Demons Dance Alone - Tour journal

 THURSDAY

 February 27, 2003

OSLO- Rockefeller Music Hall
HOTELLIE….

 Got off the bus around 7am, all of us stumbling single file and bleary eyed over icy sidewalks, suitcases in tow, disoriented and much colder than we were last night in Holland. The cold I was catching back in San Francisco has come on full force, and I try to avoid hitting my friends’ feet as I spit yellow loogie after loogie onto the clean streets of Oslo.  


We arrive at our hotel, which is immense and very swanky. Breakfast is being served, so after going to our rooms to change out of sweaty slept-in clothes, we converge on the buffet, which features a lovely assortment of cereals, eggs, pickled things, meats and fresh fish. There is some sausage that is black in color which we later found out was horse. I didn’t get around to eating that. 


We haven’t even done our “official” first show yet and I am already exhausted. It feels as if we’ve been on the road for weeks. I take a small walk with X and even though we have been very careful to stay close to the hotel, we both have horrible senses of direction and get lost anyway.


For such a rich country, Norway (Oslo at least) doesn’t spend much on its store mannequins. We passed a few expensive dressy lady shops, and the mannequins all had on these rug-like old lady wigs. Maybe the Norwegians don’t think having mannequins with nice hair is a priority. I can’t understand it myself, but that’s what makes the world go round, I guess. While we were out we also saw a Cadillac brand tanning bed. Sometimes I have fantasies of spending my entire tour paycheck on some weird and useless item. It would make me feel richer, I think, to own some large and useless expensive thing like a Cadillac tanning bed. I could casually tell people “I picked that up in Oslo”.


There are some hours to kill before we go to the venue. I spend them between the sheets of my soft cozy Norwegian bed and watch BBC soap operas, blowing my nose and sneezing and trying to tell myself that it’s just allergies.

 
The show happens late tonight…10 or so. There’s lots of time to kill, and we sit around the venue eating more yummy snacks and waiting for sound check. This is an important show, it is being broadcast all over Norwegian television and I don’t think the Residents have ever played here before, so people are curious and very excited. The place is sold out, or very nearly so. I am in a strange and somber mood and instead of feeling inspired by my nervousness, I feel dejected by it, as if I already know I will not do a good job tonight.

LATER

 …And I have what I feel to be the worst show I’ve ever had. From the beginning, things were a disaster for me…  I couldn’t hear myself for 90% of the show’s duration, and I knew I was singing off-key but by the time I hear myself the words had already come out.  The audience was l a r g e and enthusiastic and ready to party.  I think they had a good time and would’ve no matter what.  I just felt awkward and lame.

 During “Golden Goat” the demon and I are playing chase, and I slip and fall and land on the back of my head. It didn’t really hurt.  It more shocked me, but I was really upset by the end of the show and just wanted to be out of there.


There was a small gathering backstage after the show and I packed up as quickly as I could, feeling embarrassed by my lackluster performance, and bummed that it was being recorded! The guys in Turbonegro came to the show and were backstage for a little party.  I packed up and then walked back to the hotel with some of the other kids. 

We have to get up around 5am to make it to the airport in plenty of time to go to our next destination. I can’t go right to sleep even though I will get about only 3 hours. So I am going to watch this awesome Australian soap opera where everyone seems good hearted but keeps getting into trouble with the law. 

FRIDAY
2/28/03
 ST PETERSBURG 

Backstage at Port - 8pmish.


Tired. How can this only be show 2? Everyone is tired, cold, hungry, and trying to fix things that apparently broke somewhere along the 11 or so hours of traveling we’ve done today. We took 2 planes to get here: from Oslo to Stockholm, Stockholm to St Petersburg. The Sweden to Russia trip was a nightmare for the other passengers on the flight. Our gear exceeded the weight allowance so we had to hold up the flight for about and hour as X went through gear cases on the snowy runway, grabbing out the necessary things and handing us stuff to hold on our laps, while we kissed the big cases goodbye and told them we hoped to see them again someday. What are you gonna do?? The show must go on. I wonder what people thought when they saw me carrying combat boots and a camouflage dress with big built-in conical boobs through the airport. My cold has gone full-blown, and my ears felt like they were going to implode during both landings today. I always always get sick on tour, just not usually at the very beginning.


