Saturday, March 27, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Only 4 more shows until I leave for a week in NYC.  Thank. God.

This tour is, frankly, riddled with issues.  From it's size, to the various other aspects.  This tour shall I say this....fucked.

Let's leave it at the main issue - the tour was booked before it was designed.  It's big, and complex, and tough to load in in less than 8 hours.  With a good crew and a good venue, 6-8 hours on the in, 2-3 on the out.  Bad crews? Arenas? Crappy venues?   8-14 on the in...4-6 on the out... It's ridiculous.

Anyways.  To catch up.

When we last left our adventurer, he was Akron-bound.  Akron was a fun little theater with quite an ornate house, depicting outdoor patios with frescoes and a ceiling painted blue with embedded LEDs for stars.  Very pretty.  The stage was on the smaller side, but not unbelievably so.  The hotel was a bizarre hotel/dorm mix for the University of Ohio, Akron, called Quaker Inn.  It was modeled after a grain silo, so all the walls were unfinished cement, and had no flat lines, all curves.  The hallways of rooms split off at bizarre angles making it nearly impossible to find your room without a trail of breadcrumbs. The schedule was a little weird, we didn't have load-in the first day until 2p going until 11p.  Three-show day the next day.

Between shows 2 and 3, our head carp informed me that I would be calling the pack for the third truck that night.  Usually once the load-bars are on the front half of truck two, which contains our rig, we're free to go shower and relax.  But now I would have to wait another hour to call the pack on a truck that I'd never seen before.  Needless to say, I was less than happy.  The load-out that night went super fast.  So fast, in fact, that the carps were all free from load-in to pack their truck, as they usually do.  So, I was saved...sort of.  The head carp called me out for not learning the pack as it went.  I felt for a number of reasons that I shouldn't have to call the pack as it wasn't my job whatsoever.  This quickly turned into a bit of a shouting match on the loading dock.  We both went to sleep that night extremely angry.

Eventually, the next day, we talked it over and mended things.  I ended up calling the pack that night, and have done so on our load-outs since.  I still maintain it's not within the framework of my job and shouldn't be my responsibility.  And frankly, it's just one more reason to give my 2 weeks notice.  As these reasons start adding up, the money I'm making counts less and less against all the surmounting reasons to leave.  Shame, really, I thought touring would be fun.  Apparently it's supposed to be, but this sure isn't showing it to be.

Kalamazoo, which was the one-off after Akron was actually not a bad gig.  The out went fast, again, and we were on the bus after a long day.  The thought of our travel day in St. Louis in the AM was keeping us going.

St. Louis was great.  Woke up around 10, walked around, visited the Arch and a few other sites (Cardinals baseball stadium).  Later that afternoon, caught a cab with Jeremy, the head electrician, out to a camera store where they had a Canon 5D mk ii that I was going to pick up.  It's....a fantastic camera.  Some of the most recent shots on my Flickr are from the new 5D.  Really brilliant.  Great auto white balance, solid set up.  Shoots HD video.  Awesome.

That evening, we picked up our new Ass't Electrician.  Girl named Emily.  She seems very cool - smart, hard-working, laid-back (probably most important for the gig)  As soon as we were on the bus, it was off to Fayetteville and the Walton Arts Center (as in Sam Walton, of Wal-Mart...)  It was a totally cake load-in, the house system was well designed and well-tuned, so all I asked was to put down our front-fills.  Super easy.  One simple show, then home to the hotel.  The hotel was a bit of a bust, I didn't check to see where it was first, and turns out there wasn't much around it.  So, I stayed in for the night and watched X-Files.  Could have been worse.

What WAS worse was Jonesboro, Arkansas.  One-off's in arenas are never good.  Never fun, never easy.  But take a crappy gig and add a Labor Ready crew to it? Instant death.  The load-in took a solid 12 hours.  And, really, it took the carps 12 hours.  Leaving Jeremy and I (lighting and sound) with no time to tune or focus.  So, the show was a bit of a wash.  Even worse than the long, painful, slow, aggravating load-in was the long, slow, annoying load-out.  6 hours to do what usually takes 3.  Shoot me.  It was bad.  The crew didn't want to be there, they didn't know what they were doing, and no one was feeling particularly motivated.  It was just bad.  The only saving grace was one of the downriggers, Megan, who quickly realized she could tease me...and I could do the same.  So most of my day became about hanging out with her and generally complaining about the load-in.  Good times.

Having not gone to bed till 3ish, the 8a load-in the next day in Paducah, Kentucky was a little rough.  Actually, just getting up was rough, the day itself was pretty cake.  Another house with a well-designed house system so our load-in was quick and easy.  Followed by what I felt was a well-deserved nap.  It's impressive what a little hour nap did for my concentration on the show - I was better able to deal with the few emergencies that often pop up during our first show: FOH video focus issues, com issues, yadda yadda yadda.

