Chrome Squatch Concert Tour USA
Here we have the estimable GENE SMITH narrating events of Wednesday June 24--
Hey, yeah, I'm Gene Smith, one of the almost nameless roadies along on this Chrome Squatch Concert Tour. You know, one of those unsung heroes of the music industry, one of the little people nobody notices. I'm not a musician, so it might seem like I don't really exist... except when I get into your face to take one of my eminently artistic videos of cool rock stars in action. Although right now I'm just sitting here and recording this chapter for the continuing AooE document on the morning after last night's concert in Columbus, Ohio. So I'm existing now, pay attention, folks.
So who the hell is this Gene Smith dude? you ask. Understandably, since he-- who is me --ain't hardly barely been mentioned in the currently infamous "Document" so far. Probably 'cause I tend to keep to the background in this crowd of musical egos, me being more of a technician than a musician and who gives a fuck what a tekki does?
But I got me an ego too and I do my little bit of video artistry with diligence and aplomb, knowing that everyone's gonna love me after I mix and deliver a perfect little movie clip of themselves prancing around on & off stage, somehow making even those clowns look good. Naw, I ain't complaining, I love my job, but I ain't gonna be humble neither.
Anyway, I used to be the one and only "colored person" who gave this otherwise all-white boy-band some viable PR for not being racist assholes. Ah, but now we got us 3 big Bigfoots, a redskin Indian brave, an deliciously edible Jap chick, one hyper-hot natural blonde, an equally hot mulatta babe with an ass to die for, an ex-child flamenco prodigy Chicano; yeah, now we got us all sortsa diversity. But hey, I'm still the only actual bona fide NEGRO working as a roadie on this Chrome Squatch USofA Concert Tour. Which is the current amal-ga-ma-tion of two currently pop rock bands, Chrome Pie + Squatch & Friends.
Me? I thought you'd never ask. Originally I'm from Reno, Nevada, still in college but on a leave of absence just now, 'cause I left and've been sorta absent for the last three years. I'd been majoring in Media Dynamics, which makes me the computer & tech guy, sometimes cameraman, as well as one of the grunts hauling those big heavy Marshall amps on and off stage and doing a damn good job of it too. Most of the time.
Yes, I'm single, ladies, which is probably best way to be when you're attached to a pop band on tour. My home life is here on the road, living in a bus with a rowdy bunch of heathens, drinking and doping and smooching with the groupies. It ain't bad-- or maybe it IS; the Michael Jackson kinda ba-a-a-ad-- that is, the song "I'm Bad", not the pedophile stuff... okay maybe I'll just shut up about all that for now.
We've been on the road for about a month and a half this time and have finally (so far) come to Columbus, Ohio, where we performed our 17th tour concert last night. One of the singer/musicians in the band, Melly Wielson (the hot blonde), has been trying to get all of us along for the ride to contribute some kind of personal note or article or report about our perception of the tour. All part of what's being called "The Document". And she seems to think that I'm just the guy to report on Columbus, Ohio, because... because... Because somebody's got to do it, I guess.
It's a pretty city to drive into: a cozy clump of skyscrapers shining on the fairly clean-looking Scioto River, otherwise a pretty flat landscape featuring lots of green and grass. It was a nice sunny day, cloudless blue sky, gave a good impression. It seems to be a good place to live, not too big, not too small, affordable, lots of culture, universities, all that. But the name "Columbus" has become a historical embarrassment, we learned.
Back when I was in grade school the historical Christopher Columbus was considered more or less a hero. You know:
Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."
The shame of the name: In fact, I hear that a statue of him outside City Hall has already been taken down and hidden somewhere else, and now there's a local movement to change the name of the City of Columbus to "Flavortown". Kinda dumb name, I think, but if he really was such a sumbitch... well... serves him right.
All right, maybe I'm being unfair to a town that's never really given me any shit, I've been here once before with Chrome Pie and nothing went wrong that time either. As far as I can tell, Columbus seems to be a very nice place, populated by a bunch of fun-loving all-right folks who live there in peace and harmony. So I'll try to behave.
But of course, I may just have an ulterior motive: I'll also be writing MYSELF into this chapter of Adam's life story, the suddenly-famous AooE document, which seems to be becoming quite in-famous, especially due to media leaks and all. The National Inquisitor scandal magazine is after Adam, and therefore after all of us too, since we're with him. Cool with me, man, we could all end up becoming in-famous if these chapters get leaked too!
And they most likely will, since we've also just learned that it was good old Adam hisself who's deliberately leaked them. He says he had instructions to do it, from some kind of Bigfoot spirit vision, like maybe this is all part of some Master Plan to Change the World. Anyway, that's the most popular conspiracy theory going on around here these days.
Ever since AooE got leaked a week ago the Document has become easy to find on the Internet, lots of different links. So I thought, hey, I'd better check it out. I've read about half of it so far, up to where Adam has met up with his own Bigfoot people-- with their magic and full moon orgies and all that. I've heard tell to later come back to modern America with that spirit-vision in his head and start his S&F band.
