Rjd2 U.S. Tour. First Leg. Red States. Ohio to the South. Racism, Anti-Semitism, bring it on! Chain restaurants. Amazing crowds of liquored up college kids. Check. I hadn't played in the South for a couple years, but Busdriver had just recently visited on the Deerhoof U.S. tour and had some not-so-stellar stories to tell.
Rj and his boys at the first soundcheck, Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio. Sam Brown on drums, Happy Chichester on guitar, bass, and synths, and Derek some-Italian-last-name on guitar, bass, and synths. Derek and Happy also do a lot of backing vocals. RJ plays all the instruments and does a DJ and MPC thing in the middle of the set as well.
Venues, take note, put a computer backstage for the artists. As the RJ soundcheck wore on, we had done some MySpace-ing, some emailing, I got my blog readage on, and we had read some reviews of RJ's album.
Let's look closer at the humor of Columbus, Ohio.
Now, that's my kind of comedy. It's kind of bittersweet now that Linda has passed away, but like... 5 years ago, I would have pissed myself. The mullet game on this cover is pretty serious, as well.
Had I been at this concert, I probably would have been… well, honestly, I'd probably be exactly the same, but it would have been pretty sweet. I always tell Bus he should have a Jerome to bring out a mirror so he can primp and preen between songs.
Somewhere in Columbus, Ohio is a music journalist eating a lunch on Bus' dime. Not cool.
Back to the venue, where I needed to use the restroom. As a German and Ukranian Jew, when I see a restroom like this, a shower with caged lights, a drain way outside of the actual shower, and big cinderblock walls, needles to say, I get a bit uncomfortable. Thanks Ohio State University.
This dude was totally calling me out on not partying before me and Bus took the stage. Sorry bro, but I'm feeling a little under the weather.
Out to the merch table. The lobby of Wexner Center kinda had some art gallery vibage going on. I wasn't too mad at it.
This girl, on the other hand, was not too psyched. She wanted to know when RJ was going to use the turntables. He got a lot of that on this tour. The dude with her is Jermaine (hope I spelled it right, dude). He's RJ's tour manager, lead driver, and the mastermind at Weightless. He also has mean game. Tucked in shirt game. And ladies, he's single.
After we tour the show down, my dude finally showed us some love.
Next day, on to Kentucky. We crashed at a house with cats, so my mellow was harshed pretty hard. It's cool though, I don't need to be healthy to rock. We rolled into Lexington basically unshowered, unrested, and unable to get a soundcheck, so we cruised the streets looking for grinds and I needed a belt.
A harbinger of things to come. Little did the South know, but a terrible beast of a live show was coming to prey upon its meaty hip-hop sensibilities and slake its thirst on its merch table dollars.
I paid a little extra and went to a pretty killer Italian spot and ate some crab cakes and a nice salad, but Bus opted for Kentucky fried eggroll at the only Thai restaurant within 100 miles of Lexington... blowin' it...
Basically, I dedicate every show on this tour to this dude. The strength and courage it takes to carry that one dread, held to his natural hair by only the slightest elastic band. That's courage. He's making a statement. I think when the local Adolph Rupp-types gather around him, he probably snatches off his “Reggae Braid” and hides it in his pocket.
I'd be lying if I said that we watched RJ's band every night. We didn't. Sorry. But in the great Karmic circle, I was assaulted by this feral woman who warned me with her t-shirt that was more iron-on than iron-ic. Next leg RJ, we're there every night bud.
Sometimes you're walking in a small town like Lexington, kinda skipping out on the headliner's set, and you're like, thinking you're not gonna see anything exciting, but the air feels nice, and you're psyched to be on the road, and then, all of a sudden, you see something your life is incomplete without. That's what this had was. And I'll never own it. When you see me, and I'm only a shell of a man, you know why.
I live in LA, and I know I have that big city mentality, like I have seen everything or like we're way ahead of the rest of the country. Dude. New rave is back in Lexington. Kinda. It's actually old-rave, but it's therefore retro and not a mock-up of what the rave scene in my late high school, early college years was. Well played Kentucky. I did notice a severe lack of glow-stickage though. I couldn't get any Vap-O-Rub to save my life, either.
We walked into the house we were crashing at, and I saw this on the wall, and I new it was going to be a night to remember. I got one of the girls we were staying with to get her mom on the horn, she told me she'd probably still be up and may be just coming home from a date. I told the mom I was in the Silver Bullet Band, and that Bob was interested in hanging with her after I brought her daughter on the bus to party. Now... I know you think you know where this is going. Think again. The mom asked me to kidnap her daughter, who would then give her directions to her house so we could kidnap her. Shame on you mom! Call me...
