US TOUR 2000
2000-08-13, SACRAMENTO CA - PLAIN FIELD STATION
After 3 day's rehearsal with Jason, John and Ish, we felt that we were pretty ready for the first gig. We didn't know what to expect from this gig. As it turned out, we were pleasantly surprised when we pulled into the yard of a roadside diner and realised that we would be playing out back in the beer garden. It was a beautiful day and the diner sold fantastic veggie food (still fairly hard to find over here).
Yasa, the person who had organised the gig, was really friendly and made us feel right at home. The PA looked a bit low powered when it arrived, but I told myself 'hey, that's how everyone played gigs before the 80's'.
The first band on were a bit unsure about their name and finally decided on HIGH NOON. Their music was a mix of Tex Mex and Jazz and played a few 'standards' such as 'Take Six' and a Hendrix song, can't remember which one. I thought that they were the perfect band to start off an out-door festival and enjoyed their set a lot.
Next on were D-Town, who were obviously the local hereos and brough quite a few of their school mates with them. They played a jazzy hip hop set with a lot of free-style rapping and sub Beastie style material. They were great mucians and the crowd liked them very much.
Unfortunately when they left the stage, so did a large percentage of the audience ;-)
Next on were the fabulous Dan The 50 lb Man, who managed to put on a top show, despite having terrible problem with the sound and poor John not being able to hear himself sing. The was to be the only gig on the tour where we would see John and Ish do a 'Dan' set, as for the rest of the tour they fully merge into Abdoujaparov and we will be playing a few of their songs Abdou style.
After a short break, it was our turn and after a quick line check we started our set the tradtiional way with Nobody Less Rock n Roll than me. By this time the 'crowd' had really thinned out and we ended up playing to about 50 odd people, mainly people who we had invited to the gig. Kev and Elpie were there, all the way from the UK. Other folk had made the trip from San Fransico and the surrounding area and I was very glad to see them all.
Well, to be honest the set was a bit of a struggle as both my guitar amp and the PA didn't want to co-operate and there was a hell of a lot of un-cool feedback. Also I couldn't hear myself singing at all.
We still managed to put out some pretty good versions of Shut Up and Benjamin and Jumble. It was mainly the Punk Rock songs that suffered from the poor sound.
I'm looking forward to playing in a club with a full system, I reckon that the US version of Abdou rocks maan!
We did really enjoy the gig as a whole though, the atmosphere was really friendly and the setting was beautiful, maybe it was the perfect way to start the tour..
2000-08-16, New York NY - Acme Underground
After flying from California to New York and driving to Waterbury CT, we were a bit knackered, but with the wonderful hospitality of Jen and Al from Peelangoo, along with a visit to the movies (Hollow Man is a crap film by the way, avoid it), we were rested and ready for the two and a half hour drive to NY and the gig.
There was a air of organised choas at the gig, there were to be six bands on tonight and we were somewhere in the middle of it all. We piled our equipment in a little space in the hallway and watched Peelangoo get ready to perform their debut gig. They had barely time to get onstage before having to start to play.
For the twenty minutes that they were onstage they impressed with a heavy edged but melodic set. Jen the vocalist was obviously suffering from first night nerves but she performed with panache. I didn't get a great listen to the songs tonight as i was busy panicing myself, trying to tune up guitars and stuff.
Next on were United Magnetics, who I have been in touch with via the internet and have organised the NY gigs. They played a great set of power punk dished up American stylee. I'm looking forward to checking them out again tomorrow.
Then came the second set for the US version of Abdoujaparov. We had quite a few tuning problems and suffered from a few band communication problems, but i think that we did OK considering. We only had time to do about 25 minutes though as things were running a bit late.
After the gig we went to my favourite NY bar, the Lunar Lounge to get drunker. Eventually the boys went off to stay with the guys from United Magnetics and I went to Brooklyn to stay with my mate Eve and her cats.