And, man, that's what's happening right now, this very concert tour is part of that spirit vision-- which makes ME part of that. So I'm going to read the rest of the document, soon as I have time-- today's trip to Cincinnati will only be a couple of hours, which I'll use to finish writing this chapter about our stay in Columbus yesterday.
Sticking to the formula for these concert reviews, I'll note our route and schedule. We left Akron about 10 am yesterday morning, with only 110 miles to cross, a couple hours dive. Our concert wouldn't be until 8:00 that evening, so we had lots of time. We pulled in for gas at a big freeway truck stop, got some burgers and had an all-hands "briefing" in the S&F bus.
That meeting was about the media leak, which seems to be stirring up some protests. Because suddenly we're getting crazies with guns. Granted, it was only a .22 caliber yesterday, but there were AR-15s in DC. Next time it could be a big-bore Magnum. (note from Adam: it was, the first time I got shot) We pulled into Columbus by 2 pm and were surprised to notice that there was almost no traffic, neither cars nor pedestrians. Felt weird after NYNY and DC. We were all checked in and set up in the Palace Theater by about 3:00 pm.
That gave us a bunch of hours to kill and I wanted to get some video footage of the town, as I usually do. Someone recommended that we visit the Riverfront and Short North. The theater was on West Broad Street, which put us on the edge of Downtown, so a bunch of us took a taxi to Capitol Square just so I could take a picture of the Ohio Statehouse, then up to a neighborhood called "Short North" because it was supposed to be "colorful and trendy".
We've learned not to visit new towns as a crowd of 20, if everyone on the convoy has to come along. Among them three Sasquatches, just to top off the confusion. So it's best to split up and wander around in smaller groups. So this time I was with Don, Freddy, Marcie and Sunny, all of us who work the road crew. Except for Osmond, who had to stay back and guard the parked vehicles, but that's his job.
There were all kinds of restaurants and cafés at Short North, cool murals on the buildings. Colorful: check. Trendy: check. But what we really wanted was a tavern. And once again, Marcie smooth-talked us into a gay bar, the Tremont Lounge. But no complaining, we had fun there.
But then I noticed something going on between Don and Sunny: flirting. But hey, they can't do that, I thought-- old man Ewan more or less forbade it because that's exactly how you break up a band. Normally, I wouldn't think much of it, but they were nuzzling! Not quite kissing, but getting there.
It's only now that I'm not drunk, while writing this... this continuation to the fabulous DOCUMENT... that I realize how jealous I am. I mean, all along I've had a thing for Sunny, but haven't ever made a play for her out of loyalty to the band. I put Chrome Pie's needs ahead of my own. I've been fucking NOBLE!
At first we guys were all trying to protect her, our innocent little waif, our mascot virgin. Even after she showed us that she was just as horny and decadent as any of us, collecting studs same as we guys collect groupies. But I still didn't go after her because I don't want to be the muthfugga who breaks up the band.
And now Don is doing it.. or at least, seems to be more than casually interested in doing it. And Sunny didn't seem to mind.
Besides, at first I wasn't sure she'd be into a black dude like me, but now I've heard that she's maybe done a threesome with TWO black guys, so fuck that. Well… if it's true, might just be a rumor. I dunno.
But I've heard that Don's supposed to have written a recent chapter of this document-- about our stop in Montreal about three weeks back --apparently admitting that he was ready to jump Sunny "in a heartbeat", I'll have to check that out. If I can find it: it's not in the part of the document that's been leaked.
Wait a minute; what am I doing getting jealous? This is exactly what happens when dudes get involved with girls in their band; they go crazy. I'm 32 and she's not even 20 years old, I better keep it in my pants. Even though she IS over 18 and therefore legal game. And how old is Don anyway? Shit, why should I care? BJ's a bigger risk and he's almost 40! Why am I suddenly so jealous and horny?
Maybe it's because we all started talking about that Bigfoot afro-dizzy-ak at our briefing yesterday and Sunny sounded interested in having a "kha-rat", that's a Bigfoot orgy. With all of us, I guess. And those S&F girls, wow! And then Adam said something about the full moon in 9 days… 8 days now. But would I even go for that?
One advantage to being the roadies instead of the musicians is that we can get a little bit drunk and still do our jobs-- it's not us who has to perform the concert in a few hours, we just clean up the mess afterwards, so we can be pretty muthafuggin relaxed.
In fact, it's our duty-- otherwise ennui will begin to set in. There always comes a point during these months-long seemingly endless concert tours when it gets hard to keep feeling the thrill of visiting a new town every day. Unless you have some fun now & then.
But actually, the trip itself-- being on the road, that's still pretty cool, exciting even. The motion, the moving on, the scenery rolling by... if we just didn't have to deal with all these fucking CITIES along the way. They're all too similar; full of McDonalds, KFC, Subway, used car lots, traffic props and traffic cops, no-parking zones and no parking places. Up to recently we'd been saving up all our enthusiasm for the Big Apple and DC, but they're behind us now. Gray skies ahead from here on.
Man, ain't I being a little too negative, considering that I'm really glad to be on this trip? The formula calls for feel-good stuff and I don't wanna blow it.
