Tag Archives: North America 2010

Osheaga

Hold on. Before we move on to Montréal, let’s backtrack a few destinations. We’ve had some, er, confusing feedback from Toronto:

buses

Hi Rene, thanks for writing in. To answer your question, I guess the best place to start is here:
We didn’t have a bus in Toronto.

We really didn’t. I could come up with more excuses, but I think that one is conclusive enough. With that out of the way, let’s get back to the story.

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This is the first time we’ve ever seen a US airport with no queue. We were early, but not ridiculously early. The “this shows how many people in New York want to go to Canada!” jokes were inevitable. The flight time was fairly short in the scheme of possible flight times, and the time in the immigration queue seemed like an awfully long time to have to stand in a queue, though they were probably about equal. We drove straight out to the festival site (another island festival – no coyote warnings in sight though) from the airport, and realised we had quite a lot more time indeed to wait around before our set started. We were shown to our trailer (more of a compartment, really), and we dumped our luggage out of the vans. This took up all available couch space and two layers of floor space in the trailer, and we quickly realised there was no room for anybody to stand or sit in the trailer. We would have to find other places to sleep, or find ways to stay awake. Luckily, Ricky dished out meal tickets, drink tickets, some sort of VIP pass that would get us free sunglasses, and pointed out the catering area. Check out the salad situation:

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Not only can they turn any of those ingredients into a salad (you have to be the sort of person who gets excited about the very idea of asparagus to be impressed by this) but they were also okay with giving you NO DRESSING. After four weeks on a continent of dressing-heavy salads, this was a godsend. Nobody else seemed as excited as me about the salad situation. But hey, each to their own. Some of the other guys were excited by the juice situation, which is something I don’t really get into. Aside from these, there was also a coffee situation, a taco situation, a poutine situation, and even an oyster situation to come to grips with. Situation-wise, this festival had it all. The drink ticket situation was less godsendy, only redeemable for those weird aluminium bottles that you only ever see at big festivals. Presumably they are preferable to glass bottles, which people can bottle other people with. But consider this: if you bottle someone with an aluminium bottle, it won’t smash. You can just bottle them again. Ouch.

In what must have been a scheduling error, The Black Keys played before us, on the same stage. Once we got out there, our lack of sleep didn’t seem to matter. Hello Montréal:

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Crikey. We spent the rest of the day watching Snoop Dogg (amazing drummer, and blinged-out microphone), Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (who made everybody else look pretty amateurish), Sonic Youth (I missed their set, but each member of the band seemed to have a series of files and rasps to, presumably, attack their guitars with – very 20th century), Devo (who didn’t let you forget for one second that you were watching Devo – it was the Devo-est hour of music you could imagine), and Weezer. Well, I didn’t hear much Weezer. We were pretty ready to leave by then, and were on our way out of the festival during their set.

RYAN: Man, I hope they don’t start playing something I want to hear right now.
WEEZER begin playing Say It Ain’t So
RYAN: Maaaaaan!
ROSS: You shouldn’t have said it!

Harry, Ross, Kieran and I took Steph’s advice and took the train home. Predictably, the trains were full of people from that festival. A few people asked Harry for a photo, and he took the opportunity to ask them for directions in return. Yes, having one French speaker in the band does come in pretty handy. I got a bit worried when I looked at the map after our first train-change, as it seemed we were heading away from where we needed to go.

“I thought you said we were going to Place-des-Arts?”
“No, I got it wrong, it’s Place-d’Armes.”
“Oh. But there is also a Place-des-Arts on the map.”
“Really?” He took a look. “Oh, I guess we’ll just walk. It looks pretty close.”

Gulp. “It looks close on the train map, it must be close on foot,” have been many travellers’ famous last words. Luckily Montréal is one of those cities designed with winter in mind: you can get around the city pretty easily without having to go outside. We may have gotten off at the wrong station, but it didn’t feel like it. We just followed the signs to Place-des-Arts and found the hotel without incident, other than Kieran smashing a fluorescent light after kicking the footy in a confined space (who knew?!). And remember the luggage we left in the trailer? It was all in storage at the hotel. Wow. That’s the Ricky difference.

Next: Australia! More specifically: Darwin.

New York x 2

As soon as the plane touched down, Kieran turned around and said what we all were thinking:
“So, what movie were you guys watching?”
“She’s Out of My League.”
“Well, it must have been:
The.
Funniest.
Movie.
Ever.
Made.

