B10: Brilliant Weekend


Brilliant Weekend

I’m writing at work feeling like death after a brilliant first weekend of The Alternative Country Tour which I’m doing just with my young guitarist ‘Curious Finn’.

My mum just TXT’d me asking how it went and knowing she’s an appreciator of irony I wrote:

5hrs slp 3 nites in a row, 22 hrs drivin, shattered windscreen on the desert road, lost money, but actually a lot betr thn average J

The funny thing is the above TXT is all true and it wasn’t until I TXT’d mum that I even thought about how much had gone wrong, or could be perceived to be undesirable. The reality is we did have a brilliant weekend with two really good shows and that’s the only thing I’ve held in my mind and heart about the weekend.

Now you could look at this as being a sad state of affairs that things are going so badly that a weekend with so many adverse factors could be considered a success by my disturbingly low standards. But the way I see it is that it’s more a demonstration of my love of music, my optimism and my ability to transcend adversity.

Finn and I Performed better than we have since the amazing summer shows and had much more fun on stage than I’ve had in quite a while (which means that we told lots of story’s and got heckled by the drunks for talking too much). The audiences were all incredibly supportive and passionate and the energy in the room was so respectful and attentive that it felt akin to reverence. Not necessarily from the audience for us but from all of us for music itself.

Making good time on the desert road by my characteristically speedy haphazard, but very safe, driving, I was overtaking a huge truck in a tight spot on the desert road when the sound of a shotgun blast filled my ears and my windscreen transformed from being a bug stained window into the outside world into a debilitating spider web of fractal glass patterns! So here I am driving 120k on the wrong side of the road with a truck to my left so I can’t pull over with a limited stretch of road in front and with no visibility!

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I managed to break and pull in behind the truck and found 3 little fractal gaps that I could maintain about 10 % visibility through and decided that my only option to make it to the gig in Auckland that night was to keep on going. So I made sure I stayed behind the truck which I could see more clearly than the subtle nuances of the actual road.

It’s funny how your expectations slowly disintegrate when in a slowly unfolding disaster. One night when I was 19 Mat and I lost a car in the middle of the ocean and it took about 4 hours for our thoughts to go from;

1) We’ll dig this car out of the sand in a few minutes and Ben will never know we borrowed his mums car.

2) We’ll find some wood to wedge under the car wheel in 10 minutes get back to the car and get it out in 20 minutes and be home and stop shivering in an hour and Ben will never know we borrowed his mums car.

3) We’ll get home in 1 hour back to the car with some hung-over sleepy men, a van and a tow rope 30 minutes after that, dig the car out and tow it to the road and get home in 2 hours max and stop shivering and rest our aching mussels and get some sleep. And if Ben’s still passed out and locked in the shed then he will never know we borrowed his mums car.

4) The fire engine will come and tow out this car before the waves actually start getting in the car doors and destroy the upholstery and we will stop aching, shivering and dry retching and get plasters for our hands and change into dry clothes in 3 hours and if Ben…

5) The waves are crashing over the roof of the car and its obviously completely destroyed and will need replacing, the firemen are sending me to dive into the seaweed congealed water to attach this hook under the car, and here comes Ben marching down the beach ready to bash the shit out of us as 30 early morning joggers look on at us disheveled wretched hippies shivering in the dawn.

Similarly as I drove behind this truck my thoughts went from.

1) I’ll drive like this to Auckland and get it replaced there in a few minutes.

2) Oh what about cops… this will take me 30 minutes to get replaced in Taupo and cost 150 bucks and maybe AA will pay for it

3) This will cost me realistically about 300 or 400 bucks and take 2 hours to sort out and I’ll be late to sound check in Auckland and AA wont pay for it.

4) I’ll get pulled over by the cops fined 200 bucks before I get to Taupo which AA will take 3 hours to drive me to where I’ll spend 2 hours walking round only to find that no one actually has a replacement window and that they’ll need to courier one which wont arrive till Monday and will cost 500. In order to get to Auckland at all I’ll need to spend another 500 hiring a car which will need returning Monday when I pick up the van which will lead to taking a day off work and I have no leave left, plus I’ll get to Auckland an hr after we need to start playing and still have an hour of setting up the PA to do in front of a grumpy audience.

What actually happened was I hid close behind the truck and the 2 cop cars I passed didn’t notice my window was an oil painting and I made the bizarre last minute decision to veer of the road much too fast to stop off in Turangi (the first tiny town after the desert) and see what they knew. It’s another long story to describe the bizarre events in this little town and this crazy glass operation small business that I discovered but the upshot is that I unwittingly found the only available Econovan windscreen in the whole mid north island (including the mobile operations) and had I kept on, as I’d intended, to Taupo, option 3 above would have likely been the actual outcome.

I made it to Auckland an hour late to sound-check (which was 3 hours before the show so fine) and 300 bucks down. So for a bummer the whole thing was rather interesting and pleasant and despite my thoughts gradual descent into catastrophe I actually maintained a rather light emotional equilibrium and found myself interested by the unfolding scenario rather than panicked or frustrated.

As for the driving well that’s just part of operating as a musician at a lower level. We can’t afford to fly, hire town cars or taxi and hire a PA so we drive and bring our own

PA. I love driving through the beautiful New Zealand countryside this is Aotearoa driving round isn’t such a bad thing.

The sleep thing is a bit hard though, I get to sleep between 2 and 3 most nights on tour (and the night before a tour) and yet still wake up at 7 and can’t get back to sleep, plus I cant sleep during the day so I don’t nap later on. Finn on the other hand sleeps most nights for a good 7 hours and then sleeps for another 5 hours each day while I drive us off to the next town, lucky bastard!

This weekend leg of our tour only lost money because of the windscreen expense otherwise it would have pretty much broken even.

The thing is when you perform a thing that you feel deeply connect to in a deeply connected way in-front of people who also feel connected to you and the music, all the other considerations are irrelevant. You know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you’re where you should be, doing what you were born to do and when you feel that way you know that you are who you’re meant to be and that no matter what else, that is beautiful thing.

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