The place is huge and it’s very cold backstage. We are trying to dry our sweaty, stinky costumes with space heaters. I can’t believe how bad they already smell after only 1 show. The Marimba Lumina seems to have broken down somehow and the accordion isn’t functioning properly. Nothing is set up onstage yet. No one’s eaten dinner, which was supposed to be served at 5pm.  We didn’t even get here till 7:30. Unfortunately we will see nothing of St Petersburg cause we go to Moscow early tomorrow morning.  In the past 48 hours we’ve slept around 4 hours. The vibe is weird right now, none too cheerful as everyone tries to fix their broken things and adjust to having no control of their lives for three weeks.
 

9pm- we got dinner, which was good and served in a surreal fancy v.i.p. loft in the upper quadrant of the club. Our costumes are dry and there is a smell in the air that is specifically the mixture of the b.o. of Singing Resident, Demon, and me.  It smells like rotting feet.

Post show, 3:30 am, hotel


That was a great show! The audience was amazing. A really great feeling for everyone, I think. Amazingly no one’s anything malfunctioned, at least I haven’t heard it did. We all feel much better than we did before the show, when we were freezing and trying to nap or do something. It took a long time to load out because there was no curtain and we had to wait around for the hall to clear out. I killed time by going out into the venue and trying to be suave about taking covert pics of the crowd. Of course, my camera has a flash so it was pretty obvious. A few people came up to me and wanted my autograph. I don’t know how they knew but I was into talking to some people from St Petersburg! I was happy to sign the things and I got some photos with a couple people. They felt like people I would be friends with if I lived in their town, and it was a sweet fleeting connection. Then it was time to get on the bus. The promoters arranged for two charming, intelligent ladies from St Petersburg to give us a guided tour from the bus, so we drove around town in the middle of the night as two ladies told us things about the history of their city. I’ve never seen any city so beautiful as St Petersburg in the snow at night. I hope to one day come back here. A really incredible place.
What is it like to live here? You don’t have much money but you have a lot else. So much history.   I hear the people are very intelligent. I sound like a f***in idiot. Time to sleep-we have Moscow in the morning. 

There is free porn on TV, so me and my roommate watch it for a few minutes because there’s a part of our brains that believes we are really still in America and are getting over on the hotel management.

 SATURDAY

MARCH 1 2003

 10amish-waiting for a plane. St Petersburg airport

 It felt leisurely to sleep 4 ½ hours last night. Breakfast was super weird and not so good, but it was nice to eat something hot. There were some Latin soccer players and a large group of British schoolboys who were incredibly well behaved, especially considering there was no guardian in sight. I wonder what they’re doing here. I wonder if they wonder what we’re doing here, and think about what we could pass for as a group. I wouldn’t say band is the first thing that would come to anyone’s mind. Maybe a group of renegade geologists? Tired teachers from a girl’s school, together on a trust building workshop?


It is snowing outside, and I snap photos of anyone not yet inside the van. I have doubts about coming back here. I want all the memories I can get. We pass many people in fur hats and long coats, waiting for buses and hitchhiking. The morning is just beginning and we are already saying goodbye…not even 24 hours to spend in this beautiful place.

Hello MOSCOW March 1 2003

 Early afternoon….

 We are staying at the amazing Hotel Ukrania again. What a haunted place! I have my own room and I feel like someone much more interesting than myself in these walls. There is no one calling me by my name, nothing familiar except my luggage, and that could be anybody’s.  I have just enough time to take a small nap before we go to the club for set up.