“Oh yeah, totally, you have to see it!”
We could all see how hostile Kieran was being, but unfortunately the strangers sitting amongst us on the plane didn’t pick up on it, so it soon turned into a nice conversation.
“Oh, a band? Right, where are you guys playing? And did you just play in Toronto? Oh at the Phoenix? How was it?”

You see, humans laugh more when in groups. It’s our stupid way of letting each other know that we find something funny. Separate these humans by one or more rows on a plane, and they have to laugh a bit louder to hear each other. Then, because they’re on a plane, they’re also wearing headphones. Headphones make the humans do everything louder than necessary. Put it all together and you have four people exaggeratedly laughing way too loud. No, we weren’t getting any sleep on that flight. Nor were we getting any sleep once we arrived at our destination. It’s the city that never sleeps (allegedly – it’s been proven wrong), so sleeping during the day is forbidden. Besides, there’s too many things to do. I chose to load up on coffee (triple ristretto! yee-ha!) and walk around, vaguely towards the venue.

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That reminds me. “Walk around”. I saw Ricky in the lobby a few weeks ago – on the day of the first gig of this tour actually, and he said, “What have you been up to? Walking around? That’s like an Aussie thing isn’t it? ‘I’m going to go walk around.’ You guys say that alot.” Of course, I denied it as I felt like I didn’t say it very often. Ten minutes later I saw Kieran in the lobby:
“Hey Kieran, what have you been up to?”
“Just walkin’ around.”
QED. Anyway, back to Manhattan. The gig was at Webster Hall, which looked like a good location for a fight scene in one of the Blade movies. Our rider was Heineken and Pabst Blue Ribbon, an accidental yet fitting tribute to the late Dennis Hopper.

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It was a good gig. This city, and not enough sleep, bring unexpected things out of us. And here’s the crowd:

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Gig number two was the following night in Brooklyn. Or was it Williamsburg? I couldn’t really tell where each began and the other ended. Luckily, whatever area it was that we were in seemed to follow the consecutively-numbered-streets system, so it was easy to find the venue by walking. And what a walk it was. Brooklyn is hilarious. Harry said it was like a giant university campus where everybody is constantly skipping class. I thought it felt more like the world’s largest open-air Stuff White People Like museum. We had another great gig, this time at Music Hall of Williamsburg, which I guess proves that we were in Williamsburg, unless it’s just a clever name. Nice venue. The hint of sawdust in the air gave the impression that it was recently-built or -renovated. It reminded me of Will’s basement, but with five less drum kits.

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(apologies for the lack of crowd…you’ll have to use your imagination)

And with that, we were back on the plane. I vowed to watch She’s Out of My League and not laugh once, out of spite. Harry said something about my sad, pathetic little existence, I agreed, and fell asleep for 45 minutes instead. Tomorrow: Osheaga. Two days away: enough sleep.

Toronto

Toronto. The Phoenix.

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Oh, er, right. That’s not really going to cut it. Let’s try again.

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That’s better, at least we can see some of the crowd. Clearly the lights were moving around a hell of a lot at the start of The Chariot. That’s Stéphane on the lights. He’s a Québecinite, and he’ll be in Australia for the tour there too. Anyway, let’s try again:

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Almost there…that flash is throwing it off a bit. One more:

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That’s the Phoenix! Thanks for coming down, everyone. While in town we also saw the Jays annihilate the Orioles, including two home runs from José Bautista and a lot of choppin’ but no chips flyin’ from Adam Lind. Will and I also saw Megadeth and Slayer on our night off after the gig. Adding themselves to the already enormous list of bands that are touring and playing in their entirety albums they released 20 years ago, Megadeth played Rust in Peace, and Slayer played Seasons in the Abyss. Ricky somehow got our names on the guest list, and we had passes to some sort of VIP bar side-of-stage too. It was like something from Wayne’s World. Thanks Ricky. Adding myself to the already enormous list of people who fall into the trap of comparing everything they see to something in Melbourne, I’ll say that Molson Amphitheatre was like Sidney Myer Music Bowl, but wider. And full of friendly Canadian metalheads.

Next: New York.

Calgary Folk Festival

Oh. I’ve done it again. It’s the end of the tour but there’s still ten days of stuff I haven’t told you about yet. Damn. Let’s start with the coyotes.

