We set off at the ass crack of dawn for Spokane. Nobody in the van thought this was going to end well. We have had a road manager for years now and for the first time since any of us can remember we don't have one. We all laugh and say that it reminds us of the days before we had any crew. But beneath the laughter is a gnawing fear and uncertainty.
Tom, our last road manager was also our sound guy and without him we felt like we were hiking through the Mojave missing a leg. He got snagged, as happens to anyone who works for our band, by a major label act. A bit of warning to all you indie musicians out there: the acts who get signed get everything. And when I say "everything" I don't just mean, money, radio, lawyers, groupies, quality drugs and Carson Daly's cell phone number. I mean they get your crew. "Our mix will sound like shit tonight" is what we're all thinking, but not saying. We cannot give that thought a voice.
The second we pull up in front of the Knitting Factory in Spokane the local crew guys are staring at us. They can tell instantly that we're "in the band." When the production manager approaches (Knitting Factory has things like that) he asks, "Who do I talk to?" and everyone points to me because I'm the tallest.
"You were supposed to be here at 4," he says.
I say, "I thought it was 5. We don't have our road manager." He shrugs and walks away.
We set up our gear and sound check with such speed our fears are reinforced. The sound guy is done with us so fast we know we must not matter much. We get off the stage and hit the bar.
One incredibly kind soul buys us a round, which might very well have saved the entire evening. Once that first round makes its way into our blood, we are feeling like a well oiled machine. We strum our way through the set backstage and have a few more shots. The band before us is done and off the stage but nobody tells us about it. I look at the guys and say, "Does it seem really quiet?" Then we hear people chanting "Float-ER, Float-ER, Float-ER" through the backstage wall. Usually there is some kind of five minute warning before our set is supposed to start. Not this time. We're on our own. We all leap up and run for the stage.
When the show starts that familiar tunnel vision takes over and my whole body is humming. After the first song I look back at Pete and he blows me a kiss from his drum throne. We are locked in and going full steam. All the uncertainty melts away like waking up from a strange dream. After an hour and a half of playing they chant for an encore and we happily oblige.
When the show is over we realize that one of us will have to sleep in the van while the others walk to the hotel because none of us can drive that night. We all wish the Warped Tour would come to a sudden and tragic end so that we could have our road manager back. But there is not much time for wishing because we know we have to be up at the ass crack of dawn to start heading for Seattle.
Floater's official site
Photos courtesy of Rob Wynia