april 2002 [03] "Good To Go!!!"

east coast tour.

Saturday, April 13th - Punk Rock Celebration in Manitowoc, WI

We had a beautiful drive up to Northern Wisconsin, where we settle in a gorgeous old town on Lake Michigan. The whole town reminds me of a place where you'd take a vacation. Towns like that are usually really good places to play. I had a bad feeling about this show for the last couple of weeks for some reason that I can't even remember, and then there was last night, when we played to not a huge crowd in Champaign.... I was worried.

Then sometime on the drive up here, in the middle of nowhere, I suddenly said to Jim, "I think this is going to be a great show." I just had this feeling, like it could be like one of those legendary punk-rock all-kids shows like we had in Sioux City, Iowa, where punk-rockers danced like ballerinas while we played. And when we drove up to the club, I started feeling like we were right. Kids were all over the place. We climbed up some scary steps - 'don't step on the middle of the stairs' - brought our equipment up to the 2nd floor in what was most likely a condemned building, and watched kids hanging out, playing hackey-sack, talking. Our friends IfIHadAHifi were the ones who invited us up here to play, they are a great band from the posterchildren listserv. They made us some great food, including a fruit bowl with little toys interspersed with the fruit.

Every band that played tonight was fantastic - this is a WONDERFUL rock scene! I wish we had something like this in Champaign. What has happened in our town? Did we ever have a great scene? I know we had great bands. What has happened? Is it that some of us signed to major labels, and then everyone else wanted to sign also? Is that what destroyed it? Has it been destroyed?

We've always had a rule that we never speak badly about our own scene. I think this is a good rule to follow, because I don't think it can do any good to complain about it. But I feel bad when I meet a band on the road and I want them to come play in our hometown... and I know that there won't be a lot of people to watch them... and the people won't dance.

One great band after another played and the audience interacted with them. People hung around looking cool. IfIHadAHifi had a great multimedia setup behind them. Every band was amazing, and every band sounded different than the last. I was terrified when we went on stage that people wouldn't stay to watch us, but they did. I'm so happy that no matter what is going on during the day, or right before the show, I don't really have to worry too much, because I know the second I switch on my amp, first that red light goes on to "standby", and then when I flip that switch to green, "go", I know that in a few seconds, my entire body is going to relax and my mind is going to flip to a different setting and we are going to GO GO GO.

Matt said tonight, before we even played, "I wish we were on tour now, for 40 days straight." Yes Matt, 40 days and 40 nights. I wish we were, also. Only a couple of days left until we leave.

Tonight was magical. Like a punk-rock celebration. I felt so young and free, like my mind could fly. Or do nothing. Just sit and watch the bands and people. Like I didn't have to care about anything at all.

I don't.

IfIHadAHifi + pkids listservers in Manitowoc, looking like a Fox sit-com.

Wednesday April 17 - Cleveland, Here we come!


Rick and I leave Champaign around 2pm today, get up to Chicago to pick up Matt and Jim by 5... and move our asses out to Cleveland, we have to be there at 10pm. Poor Matt, I think he's going to have a heart-attack. We haven't explained to him that it's not important to get to this show until 10pm. He's so concienscious. He has no way of knowing if we're slackers or not. He's used to being the one who is in charge.


ohio domed rest area.

You shoot down bland I-80 and try to avoid the Roy Rogers Hamburger Rest Areas. The last time we were on tour was 2 years ago! All of the rest areas have changed now - they are all these big airport-looking domed buildings. I walk inside and feel like I should be guarding my airline tickets. Important-looking ladies clack their nylon-stocking high-heels around tiled rest-rooms. The sinks are Corian. The font is Fruitiger. They sell espresso.

I'm sorry about that last part of that last paragraph. I'm parsing James Joyce in the van for typography class and it's ruining my beginner's mind.

"go yucky!"

Rick and Matt play a game that Matt has purchased inside a Happy Meal™ from Arby's. Neither of them feel strange loudly commanding each other to "Go Yucky" every couple of minutes. I grin in the passenger seat. Jim drives and smiles. Our band is a family now, all long-lost siblings reunited. A bunch of 3rd grade minds.

We get to Cleveland Heights at 9:55pm. It's HOT outside, wonderfully hot, and people are all over the streets. The club is in a really nice area of town where there are lots of cool stores that you'd want to shop at, antique stores and stores where you can probably get cool rock clothes. The people at our show tonight are terrific, incredibly loud and appreciative - the kind of crowd that makes you want to move here! I think I told the audience that either were wanted to stay here and play for them tomorrow, or I invited them to come on tour with us. They roared even louder. I recognize the soundguy, he doesn't even work here anymore, is just here especially just to run sound for us today. We are treated like royalty! This is going to be a wonderful tour!

