Florida and the Midwest
Yacht Rock had an usual weekend of travel this past weekend, with two dates in Florida, and then a night in Indiana and a night in Chicago. Every gig was very different from the others, making the daily question "What are we in for today?" Here's what I remember of the trip.
Thursday: our gear left in the van and trailer Wednesday with Hans at the wheel. We flew down to Miami to meet it.
Last minute phone time before take off.
We got into South Florida just ahead of the day's first pop up shower, which hit right as we parked to go find lunch.
After an OK lunch (the food was good, but it took almost forever for it to be served), we headed to the venue, a very modern hotel in Miami Beach. Unfortunately, the shipping and receiving guys didn't quite know what to do with us, and we had to hang out for a few minutes before our path was cleared. More phone time (except for Zach).
This was one of our worst load ins ever. From the loading dock, it was down the hall, into the freight elevator, down the hall, through the parking deck, down another hall, and finally into the room.
The evening's event was some sort of corporate party. They seemed pretty into it, which made for a fairly painless event.
The post show load out was almost as difficult as load in--Hans figured out that we could cut across the parking garage and then use the garage exit ramp, and we'd be right in front of the loading dock.
Tricky, especially because yet another quick rain shower had made the ramp very slippery.
Friday: we were able to sleep pretty late before van time. Our hotel breakfast included the usual coffee, fruit, and waffles. Nothing says Miami like a waffle in the shape of Texas.
On a gas stop, Greg purchased a large quantity of watermelon. I tried to share it with him, but it was tough. When no one was looking, I also drank the juice.
Another burst of rain somewhere on I-95.
Hats? Thankfully, he bought neither.
We stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Fort Pierce, where Kip demonstrated his latest trick.
So Orlando...we played at The Plaza Live, which was opening for the first time since the shootings the week before. It's a nice room--big stage, big room. I like it.
The memorials for Christina Grimmie, shot and killed by a deranged fan after performing at The Plaza last week, were still there. In addition to the massive security presence, the local news was also out covering the reopening.
This show was pretty heavy for me--in addition to the pressure of playing our first show in what is more or less my hometown, the band was very conscious of the need to help heal Orlando. There were a few cancellations, but most of the 200+ people who'd purchased tickets showed up, desperate to get things back to normal. I hope we did our part.
One last thing: I met Mark Dannells' childhood friend tonight. His name is David Freeman, too. Weird.
Friday: another fairly early lobby call for the airport shuttle. We flew Southwest to Indianapolis while Hans drove our gear back to Atlanta.
We boarded the plane, and the stewardess was parked right in the row where I wanted to sit. When I asked for the seat, she told me I could sit down, but refused to move, so I had her butt in my face for a while as the plane filled up, which was very awkward.
She eventually moved across the aisle.
We landed in Indianapolis around lunch time with hours to kill, so we parked the rented minivans and headed out to find lunch.
Greg, Monkeyboy, and I headed to Yats, our/my favorite New Orleans restaurant in Indiana.
First, I had a plate of red beans and rice.
Then I had an 8 oz. cup of gumbo.
The food was fantastic, but we all ate waaaaaaay too much. It's a good thing we had a mile walk back to the vans.
Bicycle tire art.
Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut. Monkey is holding up his phone while singing a ditty about Kurt to the tune of Bobby Brown's My Prerogative.
We still had some time to kill before load in, so we hung out downtown. Indy is a pretty perfect city, and the weather made it even better.
A grumpy old man yelled at us as he passed by--something like "Every one of you is on a device!", to which Monkey replied, "You should see the device I have up my ass!"
The evening's gig was a birthday party in Carmel, Indiana. What a house! The party was in a big tent in the backyard, and we were given the basement as a green room. Check this out--this is all basement!
The trophy/memorabilia room with the poker table.
The wine room:
The party was in a large tent in the backyard. A tent strong enough to support those lights is a quite a structure. Bugs (gnats) were a major problem during set up, to the point where we thought we might have to go and buy bug spray in order to make it through the gig. After the sun went down, the bugs went away.
The backline company on this gig really nailed it. Their gear is really well maintained, and they had everything pretty much set up when we arrived.
Zach posing for his magazine ad?
The view out the back of the tent. It's definitely Crooked Stick Golf Course hole #9, according to local golf legend Brad Allen.
Check out these wind chimes!
Not a huge crowd (maybe a hundred people?), but they were into it from the beginning, and the female members of the audience were easy to look at. A nice night and a nice gig.
Saturday: we slept pretty late again, and then it was time to drive to Chicago. There's not a whole lot to see between Indy and Chicago, but the farmland and tiny towns along the way are picturesque.
I can't explain why, but the I-65 wind farm is still fascinating every time we drive through this part of Indiana.
Our gig for the night was a fundraiser in the ballroom at the end of the Navy Pier in Chicago.
Right off the bat, Bencuya's rented keyboard stand went down, and by chance I happened to have an eyebolt. I don't know if the SIR Chicago backline guys were impressed with the "Dave mod" to the Quiklok 642, but I can tell you that I nearly drowned in my own smugness.
The clip art I chose for the night's setlist was pretty clever, but got no reaction from the band (Kip liked it, though).
This room looks great, but the sound is...not so good. Maybe it's ok on the stage, but we were at the opposite side of the room, and the slap of the sound coming back was very strong.
Soundcheck was tough! Chicago is always very difficult when you need radio frequencies for the wireless packs, and the end of the Navy Pier has a giant cell phone tower on it. There was some weird stuff going on--my pack ended up on the same frequency as Monkey's pack, giving me a very different mix. It took a couple of minutes for Zach to troubleshoot it.
Following soundcheck, we ventured into town for food.
What the hell is that?
Nick found a good pizza place (not deep dish, but "NY style"). One of the more unusual ones we had: pizza of prosciutto, arugula, and grape tomatoes. It tasted pretty good, but there was nothing to glue it together. One bite, and it all fell into individual ingredients.
After eating, we still had a couple of hours to kill, so several of us went for a walk around town. It was a beautiful evening in Chicago.
This dude was playing Dust in the Wind on vibraphone.
One of the best things we came across was the symphony playing a concert in Grant Park at Millennium Park. This whole thing was super badass, and sounded great.
On to our gig. The auction before our part ran long, so we only got through six songs before we had to take a break for the fireworks. Those first six were tough, though. We were basically in the back of the room, and I'm sure most of the people didn't even realize there was a band playing.
Fireworks over Lake Michigan. Nice!
We went back to work for a second set, which was a bit better than the first in terms of an audience. We did fine amusing ourselves in spite of them.
We spent the night at an Aloft near O'Hare. I like the layout of these rooms, but the beds are not that great. Somebody else pointed out that it was basically a futon.
Sunday: one more early lobby call, this time for our flight home. Four bananas and a medium coffee at the gate helped me get going.
Careful with that ax, Eugene.
Shows this weekend:
Friday night in Chattanooga at Track 29.
Sunday night at Venkman's in Atlanta.