For example, our concert was well received, the audience was crazy happy. We did proud and they were appreciative. So I guess I'm glad we went there and put on our little show. You're welcome, Columbus, Ohio. Maybe we changed some lives, who knows?
It also took place in a pretty nice venue: the Akron Civic Theater is one of those grand old movie palaces from the 1920's, holds about 2700 butts and we filled it up. Sold out again, so we're doing pretty good. We might earn a bit more money in the big arenas, but they're harder on all of us and a big part of the eventual profit will be because of the video coverage. So it doesn't matter much how big the actual live audiences are if it all ends up as just so many hours of video on the eventual DVD. It's best to have some variation of venues.
Earlier I called myself "the cameraman", which may be somewhat misleading, because we're all cameramen on this trip, shooting video documentation of our tour all the way. We've got at least four professional quality video cameras between us, as well as cell phones and tablets, Ipads, whatever. So anyone can just pick up something and shoot a scene. And they do.
Scott is supposed to be the "writer", although there is no actual manuscript yet, it's all just a loose collection of scenes as we go. We'll cut & edit it all together when we're done with the tour, back in LA.
But actually, it IS me who does most of the planned camerawork. The musician's can't do it, since the camera usually needs to be pointed at them. Old Man Ewan wants nothing to do with it. Freddy does the lighting, for which he needs to be mobil. Sunny's a really pretty redhead, so we want her to be in the picture as much as possible, Osmond isn't a steady photographer, too much sway and extra motion. Marci's pretty good, actually, steady and unhurried. But I'm still best. Honest.
We don't tape every moment of every concert-- they're too much alike, it would just be boring repetition. Unless something surprising actually happens, but surprises don't seem to be happening so much, it's all mostly in the same-old-shit category. Usually we shoot at least one song from each venue, just to get a fair sampling of the USA-tour experience.
We do tend to record too much silly after-party stuff, most of which might be used for a gag reel. Including a lot of stuff we don't really dare use, or we'd all end up in jail. We also shoot a minimum of our truck and 3 busses rolling down the road in convoy, just enough to get some sense of where we've been and where we're going. We don't want to overdo the machinery aspect; it's the people and the music we want to see and hear.
Although a good clean image of our convoy rolling down an American Highway, with a good solid beat pushing it along on top of a dramatic melody sweeping us up for the ride, some iconic traffic sign or building indentifying the city we're pulling into... it really kinda gets you.
I gotta mention that the BABES on this trip are all super-photogenic, so we like to point the cameras at them a lot. But all the guys are good-looking celebrity rock stars too, so we gotta take pix of all the beautiful people. And, of course, we've got three amazing-looking Sasquatches along for the ride. So the only one who doesn't show up in so much footage is me, because I'm almost always taking the picture.
We've also recorded some pretty dramatic video footage up to now. Especially from the ruins of Detroit and the riots in Washington DC, and when those paramilitary muthafuggars in the Anthem Theater were "allegedly" out to kill Adam.
I wish I'd managed to catch the action just outside the theater, when Adam rolled the bad guys' van over a couple of times to keep them from shooting him and so that the FBI could move in to arrest them. Maybe someone else has got that on their cell phone: we sometimes get amateur videos e-mailed to us from fans, some even in pretty good image quality. We just need a signed release form giving us permission to use the footage. Hell, if it's good enough we'll even BUY the rights to that scene. So if you've got some good footage, you're welcome to send it to us.
There was a press conference held in the theater at 5 pm. Adam and his mommas had seen the morning's TV broadcast interview of the leader of the activists in Akron, that plump dark-haired lady, Monica Something-or-other, who was trying to say that Adam getting shot by one of her activists, guy named Harvey Something, wasn't their fault at all, just a little oopsie-accident. Anyway, Monica got shot down by the interviewer (metaphorically, not with real bullets like Harvey's).
So Adam asked to meet with that same TV journalist, Joyce Novella of WWHY TV News here in Columbus, because she seemed to be on our side. That turned into an hour-long interview about the impact of the AooE document being leaked. I gotta admit, that Adam talks really well, almost word-of-God level. Kinda hypnotic, perfect words and phrases, does terrific PR for the band.
I don't know if it was because of that TV interview, but there were no protesters waiting for us when it was time to do our show in Columbus last night. Did it sway public opinion? Maybe.
As for our concert, it was like all the others, otherwise I don't know what to say about it. Well, except that Adam can't play the guitar until his hand heals from getting shot, so Mike is filling in Adam's melody line instead of all those flamenco riffs he usually does. Sounds just fine. Adam may be wounded but he sings like always; lots of power, lots of octaves, a super voice. Squatches are supposed to heal faster than us humans, so his hand should be good to go again in a few more days.
Everyone in the audience must have known about him getting shot in Akron and were showing him lots of respect. They sure seemed satisfied with the concert they got.
And hey, I got some good video footage of Adam singing onstage with his bandaged hand held high, the usual "show must go on" routine. Yeah, we'll bleed that concept dry, believe me.
Squatch & Friends