Thursday, October 7, 2010

Summer Darling North American Tour Diary 3

Day Two: Albuquerque, NM to Boulder, CO

Top 20 Playlist Continues:

Dan :: #18 Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy

Heather :: #18 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream

Todd :: #18 The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Ben :: #18 Built To Spill Keep It Like a Secret

Road signs are often misleading, or confusing, but in some cases highly understated. On I-25 as you cross the border from New Mexico into Colorado there is a big blue sign that reads simply, “Scenic Views Next 2 Miles.” They’re not joking. The drive up the north corridor of 1-25 is filled with spectacular views, and we were given a picture perfect day weather-wise to enjoy them.

One side note: One of my favorite things to do on tour is to laugh at the slogans. For example, New Mexico is the “Land of Enchantment.” Colorado is “Welcome to Colorful Colorado.” Off hand I can’t recall Arizona’s…perhaps its “The Grand Canyon State.” California I’ll get on our way home. Tomorrow I’ll find out Nebraska’s slogan.

About 70 miles south of Denver, the RSC system on our tour van begins to engage unnecessarily causing me to have to constantly battle with the wheel in order to keep the van going straight. There was no danger, just the feeling that the van’s alignment was fucked up. RSC is a system that senses when too much pressure is applied to any one wheel on the van then counteracts that pressure by automatically applying the breaks to the other wheels. When it malfunctions it can causes this alignment effect. Upon reaching the Fox Theatre in Boulder, the odometer had disappeared in favor of a flashing warning sign indicating RSC failure. Needless to say it was a rather unsettling way to end the drive.

The Fox Theatre was a hubbub of activity as one would expect on the first day of a major tour. The venue may have been a 600 capacity room, but Ok Go always rolls like they’re playing a large arena. Crew was everywhere setting up any number of instruments or props for the highly technical performance. Tim and Andy from Ok Go said hello to us briefly, but they were concentrating mostly on their soundcheck, which seemed by everyone’s estimation, to not be going all that smoothly.

We occupied our time by getting the lay of the land, meeting the members of the direct support band, Company of Thieves, setting up our merch area in the lobby, drinking cold Bud Light—I was surprised it wasn’t Coors!—and making a few phone calls to investigate our ailing chariot. Our line check began at 7:40, nearly an hour behind schedule, but the crew of the Fox Theatre did an efficient job figuring out all the ins and outs of our sound in the remaining time before doors opened. All of it seemed pretty standard and I found myself completely relaxed until about 15 minutes to stage time, as three hundred or so kids began hugging the stage in anticipation of the first band.

All my life I’ve been going to shows at venues this size and saying to myself, someday, I’ll be playing on stages like these. After 31 years, I can now say that goal has been realized. So before I go any further with these stories, it must be noted so that I don’t forget, that we as Summer Darling set out to do something and we did it with the help of a litany of friends and a good share of luck. This realization was not lost on me in the moment we took the stage. I stared down at my tuning pedal, but had to look back up to see all the people waiting intently for what were about to do. I also remembered in that moment what it was like to be them, most of whom have never heard us, and in that curious place between wanting to be amazed but wanting it to be over quickly to speed up the arrival of the headlining act.

We did them that favor. We opened with “Son” and proceeded to burn through six songs in 25 minutes. Because our set kind of all runs together, many times the kids didn’t know when to clap, which added to the feeling that we were really catching them off guard with our jams. Before I had a chance to really think about it, the set was done and I was rapidly loading our gear off stage and into the rain.

* * *

Today on the drive out of Colorado, we can laugh about last night’s drive to our host house in Aroura, CO. But last night there was no laughter, only fatigue and frustration. Not only was I battling my own private anxiety concerning the safety of our van, the roads were slick with rainwash and the visibility marred by fog. Compounding the issues at hand were some fucked up google map directions that at one point had me pissing in a field where I could look in the four directions and see nothing but flat grasslands and distant lights like prairie mirages on the horizon. Where the hell were we? We’d gone up and down a toll road looking for a street that didn’t exist in a part of the country that the population had abandoned.

Exhausted we finally found our home for the night by studying a grid of this bizarre subdivision and lewis and clarking our way through. And no one was in any mood to laugh it off. Another lesson learned on tour: the highs and lows can come right next to each other, but always remember, what looked like a hopeless situation at night, in day often looks like an absurd joke. The trick is to figure out how to laugh this shit off in the moment.


  1. Ben, I thought you liked urinating outdoors, no?

  2. "lewis and clarking it"...nice verb.
    Syn: to google; search