07.16.04 – Pittsburgh

No, I’m not writing another entry about port-o-potties. But I knew the picture would suck you guys in, you bunch of sick fecophiliacs. It’s okay. I will sacrifice integrity to get people to read my journal.

So last night in Pittsburgh we played in that tent-covered parking lot again… the same place where we had the 15-man acoustic jam encore of “Signs” by Tesla last summer. After our set I grabbed a plate of beef and saddled up to watch a blurry Mets game on the bus for about 45 minutes until we were supposed to go out and join Ben Folds in his set.

But 10 minutes into Folds’ set, halfway through my pot roast, and right in the middle of the eighth inning, I heard my drums coming through the PA system. That’s funny, I thought. Ben doesn’t have a drummer. Ben has played my kit from time to time during his set, to punctuate “Rock This Bitch” and other impulsive moments, but I distinctly heard his piano playing at the same time that the drums were playing. And then, slowly, horrifically, the realization sunk in that the drumming was the unmistakable sound of The Only Beat Ryan Miller Knows How To Play. Four on the floor. Hi-hat stiff as a board. I stuck my head out the window and confirmed that Miller was playing the kit, stupid grin on his face, looking around sheepishly to see when I’d come kick him off.

Fists clenched to the sky, throat bellowing out a low gargled “Nooooo!!” followed by the requisite “Whyyyeeee!!??” I ran from the bus towards the stage. When I got there the situation was pretty ugly. Folds was playing bass, Miller was drumming, Adam was making guitar noises, and Joe was on Ben’s piano. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!? And just ten minutes into Ben’s set? The worst part — and I’m not sure that this will resonate with anyone who isn’t a musican — none of the Gusters had any of their in-ear monitors in their ears. In other words, no one could hear anything. It was a giant free for all.

I added to it with some conga bullshit. It went on for like fifteen minutes. At one point Folds was playing the hand drums and at another point Rufus came out and screamed into the microphone and then walked off stage.

When it was over, I learned what happened…

Before the show, we exchanged Chevrolet Station Square Amphitheater Glory Stories with Ben backstage. We spoke of Tesla covers, and he told us about how six years ago he climbed the giant mountain next to the venue (he called it “Mount Motherfucker”) and ended up in someone’s backyard with his face pressed against their living room window…

During the Guster set, Ryan told the crowd that if Ben started to tell his Mount Motherfucker story that they should “boo” him. And like clockwork, Ben went into the narrative after two songs, and the crowd played along. They booed. And not “Boo-urns,” mind you… serious booing. Ben figured it out when he saw Ryan laughing on the side of the stage and said something like “get the hell out here” — opening the floodgates for a Way Too Long Indulgent Noise Jam.

I love Folds. The man does not care.

I will miss this tour when it is gone.

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