Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Animal Collective USA May/June 2009

11 May 2009...Washington DC

Took a run from the 930 Club to Lincoln Memorial and back. Had to dodge in between government workers and local crackheads, who manage to live cheek to cheek in this Federal town, and all within spitting distance of Obama's front lawn.
We are joined on the tour by "Grouper" which is the brainchild of Liz Harris from Portland. Her set is a beautiful portent of the musical goodness that will fall on our ears for the next 3 weeks.

12 May 2009....Philadephia

Squeezed a veggie Philly steak down my gizzard. Was that now really some veggie meat or some refried, rehashed, processed offal scraped out of the bottom of the pan and tenderly wrapped inside some nan bread? This town will squeeze every worth out of its measly culinary reputation to make you buy the myth. The band's manager has hired Mojito Man to get the town's Live Nation leeches inebriated. The faceless freaks think they have been charmed.

13 May 2009....New York City

A beautiful day in the city. Sunny, laidback, and carefree
. Liz and I head down to the Village for coffee shop visitations, seeing old friends, and Other Music for the next batch of records to add to the collection. This is our first chance to hang out and get to know about one another....precious times on tour. Seeing as this is a big show, there is little of the usual panic that pervades band members and entourage before, or during the show. Everything goes very smoothly and the show is pretty good. I have taken over sound duties for "Grouper" as well, as the sound guys at the previous 2 shows have done their best to press the "muddy and quiet" button at the quickest opportunity. Didn't check the guestlist to see which NYC gliteratti were out that night, but I'm sure I saw Rank and Fanny Glitmus from daytime TVs popular "You're A Jobless Twat"....with white pearly teeth.

14 May 2009....Boston

My pals "The In-Out" are the best band in Boston. They remain in the perennial underachievers compartment but keep the faith in the music they make. I get to spend the day with Todd from the band, who later takes me to an Indian restaurant with his lovely family and with Nick and Amanda.
I need my fix of Indian food every so often. The motherfood must be indulged in to keep my body spice levels at a reasonable level. Without it, I turn into whitey. Tonight Animal Collective walk onstage after we have blasted Boston's "More Than A Feeling" through the PA. The locals baa and moo in approval.

15 May 2009....Montreal

We enter Canada at 8am. People stumble out of their bunks bleary-eyed, but our visuals conductor takes the surreal path to the officials office by appearing bare-footed, wearing shades, and carrying a big bag of Cheetos! Inside the building, he falls asleep on a bench and proceeds to pepper the creepy silence only found in hospitals and court-rooms with his snoring. The kid is only 21 and is on his first tour. And still drunk from the night before. He has not encountered the mean edge of customs officials.

The venue is located in the sleaze district and has a hang-dog look about it. The decadence of days gone past as reflected in the architecture of buildings has been replaced by a scrubby, dumpy aura with sex shops and massage parlours saluting every turn of your gaze.
The aftershow at Sala Rosa is an indie valhalla with members of AC, Bonnie Prince Billy and Godspeed! You Black Emperor whooping it up.

16 June 2009....Toronto

The venue is located next to Lake Ontario, and also happens to have a go-kart track nearby (on dry land!). Speed thrill chasers head for the circuit and take charge of their chariot.
Liz turns out to be the speed queen and Brad, our tourmanager, is the whipping boy as he passed 2...ooh maybe 3...times.

Tonight is the night that we get hotel rooms. Bliss! After a week of not sleeping very much in the bus, its finally a chance to catch up on r+r.

17 June off in Toronto

We go to the Toronto Bluejays stadium to catch a baseball game against Chicago White Sox. Attending a sporting event in North America is a very leisurely affair and doesn't possess the aggro of a football match in Europe. This is actually a pleasant change, as the idea of attending a sports event actually returns to its origins of being a place where you would go to be entertained and relax. So around these sporting events you get all the trappings and razzmatazz of a show with cheerleaders, pizza, popcorn, half-time prize handouts, large screens showing yr mama making a fool of herself dancing the Bluejay jig, and plenty of adverts. Most of the game is spent people watching and eating and drinking. The lardy arses sit in the stands whilst the slightly less lardy arses win their game on the field, and return to the locker room for pizza and coke. I'll take the aggro of football back home actually.

18 May 2009....Royal Oak

Royal Oak is a suburb of Detroit. A rather nice suburb. For if you have been to Detroit, you will know that there are not that many nice suburbs. I wake up early and have plans to go into town to see the Motown museum and an art gallery. I ask a passing postman as to how to get to town and he informs me that it would be wise to check whether any of the museums are actually open. The economic situation in Detroit has been so bad the last 4 years, that most of the museums and galleries are only open 4-5 days a week. I duly call the museums and art galleries, and sure enough, they are all closed. Times are indeed as bad as they write about in the newspapers about the Motor City. My only option is Detroit Zoo, which is where I kill a few hours amongst the mangy beasts and screaming kids.

