The way big tours are arranged you very rarely play three nights in a row. To hear Waldo gripe about it, it’s logistically difficult, it’s hard on everyone including crew and performers, a bitch to schedule, etc. But sometimes three places are close enough together to make it work or it’s the only way to work it out with all three venues. So you do it sometimes.
There were two more “warmup” dates after Atlanta, one in Chapel Hill and one in Charlotte, and I know I should know which one was which. But I have to apologize to the people of North Carolina for getting the names mixed up enough times that now I don’t know which was which. In my defense, in both places all I saw was the inside of a basketball arena.
The first show of the tour would be in Atlanta, at an arena officially named the Omni but referred to by the crew as the Waffle Iron because of the shape of the roof, which looked like a—you guessed it—waffle iron. We had several days off in LA before the actual show because the crew and rig had to travel across the entire country to get there.
I kind of wondered about this. Nomad was a band from the West Coast, and here they were starting a tour in the East. Moondog Three had been a band from the East Coast, and we had started our tour in the West. Was that bad planning? Or was it good because it meant you ended up closer to home in the end? I wasn’t sure. It probably had more to do with when the venues were available. Carynne once told me that to set up any given six weeks on the road she probably made about five hundred phone calls. That was about four-hundred-ninety-nine more than I would have been willing to make before I freaked out and bailed.
We eventually got to actually rehearsing. To placate Louis we ran through the opening three songs, first one at a time with some chit-chat between, and then all three in a row. When the doors were shut and the house lights were off, it was as dark as a cave in the hangar, which was the point. Louis made us stop after that and they spent an hour moving lights around because of how we’d changed where we’d be standing from the original plan..
They also drew a straight line in masking tape across the front of the stage, delineating where the edge was going to be once they got rid of the curved front. I felt a little guilty making the whole crew go through all that because of my suggestion, but no one seemed to mind exactly. No one grumbled where I could hear it, anyway.
(If you haven’t had a chance to go upvote DGC vol 4, now being serialized on Wattpad, go on over there and click that star icon, please? -ctan)
Nomad moved to a bigger rehearsal space the week before hitting the road. The new place was a former airplane hangar/movie soundstage on the edge of Van Nuys and the first person I saw when we walked up was Louis. He was sitting on an overturned milk crate outside the door, wearing opaque black sunglasses and smoking a cigarette. His overgrown hair was grayer than I remembered.
He flicked the cigarette onto the blacktop the second he saw me and stood up to give me a back-poundy manhug. “Shit. You’ve grown.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Shit,” he said again, shaking his head. “How you been?”
“Good,” I said automatically. It’s not like I was going to bring him up to speed on the past two years in two minutes.
I did as Flip did when I pulled up at Remo’s, stopping short of the garage door and leaving it closed, to keep things quiet. As I slipped the key into the front door I had a ridiculous deja vu to sneaking back into my parents’ house in New Jersey.
Ziggy and I rendezvoused that Sunday, our “day off,” at the same hotel in the middle of nowhere as earlier in the week.
When I got to the room I realized it was a different one. I said something witty and observant like: “Hey, this is a different room.”
“Course it is,” he said, stripping his shirt over his head and making an utter wreck of his gelled hair by doing so. “The microwave was shot in the other one. I want you to touch every inch of my skin.”
The next day in rehearsal we were working on a new song Remo had written called “Kind.” The turn in the song goes from about being “kind” i.e. nice to about being two of a kind, i.e. the same sort of people. In other words it’s about two people who start out as friends (or maybe just acquaintances) and end up in love. While we were practicing, part of my mind kept going off to imagine the words to a song that went the other direction. Unkind: about being lovers being a mistake and in the end you can barely be kind to each other.
It was so much easier to learn Nomad’s set when I had more than two days to come up to speed. Also I wasn’t the only one coming up to speed, since there was a new horn section (one sax, one flugelhorn). Learning new songs is much more fun, in a way, when you have plenty of time to play with them. I say “in a way” because I suppose it depends on your definition of fun. I can’t say I didn’t somewhat enjoy doing what I did in Japan: I did. But it was kind of nice to have the leisure to take more time.
(Site news: did you see all the fanworks were posted on Saturday? There is fan art, fan fiction, audio of a song, song lyrics, and a fantastic fanmix/Youtube playlist, and a ton of memes. Please go leave comments for your fellow fans if you enjoy what you see/hear! The directory is a new permanent page on the site: http://daron.ceciliatan.com/fanworks -ctan)
That night, after the baby was asleep (and Melissa too, I think) Remo and I went into the studio and played until our fingers were tired. We traded guitars for a while and when he took his back from me he shook his head a little.
“What, did I warp it or something?” I asked.
“No no, just, every time we play together you teach me something.”