Tonight we stay at Frank and Dee's awesome loft in the center of the city of Cleveland. Totally stylish and a secure place for us to park our van, and everyone gets padded sleeping surfaces. They have been hard at work redoing this building that they own. Frank is a photographer and Dee builds cakes - I think that is their job. They also have an Aeron chair and a hottub.

Man, this is such a wonderful start of a tour!



Thursday April 18 - The Khyber Pass, Philadelphia

Things you pass on the road in Pennslyvania...

We steam through Pennslyvania to the east coast. Buildings get dirtier and dirtier as we go east. I have always felt like the easter you go, the dirtier things get, and reverse when you're going west. To me, Seattle is always the cleanest city. I know I'm out of my mind.

Tonight we are playing with Radio 4, for the first time. Rick and I are very excited. Rick bought their first record a year or two ago, after hearing their demo tape being played at Brownies in NYC. They are a great band! Now through some stroke of luck, we are getting to play with them. Will they be nice? Will they know who we are? Will they ignore us because we're not as cool as them?

The Khyber Pass is the first place we ever played in Philadelphia, probably on our first tour. We were the first band to whom they ever served food. Somehow I got them to make us a deli-tray for dinner, probably 10 years ago. I discovered "Touch Me I'm Sick," the Mudhoney single - a year after it had become a hit - in this club. I played it about 50 times in the jukebox.

Jon S, a fan from Cincinatti, the guy who would always bring us cakes, appears outside the van the moment we pull in front of the Khyber Pass. He has moved to Philadelphia. He looks very colorful and pleasing to the eye, as usual. We haven't seen him in at least 2 years. I love running into people we've known for years. That's one of the greatest things about touring.

5 guys wearing black file into the club carrying equipment. I peer at them shyly, still wondering if they'll be nice to us. They are from New York City, they have no reason to be nice to us. Finally Rick and I both amble up to them and stick out our hands to shake and welcome them to Philadelphia and they turn out to be 1) unbelieveably nice and 2) apparently Poster Children fans; they've seen us a bunch of times. It's a sweet tour so far. Rick and I tell them how much we're looking forward to seeing their show.

2 papers announce our arrival in this town, and give us really nice reviews. That is very strange, considering we usually have no announcements whatsoever in the towns we've been playing lately. This is a good sign. I wonder why we have press all of the sudden.

This club looks small to me now, like I'm returning to my grade-school after graduating high-school. The tables and desks look so small. I'm so happy to play here. I love returning to places like this, it's very nostalgic. Some other bands might complain that they haven't gotten any bigger since they started. I am realistic. I am happy to still be playing. We played the Trocadero in this town too, the downstairs, 1000+ seat theater. It sounded great and was fun. And now today we play the Khyber, 60+. I don't care. I am using the same bass. (probably wearing the same clothes, too.)

Radio 4 is awesome. I stand in front of them and can't help but dance. They are like the best disco + clash + rock that I've ever heard in my life. I could listen to them for hours and hours. [click here for radio4 quicktime movie]

Matt is beside himself with excitement because tomorrow we play in NYC. I can only think one word: Fugazi. Fugazi. Fugazi. Boston. 2 days...

Someone has mown the lawn very close to our van.

Friday April 19 - Brownies, NYCity

the newest poster child, Matt the drummer.

We are travelling in a heat-wave, protective bubble that is going to keep us warm and safe through this entire week-long journey and then we'll get back home to reality and it will be freezing again. I am watching the weather reports.

Our home in East Brunswick, NJ, is under-construction. Many of the Motel 6s are now turning into Studio 6s. The parking lot is filled with broken asphalt. I look unhappily at the huge yellow machinery parked outside the doors of the motel and wonder how I will be able to hear the maid angrily knocking on the door at 9am tomorrow morning, "HOUSEKEEPKING!!! HOUSEKEEPING!!!!" with that yellow dinosaur destroying my concrete parking lot. "Can you put us somewhere away from the construction?" I ask the waitress behind the counter. "Sure," she replies, and sticks us directly in the middle of the blast area. "NO," Rick says, "tell her to put us away from that area." She complies with a frown. How do they determine what room they are going to put us in? I notice a lot of the times that not only do we stay at the same Motel 6s around the country, but when we get there, we end up in the same rooms. I actually do think of this particular East Brunswick, NJ Motel 6 as my East Coast Home. If I shut my eyes and try to come up with an image that fits those words, East Coast Home, I see this Motel 6.