19 May 2009....Milwaukee

The magnificent Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark and should be seen if you are in the town. The Quadracci Pavilion has a moveable sunscreen with 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily. It looks like a giant bird about to take flight over Lake Michigan.

Another thing to do in Milwaukee is taste the beers from the local micro breweries. The town has a slew of breweries making fine ales. Being a European beer snob, I always considered American beer as tasty as donkey piss, but my views have changed considerably after tasting the fine brews here.

20 May 2009....Minneapolis

Visited biggest, and scariest, indoor mall in the world. As well as the thousands of stores and food tents, there was a massive amusement park in the middle of the whole melange. The oldies used the size of the mall as a giant exercise park, walking kilometers around this shopping playground.

We arrive at the legendary 1st Avenue venue where the genial Conrad awaits to greet us. This is the place they made the video for "Purple Rain" by Prince, don'tcha know. Today is the day that our bus company gets the boot, and we get a new bus from a new company. After a week and a half of bus troubles, the manager has been running a covert operation to switch buses. So the new bus arrives at 1st Avenue, whilst Bill our old driver is asleep at the hotel. After inspection of the new bus, we switch camp, and old bus driver and company are duly informed that their
services are no longer required. Bill, our old driver, is a sweet man and understands that we need to switch. The bus company, however, are less sympathetic. It's a shit business.

The show is fab incidentally and I'm feeling it behind the mixing desk....oh yeah!

21 May day

ah, the midwest. Drive days across the mid-west can be the most excuciating days off on a tour. Endless straight roads, scenery that changes very little, truckstops that offer bad culinary choices, and cabin fever.
Today we are enjoying the pleasures of a new bus, and before we leave Milwaukee, we visit Wholefoods to stock up on food delights for the 2 day sprint to the west coast. Movies are watched, books are read, sleep is caught up on, and I start my remix of a Waumiss track. The 2 driver tag team drive all day and night and land us in....

22 May off in Spokane

....Spokane (pronounced Spo-can). Purchase a bicycle from hotel porter and buzz around town. It's an old jalopy with just one brake and squiffy back wheel. Visit laundrette where the local bum comes in with 7 bags of dirty clothes and squats 4 washing machines. This is economy washing as I'm sure he's doing his laundry for the coming year. The mini golf championships have the locals purring in delight at our pitch and putt comedic skills.
New Terminator movie is shite....but seeing Jae cower in fear behind her seat is worth the admission fee. Americans like to bring the whole kitchen with them to the movie house...the aisles at the end of the movie resemble a gourmet slaughter house.

23 May 2009...Sasquatch festival

A beautiful location for a festival. A massive gorge as backdrop for stage is eye candy.

Searing heat all day takes toll on public as first aid posts are filled to capacity with dehydrated bumbleheads. We decide to take a hike down to the gorge, but local crew warn us thats its Federal land, and choppers could swoop down on us and shoot to kill! What a bunch of fannies. They inform us that there are rattlesnakes down there too. We ignore all warnings and head down the gorge with backpacks filled with water and provisions for a days hiking. 10 minutes pass by and we suddenly hear Jae shout out "SNAKE!" She is at the head of our pack and nearly steps on a rattler. The little critter wagged his tail as she approached and all of us beat a hasty retreat to the bus. Watched Yeah Yeah Yeahs as sun goes down over the mountain backdrop and hang out with these fine people afterwards (my old pal Dave Pajo is the royal 4th member of the band now). King Khan and the Shrines rip it up big style with their soul booty shaking rhythms with the King resplendent in just his voodoo underpants.

24 May 2009....Vancouver

Stanley Park in Vancouver is a beautiful peninsula with beaches, lighthouses, totem poles, cricket matches, and picnic / bar-b-q fiends. It provides a few hours respite from the touring schedule and a chance to remember what home life is like...nothing like a dose of homesickness. Run 14 kms today and feel like Kip Keino.

25 May 2009....Portland

Start the day at Voodoo Doughnuts...a legendary small bakery that serves up the craziest combinations of doughnuts ever. Brad loves the bacon donoughts, but my search for a veggie sausage doughnut is not rewarded.

Powell's book store is the next stop, where words and letters spill off the shelves and wrap themselves around your brain causing a whirlwind addiction to books and an appreciation for the written word. My book of the month is Laurie Lee's "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning"....a beautiful description of his travels through Spain just before the Civil War of 1936 breaks out. The latest read is Norman Mailer's "The Armies Of The Night".
Mississippi Records in Portland is a fantastic label/shop, with a homely atmosphere. A great selection of vinyl (alot of hard to find stuff) at reasonable prices. And be sure to check out the great reissues that they put out.