 LATE-LATE NIGHT/EARLY-EARLY MORNING MOSCOW HOTEL AGAIN…

Tonight’s show was completely weird. Aside from being on a tiny stage in a tiny room, the crowd was spotty in attendance and the vibe from them was just unreadable/unfeelable. We were never sure whether they were into the show or bored or what…it’s funny what happens to you psychologically in small spaces because we were directly at eye level with the audience and with so little room to perform, it was impossible to feel free to do big or new things.  It felt more like being a bull in a china closet. On the upside, I love being face to face with an audience, usually, as long as they’re behaving somewhat.  It’s so cool to see audiences in different parts of the world, and to have the chance to observe the different nuances that exist within all the archetypes. There was a guy in the front row that looked like the perfect Residents fan.  He transcended geography and linear time. Big beard, black coat and old rock t-shirt, wide eyes, such a nice face. I tried to take a pic of him at curtain call. I hope it comes out. 

The food at 16 Tons is the best we will have all tour.  I already know this. The place is freakin amazing!  I ate my weight today…  All told, I had Chateau Briand, blinis with black caviar, borscht, chicken soup with perogis, salad, fresh fruit, espresso, and explosive diarrhea.

  As we were all waiting to go back to the stage to do the encore, a skinny guy with a big DJ bag full of CD’s barged into the dressing room saying, “finished??” The 16 Tons turns into a disco as soon as the art band show is finished, and this DJ wasn’t wasting any time! With the musician’s instruments still warm from their touch, the DJ (who was actually a CDJ since I didn’t see any vinyl anywhere) turned what had been a gallery of seemingly unimpressed Muscovites into a thumping, if barren, dance floor.
Someone in the band started dancing kind of sarcastically, as a joke. It caught like wildfire, and soon much of the crew/band was shaking it on the dance floor and finally, on the stage. It was as if no one else existed, and we definitely got our freak on. The best part was, after seeing us make complete asses of ourselves, most of the rest of the people in the disco felt pretty cool compared to how we danced, so by the time we left we had pumped that place into a throbbing disco inferno.


We got to see our friend Vladimir, who was the promoter last time, and our excellent buddy Milla, who is special to us all. That was great. A fan who was drunk and heckling at the St Petersburg show sent me a huge bouquet of flowers and a note apologizing for being so wasted and yelling!  I couldn’t believe it. He apparently was at tonight’s show, but I wouldn’t know for sure cause I didn’t hear a peep.


 I love that this is my reality, at least for tonight.  It’s so hard to find one’s place in the world.  I usually feel so lost and wishy-washy. At least this is something concrete. There are always songs from the show in my head, and with Demons I am never bothered by any of them that get stuck in my head. “Life Would be Wonderful” is in my head now, and I feel like life is perfectly wonderful, here in the wee hours of Moscow. 

AEROFLOT- plane from Moscow to Warsaw MARCH 2, 2003

 So refreshed after a hearty 3 hours of sleep. I woke up angry to be getting out of bed after so little rest, and was a total asshole to the receptionist because I didn’t have my lottery ticket for breakfast and was therefore denied access.  I hate the feeling of being enraged first thing in the morning, and wish I had taken a shower instead of worrying about eating the crappy food at breakfast anyway. My feet are sweaty from the 2 days of the same thick assed socks, eyes red and bone dry from the flying and the not sleeping. Dry flaky hands and sticky fingers, grimy fingernails….aaaah, the life of touring.  It was a nightmare getting out of Moscow airport. There were some very crabby ladies at the X-ray machine who demanded that we turn cases this way and that way…  no, that’s not the right way. We were all kind of shaking with lack of sleep and desire for water. Some of us stayed up and did it Moscow style, and that still drunk smell is among us.


