05.16.05 – England

Leaving for the UK, we watched the airline people load a shrink-wrapped cluster of Guster road cases onto the plane. Last time we flew overseas to play we attempted to rent the various elements of my percussion kit in England and construct an imposter kit as best we could. This time we discovered ‘cargo fees’ — who knew every plane could take on thousands of pounds of excess weight and still make it all the way over the Atlantic?

Like most of the public transportation busses over here, tour busses in the UK are double deckers. For the drive to Liverpool and back, we rented a tour bus this time around — having two floors at your disposal gives you a lot more space, but when you’re 6 foot 2 you end up walking around like you’re on Floor 7 1/2 in Being John Malkovich (hunched over). Not quite realizing that in England the driver sleeps on the bus along with you, we got a bit rowdy after the Liverpool show and woke our driver up. After apologizing for our naivete, he made us feel better/worse by saying “don’t worry, it happens with every American band on the first night.”

The show in Liverpool was an opening slot, first of three before an Icelandic band and a British band, both of which run in indier circles than we do. It was a small club, and with the enormous amount of gear between all three bands, there wasn’t much room on stage for Guster. We scrapped the trap kit, the keyboards, and the lap steel, leaving ourselves a set list that pretty much wrote itself… Wish, Barrel, Careful, Ramona, Captain, Happier, Fa. It felt like 1998 at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge again. When we walked on stage there were twenty people in the club and it was dead silent. Like, not one person applauded our entrance. That was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had on stage — like we were breaking into someone’s living room to play a show or something. Anyway, even though nobody could swing their guitar neck an inch in any direction without striking someone else, we played a good set and won over the 20 people watching us. We played hard, too, like we had something to prove. Had half the crowd gotten up and gone to the bar after our first song it would have been disastrous for our egos.

Our hotel is in the Camden area of London, which is wicked active on Sundays. Somehow it was sunny and 70 degrees on our day off too (that hardly ever happens over here). Deep in the stables behind Chalk Farm Road there are street markets as far as the eye can see, and chinese food huts with identical menus lined up one after the other. Competition is fierce, and the little Chinese ladies behind the counter are loud and aggressive. This is the story of one woman and her quest to give people free chicken samples from her fork…

“free chicky three pound you can mix”

a slow moment

exasperation… losing hope

“FREE CHICKY THREE POUND YOU CAN MIX!”

the joy of victory!

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