That's really weird, isn't it.

We watch TV for a while and then venture into NYCity. We unload our equipment into Brownies Club, now located in a very fashionable district of NYC; fashion is engulfing this area like Wicker Park in Chicago. Matt used to live around here somewhere. He runs into people he knows on the street. He's at work all the time.

We drove past the hole where the two buildings used to be. There people everywhere, butt-to-butt, milling around, and t-shirt booths up everywhere. There are sheets with words painted on them, monuments to people lost. We are driving really fast, and Matt keeps saying, "Can't you see the hole?" and I keep looking but it takes me a while to see the hole. I finally did see it:

Rick takes a nap in the van. Jim goes somewhere. Matt coerces me into walking around what I think is called The East Village with him. There are at least two Tibetan stores on every block in this area of town. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Not even in Tibet. We go shopping into used-clothes stores. There seems to be something very exciting about buying used shirts, to Matt.

It's still hot outside, like in the 90s here. You know that this is my dream temperature. Although there is some weird kind of glow today in this city, like the sun is a flourescent row of lights. Air looks green now and wind is picking up. I know there is wind now because I see trash and leaves moving. But I am encased in steel and window and cars and concrete everywhere I look. There really is no weather or atmosphere here.

I look up from St. Marks Place sidewalk across the street from Mandala Tibetan Store and see Leslie B, a genius whom I know from Champaign. The last time I saw her I was actually leaving for Tibet the next day, this was a year ago. She is visiting NYCity from Ohio. I invite her to my show, with her friend, an artist who it turns out has drawn a flier for us from the Grog Shop about 6 years ago. Man, what a coincidence. She asks me about my Typography teacher.

Now I look up and in a 1-inch crack between two buildings I see green sky. I see clouds moving in a way that would cause me to be very afraid if I was in Champaign. Dorothy! It's still really hot here, the kind of hot that you know is going to be followed by a world-ending storm. And it's obviously coming. Do they have weather here? Am I going to get to see weather in New York City? It seems like they don't have weather here, there are too many people. The people outnumber the weather, so there is just not enough for everyone. You get a much smaller ration of weather here than you would say, in Nebraska.

I'm thinking this, and then I mention to Matt that I'd be really afraid if I saw this sky in Champaign, but since there's only 1 inch of it here, I'm not scared. But wind is whirling around us now, and someone's voice is shaking, I can't remember if it's mine or Matt's. Then we are soaked, running into the nearest shelter, yet another Tibetan store, poking at overpriced satiny Nepalese trinkets. Now we are running through dark grey streets of Alphabet City, Matt on the phone with Rick, assuring him that we're ok. Rick has called Matt's cellphone from 5 blocks away, Rick safely tucked inside the van. Think about what your life was like before the cell phone. I could call someone directly from the stage from my cellphone, before we start playing. I think about the first cellphone call I ever got, sitting on a public toilet. Rick is safe inside the van in the pouring storm, 5 blocks away from us, and we are caught in this deluge. Someday a real rain will come....

Somehow the wind gets through the huge buildings here and blows paper all over the streets. It's exciting, but I am just not seeing enough of the storm. I'd never live here. You have to share the atmosphere with way too many other people here.

We are playing with a band tonight who are about to be signed to RCA, by our own Joe M., the guy who signed us to Reprise about 10 years ago. How do you like that? I was wondering if he'd say hello to us. I was also wondering if this band wanted to ask us any questions about the path that they are about to take, since we've been down it, but none of them asked me anything. They were too busy being told by a man in black about what cars were going to pick them up, or whose cameras were going to take pictures of them. Or whose money was buying them dinner tonight. On the stage, they dumbly said, "Wow. This is the first time that we've sold out an entire show, all for US." Yeah. You guys are right. We certainly don't have the same draw here in your home town that you do. And our label hasn't bought any tickets for us, either. Although some of your fans out there are wearing Poster Children t-shirts. But you win the contest.

Joe M, our ex-A&R agent talks to us after the show. How many bands are still around from your time? How many bands are still playing after being dropped from a major label? How many bands got famous and are now miserable? According to Joe, lots of famous bands are miserable. He's happy that we are still playing and still happy, and he hugs me. Damn right we're happy. And healthy. And alive! I have a mental image of a crayon drawing of the stick figures of us and Fugazi and a bright yellow sun, holding hands, playing together tomorrow in Boston. Fugazi! Tomorrow!

People are fucked up and wasted tonight. All 4 of us drive home, through the rainy streets of NYCity, back home to East Brunswick New Jersey, where giant yellow trucks are waiting to disturb our dreams.