SUNDAY MARCH 2, 2003
WARSAW

Teatr Roma 

I have only been to Warsaw once before, for Icky Flix, but both times I have had this feeling, this heavy sadness that comes over me as the bus travels down empty streets and I imagine what happened here not so long ago. Maybe it’s cause both times we’ve been here on a Sunday.  Is that even true? Maybe it’s the weather…cold and rainy. Regardless, I feel sad here and heavy in my heart. There has been suffering virtually everywhere that there has been man, but here it feels closer, as if there are traces of those horrible frightened feelings still in the air here.


On a lighter note, something so Spinal Tap-ish happened earlier. We always are met by the club promoter at the airport, and it’s kind of like a blind date: you know a little bit about each other, but you’re not really sure what you’re looking for. So this guy comes up to us and says “I’m blah blah.  I’m the promoter”…  so he and our tour manager exchange pleasantries and after we are sure that we are all assembled and that all our gear made it, he helps us carry everything outside to the parking lot, where we are met by our bus.
”OK”, he says...  ”I have seven rooms booked for you and you will go to the hotel now”.  Our tour manager tells him “No! No hotels! We go directly to the gig- we don’t need a hotel tonight because we go by bus to Berlin after the gig!” The promoter says “NO! What? But you told me seven rooms”….


It turns out the guy was a promoter from another club, at the airport to meet a Swedish folk band!  I just wish the miscommunication could’ve lasted long enough for us to get to the venue where the folk band was going to play...  How far could that have gone? Would anyone have noticed if the Residents had showed up instead of the folk band? Our audience would probably find it par for the course if the Residents had morphed into an unmasked Swedish folk band, I think.


LATER>> 

The venue was a genuine theatre theater, with a huge beautiful stage and great acoustics. Just as there are usually the depressing psychological effect of performing on a tiny stage, there is this great feeling of freedom and inspiration that occurs on such a large stage. Each show is different depending on what kind of venue you’re in. Such is the beauty of touring and this show can really grow in a place where there’s room to do so. Everyone gave a great performance tonight, trying new things and on top of it, and it felt like the audience was really with us.  I loved every minute of the show tonight. 

There was a woman backstage who was acting as security, but more for the theater’s well being than ours. She was a pretty middle aged lady, and she had a lot of dignity about her job and sat with good posture and never looked annoyed by her task. She wasn’t so generous with the smiles, but she seemed like a great grandma, like if you knew her you would love her.


She had the Communist thing going on, where sensuality isn’t part of the deal. You have your duty, and it is your duty. It’s kind of Zen in a way, acceptance without emotional reaction. Or maybe she just had a poker face.

030303 MONDAY
BERLIN

SCHILLERTHEATER 

The theater is big, nice and very gratifying, staffed with nice people who are very good at what they do. You know that just by eating the food and talking with the various employees. A very good feeling here. Ticket sales are not so good and that is sad. It’s hard to know why anything goes the way it does. Are there new people who will care about The Residents who haven’t heard them yet? How many people come to shows on a lark, with friends or on a date as something weird to do? What do the people who have never heard the Residents think? What do people hate or love about the show? I wish we could have a director, someone totally separate from The Residents to come in and say, “here’s how to finesse these things”. It seems there is so much here, so many layers, and we are lucky to begin picking at the outside. Touring is like a lot of relationships I’ve had, where you realize what things were about after the thing is long gone. I will think back to Wormwood about how much I wish we could do the show now that we’ve done it a lot and it’s had time to marinate in our subconscious.

 There is disturbing stuff on the news. When I’m home I forget how much I wish I lived in Europe. I like it here so much. I had a good time in Berlin during Wormwood, when we had like three days off and were kind of going crazy being in one place for so long, doing no shows. Have I mentioned how indescribably horrible the toilet on our bus smells? As soon as anyone opens the door, the entire bus is filled with a stench that any description would fall short of, or sound exaggerated. We’re trapped on this bus with no possibility of a window being opened. People are peeing as little as possible and there are complaints of cramping because bladders are unusually full. Once you can’t stand it anymore you go in there and hold your nose, and your throat burns with this horrible ammonia stench. It’s inescapable. You smell it up in your bunk.

