Daily Archives: April 25, 2014

It’s All About Making That G.T.A.

Day 28: Rathskeller
Indianapolis, IN

The Rathskeller was not at all what I expected. We had never played there before, but I had a preconceived idea of what the place looked like based on what other people had told me. I expected a large rock club with a huge outdoor beer garden. What we got was completely unexpected.

I stayed with the bus during load in, so the first bit that I saw of the venue was the outdoor beer garden. The parking lot that the club’s manager had us park in was right outside the back gate entrance to the garden. Root, who had parked the bus, and I walked in though that entrance and immediately I was taken aback by the size of the courtyard style beer garden. There was three full bars, a fire pit, rows of picnic tables, and decent sized outside stage. The manager told us that he would have loved to have us play that stage, but the temperatures at night were still a little too chilly for having bands outside.

We entered the building by the entrance directly beside the bar. The bar area had an early 1900’s feel to it, made up of lots of ornate dark wood and mirrors. Taxidermied busts were mounted on the walls, creating a quasi-tavern feel to the room. Passing through the bar area, we entered into the area where the stage was.

Unlike my expectations, the main stage area was not a rock club at all. The room was set up as a ballroom, and again the early 1900’s atmosphere was palpable. There was a stage set up on one end of the room, with a dance floor directly in front of it. The rest of the room was populated with round, white clothed tables. The ceiling was trimmed in slightly intricate painted moulding, making it feel like we were about to perform the first rock show on the Titanic. Across the hall from the ballroom, a fine dining room was full of patrons that could have very well been on the ill fated cruise liner.

The club sets the time for soundcheck so early so that it doesn’t interfere with the dinner crowd. Open Air Stereo was running late after nearly living one of the worst possible experiences for a traveling musician.

Earlier in the day they pulled into a Guitar Center to grab a few things, so everyone went inside and did their shopping. The tour sound engineer, Trox, who is traveling with them, came back out to their van in time to see a suspicious vehicle speeding away from beside their Sprinter. Thinking it strange, he opened the side door of their van to find a pile of broken glass on the floor. Security cameras showed a vehicle follow them into the parking lot, wait until they went into the store, and then try to rob them. Fortuitously, Trox came out just in time, so that while they had smashed the driver side window, nothing had yet been stolen. They then got stuck spending hours waiting and filing police reports. They rolled up to the club with just enough time for a quick soundcheck before we had to keep quiet for the dinner guests.

In keeping with the GTA theme, we were told by one of the fans during our dinner, (which was amazing, by the way… AND provided by the venue! Talk about good looks! Two nights of dinners in a row!)… Anyway, she told us that she had locked her keys in her car. Ben and I felt fairly confident that we could get into the car without smashing any glass (too soon?), so we headed outside.

Being an all ages show and not to far from their home, Ben and Gail brought along their 14 year old daughter to the show, and needless to say, she was thrilled at the notion of learning to break in to a car. In a slightly unsettling way, she jumped right in to the mix. After a few near successes, Root then joined the party. When I brought the wooden training sword that Mochello got from our Army friend John out of the bus, I think everyone thought I was set to smash a window. But I had other plans, and my idea allowed us to get the car open. (This isn’t a car jacking tutorial, please forgive my vagueness!)

During all this Nathan was suffering from an upset stomach. Mochello and Root had walked and got him some Pepto, and he climbed into his bunk took a nap. He woke up in time for our set, and I gotta admit, I was nervous that he was going to have a rough time performing. The nap and the medicine helped though, because I saw no sign of illness throughout the performance.

In a spot that is set up with tables the crowd tends to get comfortable in their seats, almost as if they’re watching a tv recording of the show. But, in a atypical way, when Nate called everyone to come closer to the stage, 90% of the people obliged, filling in the dance floor area and making it feel like a rock show and not like an off Broadway musical.

After the show, Stevie G had to get to the airport because he was flying home for a family function. The rest of us set off west, with the city of Denver programmed into the gps.

Smoke on the Water

Day 27: DuPont Bar & Grill
Fort Wayne, IN

Ft. Wayne has always been good to us, from the very first time we rolled into the city. While this show didn’t have the search lights criss crossing the skies, 8′ custom printed Man on Earth banners, and light bulbed posters that Pier’s greeted us with, this time we WERE greeted by an extremely drunk man who slurringly offered to hire the Miggs tour manager, Jensen, away from our tour for 60k a year.

For a last minute fill in gig (the show was booked about two weeks prior) the DuPont Bar & Grill wasn’t a bad gig. There was a large stage, and while there’s no in house PA, the venue hired a guy to bring in the sound system. The system he brought in was legit; I overheard the tour sound engineer say such repeatedly.

The venue was just a few miles from Gail’s house, so after load in I took off to start my laundry. I got back in time to grab dinner, which was provided by the club.

The one drawback about the DuPont is that it is just outside of city limits and, being such, allows smoking inside the club. As a non-smoker, I notice that the air is always heavier and acrid tasting in bars that allow inside smoking. In the few hours that we were there the air permeated all the fabrics of our clothes and road cases. I had to keep all the tee shirts in the merch bins sealed as best as I could so that the new fabric didn’t pick up the smell of the club.

For non-smoking singers, which all three singers on our tour are, when a club allows smoking inside it presents another dynamic for them to have to deal with. They have to minimize the amount of time in the club because the smoke dries out their throats. Then during their set they have to drink extra water and/or use a throat spray to keep things copacetic.

There was one time in Memphis, back when we first started touring, when we rolled up to this tiny bar club that allowed smoking and inside the air was nothing but a hazy cloud, making it impossible to hold a regular conversation, let alone sing. It’s the only time since I’ve been touring with Man on Earth that we actually had to pass on an already booked show. (The other factors that night contributed to that decision, such as the PA only having the ability to handle one microphone, and the fact that our set was being pushed later for a trivia night, but the smoke was by far the issue that was unbearable. The rest can be dealt with.)

Gail brought out a crew of her college students to see the show, and gauging by the fact that they all were singing along, I’d think it’s a safe bet that she has been educating them in the ways of the Rock and/or Roll.

After the show we went to Gail and Ben’s house for the night. Late night homemade lasagna rolls and a bit of Jäger later, we found ourselves battling it out in an intense game of Wii golf. (School and family obligations prevented Gail’s cousin Sam from making it to any of the Indiana shows. While this meant that there was decidedly less general mischief and hell raising for me to be a part of, it did however mean that I was present to crack open the Jäger. It’s become almost tradition for the guys to try to finish the bottle before I can get any of it. Not this time!)

While the drive to Indianapolis the next day wasn’t long, we had an early load in. This meant that if everyone wanted to eat and shower before we shoved off, we had to get up fairly early (for us, at least!). So, once the game was over everyone headed off to sleep, at a way earlier hour than usual for us in Fort Wayne.