tour diary

April 18th-May 5th: Revenge is Slow Tour in Victoria, SA & WA - Ben Grounds

THURSDAY 18/4/02 - Driving to Ballarat

It wasn't a great start this morning - we ran very late to a schedule which would already have us pushed for time. Everyone was a little tired and cranky, and the van fell silent very quickly.

Half the band flew, doing what we all wish we could do, and avoid the drive. I actually don't mind the driving, although I think this will be the last time I will spend 15 hours of the 25th year in a van.

There'll be no speeding to make up on this morning's lost time: not because we like to abide by the law, but because our van can't go fast enough to break the speed limit.

We pass a car, somewhere along the highway, with a dream catcher (one of those string, woven devices you might find in an alternative-type store) hung on the rear vision mirror. I hope for the drivers' sake his dream catcher doesn't get used too often.

Tragedy struck on the way to Ballarat. A mud sludge exploded in Ben's bag. It obviously affects him deeply - he abandons his favourite little bag and, get this (!), asks ME to help him find another bag. I knew deep down he respected my baggage fashion.

Being on the road must be, I imagine, a bit like being at sea. Since we got out of Sydney there was very little traffic, and by the time night falls I'm at the wheel again and the darkness seems to stretch infinitely. Fortunately, vehicles travel on a road, our guidance; else we'd be drowning in the night. It seems like it would be easy to feel drowned in the night at sea, endlessness in every direction. I'm glad we don't tour by boat…

We eventually make Ballarat (and in time!) and are welcomed by the very hospitable manager of the venue, who helps make the night move well. The show didn't enjoy a sold out room but those who were there more than made up for it, especially the old guy who went nuts on the dance floor.

We had to drive back to St Kilda in Melbourne to our hotel. After almost getting lost (I wonder how the electronic tolls work?), and then having a cab pull up beside us and tell us that our trailer door had flung open some way back (we pulled up to fix it, and a couple of minutes later the same cab returned with the stuff that had fallen out! What a great cabbie…I hope he got everything) we get back to our hotel at about 4. I almost, then, have spent 24 hours awake for my birthday.

FRIDAY 19/8/02 - The Evelyn, Melbourne

Today was mostly spent sitting around. Eventually we mosey on over to the venue, where Ben immediately set to beating the high score on the Galaga machine there. In a trend that has seen some role identification within the camp recently Peter assumed the task of lights for the evening (his light work was so impressive during our set it garnered an encore).

As I was setting my gear up, I lay my guitar case down on the floor in front of the stage and, glancing to my left, saw… a steamy dog poo. I tried to pretend it wasn't there for a long time, until it eventually got the better of me and I had to have the people remove it.

The room began filling up early, and we played to a nicely-sized and -enthused crowd. We rocked all night; I had heaps of fun tonight.

SATURDAY 20/4/02 - Adelaide

I've gradually began to take on some (more) organizationally significant duties, and this morning that involved waking everyone four hours after they'd gone to bed so we could hit the road with plenty of time to get to Adelaide. This task was one of the most difficult of my life…

At some town, a long way from anywhere (every town between Adelaide and Melbourne seems to be a long way from anywhere), we turn off the highway to get some lunch. At the roundabout we turn off an elderly gentlemen is driving one of those scooter/ motorized buggy things you commonly see elderly people drive. It is less common to see them driving them on the highway. That was interesting enough, I thought, but then the story gained a vampire and the police, who were half a kilometre behind us, pulled him over! Apparently police in the Tidiest Town in Australia (2001) are currently targeting: the elderly.

I don't need help having trouble sleeping, so the confine of the van makes concrete my desperate-lack-of-sleep situation. Eventually we are relieved of our travelling prison and load up those stairs to the Enigma Bar.

We strategised to duck back to our (very swish) hotel after sound check and again my new-found duties had me running around like a sheepdog trying to round everyone up in very little time. I succeeded, but only just.

We played well tonight; the crowd was a sellout and we had lots of fun. Some may have been privilege to see a new rock move in my repertoire - the 'leg up' is what I call it, but my positioning on stage meant I was doing it on Richie's traps case and not on the monitors.

The other special occurrence during tonight's show was Ben's very moving hi-hat work in a usually hi-hat-less Fathers Hands.

The half of us that I am a part of opts for an early night, so we get a quick bite to eat and make it back to our hotel by 4.

I must surely have done something to very thoroughly upset the sandman because I jolt awake this morning at eight o'clock with a headache fit for nightmares in a z-grade film.

It gets way past check-out time and I find myself woken (thank goodness I got another hour). And if I was the enemy yesterday for getting everyone going then today surely I am evil. Jamie and I make today's instore in a rush, but in less of a rush than Ben, who has last night's cloud hanging over him still. This instore is atypically devoid of natural (and other) light. Perhaps relatedly it is enjoyable, sounds good and is well received.

I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the shops of Adelaide, and enjoy myself spending way too much. People seem surprised I can do this, but in my (fairly limited) experience seem often to suffer from grass-is-greener syndrome.

My virgin visit to the Grace Emily hotel leaves me almost as impressed as I have been told I should be. Personally, I enjoyed a solo set, and the appreciative crowd grew handsomely through the night.

And as soon as the van and trailer were packed (for the umpteenth - and it was beginning to show), and our farewells bid to Adelaide and its very hospitable people, started the long drive home. I assumed first shift and led the van diving headlong into endless darkness. After propping myself up on appropriate crutches, I finally conceded to tiredness, did swapsies, and the rest of the trip was as much of a dream as the beginning.

