Wheatus Tour Diary: Cardiff, Barnsley and the Space-Time Continuum

I had heard from veteran touring musicians that life on the road became a haze of gigs and sleeping, that time became an elusive nymph, always laughing at you from right around the corner.  “Balderdash!” I retorted.  “I always know what day it is and what city I’m in.”  I sit here now with my tail between my legs, recently informed about how ignorant I really was.  For example: today, I called my lovely girlfriend Penelope at around 7am to wake her up and wish her a lovely day at work.  “Why?” she responded groggily.  “It’s Saturday.”  My world as I knew it was turned upside-down.

Let me give you a basic run-down of the typical day in the life of a Wheatus member on tour: wake up at 11am; look at your tour lanyard to see where the next gig is, which is probably where you are; find breakfast at a local eatery; find someplace to poop*; load in; soundcheck; eat a ham-and-cheese sandwich from the rider; kill the ~2 hours before set time checking email and writing blog entries and keeping in touch with loved ones; play your set and get extremely sweaty; almost immediately load out of the venue and back into the trailer; get on the bus and decompress; change into less sweaty clothes if you had the foresight to bring them onboard earlier in the day, since your suitcase is in storage;  watch the first third of a terrible movie; buy a pre-packaged sandwich at services; eat sandwich; go to sleep in your bunk which is cramped because half of your belongings (except clean clothes) are in there what with the bus having 14 people in it and all.

It is worth noting that two things weren’t listed: showering and looking at a calendar.  One is a rare treat and the other is made obsolete by the fact that someone else is shuttling you from place to place and taking care of logistics.  It is therefore not only touring cliche but actual unavoidable truth that, when you wake up, you don’t know what day it is or where you are.  You don’t really need to know.  One notable exception is your real life which is limping along across the ocean, wondering why you’ve forgotten to pay your bills or respond to emails or make that politically important birthday call.  Such are the hazards of life on the road.  The best we can do is to carry on, and those that we love to endure our compromised ability to take care of business.

On to the less heady and more entertaining show recaps!  Cardiff was an unbelievable headache of a load-in and load-out, involving three stories of narrow metal stairs and a ground level which magically transformed during our set from an empty alley to a den of drunken, smoking dance-club-goers through which we had to ferry our 30+ pieces of heavy gear.  Someone even had the guff to steal our case of Stella in plan sight!   Luckily the show itself was a total blast.  The crowd in Cardiff was extremely animated and even involved a few girls from the audience getting up on stage and dancing.  We hope very much to return, preferably after they install a lift.

Barnsley is a sweet little farming community in which you expect to find talking animals.  From the steam trains to the little cobblestone craft stores to the “walking paths” which are really just rolling fields, it was the kind of place which puts a rose-scented hook into your heart and won’t let go.  Good times were had by all!  Load-in was easy, they gave us fresh socks, and lots of bonding activities took place, including a bus-driver BBQ and a spirited game of HotWall, a tour-gambling game which involves participants throwing coins of an agreed-upon denomination at a wall.  Whoever gets the coin closest wins the pot.  Fun!  Those are the kind of nights one likes to remember, unless one loses a lot of money, which is why you should only play during the 10p rounds.

Today  we are in the strangely faux-Parisian town of Newcastle, which appears to be the home of Earl Grey tea.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  My set with Frontalot starts in mere minutes, so I must depart, but I look forward to regaling you with more stories on the morrow, whenever that is.

* You can’t poop on the bus, and the bathrooms at venues are often sketchy, so finding a place to do your due is challenging.  Just ask Bjork.

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