The morning rose to a bright haze, its sun behind a thin screen of mist above Berkeley. Today we load the gear into The Paramount Theatre in Oakland to kick off the 2013 tour. It was a slow process trying to ram four truck-loads of equipment into the small theatre, but we did it with no stress or fuss. I noticed it was St. David’s day, the feast day of Wales’ patron saint. Production Manager Dave happens to be Welsh and when I burst into the production office dressed as a big happy dragon he wasn’t pleased because I knocked over a glass of water onto his computer and shoes with the tail. When I saw he was upset, I thought the fireworks positioned inside the big, happy, red drake’s mouth would lift Dave’s spirits but they ended up bouncing three or four times off the walls and there’s no way you could ever do it if you tried, but some of the blue-hot burning magnesium pellets landed in the wastepaper basket. The odd thing was, the wicker basket itself sparked the conflagration, as it was recently used as a foreign object filter in a vodka bong we hit a few minutes before load in.
Setting up the gear on stage was much like any other day; although it’s been over two months since the last show, it feels like an old harmless habit, getting the carpets down, assembling the risers and betting on the impromptu cage-fighting matches we accidentally began when the grammar contest got a little heated. Some folks just can’t abide by the Oxford comma.
Things actually took a long time to get going today for two reasons; the first day is always slow no matter how much preperation has been done in advance, and the stage is a wee bit smaller than we’d like. When conditions are cramped it takes a while to get everything in, positioned, tuned up, revved up, and blowed up. But once we were ready, Leonard and the band took the stage and began running through the set. Some songs were played in full, some were cut short, and after around 30 minutes, Leonard had an epiphany: ‘We don’t need to do this,’ he said with a big smile.
Some of the band and crew sped off to an engagement, some stayed in the venue for dinner and when it was done, we catapulted our way to the hotel, arriving around 8.15pm, a relatively early night. I must be very close to ‘over’ jetlag, but my insides are still a little tender — by the end of the day I was quite tired and happy for the chance to get back to my room where Dan and I killed a really large number of zombies.