2000-08-17, New York NY - The Continental
After a good night's rest in a lovely soft bed, I was ready to face another day in NY and went into town to meet up with Crissi, who had arrived very late last night and stayed with her brother who lives in a tiny appartment in Manhatten.
Somehow last night I managed to leave my specs in a cab so we spent most of the day at Lens Crafters getting my sight restored. Not the most romantic way to spend a day with my girlfriend but hey, we were together so it didn't matter.
OK, newly specced up, I went downtown to the Village whilst Crissi returned to her brother's to get her glad rags on. I met up with Jason and Eve in an Irish pub, we went to get something to eat and then went on to the gig.
John and Ish arrived in the Abdou Tour-Mobile and once they had found a park we loaded the stuff into the gig and started to prepare ourselves for our set. By drinking a little.
We watched United Magnetics strutt their stuff and although I'm pretty bored of US punk rock generally I thought thast their stuff stood out and they have some great songs.
By the way, I've decided that I must be getting a bit old as some of this new music stuff leaves me really cold, I like to take refuge in my 70's record collection, and I've started to say things like 'I don't understand this music, it all sounds the same to me'.
We were next on and played a little better today although I don't think that we have truly locked in just yet. Their were still a few tuning problems and that kind of chipped away at my confidence. I felt a little embarrased at some points and wanted to tell people 'hey, were not really like this, we're actually quite good, we're just having a bad day. Some of the songs did sound really good though, so I wasn't completely disheartened.
After the gig we went to a bar and had a nice chat about stuff helped along by several beers.
2000-08-18, Brooklyn - The Good Bad Arts Collective
I stayed with Crissi in her bruv Tom's appartment, it was cosy and despite (or because of) the traffic, I had a lovely night's sleep.
We had a lovely walk through Central Park, it was a cool moody day and the living rock looked like huge prehistoric monsters slumbering in the mist. We did however get sprayed with insecticide by a passing unmarked car, which pissed us off a little. There is a big scare about mosquitos infected with Nile Fever at the moment and I guess that the cities way of dealing with it is to spray everything in site, including people;-)
I was very proud of myself later as I managed to work out the subway system and navigated my way back to Brooklyn to meet up with the band and the folk from the Good Bad Arts Collective. They have a really good thing going here, a great space for Art Installations and shows and also a good sized room to put on performances and gigs.
Dan (another email buddy) had put this gig on especially for us and his band The World Inferno Friendship Society were headlining as they would be providing the lion's share of the audience.
Peelangoo went on first again and sounded great, I really like their songs and would love to hear them recorded.
Some night's things go really wrong and this was one of them for me.A lot of my friends had come to this gig and I wanted to put on a great show for them, but to be honest, we really sucked. Once again we were plagued by terrible tuning problems and my confidence reached an all time low, I would even go as far to say that it was probably one of the worse gigs I have ever played in my life.
After the debacle that was the Abdou set, I drowned my sorrows and spent sometijme hanging around outside with friends. that cheered me up a lot. Then The World Inferno Frienship Society came onstage and were bloody great. They really reminded me of early Chumbawumba (hope this doesn't piss them off), with their politically dancable tunes. It was an energetic set with more musicians onstage than have been at some of the Abdou gigs recently ;-)
After the gig we hung around, as we were staying at the gig and were sharing the floorspace with what seened like a million people, but was probably about eight.
Jason went off to a party and apparently had a great time as he came back all smiles.
In the morning we gathered ourselves together and tried to find oursleves something to eat. It was a pointless endeavor though and after a few unsuccesful attempts on getting some breakfast we headeed off back to Connecticut where the next couple of gigs would be.
2000-08-19, New Haven - The Tune Inn
It was a short journey from Brooklyn from Waterbury and then onto New Haven, but it took ages as the traffic was horrendous.
When we arrived in New Haven memories of previous visits on the EMF tour came to mind. There was a big Jazz Festival on in the town and we paid a short visit their and grabbed ourselves some Fallafel from one of the stalls.
