I never wrote about that final Mayer/Guster show in Atlanta. We knew there would be some sort of on-stage hazing expected of us, but we weren’t sure how far to take it… all we knew was we wanted to involve nudity and we wanted to involve chicken buckets, but we didn’t want to interrupt John’s flow too much. But then their band came out during Happier and set up a card table on stage and played blackjack through the whole song. They even had some “waitress” come out and serve them drinks. Chris, their stage manager, was putting golf balls right in front of me and I kept thinking “man, he hasn’t made one putt yet” and “man, we’re gonna have to RUIN you’re body is a wonderland tonight.” And so we did. The diaper idea was really stolen from the Barenaked Ladies, who did it to us a few times during Either Way in 2000. We’d requested big, family-size, identity-obscuring chicken buckets but I think we got the mashed potato buckets that barely fit over our heads. I think people knew it was us.
Saturday in Boston was the radio festival show with John and Avril Lavigne and David Gray and Pink and Def Leppard. We played a twenty minute set, which was strange. Ryan wore his Def Leppard shirt, and wanted me to point out where his mom had written his name on the neck when he took it to camp. Avril thanked the radio station and her record label graciously, then played her last song and threw the microphone down on the ground all angry and shit. Pink, who could sing a lot better than I expected, announced she was about to play “her favorite song in the world” and then launched into a big anthemic rendition of that Four Non Blondes song “What’s Going On,” which also happens to be my least favorite song in the whole world.
Then everyone watched from the side of the stage while Def Leppard tore the house down. We sang along loudly and put our pinkies, our index fingers, and our thumbs in the air. You should have heard “F-F-F-Foolin’!” I was still riding high from having met their drummer, Rick “Thundergod” Allen, hours earlier. Rick uses his left foot to play a triggered snare drum and is one of the most creative drummers I’ve ever seen. A true God of Thunder. In his presence I was merely a Thunderservant.
We played two college shows this week — Davidson in Charlotte NC and Furman in Greenville SC. Playing colleges is always exciting because there’s an outside chance you’ll *actually* receive some of the more ridiculous things you ask for in your rider. Like the Green Machine.
Anyway, I thought the Greenville show was the better of the two, but at least both college shows involved typos for us to make fun of:
Exhibit A, above left: The Davidson school paper wrote a preview of the show, correctly mentioning Charlie Hunter and Guster as the openers for John Mayer, but unable to identify which band Charlie Hunter played in. The caption beneath his photo should have read: Charlie Hunter, of Charlie Hunter. Not Charlie Hunter, of Guster.
Exhibit B, above right: The back of a bootleg t-shirt from the parking lot of the Furman show, where John Mayer’s face looms atop his featured openers: Gusher and Charlie Hunter. Silly t-shirt bootlegger, it’s Guster not Gusher!!
More miscues: Tonight’s show in Birmingham was a big deal because John was shooting a DVD. Huge camera crew, flying cranes, etc… and the truck with the band’s gear on it drove to New Orleans by accident. The absolute worst day for the truck with the band’s gear on it to accidentally drive to the next gig. I guess the page with the Sept 12th show on it was missing from the driver’s tour book. Anyway, he got the gear to Alabama by 4pm but since it was supposed to be there at 8am, all of Mayer’s crew were on edge. We Gusters gladly forfeited our soundcheck and watched as everyone set up the event in under three hours. Impressive. Meanwhile, our crew got to take naps all day, and Rob our sound engineer got to watch the weather channel all day. You love watching the weather channel, Rob!
We finally did something in Charleston that we’d been talking about doing for over a year now. We walked on stage with the Sega Dreamcast Virtua Tennis theme song as our intro music. It was the perfect place to do it because the Family Circle Arena is on some country club plot of land with tennis courts everywhere. So Adam recorded the song onto his computer and burned it to disc and we walked out to the cheesy keyboard and drum machine anthem that we’ve heard in the back lounge of the bus every night on this tour. People kind of clapped but mostly wondered why we were laughing (and strutting) to such bad music. I felt like Carlos Moya on percussion.
But listen to this: When I woke up and got off the bus in the morning I kind of wandered through the surroundings. Lots of tennis players drinking lemonade and charging things to the Underhill’s tab. I was wearing my t-shirt with the human intestines labeled on it and my pilly floral Jams shorts. I had big puffy allergy-plagued eyes, messy hair, and a beard. Looking for a bathroom I wandered into the Tennis Pro Shop at the country club, where the two clerks appraised me and instantly begged “CAN I HELP YOU — CAN I HELP YOU — CAN I HELP YOU!!??”
Not a genuinely helpful salesman’s inquiry, but more like a If I Had A Button That Would Activate A Trap Door Below Your Feet I Would Be Pushing It Frantically kind of inquiry. And that kind of “Can I help you?” really isn’t helpful at all. I pretended to look at a few Sergio Tacchini jackets, dropped a few eye boogers on their floor, and left.
Who’s that guy keepin’ it real up there on the lighting truss?
A) Andy Dick
B) Carrot Top
C) Blueberry Head
D) Ryan Miller
Why, it’s (D) — Guster’s very own Ryan Miller — focusing lights before the show at Regency Park in North Carolina, where we played what was arguably our best performance thus far on the tour. My wood block trigger sound didn’t freak out on Center of Attention. Ryan’s bass was in tune on Homecoming King. The John Mayer came out and joined us (on crayon) for New Song 2. It was one of those nights where everything just seemed to work out.
The Richmond show was on one of those islands they have floating in the middle of the river downtown. We were playing on “Brown’s Island” this time and isn’t that just appropriate because once again there was nowhere to shit. That’s right, it’s another poop-themed entry! Go ahead and avert your eyes now if you’re still recovering from the last one.
This time the port-o-potty was the only option. There was no plumbing on the island. So the only real choice to be made was between the three port-o-potties backstage.
And even though it was the only occupied one, I waited for The Blue Room. Never before had I encountered such an enormous port-o-potty! I figured it was probably air-conditioned and maybe there was even a dude standing in there with a towel and a bowl of mints. I went and got my book.
The inside wasn’t as luxurious as I’d imagined it’d be. Like other port-o-potties I’d used in the past, it was pretty much a hot stinky closet where people pile shit on top of shit. There was no towel dude and no bowl of mints, but there was a cigarette butt on the floor and a few flies buzzing around my head, waiting for me to shit so they could eat it. However it was spacious, and there was a bit of a breeze, and it didn’t smell nearly as bad as they usually do. So I let myself get lost in Larry McMurtry’s tale of cowboys driving cattle out west and the next thing I knew I was on page 600 in Lonesome Dove and I’d spent four hours in The Blue Room!
Yes, I had the digital camera in the port-o-potty with me, but NO I didn’t take any pictures of what was in The Hole. You’re all sick people! If you want to see that kind of stuff you can just visit www.ratemypoo.com anyway.
For some reason, they wouldn’t let people bring signs into the DC show. So this guy named Eric decided he ought to give me his ROSENWORCEL ROCKS cardboard poster, which features me playing percussion with a bucket on my head and a traffic light behind me (!?). A fine sign and a great way to show some support at a concert. Thanks Eric. Lots of Gusterds have found vocal and clever ways to express their love on this tour and it means a lot. But here are a couple of things NOT to do:
1. Don’t expose Scotty’s genital diseases on the outside flap of your poster. That’s just not fair.
2. Don’t hurt yourself. Check out the pictures of a kid named Ryan, below — if you look closely you can see some carvings around the chest and stomach. This is what Ryan said to me: “I tried to write GUSTER on my chest but all I had was a ballpoint pen and I ended up cutting myself.”