Monday, June 09, 2008

It Took a Disaster to Get Us Off That Stage...

Saturday, The Joans traveled to lovely Milwaukee, WI to perform at the Pridefest. The sound was terrific, they had a nice little drum kit and our set went very well.

Until the tornado sirens went off.

Fortunately, we were near the end of our set, and only had "Mad At The Dirt" and "The Boys And The Booze" left to go. Still, I would have LOVED to play "Mad At The Dirt" on that stage with that sound system! The monitors were FABULOUS. No feedback on outdoor stages!

I took along my little pocket digital video camera to record some behind-the-scenes stuff, starting with the trip there. (There will be video of the performance itself a little later, once it's all assembled, etc.)

Here we are leaving Chicago:

The road out of town

As it turned out, the exit we were to take to get to the festival grounds was closed and there was a strange detour through downtown Milwaukee. But finally, we drew near:

Our destination

Finally, after we had ironed out some parking issues, we were shown backstage, where we staged our equipment, surveyed our surroundings and made chit-chat. Plus, Gary flips through a Pridefest magazine and finds some familiar faces, while I try to get a peek at the drum kit setup:


One of the things I remembered about performing at the Pridefest a few years ago was the really nice crafts table with the sandwiches, fruit, coffee, etc. This time, however, the arrangements appeared to be a little more exclusive:

Private food

Although we mere plebeans weren't allowed to eat from Natasha's personal crafts table, we did find our dressing room to be comfy and cozy:

Dressing room

Then we began the process of donning costumes, makeup, etc. (hey, Joans don't just HAPPEN--they're meticulously chiseled--by an abstract artist, apparently!). And Taylor has bought a cool vintage suit:

New duds

Then, at 3:49 P.M., we made our way to the stage for sound check and at 4:00 P.M., we kicked off our set. (As I mentioned, we don't have video of the set yet, but we did have a videographer there who will be editing together the set.) I was really happy with the way we sounded and the monitor levels were perfect, so we could hear ourselves and each other perfectly. I loved the kick drum pedal, too--I need to get one just like it!

At 4:45 P.M., as we were in the middle of "This Is Your Life," I heard a strange overtone which I took to be Ed Joans's keyboard. I thought, "This is different--he's added something to the song." The note stayed steady, however, and then I thought maybe one of his keys was sticking (though they've never done that before). After about a minute, the stage manager came out and signalled to us to stop: what I'd taken for a keyboard overtone was apparently a tornado siren.


We were instructed to take our equipment down (we didn't have all that much since they had a great backline) and go to our dressing room, closing the door and staying away from the windows (an interesting challenge, given the prominence of the window in our small dressing room).

All in all, it wasn't too bad, since we'd made it through most of our set by then. We had to stay backstage for over an hour while the storm went over (the tornado never got that close to us. We just caught the surrounding storm, which was quite bad enough). In these post-show afterglow moments, Jennifer Joans gave us a tip on dressing-room etiquette, and Gary Joans hatched a nefarious plot to do away with us all:


Eventually, we made our way out into the hallway where Natasha Bedingfield's craft table items had been subsequently marked suitable for the masses. So I ate of Natasha's nuts and drank of Natasha's water (boy was I thirsty!). Since we were in a confined space, members of Natasha's entourage (although not Natasha herself) were forced to speak with us. They were actually quite nice! One of them referred to the siren as an "air raid siren," which I thought was cute (he was from England, where they don't get tornados once an hour like we do in the Midwest, though, so that's probably what the sirens ARE for there).

We got on the road shortly after 6:00 and made our way slowly and wetly home (it was pouring). We stopped in Racine for food along the way, so we didn't get back home until about 10:00. I don't have any video of the drive home because it was too dark anyway, plus my camera was in my bag by then and I wasn't going to fish it out. But trust me, it happened, it really did!

All in all, it was a fun trip and we're glad we did it. The Pridefest people were smiling as they watched us and we had an enthusiastic audience, which Davy and Jennifer Joans successfully whipped into a rabid frenzy. If we hadn't had to leave the stage in a hurry from the tornado, we'd have had to do it to keep from being torn limb from limb by hungry zombies! Seriously, though, they had a lot of fun. Especially when they really heavy rains came and people started streaking. We could hear the screaming and cheering from backstage.

Let's do it again next year!


Blogger American Girl said...

Oh, sure you ate in Racine. You said so. Even thought there is no video of it actually happening, you expect us to believe it. Hmmph! ;)

Fun post!


1:43 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Trust me, you would not have wanted to watch me smack Ed's hands away from my breaded mushrooms...:-)

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do love breaded mushrooms. Sounds like you played up a storm. Say, how is a Tornado and a woman alike? They both make a lot of noise when they come and take the house when they go.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Well this one sure made a helluva lot of noise! At least the surrounding thunderstorm did...

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've had a Tornado back in January that did a lot of damage to a church and some houses. We had two more Tornadoes in may. Now the water is at an all time high and the roads in and out are closed. What did we do wrong? Ed

4:56 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

The same thing we did--forgot to dig the trench!

The storms were terrible in IL, too...the south suburbs in Chicago got hit by tornadoes at the same we got hit in Milwaukee. Then the storms came up from Chicago to WI, so we drove through and against them all the way home. That's why it took FOREVER!

8:13 PM  
Blogger American Girl said...

Natasha Bedingwhatever was on Tyra yesterday. I
wondered if she had the same sign posted over her food.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

She'd never have to worry about it there...Tyra doesn't eat.

(Well, except for small children.)

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy...Happy Birthday...Aaron. Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday Dear Aaron, Happy Birthday to you! and many more! Ed

6:45 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Thank you Ed! It's actually a week from today, though--don't age me any faster, dammit! (Just kidding--I appreciate the greetings!)

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm confused which is very easy to do. You say your Mom's birthday is on June 3 and yours is nine days later. See my confusion? You got a reminder of her birthday on June 3 but I guess I'm the dumb ass for thinking that was her birthday. Sorry, I'm a complete idiot. I knew I'd fuck it all up. Go ahead kick my Ass, Hard, I deserve it. Ed

12:20 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Sorry, I probably wasn't clear in that post--my bad! When I said "Tuesday," I meant the one coming up! (June 10) I should have been more specific--the greetings are welcome anytime, however!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Java said...

You do a great Jean Stapleton impression.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Thanks Java...if I'd quit smoking completely, I'd probably sound more like Edith and less like Maude-trying-to-be-Edith! :-)

12:10 AM  

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