This is the room I slept in. If you read this, and see this photo, you have been put on notice. Clean your shit up. You should be ashamed of yourself. I didn't touch anything, and actually slept on top of the covers in my clothes from the day, plus my jacket.
The following night, we played Nashville. We were hanging with some pretty important music-biz types, so I didn't feel comfortable taking any pics. I did, however, get to spend some much-needed time in the company of Soda, the Mush Records Svengali-dog. He rules the Nashville digs of Mush's co-founder Cindy, and is just a pleasure to be around. Sorry Nashville. You were fun.
The following night we played Little Rock, AK. I have to admit, I was not feeling too photo happy because that night I jumped on a plane back to LA to shoot an ad for a sneaker company and their new apparel line. Sorry about that. I will relay a funny story about Little Rock, though. So... Bus and I are having dinner in the restaurant attached to the venue, and we order our food. Bus is a veggie, barring the occasional fish dish, and I only do fish and fowl. So... he asks for the cheese fries, which for some reason come with “a heap of bacon” on top. Bus sheepishly asks the waitress if he can have it without bacon, and she sort of puts her pen down, and looks at him with her head cocked and asks, “Why would you want that without bacon?” Yikes!
So... On Thursday morning I got on a plane and flew in to Austin for SXSW and the rest of the RJ tour. Bus came and swooped me up in the Avenger, and we cruised in to town where we did a total of 8 shows in 48 hours.
A couple weeks before I left on the road, I got an email from Martin from A Certain Ratio about my Busdriver/ACR blend. We shot a couple messages back and forth, and finally he told me he was going to be in Austin, and asked when we were playing so he could come and check us out. That was probably one of my highlights of this year's SX. Dude was mean cool and came to the Larimer Lounge party, as well as the Mush Records Showcase.
Desert Eagles, one of the prime pieces of the Antimc band, was DJing at the Fader house when Bus and I started making our rounds of the parties/shows. You gotta respect the V-neck and skinny gold chain game.
Thursday night was my highlight. Not just cuz I was playing the very first Antimc solo show ever (if you don't count the one at the Echo in 2004 at which I sort of jammed on a couple of the songs from the Run EP). But, it was at a flippin' BMX ramp, and a BMX ramp that belongs to one of the most epicly bodaysh BMX lines out, TerribleOne. Plus, we played with one of the heshest bands I've heard ever, Portals. If you haven't checked them out yet, psssssh... BTW, Scott from KFM, my English/European label took this photo.
Here's another photo from the T1 show, this one from Sandy from T1's killer blog. Even in black and white, Them Jean's outfit is making my lines of resolution freak out.
Mush has a bunch of photos up from the SXSW Showcase, so I won't bore you (I took the photos for them, too), but this pic is pretty funny. King Bussy at the Controls. You can tell it's a real professional gig when one of the artists that's playing that night is running the board and there's no sound dude in sight.
Them Jeans couldn't make it to the Mush showcase cuz he was back in LA opening for the Clipse at the El Rey, but me and Eags held it down real nasty with all of Jeansies parts blaring off my iPod. Again, another photo from Scott at KFM.
Saturday morning it was time for a great veggie friendly breakfast with Scott and Lydia from KFM and Sandy from T1 and his lady Jenn. Topics of discussion: English pop, specifically the Cheeky Girls, Becks' move to LA, turning Her Majesty's Edinburgh castle into a gnarly skate/BMX park, and some other stuff that was not as important, like an Antimc European tour that may or may not happen this year. A great way to wrap up a hectic couple of days. (Here's what our schedule looked like:
Thursday: I land at 11am, SXSW Convention Center gig at 2:30pm, Waterloo Records In-Store at 5pm, pick up my equipment, T1 gig at 7:30pm, hit the streets; Friday: Antimc DJ gig for Urb Magazine Party from 12-1pm, Larimer Lounge party with Bus at 2pm, DIW party w/ Daedelus at 5pm, soundcheck and run Mush Record Showcase at 6pm-2am.... PHEW!)
We rolled into Houston in the afternoon, looking for a hotel room and some trouble to get into. We found both in the Fifth Ward, but didn't want any part of either. So... we headed on down to the venue and got set up. The backstage smelled like ass, so we headed out and got some Chinese food in Houston's downtown Chinatown-esque area. Now... Busdriver will back me on this. There was a dish on the menu called Sha-Sha-Shrimp. True Story.
We checked out the college-y party area of Houston, it was, after all, St. Patrick's Day, and there is nothing a Black man and a Jew want to celebrate more than and Irish Catholic saint's feast. The evening was pretty much a bust, but, again, through the workings of the great Karmic machine that operates above my comprehension, I found a sign that basically sums up my dating habits. Chew on that Bob Jones University (which we did drive by on a visit to a South Carolina Cracker Barrel).