Tonight's show was another six band bill and promised to be a long one. The venue is a really great place, a nice big PA system and even has fold-back too. Definitely the biggest venue on the tour so far. I had a chat with Fernando, the owner of the club and we swapped stories of the US and UK punk scenes of the 70's, it was good to talk to someone who knew what I was talking away.
Once again Peelangoo had the pleasure of being the first band onstage and played their best set yet, those songs are really growing on me and Jen's confidence has grown immensely.
After Peelangoo finished their set one of the other bands barged in and set up their equipment. They are called Model Chaser and were supposed to be the last band on. This really upset the running order for the gig and put just about everyone's noses out of joint. as a band I didn't like them very much, they suffered from a bad mix as they run up onstage and started playing before the PA guy had a chance to do anything with their sound. They had pulled in about 20 of their mates to support them and behaved as if they were playing Madison Square Gardens. It was kinda embarrasing.
Next on the stage were The Boiling Man, who were just a bit too much for me, it was way too loud for an old git like me and the sub death metal vocals grated a little. Jason said that he liked then though, he's a lot younger than me and had earplugs ;-)
As the night was wearing on, the venue was in fact getting emptier, much to our dismay. Next on were Kitty Badass, who were great. Well crafted songs with a leaning to the early US punk scene. this was much more to my taste and really cheered me up. Jason and I watched the band from inside the chicken-wired bar. The bar has to be seperate from the dancefloor area as the gig is all ages and drinkers can't mix with non drinkers. We had a truly bad game of pool, with Les Carter probably being the worse pool player in the world ;-)
We were the last band, and AT LAST we played a really good gig, eveything locked into place and the sound and tuning were great. It was just a big shame that we ended up playing to the guys from Peelangoo and a few really dedicated people who had stuck it out through the entire evening to see the band. I like to say a really big thank you to every one who stayed to the bitter end.
2000-08-20, Waterbury - Brass City Records
It was only a 10 minute drive to Brass City Records, which was where today's in-store performance was due to take place. After last night's gig, we were all in a very good mood and feeling a lot better about our ability to play a decent set.
We received a good and friendly welcome as we loaded our gear up the stairs to the shop and into the little room which serves as a rehearsal room and part time gig as well as being full to the brim with thousands of vinyl LPs.
Peelangoo set up their gear and launched quickly into their set. They played great and must have shaken the foundations of the surrounding buildings as well as the downstairs Democratic Party Offices.
As soon as Peelangoo left the stage, we got our shit together and started to play as soon as we could.
It was a great gig, we really have got it together now nad you can tell that confidence is building.
Unfortunately it is very hard to get the people of Waterbury to leave the comfort of their homes on a Sunday and thus the audience was fairly pitiful. What the fuck, I enjoyed myseld and that's what counts isn't it?
After Al had served up some delicious pasta, we decided to go to the movies to see 'The Cell'. We rather liked it actually, I thought it was like watching a long version of Bowie's Ashes To Ashes video. The special effects were lavish and had great style.
2000-08-24, Asbury Park - Fastlane
We decided that we needed a day at the seaside, so we went down to the New Jersey coast a day early and spent a lovely day in Belmar a few miles down the road from Asbury Park and a world apart from the devastated and fairly scary area where today's gig is situated. In the evening we watched in envy and a huge crowd gathered to see Weezer at The Stone Pony (where Carter USM once played). If Abdou could have just one 10th of Weezer's crowd I would be ecstatic ;-)
We played pool and drank cool beer in the bar next to The Stone Pony and then went to find a hotel and some food. The hotel was pretty expensive and fairly rank (for $90) We went off in search of something to eat and a little entertainment. We found the local disco and ordered some food there. I got served cheese-steak instead of Tuna Steak and got a bollocking when I complained with the strong assertion that Tuna Steak has two syllables where cheese steak obviously doesn't. Anyway, we decided that if we hung around in the disco for too long our fantastic good looks would drive the girls wild and the guy jealous, so we decided to avoid the -up and found an Irish pub down the road where we stayed drinking beer and whisky until we were full.