A great meal at the best vegan restaurant in town with Chad and Nikole, who have driven down from Seattle.
Head off to see King Khan and the Shrines....introduce my Indo-soul brother to packed sweatbox of a venue, and leave at end drunk and with cake plastered all over me.

26 May 2009....Oakland

Blokeland has a fascination with Amsterdam complete with Bulldog coffee shop signs and the Oaksterdam University! The Paramount Theatre is a beautiful example of Art Deco design. Grouper and Animal Collective sound great tonight...even if I say so myself.

27 May 2009....Big Sur

The only thing I am transfixed by today is where I will watch the Champions League final. Miracle of miracles...the satellite TV works in this forest. The game is duly watched and the result is a complete pisser.
But being in Big Sur at the Henry Miller Library slowly removes the black cloud hanging above my head. The Library is located on the Pacific Highway, amid huge redwood and oak trees. Fog drapes itself like a blanket over us, whilst the sun occasionally pierces the gloom with a ray of light teasing us with it's hints of warmth. It's a beautiful setting for an Animal Collective show and 300 people will have the privilege of seeing this outside show. It's a hippy heaven and the tribes that arrive do so in their ponchos and blankets, all suitably blissed out by mushrooms that have been consumed pre-show.
Although the PA is crap, it doesn't remove the magic of the evening and the occasion. It is perhaps the most remakable and appropriate setting for an Animal collective show ever. Nature and music and people at one....maaan!

This is my old friend Mia Doi Todd looking bookish.

28 May off in Big Sur

Wake up in a log cabin in the mountains in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Breakfast is served with a delicious view of the Santa Lucia mountains. We are day trippers in the mountains as we rise above the mist and soak up the sun. So locked in my own world that I nearly step on a snake. In the evening we return to the Henry Miller Theatre for a drone festival. A perfect end to 2 days in paradise.

29 May 2009....Los Angeles

Spend the morning hanging out with my old buddy Lou. I hear new songs from his solo album and watch videos for songs that Adam, the lodger, has made. Fantastic new songs and his next album is a cracker. Paru's is the veggie Indian restaurant to visit if you are ever in LA. I share the Paru's experience with the lovely Kath and Hanny, Imaad and Bobb.

LA socialites preen and pout at sold out show and VIPs make idle sexy chitchat to each other at the most boring aftershow party ever.

30 May 2009....Las Vegas

4 hour walk down the strip visiting all manner of hellholes finally gives me the tip on this city. Cheap relief and instant gratification is the order of the day.
On every block the pimpernickles hand out blocks of cards with pictures of the "laydees" who would like to pleasure your weekend urges. What happens in Vegas.......
The cityscape is a nightmare vision of the hedonist's fevered imagination.

Show is also very good and, unlike the last time I was here with Dinosaur Jr., the staff are actually friendly and helpful and I don't leave the place squaring up to the sound lady. Ah, the House of Blues....the rock'n'roll McDonalds. But they give us the rock star treatment by giving us VIP passes to the bar at top of Mandalay Bay hotel which has the highest and best view of Vegas.
Tonight is the last night with Liz and Jae and it's a sad time bidding farewell. They have been soulmates and friends over the last 3 weeks and we miss them already.

31 May 2009....Tucson

Heat, desert, cacti, Congress Hotel, Solar Art Gallery, Mexican food.

Bike over to see Steven Eye at the Solar Art Gallery and he is a mine of information and inspiring. Windy and Carl are playing at the Solar Art Gallery tonight! We hook up with them later at the Congress for cocktails, and they are the most charming, normal, mid-western couple ever....who happen to make amazing glacial, spacial, ethereal music! The 2 things don't quite seem to match, but I like that. Montezuma's revenge is on the menu for dinner! Tonight we hook up with Black Dice for the rest of the tour. AC crowds prepare to duck for cover when they hit the stage. I love this band.
DJ at Congress with AC, but feel like museum exhibits....gawping fans everywhere. Me and The Kid shake things up with Monkey Man frugging onstage....blatant exhibitionism is price paid for deflecting the fans attention elsewhere.

1 June 2009....Albuquerque

Did the bland brush pass over this town? Return from hot and sweaty run to find venue has no shower. I'll show these suckas what stank is. Like Johnny Morris, I talk to turtles and lizards I wasn't tripping! Just the safari that was my run. Highlight of the day.
New Mexico is the perfect place to set up yr sexy death cult sect camp, as nobody bothers breaking out to the desert to see how many underage minions you have married this week.

