Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On Glastonbury

A Chronicle In Three Parts.


glastonbury! we've been here for about four hours. We play tomorrow and up until now every festival that we've played has been an excercise in patience but generally good. having to be a cog in a large machine and only getting 30 minutes to explain your band is a difficult fucking task. We've been driving from country to country on our tour bus, landing in the middle of nowhere and trying to orient. Every crowd has been crazy and great excpet for yesterday, in london at the wireless festival in hyde park, where we encountered our First Real Unresponsive Audience in the history of the band. British Corpses on a drizzling field. But watching the acts that followed was heartening; the psychedelic furs, moby, even new order (I gave a disc to the furs, who watched our set and were very kind, as was moby) also greeted a pretty much catatonic crowd. We got to glastonbury late (and missed our shot to streak during the Kaiser Chief's set) and here I am, sitting in the catering tentative outside the john peel stage, one bottled-water worth of wine inside me and working on a second, enjoying life and the rain.
Glastonbury is a british rite of passage, in a way. 140,000 people, hundreds of bands, torrential rain. Passing these thousands of brits wading through 2-foot deep mud proclaiming with their bloody existances “I love music and I suffer for it” and smelling the burn of sausages and wine in the air makes me feel like I'm at summer camp, or what I imagined summer camp mustve been like, because I never went. There is an ongoing catwalk of wellington rainboots, sneakers wrapped in plastic bags, scooby doo body costumes and all other vareities of freak.

Next day

I found where I belong at this festival: it's a land in the corner of the edge of nowhere called Lost Vagueness and that's where people are sporting full period ballroom dress and other fancy clothings (and wellington rainboots, which makes for a beautiful and poetic sight). I found a secret bar last night and there were laced and hatted people within, playing a skeleton of a piano and drinking fine whiskey. If I hadn't had to sing today I would have gotten all sorts of inebriated.

But there's tonight, and inebriated is a possibility. Our set is over, it went well...about four to five thousand people
came to our tent. I escaped afterwards to go see garbage (not bad, but didn't hold my attention), rufus wainwright (charming and half naked, yay!) and am waiting to see bright eyes in the john peel tent. Bright eyes has replaced avril in my cd player and I can honestly swear that it's (the fevers and mirrors record) the only thing I've listened to since coming on the european tour. I tried to listen to a garbage mix that becca gave me, but it skipped, so I took it out and that deosnt count. I can fully understand why people just can't stand it. overdramatic, pitiful, needy and all that. but I love it, I think people don't see the humor in it. The poor guy. The album has some of the most beautiful production I've ever heard and really, I feel sorry for the fact that the voice and the woe-is-me subject matter probably turns away so folks from this band. For me, it's a guilty pleasure and I can't only be grateful that someone is taking the self-depricating, self-aggrandizing, self-loathing tendencies I often want to put into music but censor for fear of turning everyone off. Add to list of projects: write a record for only conor oberst to listen to.

Anyway, he's on in an hour or so, and i can't wait to see. I think I have a bona fide crush.

Next day

My bona fide crush is officially over.

this story must begin with the fact that brian and I were fully prepared to streak during the kaiser chiefs' set (we even invested in matching garterless stockings while in camdentown in london) but we arrived at glastonbury literally an hour after their set, so I had a latent urge. “All sorts of inebriated” is certainly a decent description for where I found myself at nine last night, when bright eyes were supposed to hit the stage. The schedule was running over an hour late, so Brianna (who was also birthday girl, 21 at glasto!) and I sat backstage having fun and drinking and smoking like fishes and chimneys(the perils of four days off in a row - I'm like an idiot kid in a candy store when I get off my fascist touring regimen). Bright eyes took the stage, led by a be-hoodied and bitter-looking c-dog (em's affectionate nickname for mr oberst) and they immediately began to be plagued by the same monitor problems that we had. And then it started happening. My crush started deflating. I mean, the sound on stage was horrible, and perhaps the mud had gotten to him, but poor c-dog was out of control. Between every song (and it got progressively worse as the set wore on) he berated the crowd, berated the festival, and basically dripped a kind of acidic sacrasm all over the stage. Standout quotes: “put your credit cards together! Come on! Visa in one hand and mastercard in the other! Put your credit cards together!” and in reference to the fact that glastonbury was supporting Make Povery History “great. yay. we're all here and poverty's going to go away. awesome” and things to that effect. He even rolled his eyes at John Peel and referred to him as a cokehead (on the john peel stage! this is wrong, conor! he just died! have some respect!), but after people started yelling “you're a cunt!” from the audience he apologized for that one. he truly sounded like an asshole, a twelve-year old with a bad attitude.

