Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spanning Clocks in the Sewers of the Industry


In the midst of cramming down a skinny fry poutine at cheap and popular joint 'Patati Patata', about to catch a set across the street at Divan Orange by a top local act Shapes+Sizes, I get the call. I'm to head straight to the Ukrainian Federation (another venue) for a unique job. Having shipped in over a million dollars worth of sound gear for the weekends shows via Tower Productions in Toronto, Pop is worried about leaving the stuffed truck on the sidewalk overnight unattended. Ultimately, the concern is a sequel to The Dears tour bus disappearance, oh Montreal. So, my specific task is to sleep in the front compartment of the truck to scare potential intruders or to quickly report any mischievous activity surrounding the vehicle. Uncomfortable yes, but whose to complain getting paid to sleep.


As the sun rises and the neighbouring resto/cafe 'La Croissanterie' opens, activity is abound and I'm free to jump down from my elevated cushion and abandon the gear. It's a tired saunter to the Pop office to speak to a southern drawl in Atlanta about operating the Etix ticket scanner received via mail, again for the weekends shows. Feeling adequate with the door guarding laser god, I venture back to the truck for noon load-in of all the gear I so protected. To think it would take fifteen men (including some pro roadies with the gloves and all black attire) three hours to literally move sound gear from point A one hundred metres to Point Z and set it up. Much to handle learning bout specters, monitors, 'snakes', pins and HZ80 subs, I was ready for some Pop Bingo, only Thursday night shone my own show at noteworthy venue Sala Rossa. Co-promoted with 18 year-old phenom Noah Bick and his year old production Passovah, the show was also a baby, set only two weeks previous via another promoter handing me the premiere venue sans $300 rental cost coinciding with his booked show falling through. With limited time, I got Noah on board and we hustled to put together a free show entailing seven shortened sets with pressed time intervals between. Ended up banking a pretty entertaining bunch, including six local acts: Cotton Mouth, Nut Brown, James Irwin, Tyler Rauman, Little Scream, and Archivist (crowned my top act award), to accompany Flint favorite Kinetic Stereokids. With the large venue, it proved difficult to make a decent audience, but the draw was enough for respectability and the bands were even more so of the allotted time constraints placed upon them.
Post show, stuffing and over stuffing KSK's car with the now duo's gear, we managed to blow the balloon to capacity without it bursting all over the sidewalk. Just about ready to overcrowd the front seat, a clear 'clank' is heard followed by a raucous "FUCK". While talking to his girlfriend on cell, Justin (member of KSK) went to switch hands and instead dropped his phone, it banked off the steel bars and into the sewer. Believing the SIM card could still be salvaged, he was pictured, 2am running around finding 2x4's, window siding, tree branches, whatever to reach down in the slosh below and detect a phone. With tired faces and worn night light, a final decision was reached to come back next day.


By mid-afternoon (4pm), rolling out of my apartment to work a 600 seat sold-out Bonnie 'Prince' Billy show, I warn KSK numerous times to pack up and similarly put a move on in having a show themselves this same evening (8pm) in Ottawa. At 6:03pm I receive a text from my girlfriend 'Just saw KSK at sewer outside Sala, they have cell it works, some guy documented the whole thing'. Red with fury, I yelp at the idea they are casually laughing downtown Montreal, when supposed to be on stage in Ottawa at 8pm, yet what else to expect from these turtles. Here is the mysterious film directors finished work (soundtrack being KSK tune 'blunder'):

Fortunately, those involved with the gig in Ottawa showed patience for the kids and allowed them to grace the stage for a later set. Having to stay behind on my own ground in Montreal, I raced around in an attempt to fill BPB's unique rider which included needing a 'cracker' for a nitrogen gas capsule, the Franco at the nearest hemp store had no idea what I was getting at, out of breath I raced back to use the ticket scanner in running the door. The equipment worked like a charm, and allowed me to sit back drink some beers, spot Win Butler and 'beep' tickets of some excited music fans. Realized you hear a lot of crying in working a show booked over-capacity, "Is there really no extra tickets you could sell me?", "My parents surprised me and came into town last minute, and I already had my tickets, you think I could get them some?" Quickly learned, I sympathize too much with true fans who missed out getting a pass, it was heart wrenching and I did what I could to help them find ways in. Post show mingling accompanied by Jameson, I chatted up record store owner of 'Phonopolis', recently voted #1 independent music store in the city by Mirror, and also happens to be a member of 'Shapes + Sizes'.


Back at the UK Fed and working the door for show by much hyped yet sparsely visible local outfit Clues. The show sold decent, as about 400 folks bought in, wanting to witness for themselves the truth behind the noise being spread. Catching much of the music, I caught no glimpse of why the talk is stirring about the band.
With the instruments set down, the crowd faded and the drinks coming to a standstill, I was anxious to get word on my shows in Toronto that evening. I had booked KSK, The Craft Economy and Europe in Colour, at the Silver Dollar, co-promoting with the notorious character Dan Burke. Also set up was a show (with leg work done by buddy Al) earlier in the evening with radio station 102.1 the edge, allowing a showing at the Steamwhistle Indie Club off Nathan Phillips Square using free on-air promotion and KSK spins throughout the week.

So, I stormed over to the Pop office and proceeded to set the security alarm off, settling that embarrassment I dialed up Tony in and received word that the radio gig was great for allowing folks to come and go as they judged the merits of the music. As for the Silver Dollar, despite a small turnout, the show was a success and Justin spur of the moment broke a guitar into a thousand pieces.


Final stay of the weekend at the Ukrainian Federation was hometown folk country hero L'il Andy, the show saw me with another door gig. Of the couple hundred that attended, some dubious characters approached my artificial box office this night. First up, a diva audience member who insisted she be allowed to venture the building without ticket in search of someone. Eventually after finding & making her daughter pay her way, she refused to allow me to stamp her hand. Tipping that iceberg, was an older man, who drilled me on why the show had not started at seven (doors open) and than hammered on about paying by credit card despite being told we had no machine, he than asked if I could just take his credit card! Re-emerging an hour later accompanied by his poor wife, he insisted on taking five programs and quizzed me on who was performing before demanding I give him a receipt, on my dumbfounded face, he asked me to write a formal acknowledgement on the program. 'one ticket purchased (signed) aaron smith'. That's it, no more choir entourage with artists!


Over the course of the weekend the sound equipment in its place dwarfed the Ukrainian church (think opposite to Spinal Tap stonehenge/midget moment). Now, with the Ryder truck patiently waiting outside, it was time to take it all down and load-out. Fortunately, the reverse process involved descending stairs and brought the same number of men to only an hour of sweat.


Back to the admin work, yet reaching our office floor in a mile end industrial building, I was alarmed to be flanked by cops wearing green uniforms. The police are scattered about relaxed, than came the strong, strong smell of pot. Who knew, suite #219 Canarm Lighting & Fans, Eclairages & Ventilateurs (a neighbouring office) had a marijuana operation going on. They were definitely professionals at insulation, as the previously sheltered smell, could now be detected from the street. Spent the whole day high off the fumes, puzzled at how we could be so oblivious.

1 comment:

Scott E said...

Hi Mr. Smith,

Don't forget to add these links to your list of reviews/publicity for the Kinetic Stereokids:

(Note that "Free Money" is still available for download.)

See? Not everyone shares my opinions--even on the very site I write for. I suppose this is our way of hosting a "listening party" for people--but it's a lot easier just to have a knee-jerk reaction than dig deeper isn't it?

Keep doing what you do, I've got to get back to this stack of Indigo Girls records. There's lots more music out there that needs trashing, you know!

Mr. Pitchfork