2 June 2009....Boulder

Bleedin' hippies everywhere. They have professionalised the meaning these days. Laptops and jesus sandals. More beggars per square mile than in whole of North America. Mork and Mindy nation of girl next door types. My DJ spot met with mixture of horror and bewilderment as they don't remember me being a member of Animal Collective.
Black Dice sound dude gets a love letter from the monitor man during the show.

3 June day

Paying the price for last nights excesses. A good movie day. Cracker Barrel in Buttsville is blandicious. Waitress talks the hind legs off the rocking chairs we snooze in as she waffles on and on.....serve the food PLEASE! "Y'all in eh baind? Well lawdy mama".

4 June 2009....Dallas

I love the grassy knoll and the weight of history tied to it.
Something magical about historical district of Dallas. Conspiracy theorists ideal vacation spot. The bike gets a good workout today....turns out its the last outing it will have. Tomorrow the back wheel will come out of the trailer with wheel buckled and chain falling off. Its been a trusty buddy. Texan playboys and playgirls turn on the style.

5 June 2009....Austin

Searing heat in Austin. Stubbs Bar-B-Q is an outside venue and working in the heat all afternoon is ace.

Find out via Skype call from my nephew in England that Holland have beaten England in 20/20 cricket competition. World cricketing powerhouse is Holland....I always said that. Closely followed by Scotland. Brad and I DJ at record store where band do signing session. Best offer ever....we are able to open ANY records we want, play them really loudly over the store system, and drink beer whilst we do that. Now thats what I call record shopping.
Watch punters drop like flies at show....some of them have been queueing since 2pm in the heat.

6 June 2009....Oxford, Mississippi

This is where the band recorded Merriweather Post Pavilion. Visit Sweet Tea studios which has wonderful gear...the JFL Audio stuff is heavenly. Dennis Herring is a genial and welcoming man who owns this lovely studio. Neve desk and great JFL Audio preamps....check out Sweet Tea website to order JFL gear.

The show is of my favourites. Rammed to the rafters and everyone on a collective high.
House party after is visited by keystone cops who have to enforce the will of the religious majority of this state and town. You can't buy liquor in the rest of the state outside of Oxford!!!!

7 June 2009....driving day

Return from party to have solid American drunk breakfast. The rest of the day is all sleep and movies. What a life! My contribution to making mankind a better place was to lie in my bunk. Some people do this for a career don'tcha know.
Arrive at Brad's mum's house at 2am and she has supper waiting for us.
I love home cooking and hospitality. Chloe the dog pees in excitement.

8 June 2009....St.Petersburg, Florida

Retired people everywhere.
Crime rates up. Party zone USA is Florida. The gigs sometimes feel like an afterthought to Floridians....and the partying that goes around it seem to be the main event. Dinner at fancy restaurant interrupted by fans coming in for photos and autographs. Jack gets tattoo with "Banshee" on his back. Band drop that song from encore. Buy another bike from junkie at 2am.

9 June 2009....Fort Lauderdale

Find best pub of tour. No frills here except honesty and good ale. Norman Mailer's "The Armies Of The Night" is a soul-stirrer. More rip-roaring Florida crowd love-ins at the show. Black Dice even get crowd surfers and stagedivers. Manage to sell the old bike to crazed fan who sees beyond the AC autographs on the bike and free poster that comes with the sale, and recognises a fine machine to pound the streets of Fort Lauderdale....after a little repair work.

10 june 2009....Orlando

"Let's go MAGIC!" The rallying cry of thousands of basketball fans, as they push their team to, hopefully, victory in the NBA finals against LA Lakers. Pissy PA doesn't prevent a good mix and good show. Facepaint, Indian head-dresses, and animal masks are the order of the day. The last night with the Dice. Instore signing session punctuated by the words "Dude. Jams. Peaking. Turkish psych. I know those guys" every 10 seconds by Fitz and Brad...comedic wives. I love them. Last show with Black Dice....bros.

11 June day

Big ass drive to Tennessee which our heroic driver Terry pulls off in classic long-haul mode without a complaint. The most unhealthy trade there is....truck driver / bus driver. But we salute these kings of the road, for without them, we can't eat, or meet and greet, or get our everyday treats.

12 June 2009....Bonnaroo festival

Hippy heaven as people sit around mudflaps building their own didgeridoo and staring deep into the eyes of their partners which are an ocean of confusion and bewilderment.
See the wonderful Al Green perform, Beastie Boys put on the best show of the day/evening, Public Enemy veer between genius and comedy, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs stutter on "Maps"....but still manage to be effortlessly cool with it. Animal Collective put on a solid show even if the band members suffer onstage under the glare of the sun, which makes seeing the lcd instruments almost impossible. Boy was it hot today.
The end of a fantastic tour, with lovely band members and crew. Some cracking shows along the way and japes aplenty. The memories linger on....


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