I used to write these more frequently. Probably cause , when I’d tour I’m be surprised by something or weird things would happen on occasion. Well, that hasn’t been the case the last few times i’ve hit the road. The Song remains the same. Airports are still airports. The lifestyle of “drive/fly, hotel, soundcheck, eat, wait, play show, back to the hotel, sleep, repeat” is pretty much the gold standard for my touring life. It’s not glamorous. It’s lazy and , somehow, exhausting. I’m not complaining, of course. It’s always fun performing for fans, meeting the people from all over who have been effected by your music. That’s the good part. It’s certainly better than having a real job. I think , all I’m saying is, my lack of “notes from the road” write ups has more to do with the monotony of the lifestyle. It doesn’t help that I barely drink when I tour and I don’t party at all cause sleep is so much more crucial. All that said, I was reflecting on a recent tour I was on with Eliot Lipp (We’re hitting the west coast for 4 dates in early may , btw. Check http://blockheadmusic.com/ for more info) and a few interesting stories…And they both take place in the south. My apologies if anyone involved in these stories read this and feel slighted but, you know what? You’re were fucked up and out of line so perhaps you earned this one. No names were spoken…cause i don’t know your name. So, hey, it’s all good.
The first story takes place in Lexington, Kentucky.
I had never played there before. It was a tuesday night so , in all honesty, expectations were low. Not cause of lexington but cause of the day of the week. Well, around 9 pm, I pop out to man the Merch booth (I work my own merch cause it’s more fun than sitting alone backstage and, also, it helps sell stuff better). Sitting there, watching the early crowd I notice that this crowd is unusually drunk. It’s 9pm…on a tuesday , yet, it feels like mardi gras in this bitch. I have casual chats with a few people. The typical “Hey, man, you know where the coat check is?” interaction comes cause people don’t know what I look like and need to check their coats. But, I’m also chatting with fans, taking pics, signing stuff. Business as usual. Eliot Lipp goes on and he’s doing his thing. during the middle of his set, an older women walks up to the merch table. She’s probably in her early 50’s. Not your typical Blockhead/eliot Lipp fan. Within moments , i can see she is very drunk. Wasted. All kinda of fucked up. She’s also got a somewhat unhappy look on her face. “I need your help!” huh? She proceeds to tell me about her son. He’s 17 or 18. He’s a budding musician who plays many instruments and lives in her basement. “I want you to talk to my son!” So many questions are racing though my mind. WHo? Why? Where? When?
Before I can ask one, she swivels her head towards the stage, points at Eliot and says “He can do this!”. She pauses…” I mean…I know he can do that!!!”
So I ask “Well, is he here?”
“Noooooo! He’s at home but I need you to talk to him!”
“He needs someone to tell him how to do this! He’s so talented but he needs guidance!”
Bear in mind, this is all said in the form of screams and in a the form of an argument. She seemed livid by the whole interaction. I calmly replied “Well…here’s the thing…if he’s not here, I can’t talk to him”
“No, give me your number and you will call him!”
“I’m not doing that…besides…I’m not one to teach anyone anything. What kinda music does he even make?”
“He makes shit like Sparklehorse but I want him to do this kinda music (pointing at Eliot once again)”
I had no idea who Sparklehorse was but, later when I looked it up it became clear that this woman just losing her mind in thinking , even though her son does one thing, he should focus elsewhere. She kept coming after me about “helping” him, Like i’m some sort or successful record label A&R man and all I could tell her was “Hey, you just gotta support what he does. Keep having his back…but a talk with me? That’s not gonna help anything…” this conversation kept devolving until she was pretty much ice grilling me from across the merch table. Furious. She slammed her fists down on the table and walked away as if I told her we didn’t accept food stamps. As she walked away, I just sat there, somewhat befuddled by what had gone on. Did i really just get yelled at by a mom at my own show? Like…it didn’t even make sense. Her rage, the fact her son makes an entirely different genre of music and plays instruments and she was talking to me like I was fucking Quincy Jones with the key to the secrets of success. Had she forgotten I was playing in Lexington on a tuesday? Who knows. Anyway, I let it go and it was now my turn to play. I was doing my set per usual. At one point, I look down towards stage left and see this woman, leaning over the barricade…motionless…staring a hole in my head. The only way I can describe the look on her face was that of the evil old woman from the Goonies. There was just…visible disdain shooting right at me. I just kind of ignored it and kept going. A little while later, I check down, and she’s now seemingly fallen over the barricade. It’s possible she walked around it and then fell down…but…I dunno. That’s a whole lot of work. Someone in the crowd noticed and the security picked her up off the ground and carried her away. I later heard, she had driven there and the people from the venue , wisely, wouldn’t let her drive her car. After all, she was as drunk a 14 year old girl. I guess she put up a stink about it and was eventually arrested.
The next day, i receive this message in my facebook music page inbox
The punch she’s referring to is one she exchanged with my tour manager…who she thought was me before she even met me. Clearly, it was black out city after that. I’d be willing to bet she doesn’t even remember the merch booth exchange.
I think the moral of this story is this…Don’t pre game too hard. If it’s 9 pm and you’re already sloppy, you’re night is as good as over. Also, be good to your children. support them in their art. And if their art doesn’t happen to be the kind of art you want them to do? Tough break. It’s not all about you. Let them breath and find their own direction.
