The comedy rockers, Psychostick, are currently on the road on their “Mad Marchness Tour” that will be hitting SXSW, South By So What?! and more. While they’re on this tour, they will be writing an exclusive blog for us. You can check out their second entry, after the break.
Psychostick VS South By Southwest, part 2: South By So Wet
After taking psychological ass beating at South By Southwest, we got some much needed R&R staying with our
good friend Frank in San Antonio. Chris and I went out to a bar with Frank and got significantly drunk, reaching the point
that I barely remember getting back to his house. The next day was a short drive, then back to the fray.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX
We were greeted pretty early on by some very enthusiastic and fun fans who had been waiting to see us for quite a long time.
Also wearing a horse mask.
The club told us barbecue was on the way, but it would be some time so Chris and I headed to a Mexican food joint on foot that ended up being very good. My goal over the next few days was to get my fill of Tex-Mex before we left Texas, even though I would pay out the ass for it later (that’s a pun, by the way). I grew up in Odessa, TX and I miss the hell out of Mexican food.
The chicken arrived later, but it was so good that I had a big piece anyway despite how full I was. There was a cat hanging around outside that looked like it was starving so I threw him the bones with scraps on it. Then he was joined by another cat that was in much better condition. He looked healthy and well fed, so this little kitty had none.
Fuck you, cute kitty! Only the starving receive my gift of chicken.
The show was interesting. They didn’t sell liquor at the bar, so people were allowed to bring in BOTTLES OF LIQUOR. Somebody was going to be severely fucked up before the end of the night.
Another little detail I didn’t mention… it was SPRING BREAK.
The singer of one of the bands playing had a bottle of Southern Comfort on stage which he was pouring shots regularly for people in the audience and himself. A shot was randomly given to Alex as he was warming up in the corner. To say the singer was messed up is an understatement. At one point in their set, he was hitting his head against a solid wooden pole next to the stage. Not hard enough to get a concussion, but hard enough to make you question the wisdom of his actions.
The show was fun, people went crazy. But apparently the God of Technical Difficulties was not pleased with my offering at the Oklahoma City show a few nights prior, because the power at the front of the stage kept cutting out (probably a circuit breaker). We keep 3 fans at the front of the stage so we don’t die of heatstroke from the stage lights, which kept shutting off. My guitar would cut out every time too, because I was running through pedals which were powered through the same circuit. I finally unplugged fron the pedals and plugged directly into my amp. I didn’t need to tune my guitar, anyway.
SOUTH BY SO WHAT?!
Another all-night drive.
Load in at South By So What?! (like many outdoor festivals) was at 8am, and we a 7 hour drive to get there from Corpus Christi. And you for festivals, we HAVE to get their on time…
First of all, if your band doesn’t make it on time to big shows, it hurts your reputation and makes you look unprofessional, something we already have to fight tooth and nail to avoid thanks to writing a song about Beer. Even though Rob is a webdesigner, Alex has a 4.0 gpa going to school for finance, Matty has a mechanical engineering degree, and I am an audio engineer, ALL WE DO IS PARTY BECAUSE WE WROTE A SONG ABOUT BEER AND THAT SINGLE SONG OUT OF 60 MUST DEFINE OUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE! Seriously, I can’t tell you how much shit I get when someone catches me indulging in the unforgivable sin of drinking water at a show.
“What are you drinking WATER for?” Then I have to explain that water is necessary for all living things to survive, and my body is no exception to this fact of science. But I usually just end up confusing them.
Second, you gotta get there early if you want to get a decent spot to park and set up your merch booth in a decent location. You want to place your merch booth in a high-traffic area, so people just passing by will stop and check out your shit and you can tell them to make sure they catch your set.
Rob drove the first couple of hours as I finished typing out and sending the first part of this blog just in time for the deadline, then I took over driving at around 3am. I made it till around 7am when Chris took over and did the last hour, so I was running on one hour of sleep. Exhaustion aside, I was still excited to be playing this festival.
South By So What?! is one of the most well-run and organized festivals I’ve ever played. It was held on a baseball field, QuikTrip Park. We showed up, they handed us our passes…
…gave us set times, had a merch spot already set aside for us…
… and even had golf carts with trailers to haul all of our equipment over to the stage. A very nice stage with a killer sound system. I get a boner when I see a set up like this:
Yep, this is one of my turn-ons.
All was going well until I decided to check the weather.
So, we were set to play at 6:15. The highest chance of rain for the entire day was at 6pm. I decided not to worry about it and busied myself with promo. We write our set times on posters and
just plaster those posters everywhere. The goal is to get people to see your band name over and over until they are curious about who you are and hopefully go watch your set instead of eat a funnel cake.
While plastering up flyers everywhere, I noticed that the line had grown significantly as the time to open doors was approaching. There’s no better feeling as a performing musician than to see this:
If people are forming a line at your show, then they are super excited to be there, and the show is going to kick all kinds of ass. I was getting super pumped, more than I already was…. until I made the mistake of checking the weather again.
Wow, from 90% to 100%. Very not good. Oh well, I had never played a rainy festival before, so I figured at the very least, it was something to check off the bucket list.
Speaking of buckets, in retrospect, bringing one would have been a good idea.
I headed back to the van to try to get some sleep. One thing that touring does to you is gives you the ability to sleep through just about anything. I slept with no probablem with a band blasting through a 100,000+ watt PA aimed directly at our van. Not bad, but my most impressive sleeping situation was falling asleep with no problem in a kitchen on a cot with 15+ loud, drunk people coming and going. With the lights on. Sober. I’ve slept in numerous kitchens, too, but sleeping in weird places on the road could be a blog all on it’s own.
SOUTH BY SO WET!
