tour diary

September 5th-9th: Father's Hands Tour in NSW, Victoria & SA - Ben Grounds

THURSDAY 5/9/02 - Wagga

After what must surely have been a record in time wasting (even by Bluebottle standards!) we eventually get out of Sydney and head towards Wagga (Wagga). The place we are playing tonight turns out to be a saloon-type bar, a big-enough room with wood everywhere, wagon wheels hanging from the walls, and corrugated iron on the bar. The only thing missing was chicken wire across the front of the stage. Of course, none of it was authentic.

As it turned out, it was an eventful night. The crowd was bigger than expected, although not overly rowdy (at least until later), and ending the set with Last Cinema saw Ben attack his guitar with a drumstick (until the guitar lay unconscious in a bloody heap). Jamie, after stepping down to the dance floor, thrust his guitar ground-ward, and after some interesting and exuberant interpretive dancing, began racing across the dance floor and, at first, sliding across on his knees, then gliding gracefully prone from one side of the dance floor to the other.

Then, midway through selling a nice little amount of merch (and signing every bit of it, and some stuff that wasn't our merch), one of the guys who had some title or other at the pub all but abused me about our playing time, and implied that if we wanted to be paid we'd have to come back in the morning and continue the argument. I put up some resistance, but not much - I was a little shocked. Jamie then had a few stern words, where this guy had changed his mind to us not being paid at all now. Richo, as only Richo can, then spent the best part of an hour wearing this guy down, with the eventual result of us getting paid. This guy had lied blatantly (and would continue to do so) to make us look bad and him look good. It was easily the worst performance by a venue person I had ever seen. We were all filled equally with amazement and utter disgust. It left a very bad taste of Wagga (Wagga) in our mouths.

FRIDAY 6/9/02 - Melbourne

The drive to Melbourne took longer than it should have, partly because we were pulled over by the police. Originally because we were having an eye kept on us for speeding (teamwork...), and then when the policeman was about to leave us be, and took over us, one of the passengers in the back seat was leaning over to the front seat to deal with the inadequate tape player. The cop saw no seatbelt (correctly), the van had out of date rego (again), and we were done for, 2 years jail, surely. Generously, we were let off with a warning. Very nice people in Violet Town...

Another part of the reason we took so long to get to Melbourne was getting stuck in traffic on the way in. We still haven't figured out (or even tried to figure out) the electronic tolls, so we are relegated to the bad way. We, then, don't have time to go to the hotel where we are staying. I have done more changing of clothes in the backseat of the car than I have done in a room so far.

The show tonight was quite good - a couple of technical hitches, but otherwise fine. Justin came to watch and do merch, and lights, and had such a great time he decided we would come to Adelaide with us.

SATURDAY 7/9/02 - Adelaide

Having Justin with us for this drive was just like the old days. The van was a lot squishier, there was some friendly, funny banter, and there was someone who ordered pork chops for lunch at a service station.

This drive took an incredible 10 hours, somehow. This tour has become the 'take-longer than-need-be' tour. We almost ran out of petrol. We ran late. We listened to some questionable music. We eventually got there.

The venue we played tonight was pretty big (I don't think it would have mattered how many people we were to get, it still would look not very full.). The floor, wall and ceilings are all concrete, and the ceiling was about 100 metres high. As a result of this, the sound in the place sounded like a stadium. So tonight it sounded huge. My bass amp shook enough so that it moved a foot in one song. It was a pretty good end to the tour.

And, OH! it hits me that it's the end of the tour, and that apart from a one-off show at the metro in a couple of weeks, this could be Richo's last touring/headlining show with us. And it's kind of sad.

We get back at 2.30 to our accommodation to find that while there are enough bed spaces (there are five of us by now - Ben and Richo stayed out all night to catch the 6.30am airplane home, which would have had them home hours ago, and I'm still in Adelaide), 2 beds are doubles, crazily, and we have to share. Justin opts out and finds himself put up somewhere else. Jamie and I share. And apparently I snore sweet nothings in his ear.

SUNDAY 8/9/02 - Hay

We've decided, for the first time since I've been in the band, to split the drive up over two days. Which means we have enough time to sleep in a little, visit one of our favourite record stores, and sit down to eat, before we hit the road to hay. Whenever I visit a record store 1 of 2 things happens. Either I walk in and as soon as I step through that door, and despite any amount of preparation, I have a brain meltdown and completely forget anything I may want to look at or buy. Otherwise, as happened today, I am overwhelmed at the number of things I want to get and have a meltdown trying to decide what to get.

The drive from Adelaide (to anywhere) always turns dreamlike. The sheer hours spent on the road, with very little variation in scenery, tends to cause one to lose track of a lot of things.

I can remember it happening a long time ago, when I was about 11 or 12. Dad was driving me to Canberra for an athletics carnival, and as we were going over the Clyde Mountain, the day was just on darkness, and the effect of the sky was very similar to tonight. Half full of clouds, the sun had well and truly sunk and the sky was coloured precisely dichotomously. Those years ago it was black and a rich, burnt orange. Tonight it was cast-iron grey and a dirty grey-white. The colours were so separated that it became impossible to tell which was empty sky and which was cloud. And the more I tried, the more the shapes turned abstract. It felt like the drive had turned into a dream. Maybe it had.

Just outside of Hay we were again pulled over by the cops. We were speeding, and the rego sticker was still not updated (how could it be?). Although it was not a dominating issue, this leg of the tour could have easily and accurately been dubbed the 'cops are tops' tour. We were let off again.

MONDAY 9/9/02 - Home

Eventually and gradually the hills returned to us. We had breakfast in the town that is home to Australia's largest playable guitar. I met with THE girl in the world at Wagga (Wagga) and cruise home in slightly more style. We were a few kilometres behind the van on the way out of Wagga (Wagga), and the last I saw of the guys was when we passed them: they were stopped by the side of the road. A cop had pulled them over...


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