren’t black and ominous, but deep blue and dense. It started as hail, lightened up a bit, then came down in sheets.
The forces of nature work wonders to support the forces of rock and roll. There was a density to the energy out there, a fight response that really brought us all together that much more. There were some out there that looked like they were engaging in an honest-to-god rain dance. So much joy in battling adversity. Like you have to enjoy yourself even more just to prove that you can. What I’m saying is, it rocked.
Kinda reminds me of the time on MC Chris tour that the staff at Subterranean was constantly dicking with everybody and it just ended up fueling more solidarity and teamwork vibes among us on the receiving end of it. But that’s a different story.
Throughout the set, stage guys were tarping up the speakers, monitors, even Bill’s control center. He had to spend most of the set with his head under the tarp and one hand holding it up just to watch the screen. Our pedal boards and ego risers got all wet, and when the winds would shift we’d get rain and stage roof runoff right in our faces. It was rad as hell.
The bummer was, due to lightning in the distance and reports of oncoming 60 MPH winds, our set got cut off – right as we were entering the bridge of Geeks and the energy was really about to explode. We sloppily cut off the ending and had to tell kids to evacuate to their cars or to the pavilion. By this point the rainfall was INSANE. Flash flood style.
That flood was rushing straight down into the area behind our stage – where every band’s gear and cases are stowed and set up. There was a good 6-inch river of muddy, filthy water covering the ground backstage. In a way we were lucky that the rain hit when we were onstage, as the stage roof generally kept our gear relatively dry, but the problem was our cases were for the most part strewn about on the ground. Presumably getting hit with a rush of rainwater (which, as stage manager Johnny had pointed out, was surely rich with washed up cigarette butts, half-eaten pizza slices, and the loogies of 10,000 teenagers).
As we shuffled off stage (or rather, ran offstage, realized there was nowhere to go, and then hid behind the scrim banners while kids were evacuated), Hari did his typical disappearing act. You see, Hari just kinda disappears sometimes (all the time). We don’t really ask “Where’s Hari?” anymore. There’s no point in trying to figure it out. He’s just gone. That’s why he has the daily task of taping up the posters with our show time all around the grounds. It’s now his job to disappear.
But I digress. As we were all trying to figure out what the hell to do (and not asking where Hari was), he apparently ditched off backstage and got back to our gear tent, setting loose cases up on our hand truck and therefore saving them from guaranteed destruction.
I ran over to stage right so I could peer back at the gear tent, fearing the worst, and there was Hari, shoes off and cuffs rolled up, arranging our cases on the cart.
“YOU’RE A FUCKIN’ HERO!” I shouted from above. The disappearing act pulled through huge.
My favorite moment of the tour, so far:
During the evacuation I grabbed my guitar and ran down the ramp, thinking I could get it in the case before it got too wet. But our pop-up was on the opposite end of a whole line of gear tents, all of which were packed with scattered cases and techs scrambling to get their stuff covered or packed up. There was really no way I could get there efficiently, and I was better off just staying dry on stage than standing out there, so I headed back up.
I couldn’t have been off stage for more than 20 seconds, but by the time I came back on the other 4 guys were standing around the back of the drum riser, each of them puffing on a cigarette.
Nobody in this band but Hari smokes. And nobody even questioned why we were all doing it.
Bill handed me his, which was already half-done, and I took a mouthy puff. There we stood facing the Toronto skyline, watching the heavens pour down on merch people scrambling to lower their tents, stage techs panicking to turn off generators, and 100 or so soggy girls who refused to give up their spot close to the T. Mills show that wasn’t happening. There we stood, pretending to smoke Parliaments in numbly hilarious awe of the fact that this show, the eleventh in a row of the toughest run of the tour, should end this way.
It was a perfect moment.