I woke up a little before 4pm, 2 hours before we had to be on stage. I checked the weather. Things were looking up!
The weather had backed off from 100% chance of rain to 60%! I took at as a good sign. We were going to have a great show.
Then it starts to rain.
We loaded our gear onto golf carts and covered it all with a tarp. It was sprinkling at first, and gradually got harder. I tried to reassure myself. “60% chance of rain… 60% chance of rain… ignore Reality, and trust the good people at the Weather Channel.”
As it approached time to play, I hunted around back stage for a place to change into my show costume. The only option seemed to be a portapotty, which was currently in use. I refused to even consider such a thing, I’d rather drop my pants right in front everyone. Years of inconsistent green rooms have made shed all sense of shame when it comes to changing. I’ve changed on fire escape before. Next to a busy street. I’d take the fire escape over a portapotty any day.
After surveying the area, I found tunnel leading out of the stadium. It was somewhat hidden from everyone, and at least I wouldn’t be getting rained on as I changed. I found a chair, took my shoes and pants off, and realized after stepping on the ground in socks that it was MUCH wetter than I initially assessed.
My socks were now soaked. I was just about done changing when one of the staff members noticed what I was doing and suggested that I use the dressing room that was literally 15 feet away.
Son of a bitch.
I needlessly sloshed back to the stage and started to setup our equipment. This is where it got VERY tricky. They already had amps and speaker cabinets we could play through (which we just call “cabs”), but I wanted to use my guitar head. I love my tone (an ENGL 530 Preamp into a VHT power amp with EL34 tubes). But when I got up to the stage, the love of my amp
become much less of a motivator. The only place to put my amp was on the stage. The VERY wet stage.
Since cables sitting in pools of water connected to a 50 watt amplifier doesn’t exactly scream safety, I opted to use the house guitar amp instead. I quickly changed my mind, however, when I couldn’t figure out how to get my footswitch to work with their amp. I had to be able to switch from clean to distortion. So I once again was considering my own amp. That’s when I got an idea… I just needed to get it off the ground. I set my amp on top of the roadcase covers, and covered it with the tarp they had over all the amps.
A question I hope you never have to ask yourself is this: “How wet does a three-pronged power cable have to be before you can get shocked plugging it in?”
I usually get very nervous before big shows… I think every performer has an irrational fear in the back of their mind that the audience will absolutely hate you for
no reason whatsoever, and boo you off the stage. Today however, under the rainy circumstances, this fear had been overridden by an even greater fear. At this point, the audience could have thrown poop at us and I didn’t care; if we walked away from this show without getting electrocuted, I was ready to call it a success.
After plugging in my amp and pedals and not dying, we waited for Smile Empty Soul to finish their set. The show was set up such that as one band was playing one side of the stage, the next band could be setting up on the other. Despite all the H20-inspired anxiety, I was still excited to play.
We got on stage, and began our set. I quickly learned how difficult it is to hold a wet pic and play a wet guitar. I couldn’t really dry off either, because my shirt was out of dry spots. Running around the stage was not wise either, because it was very slippery and the potential for falling on your ass was great.
The show was going great though… we have a song where we hand out a sombrero, and have everyone fight for a piece of it. The crowd meant BUSINESS, they weren’t just out for a piece of the sombrero, they were out for blood. I know it’s a good Sombrero when part of me is honestly worried someone might be dead or critically wounded. 20 minutes into the set, we were halfway through “Dogs Like Socks” when 3 things happened almost immediately one after the other:
1. The volume from the sound system completely disappeared. They had pulled the plug.
2. There was a very loud clap of thunder.
3. About 5 gallons of water which had accumulated on the canopy above the stage suddenly dumped on HedPE’s equipment as they were setting up to play.
I was disoriented by all the goings-on, so it took me a moment to figure out what had just happened. A storm had hit, and they pulled the plug on the entire festival,
right in the middle of our set. The crowd was scattering… some were chanting for the show to keep going, some had straight up bolted for cover. In front of the other stage, the hardcore remaining fans still standing in front of the stage who clearly gave no fucks, started chanting, “Don’t be a bitch! Don’t be a bitch!”
I was amused, and confused. What were we supposed to do? Move our stuff? Wait for it to stop raining? I wasn’t the only person in the state of limbo. I decided to jump off the stage and go apologize to fans who were still waiting and hoping we would continue playing. It wasn’t our call at this point.
The rest of the evening was just trying to get out of there. The golf carts pulling gear weren’t moving, so we waited around a while so that we could haul our amps back our van. I went and changed clothes and socks in the dressing room (because I was SMART this time), and in no time at all, my socks were completely soaked once again.
Son of a bitch. AGAIN!
Well, long story short, the show never came back on, I never got to see MSI, several bands who hadn’t played got moved to the next day, Rob ordered us 2 hotels through Priceline.com, we finally got out of there around 9pm and went and hung out with HedPE on their tour bus. Trauma (their drummer) and Goose (their tech) are both seriously funny dudes! We had a lot of fun hanging out with them, definitely a great way to end the night.
But the night wasn’t over yet. Did I mention that there’s something wrong with the AC unit on top of our van, and that it leaks out of the front vents everytime it rains?
After arriving at the hotel, we learned that the 2 rooms with 2 beds Rob had reserved had turned into 1 room with 1 bed. For 6 people. We debated back and forth about what to do… it was already almost 2am, do we try to find another hotel in our exhausted state? We finally just said, “screw it”. We just wanted to sleep. 4 of us slept in the room, Chris and I slept in the van.
Speaking of hotels, this one wasn’t exactly high class…
After an extremely long day, I curled up in the back of the van in damp clothes, and went to sleep.