Emily came and found me and brianna by the side of the stage and we watched this all going down and then I decided it would be a good idea to streak and when em brought me another whiskey and the band struck up “lover I don't have to love” I decided that god wanted me to do it. what perfect way to puncuate a song about casual sex, loneliness and a lack of caring about the universe than random nakedness? emily, being the mom-like tour manager that she is, reacted first with doubt but then after thinking it through and looking at the way the show and crowd were progressing decided that "this needs to happen for so many reasons". the voices in my own head were somewhat of a blur, but it was a familiar "something interesting has to take place now" kind of amanda head-refrain. so I waited til the song ended, got undressed, walked to the middle of the stage, and made out with conor oberst for ten seconds. he quite seemed to enjoy it, and he was an amzing kisser even if he's a brat. I was pried away by a burly security guy who didn't seem to think it was at all funny and told to get the fuck out of the tent so we went back to the bar and I freestyle-rapped a song about how emily is the best tour manager in the world. I did talk to c-dog before his entourage left but I think “all sorts of inebriated” wouldn't suffice to explain his state. gone, just gone......gone.

mom, please don't send an email. i'm already been wracked with guilt now that i realize that i took part in what was probably the most shameful sets at glastonbury. oh well. fuck guilt! rock and roll and onward and upwards and there will be plenty of rock shows to wear clothes at for the rest of my life. and No More Streaking for me lest i get a bad reputation. promise. at least not until next summer. i remember feeling this same sort of guilt after making out with evil-jock carl easton at my high school reunion and now i look back at it with a kind of a fondness.

and for the record, though conor oberst has proved himself whiny to the max on one night, he's still incredibly cute, a good kisser and put out a really well-produced record with great songwriting that I will probably have to wait a few years to listen to again. i even, upon going into my amazon checkout cart today, cancelled the bright eyes albums i had on order. too painful. i have hope. i want to think, in my hope for all humanity, that conor had a terrible night and will wake up to a brand new day and realize that things aren't all that bad, that while we can't end poverty by putting on rock shows it's better than doing absolutley nothing, and that insulting the dead in their namesake tent at a festival is a bad career move. and becasue i still think his music is brilliant, i will try to go see him play again to make up for the bad dream.

emily said that the singer from primal scream was so drugged out that he refused to leave stage at the end of their set and had to be dragged off. hard drugs = bad. alcohol has it's moments but it's pretty dangerous as well. back to juice for amanda. i think my bigggest guilty feeling is that instead of drinking and hanging out at the john peel tent watching conor oberst berate the audience and pulling a weird naked stunt i would have been much better off back over at Lost Vagueness, where i could have found jason webley and my other spiritual brothers and sisters and had an authentically good naked time with the real freaks. i want the sixties in my head back.

Anyway, I need to find a new rock crush. top candidate: andre 3000.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

caged bird blurs

i just don't give a shit. i'll just have to work backwards. the diary turns into a curse, the more that happens and the more clever things i think about to relate, the less time i have and the less motivated i feel to sit down and take hand to keyboard. i don't write songs anymore. i write diary entries. it's a start. i wrote the rough outline of a song in mexico and tried to flesh it out during my 2 hours off in boston. it centers around a moment a photograph is taken at disney world. three voices: minnie stuck in her oppressive fucking costume, the housewife, and minnie's boyfriend the junkie with a view in the projects three miles away that overlooks disney world. main theme (like i can't relate): WHY AM I DOING THIS?

backwards number one.
so tonight was out first show of the european tour. we landed in deutschland yesterday and hung out with a huge bunch of caged exotic birds (all colors of green and blue and in a box sort of shaped like mini-bird-kennel with a few square inches per exotic bird) at baggage claim D, while british airways figured out where on the planet our luggage had migrated. they were destined for a german zoo. we felt for them. brothers. we bussed to the hurricane festival and slept over in the bus (on the grounds) and woke up with just a few hours til soundcheck. europeans know how to take care of artists...everybody says it and they're right. we had a nice little cubicle in artists village and we were the first band of many on the main stage. the show was fine despite the fact that it was in the fifties, bright yet drizzling, windy as fuck, and we were jetlagged and unpracticed. being the first band of the bill had the huge advantage that we could wander and observe for the rest of the day. so we ate and watched boy sets fire (punk and effective). then we watched NIN (nin-like and great).
then we watched rammstein (german and hilarious. i decided that making fun of rammstein is as pointless as hating the circus. the people must have their fun). then we watched oasis from the side of the stage. i was pretty unfamiliar with their music though i have checked out a few CDs.
the point HERE is that emily, our tour manager, is an oasis FIEND and had been looking forward to this day the way a....i can't think of a good metaphor. the way a crazed teenage obsessor looks forward to meeting the band they obsess over. which isn't a metaphor.
but you understand. this was the girl who had three complete walls covered with oasis posters and magazine centerfolds and spent every allowance on the latest maxi-single. to pick up, we watched them form the side of the stage with NIN (all five in a line, which was poetic and lovely) and then i wandered backstage to where emily had secured a concrete spot hanging with oasis and was introduced to each member of the band, including liam, the singer who was the most opinionated fuck i've ever met (guess what - i sorta liked him), noel his brother, who was very nice, and zach starkey, ringo starr's son, who is drumming for oasis on this tour. truth be told, they'd had a pretty terrible set. it was freezing for them too (i empathized) and they faced massive feedback problems. so i asked liam, the singer,ß what the difference was, for him, between a good show for himself and a good show for the audience.
it's a mystery. sometimes you play like shit and the audience goes nuts and cries and sometimes you're completely on and the audience just isn't there with you.
according to liam, it only works if you play well. don't you feel the tide turn when you talk to people after the show and they shower you with love and you-changed-my-life-tonight?
i asked liam. no, he said, i fucking leave the venue immediately. well, liam. ah, whatever. they also clued me in on the motto that i would have believed if i had really truly wanted to: "drink and smoke whatever you want, you'll be fine tomorrow." fuck. really? two marlboro lights and one vodka orange juice and one heinekin later i lost my faith. what am i doing? you're going to lose your voice, you fucking idiot. quit thinking that being in the presence of rock stars is special dispensantion for vice.
you'll be just as hung over tomorrow, asshole.