The next day Jason and I played mini golf, John and Ish chilled out by the beach and watched the girls go by. The mini golf course was on the roof of an amusement arcade and had obviously seen better days. A big sign said 'Don't Molest The Moving Parts', but nothing at all moved apart from the bricks that came away from the side of the greens as we putted away. Jason won the game by the way and should have done by a mile except that he had problems with a chinese hat ;-)
We had a lovely meal served by a very camp restaurant owner and then headed over to Asbury Park and the gig. We were greeted by Ronnie the gig owner and lead into a fantastic venue. This place has by far the best stage and PA of the tour so far and amazingly, it has a dressing room too!
We settled down and watched ??? and Peelangoo strut their stuff to an audience of just ourselves and the bar staff. Peelangoo played their best set so far, it was a shame that Asbury Park is too scary for people to come to gigs (unless it's Weezer of course).
Abdou played a good set too and by that time a lone figure in a Carter shirt appeared and became the one and only member of the 'crowd'. I think this goes down as the least attended gig of my career so far, their wasn't even a dog to make up the numbers. Thoughts of the Bad News Tour came to mind ;-) Amazingly, we weren't all that depressed about it, I guess it's just one of those things that happen from time to time.
After the gig we had a four hour drive back to Connecticut and a heavy sleep.
Only one gig to go, will we get an audience tomorrow?
2000-08-26, Newtown - Teen Center
Well the final day of the tour has arrived, the band is in great shape and ready to rock the Newtown Teen Center. It has been a while since I have played a youth club and I was looking forward to seeing the kids reaction to Abdou, after all I am old enough to be a father to most of them ;-)
We arrived at the venue in time to see many teenagers unloading amps, guitars and drums from a brace of cars, vans and trucks. They all seem unfeasibly young and all dressed in the skate-punk-rap-core-metal style that the younguns seem to go for nowadays. I think that those trousers worn almost below the crutch line make them look like the midgets from the cast of Time Bandits, but what do I know, I am an old git with no idea about fashion. Do I even know that fashion exists?
Anyway, it wasn't long before the first band, ??? went on. They had been together for 2 weeks and it kinda showed as they only had so many songs before putting in a few covers and some strange improvised instrumentals. I actually rather liked them, there was a basic energy and enthusiasm that I found very endearing.
Next on were The Deacons, who were brilliant and a great burst of old style punk rock with fast furious but melodic songs full of angst and lust for life. I totally enjoyed their set. Half way through the second song, the singer Rich, went outside of the gig to call in the kids that were outside chatting and ignoring the bands. It went something like 'some of these guys have come from England and Australia to play for you and all you can do is stand outside gabbing, get inside', except it wasn't as polite as that. Most of the kids hurriedly got inside as Rich doesn't look like the kind of guy that you would disobey.
Next on was Abdoujaparov and we has a great time. Thanks to the Deacons warming up the crowd and getting everyone inside, we had a large and appreciative audience. What's more the band were on top form and we played a storming set. Towards the end of the set I decided to give away the remaining CDs on our merch stall in appreciation. Needless to say the 25 odd Cds disappeared in seconds. After we had finished I had loads of folk come up and thank us for playing and saying that we were great. That was very gratifying indeed.
Next on were Peelangoo, who were fantastic and really capped off the best gig of the tour in style. I gonna miss those guys and their music.
After watching the penultimate band for the night, ???, (who played rap core, which isn't really my favourite kind of music) We all went back to Jen and Al's place and had ourselves an end of tour party. Looks like we are heading for a major headache tomorrow!
In a couple of days, when the jet-lag has subsided I will write a conclusion to these US Tour diaries. I think that I may have given the impression that we had a bad time and this isn't true at all. I just need to get it all straight in my head before writing.