Okay, so the second story is more an explanation…
When i saw the tour dates of where I was playing, I was happy to see Atlanta on the list. I love Atlanta. I have great shows there. The people are great and it’s just a fun city in general. The club I was playing, Iris, was not a familiar name to me. I figured, hell, what do you I know. I’m not from ATL so it’s probably fine. The first day of promoting shows , I start getting an immediate influx of “Why are you playing at the Iris!?!?” from people on facebook. I’ve literally never seen such a negative response to a venue before. In my mind, how bad could it be? It’s got good sound and place for people to stand? Seems like that should be enough. I went back at forth with some of the complainers trying to explain that but, the more i did that, the more other people would add on “nah, man…it’s really the worst…”.
So, what would normally be a highlight show for any tour down south was now under the black cloud of doubt. It didn’t help when I saw how it was being promoted. It was a rave, basically. They spoke of giveaways, bottle service and “the iris dancers”. To be clear, all this is fine and dandy. It’s just soooooo not the scene I’m in. I make hip hop beats with weird samples and limited 808’s. No triplets. Not bass drops. It’s just not my style. So, this only made me more anxious heading into ATl.
We finally get there and I see exactly what I’m dealing with. It’s a club. Like a straight up club. I got thoroughly frisked walking in…DURING SOUNDCHECK. Literally the first time that’s ever happened. The dj booth was on an extremely high , multi tiered stage (which was cool for me cause I didn’t wanna be stuck on the floor level in a literal booth). Everyone who worked there was nice. The promoters were nice. Honestly, as much as the room felt “wrong” , part of me was relieved that maybe this wouldn’t be that bad cause all the involved parties were seemingly into what was going on.
When I got on, this dude was just playing a set of some heavier bass music. The room was pretty packed and very excited. I look down into the crowd and see a sea of young ravers…there’s all sorts of raver balloons and glow sticks being handed out to the crowd. That’s odd. I get on, take the mic and greet the crowd. Typically , if I’m headlining a show, when I do this, I am met with some sort of reaction. After all, People are there to see me, right? On this night…I’m met with a quiet murmur. Okey dokey. SO, I start my set. Within moments I see the floor start to clear. There were two other room of music going on. I can only assume they were the correct kinds of music for such a venue cause that’s where everyone went. Looking into the crowd, there were some people into it. People who knew my music. But, for the most part, it was confusion. About 15 minutes into my see, I see a bunch of girls on the side of the stage. I assume these are the “Iris girls”. From what i can gather, they are hired to dance there, dressed in lingerie. Umm…okay. So they saunter out on stage and start attempting to dance to my set. Here’s the thing…I don’t think they know how to dance to something in the 95-100 beat per minute range. They looked noticeably uncomfortable. The stuck it out for a song or two then retreated, exchanging looks of “wtf is this shit?!!?”. It was fine with me cause, honestly, scantily clad dancing women and my live set don’t make much sense. I’d be better off with a crew of break dancing midgets. My set continues on and the crowd is thinning even more. All I can think about it “Man…I’m in ATL and this is the show I’m playing…” and it’s bumming me out. At some point, the Iris girls come out again but this time they have bags of balloons. The throw them into the crowd and the crowd seems to love it. In fact,the love it so much, they just start loudly popping the balloons at a rapid rate. So that sounded cool. Much like the firecracker scene in “Boogie nights”.
The peak moment during my set soon followed. I looked down at the front of the stage and I caught a glimpse of this one girl. She was literally sitting there frowning with her arms crossed. Like…who took your teddy bear?
I guess at some point, this inner rage boiled to the surface and she felt it was time to take things into her own own hands. I’m actually happy I got to see this all happen as it unfolded. I saw her, barrel roll onto the first tier of the stage (it was about 4 feet off the ground) and, like a zombie in world war z, jump into action, climbing a second tier on the stage to get to my level. She had a look on her face. It was just pure anger.She got up to where I was, ran around the booth and I felt a firm tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw her eyes shooting death into mine but before she could get out a word, the bouncers grappled her up and dragged her ass off stage. It was nuts. So much fury, in the name of bass.
My set finished in like 10 more minutes and went out with a whimper. I said thank you to the crowd and the response might as well have been me asking if any one has seen a blue nissan parked in a tow away zone.
As i walked of stage, i was bummed. It was a waste of a chance to play in ATL. I ran into the sound guy and he was very kind about it. “Man, i like what you did up there but I have no idea why you played this place”. I agreed. He went on to tell me that, typically, no matter who’s playing that main room, it’s packed to the gills. So, I basically did the impossible and cleared the room of people who are not discerning at all. I then ran into one of the promoters and kinda was like “ooof…that was rough…” He was understanding and explained they were trying to do something new and perhaps open me up to a different fan base via this crowd. Cross branding. Which, in theory, isn’t a bad idea. I mean, shit, If I can come away with 5 new fans from that crowd the next time I do a show down there…that’s not a bad thing. But, still…it felt like a waste. I don’t play that area much and, when I do, I wanna do it for the people who actually wanna see me. Not a bunch of 20 year old ravers who only wanna hear bass drops for 4 hours. But, hey, i got paid so I can’t really complain.
But, yeah…ATL…Hopefully I’ll be back in the right place next time. I look forward to seeing you guys.
That’s all I got. i had a great time otherwise and I can’t wait to hit the west coast with Lipp. You guys never disappoint. See y’all soon!