Calgary Folk Festival was located on Prince’s Island, in the middle of Bow River. I checked, and it’s not the Bow River that’s mentioned in the Cold Chisel song of the same name. The island is right next to the city (or amongst it, really) but it still feels pretty remote when you get out there, and I sure wasn’t glad to see this sign on the bridge:

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There are only three bridges to that island. If the coyotes took the bridges, we’d be done for! That made me a little nervous. Leash pets for their safety?! What about the humans? I wasn’t really sure of what coyotes were capable of: I have no real world coyote experience, and only really know about them through Wile E. Coyote, Coyote Ugly, and the ones in Red Dead Redemption. They can mess you up if you’re not careful.

That reminds me: something that seems to be happening a lot on this tour is the confusion that results from walking into a conversation and not realising it’s a conversation about something that happened in a video game.

“Yeah man, I was out in the desert and all of a sudden I was surrounded by wolves, and they killed my horse and then I had to run to the next town which took like ten minutes.”

“Hang on, you’re talking about a video game, right?”

It sounds pretty bad if you think they’re talking about real life.

“I got on the train again, and I got further than last time, but I kept getting shot at by the guys on the roof. I never know when they’re coming.”

Anyway, back to the story. Coyotes. No, we covered that. Where were we? Oh yeah. Calgary Folk Festival. Another folk festival with those workshop things that only happen at folk festivals.

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That’s us with Etran Finatawa. Coolooloosh were on stage too but, honestly, I found it pretty hard to take a photo that included all three bands. Ollie probably did a much better job: when he’s awake and not playing keyboards, he’s usually taking photos.

Next: Toronto.

Edmonton via Calgary

Asleep on the bus. Ricky walks past the bunk and says it’s 6.30am. Time to get up. We have to be on TV soon. Fish around for yesterday’s t-shirt. Sniff. Meh, good enough for TV. Open the curtain. Ricky is walking up and down the bus trying to wake everybody up. Put jeans on while still in the bunk. Degree of difficulty: high. Hours slept: five. Songs to play: one. Estimated time until you can go back to sleep: two hours. Swing legs out of bunk, realise you’re sleeping on the third level, and it’s a long way down. Almost land on Ricky in the confusion. Realise that the ground-floor bunk in your quadrant (front-left) hasn’t been slept in, and could have been used as a junk bunk. Realise that you could have kept your suitcase in there and didn’t need to sacrifice all that leg room in your own bunk. Damn.

Bus kitchen. Tip some Corn Flakes into a cup: we don’t have any bowls. Tip some skim milk into the cup: we don’t have any full-fat milk left. We don’t have any spoons: to make things worse, we also don’t have any forks. Attempt to drink cornflakes. Degree of difficulty: high. Beyond a certain flake-to-milk ratio, which I have exceeded on this occasion, the flakes really want to form an immovable puck at the bottom of the cup which, when it eventually decides to move after much cup-upturning and cup-tapping, will land on your face.

Stand in the street for longer than expected, waiting to be picked up to go to the TV studio. The guy went to the wrong hotel. Finally get picked up. Be confused at the route we’re taking: I thought this place was only two blocks away? The car takes six left-hand turns. There must be a lot of one-way streets, and the driver must be allergic to U-turns.

Inside. The show is called Breakfast Television. When Ricky said we were “playing on breakfast television” and I wondered if he could be more specific, I didn’t realise he actually meant we were “playing on Breakfast Television”, with capital letters. Somebody’s been to Tim Horton’s. Thank you. The host of the show has read the tour diary, and liked The Umbrella Story. Nobody else in the band knows what she’s talking about. I could write anything about those dumbasses and they wouldn’t read it. Just kidding. Hi guys. Coffee, maple dip, play Call Me Home. Get driven back to the bus, the from-journey being much quicker than the to-journey: yes, we really were two blocks away. Bus. Sleep. Wake up in Edmonton. Happy birthday, Kieran. Drink VB (found some at a bottle shop two blocks away) and listen to Cold Chisel. Run back to the hotel to get on Skype. The rain decides to bucket down. Borrow an umbrella from reception – a much less embarrassing one than the one in The Umbrella Story. Gig.

Damn. Forgot the camera again.

Kieran smuggles beer out of the venue inside the umbrella. Return the umbrella to the hotel. Sleep. Wake up in Calgary. Farewell, bus. Hotel. Sleep. Next: Calgary Folk Festival.