We had good fun with friends after the show at a nice bar X’s friends always go to. We ate well and drank well and I headed out early, back to the hotel for sleep. It’s what I want more than anything else.


I love the photo of Osama Bin Laden’s “2nd in command”. He reminds me in that pic of Archie Bunker. People believe in what they are, I guess. We could be anybody.

TUESDAY

HAMBURG
March 4

Rote Fabrik 

This place is crazy- it’s an old factory that is now a venue, a kindergarten, an internet café, an art center…  There are kids rollerblading all over the floor, and they set up a ramp so the oldest kindergartener, who looks to be around 12 skates up and jumps high over and over again, his chain wallet flinging against his baddy jeans. He is the coolest kindergartener in the world! Do you just take whatever glory you can get? It’s all there for him, to be the idol of the 8 and under crowd.


The last time we were here was 9/11/01. We were backstage, probably trolling for candy bars among the snack food, when someone came in and said something about New York and the World Trade Centers and a plane…and we sat in this little office in the club, watching this weird surreal sci-fi movie happen in real time. Then, the time before that, in 1989, when the Residents performed in Hamburg, the devastating earthquake hit SF. The crew here is making bets about what happens tonight. 


I went to a nice German doctor who told me I have a sinus infection from the common cold. I have herbs and homeopathic nose spray for easy breathing. The healthcare system here rules! In SF it would cost hundreds of dollars for an uninsured person to see a doctor, and you probably would be given some weird chemical medicine. The Demon had to go to the emergency room to have his cut looked at-it was getting infected and his foot is really swollen and red. Of course, the singing Resident is in perfect health, as always.  The band is good. People bought pickles and mustards today. I could stay in Hamburg for weeks. I like the feeling of this place.  But, we get on the bus tonight, late tonight, and drive to Frankfurt.

Stuffed. We had some excellent big sandwiches. Weirdness in the club.
Sometimes I’m glad to have to get back on the bus. Say bye bye!

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 5 2003

FRANKFURT

KUNSTLERHAUS MOUSTONTURM

I’m not sure where we are in the overall design of Frankfurt. This place is so impressive. It’s an art center-there is tons of stuff going on here, lots and lots of dance and performance art. The food backstage is great, and there is an excellent huge canister of Chio Chips, paprika style. The canister is thin cardboard and has a handle on top and would make a good purse if it wasn’t so greasy. That’s coming with us on the bus. Always a need for a good potato chip feeding trough.


Did laundry with Kid Taboo and had coffee at a cute little ice cream parlor while we waited for our clothes to dry. The laundry mat experience was pretty funny because all the instructions were in German and neither of us knew much German. But we muddled through it, and Kid actually helped someone else who was having a tough time understanding. Love that.
I have to tell the Singing Resident that Mr. Wonderful resides in Frankfurt at the laundry mat. This guy was amazing. He was the attendant at the mat and was wearing a denim outfit that had fake patchwork on it, like a clown mixed with a baby’s style. He was red face alcoholic and had homemade tattoos on his knuckles and hands and long-short hair. Not long enough to be long but like a short haircut grown out shaggy. I want to remember him and I tried to take a pic covertly but I doubt it came out.


Went to the Internet café to check for nonexistent mail. There were lots of kids in there, smoking cigarettes and drinking on juice boxes. How perfect.

Tired. Tired assed tired! One more and then a day off. This is too much.
It’s hard to feel good about doing a show so tired. 

THURSDAY

March 6, 2003

SCHORNFORF 

Out in the middle of nowhere. The bus is gone for repairs, so we can’t retreat and take naps. There was a lovely array of foods waiting for us when we arrived, and it’s raining out so that was doubly a good thing. Hard boiled eggs, sausages, muesli, coffee, candy bars.  The food on this tour has been unbelievably good!


