A couple of our fan club folks made the trip from Houston, and we had a nice but short visit with them to take many more photos and goof around a bit before the actual show started. Once Megaton took the stage, though, we cleared our dressing room of all non-essential personnel.
That night was an interesting show, to say the least. Louis knew about the new song in the set. We didn’t take anything else out to make room for it. I figured we still had time to squeeze in one more, since it was under four minutes long and we didn’t have to drive all night. But we played it at completely the wrong time, because I had sweat in my eyes and didn’t look at the set list carefully. Fortunately it’s a song that works perfectly well with me playing by myself for several runs through the riff, which got the audience screaming when they recognized it, so it really came off as totally intentional, when actually it was an accident.
Then Bart and Chris kicked in, right when I wanted them to, leading them to it by slowing the tempo to build anticipation and then making a big, Pete Townshend sort of move to “conduct” them to the new downbeat. Worked like a charm. Louis kept up just fine since it was the only new song and so it was obvious which one it was. I didn’t even really pay attention to what he did for it.
The one really crazy moment came when we were coming up to the big Solar 250 shot, the so-called ass-beams. Our stage setup really didn’t make any allowances for the fact that there were tiers of seats behind the stage this time. They’d adjusted the backline somewhat, but it wasn’t like there was a riser or catwalk that went back there. Ziggy took it upon himself to go around to that side and sing a couple of verses at one point, and there was this moment when it dawned on both him and me that he wasn’t going to make it back in time. Louis’s crew had follow spots on him, but I went and hit his mark at center stage for the sunbeams, and I was starting to wonder if he was going to make it back in time for me to share his microphone in that segment where there was the single spot from above, or if I was going to have to just leave center stage empty and go back to my mic.
I have no idea where he came from–climbed over a Marshall stack, I think, which could have gone really badly, but fortunately didn’t–and he appeared just in time. He was down to cargo shorts and Doc Martens at that point, and when we went off before the encore I stripped my own shirt off, too. Did I mention it was humid in New Orleans? And the place was air conditioned, but it just couldn’t keep up with 95% humidity and ten thousand screaming, sweaty people. I swayed on my feet and Colin practically gave me a Gatorade IV, stat. I swallowed down as much as I could and dumped a bottle of water over my head.
After, in the green room, in my typical post-show daze, I got my stuff together and said to Christian, “Good show.”
He stared at me a second, then said, “Thanks.”
I stared back. “Wait, did I say something wrong?”
“No. No, don’t worry about it. I just… you know. You never say that. And then I have a hissy fit and the next thing you know, you are, like you’re trying extra hard to be nice to me, and it just makes me feel like shit,” he said.
So there we were, two people, standing there, with other people bustling all around us doing whatever they were doing, and we’re having a moment. I couldn’t tell just then whether it was a good moment or a bad one. “Okay, let’s get one thing straight. I may be deluded about a lot of things, but I’ve never been insincere to you.”
“I know,” he said. “I know. Just, shit, Daron, it’s hard sometimes, you know? Ah fuck.” He pulled his hair back and stuck it in a ponytail holder. “I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m always checking myself, wondering what people think.”
“Well, I certainly know what that feels like,” I said.
“Yeah, but you got what you needed in town last night, didn’t you?”
Did I? I think I jerked a little when he said that. Not because I was offended, but because he was right. Plotting when to sneak out, trying to find what you need. Setting yourself apart from everyone by that mentality… Except that I was offended. While I was wrestling with that, I shot back, “Did you?”
“Score? None of your business, man.”
“Not any more than it’s my business if you took it up the ass all night, dude.” He tried to say it jokingly, but that was just even more offensive. Then he turned serious. “We’re the same, you and me. You can’t judge me. You do the same damn thing, trying to get what you need. Sneaking out if you have to. Getting it from the inside if you have to. That’s all I’m doing, man. Just trying to get by. You’re not better than me.”
“And at least you’ve got your club. I’m all alone here, trying to make it from day to day. You, at least you’ve got all the other weirdos around here to cry to. You’ve got no right to judge me, motherfucker.”
The only thing worse he could have said would have been “cocksucker.” If he had said that, I probably would have just gone berserk and punched him. Instead I just turned and walked away, boiling. I took out my frustration on the door of a men’s room stall. I was wearing my high tops, not my combat boots, so the damage to the door was minimal. The damage to my shins wasn’t.
But what was I going to do? Chris wasn’t himself right now. That’s what I kept telling myself. It was drugs talking, and paranoia, and apparently that paranoia could turn into a wicked homophobic streak. Was I sure he said “weirdos” actually, and not “queeros?” The more I thought back over what he said the more I realized that was what he meant.
But wait. Tally up. So there was me. And Ziggy was sort of equal opportunity, but you mostly saw him with women. Colin had said he was from that strain of punk where everyone was assumed to be bisexual, too, but again, you mostly saw him with women. But Bart was straight as a string as far as I knew. So was Carynne. I don’t know. Maybe one gay man and two bisexuals felt like “everyone” was queer to a person who was used to thinking everyone around them was straight? I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I do know that was far from the end of the trouble that night. Because when the bus pulled out of the spot where it had been parked for the past two days, hemmed in by one of the equipment trucks and Megaton’s bus, someone had taken it upon themselves to graffitize the back. In pink spray paint in block letters right across the back grille, engine panel, and part of the windows, it said:
F A G G O T S
Megaton’s bus had not escaped the pink spray paint either. On the back of theirs was a cartoon of a giant penis and balls.
Carynne went ballistic before I could say anything. Colin and I had to basically carry her away from the Shithead Brothers, whom she was blaming, and who were claiming innocence and equal victimization. Both crews were ready to come to blows, too, I think. I heard Marty talking to the other drivers and they were all completely scandalized.
Louis and Trackie ended up being the two who got everyone moving, though. Louis who told the guys on our own crew to shut up and just get the hell on the road, and Trackie who somehow managed to shut down the other side. I think just by virtue of being old and local. I don’t know.
The result was that the band buses didn’t pull out until the equipment and crew were ready to go, and ironically that meant that in this moment of ultimate conflict we actually unified the caravan for the first time.
(Buncha footage in this video comes from the Pixies on tour in 1989. -d.)