backwards number two: the DVD shoot.
so while back in boston, for a grand total of four days between tours, we shot our first DVD and played an additional show at avalon for WFNX. it really honestly looked kind of like a fast-motion cartoon in my house as i dropped my suitcase on the floor and started talking to pope downstairs about the shoot. beautiful marie and emilie flew in from france to take part and so did casey from san franscisco, the gentelman beyond reason who has been organizing the brigade through the magic of the interweb. the house was packed from top to bottom with people buzzing 24/7 getting things ready for the interns, art department, piano tuners...madness.
the shoot itself began the moment i woke up (good morning Camera In My Face, i know i invited you in but now i wonder if this is truly healthy) and the day was a fuzzy soup of mania that I can luckily go back and watch now that i've forgotten. the power went out shortly before soundcheck and about 300 people patiently waited on commonwealth ave for three hours while we waited for it to come back on and finish soundchecking and readying the club. despite this disaster, the show did get filmed and we will see what becomes of it. we were tired. i gave the show a B- overall. maybe the visual will make up for any terribleness. in a stroke of true randomness, we did get christopher lydon to play the MC. i am strongly considering releasing the DVD without the musical performance, i think it would make more sense.
the show at avalon was a typical radio-station-throws-20-hip-bands-together kind of awkwardfest. pointy boots and sunglasses everywhere. i got to see one of my rock-crushes (the singer of the kaiser chiefs) and i streaked across stage during their set to keep the night interesting.

backwards yet still more: ....and everything before that must have been on tour with nine inch nails in america. we did do that, didn't we? it all gloms together in a blur of bus, dressing room, show, gas station, people and sharpies (both black and silver). i do not love the blur, i do not hate it, and i certainly don't try to focus on it any more, it's like trying to make sense of a film playing on fast fast forward. just appreicate the images for now and we'll take a closer look later. not that i am not enjoying myself. i am, actaully.
i have more free time lately to do as i please. i'm in the tour bubble. as the NIN stage manager, bitter and hilarious name-a-tour-i've-been on-it british chap,would put it in answer to everyone else's crass "living the dream" mantra: i'm "circling the dream". you're only in the picture when you look back at the photos. as he also says, after he takes a moment to sigh, order another few people around, yell into his cell phone that any other color WILL NOT DO and puts his hands on his hips while looking around for a moment, fully convinced that the venue will not collapse within seconds: "Time for a fucking hot pocket." that too.

NIN needs it's own chapter. it is it's own world. later.

right now it's three days later than i started this entry, we've played two more festivals and frozen our asses off, brian's faith in music has "been restored" now that he's seen motorhead, and i can't fall asleep and it's 4:30 am. we've been driving almost an entire two days. we re-unite with NIN tomorrow for vienna and it will be nice to see the whole crew again.

the only thing i can remember that, for some reason, i felt it was important to relate was the food on the way back from san diego when the NIN tour finished. we were flying some typically cheap ticket and the food was brought. i always get vegetarian (though i do eat fish) because it's almost always better than the standard fare but brian, who was sitting next to me, was brought some really unidentifiable meat. it was sort of saucer-shaped and had the consistency of meatloaf. in his defense, he did actually TRY a bite before turning it into entertainment. it came in a sad bed of peas and corn and so he took two of the peas and gave it eyes, gave it a leafy hat and split it lengthwise to create a frighteningly mean-looking mouth, and made it sing all sorts of beatles songs and impromptu operatic numbers about how it's life was a misery because it was neither beef nor foul, chicken nor pork, and it was going through the most wonderful musical existential crisis and
i was peeing my seat with laughter and we were of course irritating the fuck out of all the nice families around us. then he made things worse by exchanging one of the peas for a corn kernel, so the little mystery-meat-beast had two different colored eyes, and making it sing a medley of marilyn manson songs. here i fully lost it, and needed to either throw up or fling the thing so we gave it a burial at the empty tray table next to me under a blue cocktail napkin.