We eventually found a motel that was up to scratch, and had a great night's sleep. The next morning, I had to take a photo in the sort-of Indian inspired miniature hallway that seemed to extend forever like some weird Eastern mystic Escherian corridor.
This was halfway down the hall. Seriously. Wow. I got a bit disoriented.
Our Road to Damascus moment happened somewhere in East Texas in a Dairy Queen as Bus bought a Blizzard. I turned the corner near the counter, and found a sticker dispenser with these amazing images and catch phrases. Now... follow me... “Tricked Out”.... Do you know what that means?!?!?! “Keep it on the Down Low”?!?!?!? These stickers combine weird racist undertones, as well as homo-erotic subtexts, and just some kind of creepy imagery to create the most brilliant thing a quarter can buy in these United States.
Hey America, are you friggin' kidding me!? It's 2007, and New Orleans is still a mess! Get it together! A city that's always had a special mystique for me, I have family from New Orleans, and it's a city my parents loved to visit and often talked about with great love when I was little. Now to see it like this is a sad, sad day. We drove through parts of the city where there really was no city left, that were basically unfit for human living. Jeez. This boat was parked on the top of the parking lot of our motel, which had been hit by Katrina and was in the process of remodeling. Our room was filled with mold and the ceiling looked like they were gonna cave in, but, we're traveling on a budget folks.
In somewhat metaphorical fashion, our room had a cockroach shaped hole in the wall. I didn't even trip off the show that night (even though we killed it), because I was bumming on how the city is still being neglected. I know it sounds a bit college-girl of me, but it's true. It was quite disheartening.
I did, however, not miss a chance to have some normalcy on this trip to New Orleans, grubbing some begniets and some barbecued shrimp. Sort of anti-climactic after the heady political diatribe, but isn't that how life is?
The night after New Orleans, we played in Atlanta. We headed straight to the venue and played the show (it's a long drive, and you pile on an hour crossing time-zones). So, I didn't really bother taking photos. The one thing that was cool, though, was that I saw my old friend Ajay's band, The Bent Moustache, is opening the Sebadoh tour, their first time touring the US. Congrats Ajay!
On the way to Carrboro, we stopped for gas and I used the bathroom. On my way out the door, I spotted this gem of racist homoeroticism. Hey South, you're halfway there! I suppose there's some ageism at play there, too. I feel especially sensitive since I'm 29 and outside of the target demographic.
Okay Carborro, I see how you party. Let's get into some things.
Now... when I moved in with my girlfriend, she already had our crib decorated. But there would have to be some things that I put my foot down on, some deal breakers. This is one of those things. Look at these little angels. Unfortunately, my camera phone can't really capture all of the nuance.
Charlottesville, or “Harlotsville” as Bus dubbed it, kinda bummed me out. It was like a giant plantation. And the parties afterwards were all filled with drunk waspy kids trying to make love connections so they could find a suitable beau to bring to the lake this summer. Pssssh... I see you America's future. The only bright spot was Lew. Holla.
Yo DC, you're scaring me. I've been to DC twice but never once to all the monuments and all that, just the gnarly parts. It's a cool city, but it's got to clean up it's act a bit. Hey, you're our nation's capitol. If you were New York or LA, I'd understand. They do need a pair of Senators though, and some real Representatives. Even the cops drive with license plates that say “Taxation Without Representation.” When cops are talking shit on the man... whoa...
Tour face in full effect. Backstage at the 930 Club. It must have been different when Bad Brains and Minor Threat and Teen Idles were coming up. Not at one point in the night did I feel up against it at that place. Definitely a highlight venue.
That poison looked like that at 7pm when they brought it up and at 1am when we were splitting back to the hotel. That's how we roll.
Baltimore, Maryland, or Bodymore, Murderland, depending on whom you ask. Last night of this leg, and the crowd was pretty psyched for RJ. Bus had never played here, and I had only once come through on the Mush tour backing Radioinactive. So... we had to do what we do, and bring the party.
The boys from RJ's band wished us safe travels back to LA, and we them to Columbus.
Jermaine packed up all of the merch and counted the last bit of money, and gave the ladies of Baltimore a night off.
Busdriver and I packed up the car and headed back to our hotel on the outskirts of Baltimore, foraging for food on a search that would eventually lead us to Italiano's and the land of the ultimate wigged out thugs.
Then it was a hop, skip, and a jump home to Los Angeles. One leg down, one to go. Pound it!
Part Two: Red State Rumble