There's a stretch of business near my home that we refer to as Little America. I have noticed on this trip that roadhouses seem to be morphing into their own little self-contained Little America. Like a mini food court, the bleary eyed, over-tired, desperately hungry sound artist is rendered haplessly assaulted by the over-selection of bad food. It becomes increasingly difficult to feel to have eaten healthily.

Justin has been a bit of a messiah on this tour, cradling the young and enthusiastic under his wing and helping them grow.

THURSDAY 2/5/02 - Western Australia

Justin isn't with us on this leg, and that's most ironic because of all the legs of the tour this is the one he should most be on. So not only does he forego the chance to revisit his old stomping grounds, there will also most likely to be no spring chickens growing into mother hens this time around.

The flight was ordinary, some very suspicious food served for breakfast, and not-quite-enough shoulder and leg (and arm) room. We are warmly and kindly greeted by our people in Perth airport, then pack the van (a new Tarago(!) with all the cool stuff but no CD player) to drive the 3 hours to Margaret River.

The landscape seems to be a tiny bit more interest on this side of the continent, but that might be because it is a tiny bit different. Nothing interesting happens on the drive. Actually lots of uninteresting stuff happens.

The venue is just under capacity for this show, and we have lots of rider…I mean fun. All the events of today, though, pale in comparison to the end of the night.

When we were packing the van, we finished to discover four strangers perched in the back of the van (we don't have a trailer so that leaves only the two front seats). I give the only guy of the four a 'what's-going-on-here' look, to which he replies: "I'm afraid I'm going to have to close this [van] door now". After convincing this guy that he didn't have much longer in the van, he and his girlfriend exited the van, as did the other two girls (one of which had donned my jacket with no intention of returning it). Eventually these to girls convinced us that we should give them a lift home, so we all get in (minus bloke and girl) and follow some dodgy directions that first take us well away from buildings and into deep, dark forest, and then we turn off for the cemetery!

On the way they offer us, tactlessly, something none of want. It seems to me a little worrisome that these girls would suggest such things to a car-full of strange guys on a dark dark night, on a forest-framed track out the back of somewhere that's in the middle of nowhere. (Upon being asked our identity, we have the girls believe we are both the Cockroaches AND the Wiggles!).

Subsequent to our more tactful rejection, our two foreign passengers expressed (loudly and forcefully) their disbelief at our non-acceptance.

After becoming a little unsettled at the direction of the situation, we eventually reach a house (that belongs to the guy we didn't give a lift) and again tactfully decline the girls' offer to come in for a cup of coffee (maybe they agreed that if the direct methods didn't work, the indirect method would?), they waved goodbye. And in the exertion of waving goodbye one of them, in slow motion, fell over.

We were never in Margaret River…although I did get a chance to have a look at the famed surf break before we drove back to Perth. It seemed to take a long while to get there, and a fit of health consciousness saw the van end up smelling like bananas, or at least their natural wrappers.

Our Uni show after some huffs and puffs from a gear provider) was quite good; a nicely full room kept us company. At one stage I glanced over to see Ben outside the back-of-stage (and-out-onto-the-outside-steps) door, which I thought reflective of Ben - hauntingly inconspicuous in presence but not in effect.

We then hurried off to the Grosvenor, and discovered they do a good meal. Other discoveries made there: a) I am not very good at pool, and neither is Ben; b) its very hot tonight; c) Adam Said Galore are a very good band; d) both Adam Said Galore and our look-after-us-while-we're-here-tonight person, Sarah, are very helpful and generous; e) one shouldn't carry someone else's speaker box by only one of the two handles; f) I should have changed bass strings before the show; and g) one should always gaffer tape the guitar strap to the guitar.

Some way through the set (I can't remember which song) a man (who, obviously, was caught in- and understood the intensity of- the moment) placed himself right up front with two big bunched of keys (one in each hand) and, with his hands well above his head, shook, in time with the song.

My earlier discovery of tonight being hot was solidified by being onstage - it was incredibly hot onstage. Sometimes things are more fun when you get hot and sweaty.


The instore goes well today, and I manage to continue my buy-a-record-at-every-instore habit.

Driving to Bunbury brings out the 'are we there yet?' in everyone. We all seem a bit tired tonight over dinner.

I almost get to see the sun set over the ocean today. I've never seen that before (not very well travelled, am I?).

The show at Bunbury saw some funny things happen. The two girls who danced our whole set, almost alone the entire time, had the very rare privilege of receiving some dating/dancing advice from Jamie. And every single member of the unremarkably-sized crowd was witness to a rare public performance of Jamie's scat/rap/rock/wail vocal stylings over a dirty blues-metal riff we were jamming on. And that impossibly huge note Jamie hit (and held!) to finish the piece was...well…something.

I was also very impressed by the two underage girls who sat outside the pub all night to hear us play.

If Bunbury was a little sleepy-headed on Sunday, Freemantle was a hive of activity. After some wandering (eventually, some wandering) we enter the beginning of the end of this while tour. Mojo's is a fantastic room and we have lots of fun, running the risk and doing a couple of songs not usually in our set (such rebels!).

After bidding farewell to all our (present at the show) WA friends, we load the van for the last time and get to the airport in time to spend the morning (all of it from 12am) on some planes. Which I'd rather not talk about. (I do threaten to fork out, just once, for one of those big seats)…


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