Our tour manager is very sick.  I am feeling a lot better, but I’m afraid I’ve passed my disease on. There is nothing to do, it’s raining out, we’re in the country. No bus. Just drink coffee, surf the internet, read the book, try to retain enough energy to do the show. Then you can rest.

I don’t remember this show. We are all so drained….but I think it went well.

FRIDAY
MARCH 7 2003

BRUSSELS 

A BLESSED FREAKING FRACKING DAY OFF! My roommate is now sick too. Gad I feel bad.  We’re all on a bus together, stuck together in close quarters all the time. What’s mine is yours, friend! 

Brussels sure is purty, but the modern architecture is really weird and out of sync with its surroundings. Everything’s real blocky and dull, but how do you compete with 15th century architecture? Maybe being ugly is the smartest way to go.


It’s hard to have a day off, cause your body wants to relax all the way, but you can’t really totally relax, because there are six more shows to do, starting tomorrow. We are catching up after not any rehearsal at all to speak of. Then it’ll all be over, at least for a while.  I hope this isn’t the end.  

Ate lots, had a sauna, slept, watched much good TV, walked around some and laughed my arse off at fnac with bim and mippy.

SATURDAY
March 8 2003


The Botanique is a very cool place. It’s huge-it’s an old botanical garden with a new gallery and I think two performance spaces. It’s huge. There is tons going on here all the time. Yet another amazing European venue. I don’t think I will actualize my dream of eating a Belgian Waffle from one of the van vendors in the street. Went to the old town center with mippy and bought chocolate and postcards, but then it’s time to turn back because you realize you can’t sightsee like a pro because you’re still tired and you still have a show to do. We hung out for a few hours and went back to try to nap before time to go.

POST SHOW


Lots of fun. Nice to have a night off and then do it again. The show had good energy and the place was packed! The Belgians seem like a fun lot, and everyone here is good looking! I got pissed cause no one called me for dinner and I had a Spinal Tap, like a little family of baby ducks. Hey, where’d everybody go? It was a lot of fun to do the show tonight. Had a drink after in the hotel with the people and some other people. Why do I celebrate my new health with cigarettes? Why does feeling a little bit bad feel good?

Time for Amsterdam. Amsterdam tomorrow.

SUNDAY MARCH 9 2003
AMSTERDAM
MELKWEG

Bus. Show is over and we’re already out of Amsterdam. I wish we could stay a few days but it’s not a vacation we’re on. I am so grateful to get to see all these places, but how much am I really seeing? The club, maybe a hotel, maybe a restaurant close to the venue. Not private life. No one’s home or friends. No time. But still, I know how lucky I am.  I’d not be here if I weren’t working. I wouldn’t have seen any of the places I’ve been. It’s easy, when it’s your own life, to not see anything as remarkable, because you’ve told yourself that nothing remarkable ever happens, or you don’t want to gloat to yourself and feel ‘uppity’, so you deny that anything remarkable has happened, or is happening. I remember being four years old and crying on my birthday at my birthday party simply because I had seen so many other little girls do it, and I guess when you’re that little it’s really easy to turn it on and off. So I cried, and I remember I really felt sad, but it was because I was seeing what reaction I would have from the adults. I cried because I could, and knew I would be comforted on my birthday. What was I saying? Yeah, that you can pretend to be depressed all the time and then you actually become depressed all the time, unable to see the beauty and amazing shit in your own life. I know I am like that. But it’s happening, a good thing, right now, and I might as well accept it. What do I fear about enjoying my own life? Are other people this way? Must be my Puritan ancestors? Am I from Puritans? Yes of course. Repressed people who ingrained in their progeny that to enjoy life was a sin. You can miss things when you’re too busy worrying. Must learn to relax. Must listen to Kenny G CD now to unwind.

London tomorrow.

Return to the main web page    Click here to view part 2.