 Aaanyways, post-show was followed up by wings and Guinness at Buffallo Wild Wings out by the hotel, and then a good night's sleep.

Today? 3 shows, a load-out, dinner on the company, quick nap, and then an early morning flight to NYC.  Thank god.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ohhhh, the south.

I'm not good at updating this, it's true.

However, it's been a busy week.

Appleton was the first city where I wish I had had more time to really walk around a bit.  We spent...two days there, I believe.  Didn't go out the first night, was too tired.  Second night, we managed to escape for a few quick beers before the bus call.  Appleton was also the first day of our new Head Carp, TP, joining us and shadowing Jack.  Ana-Rose, our production manager was back as well to oversee.  Somewhat tumultuous.

After Appleton was the first of our 3-city tour of Illinois - Moline, Rosemont (Chicago), and Peoria.  Moline and Peoria were both hockey arenas - Moline much nicer than Peoria's...both were cold.  Both were long one-day-wonders.  The Rosemont, though, was great.  We were only there for 3 days, but it was a great crew, and the shows went smoothly.  There was something in the low-end of the system that I was having trouble pin-pointing and getting rid of, but other than that...a successful city.

The first night in Chicago was pretty low-key for me.  I was in a bit of a funk (due to the low-end issues in the rig) and didn't want to go out to the fancy steak dinner that a bunch of people were going to in Evanston.  Instead, my friend Olivia from NYU came and picked me up, we went to a local bar (tough to find out in the 'burbs) and had some beer and food.  Well, I had beer, she had ginger ale.  It was good to get a few hours to sit down and chat with her, as I hadn't seen her in months.  Those few hours ended up getting me to bed by 2a - not the restful evening I had planned on.

The following night, after yet another grueling 3-show day, Grant and I booked it back to the hotel and hopped in a cab.  The plan was to go to Grant's favourite tattoo parlour (he's from Chicago) and then I'd head off to the Oriental where Billy Elliott was (still) in tech.  And THEN head back to Rosemont for Jack's, our head carp, going-away party.

We made it to the tattoo parlour, and I'd been thinking about starting a multi-step tattoo while on the road.  Grant's had a lot of work done at Chicago Tattoo, Inc so I trusted the place.  As it turns out, I could have gotten the whole thing filled in, but instead I just got the outline:

After my tattoo, I waiting around while Grant got some work done on his knees.  He's definitely some great work done.  His work looks somewhat... "piecemeal" but it doesn't read as thrown together.  It's clear that everything is of a theme but that the piece, as a whole, has been developed gradually with every tattoo adding to the final product and it's vision.

I had planned a few months back, when we were both still in town, to stop by and say hi to Tony at the Oriental while he was in Billy Elliott tech.  After a quick beer with Grant, I managed to figure out the CTA - which is a lot like some sort of bizarro MTA rip-off....the subway version of evil Spock.  The turnstyles are the same, except you put your card in a different way.   Even the cards look the same!  Anyways, traipsed downtown, managed to find the Oriental, eventually, just in time for end of day.  So, being that it was a whole week before St. Patty's day....all the bars are busy, apparently.  Doesn't anyone work for a living anymore?? (Said by the guy who was out pub-crawling last night before his 9a showcall)  It was good to see Tony again, get caught up, spend some time with someone NOT on the tour.  Unfortunately, my beers with Tony (and my $40 cab ride back to Rosemont) made me late for Jack's shin-dig.  Although last call is 3a in IL, the bars out by us closed at midnight.  Who knew.

Now I'm settled into Knoxville, Tennessee.  We had a long, 10-hour ride from Peoria to Knoxville, arriving somewhere around 1p.  Quickly dumping my stuff in the hotel and changing, then out the door to grab some food at a local micro-brewery downtown.  I wasn't wowed by the beer, though, but the food was decent.  Dinner was at a really good little (and I mean, NewYork Tiny) sushi place called Nama. Yesterday was a fairly easy day - load-in and then a 7p show.  Followed by, of course, St. Patty's day celebrations.  There was a pub crawl in Old City - $7 for 7 bars.  Headed down there with Squeege (my A2) for an hour before some other folks joined up with us.  Having started drinking around 9p, by 1a we were all ready for bed.  Made an early night of it, as I had to be back in this very chair at 9a, ready for our lovely 10:30a show.

Thankfully we only have a 10:30a and a 7p today, so I'll go back to the hotel and take a nap between shows...

Off to Akron, OH tonight...NYC in just over a week!  It'll be good to be back...