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Music Production: Circuits of Steel Tour 2003
07/27/2003 Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Live in Cleveland: Circuits of "You might want to have a band meeting about the hat."

I woke up rather early, given how late we all went to sleep. It was to be a hot day in Indiana, that was certain. I was out of Clif bars, and had consumed my dinner the night before, so there was nothing for me to eat. I checked email, got my Flash demo up and working again, burnt a CD of the previous night's performance for Bobby Vomit (at his request the night before) and waited for people to wake up. Eventually they did, and after some discussion, we hit the road. Kerry insisted on driving again, I think out of the perception that I was not the quickest driver among us. That was certainly true, but my primary goal was reaching our destination alive.

So we hauled it across the remainder of Indiana to I-70 and western Ohio, where Manny asked me if I had Mapquest directions to Pat's in the Flats. I told him that while I'd been doling them out day by day, at some point (oh, maybe after Houston?) I'd just pulled all the directions out and given them to him, as he (a nondriver) was functioning as navigator. He said, "I can't believe that you don't have them." I said I didn't believe that I did have them; I'd given them to him. Back and forth we went, with Jason interjecting that he couldn't believe that I didn't believe that I had them. I asked Manny if it was possible that he dumped them--did he throw out old directions? Yes, it turned out. I said, "I don't believe you did that."

We cut through Columbus and headed north. We stopped at the first rest area, and I attempted to find food in the vending machines. I saw a package that boasted of "real fruit!" so I bought it...and it turned out to be this weird largely artificial gelatinous thing. Sort of like gummi bears, but with an ostensible connection to something that might have once grown organically. Only a connection, though. I offered it to Manny, and figured I might as well go hungry until we hit Cleveland.

Somewhere between Columbus and Akron, the rain began in earnest. Significant rain, rain that had others pulling to the side of the road. Rain that had Kerry slowing down a little, on occasion. We pushed on, and Kerry put in his new The Streets CD, which didn't do much for me, but which regrettably stuck in the head after the third or fourth listen or so. This was our soundtrack for the approach into Cleveland. By this time, I was quite cold from the air conditioning and lack of anything to eat. Due to our lack of directions to Pat's (which was difficult to get to, apparently), we were going to meet up with Greg's roommates at his place, and then we'd follow them to the venue. We pulled up at Girl Talk Manor right as the rain began to abate, and we hit the bathrooms and internet connections. (Thanks for the DSL, guys. It strikes me that if I'd been writing this thirty or so years ago, I might say much the same thing, but with the letters rearranged.)

We (Jason, Kerry, Ryan, and I) joined with one of Greg's roommates to get some food, and we headed over to a build-your-own-burrito place in a yuppifying shopping district (apparently once quite the countercultural center) near Case Western. The burrito was quite good (veggie), large, and affordable. We ate, grateful for some nutrition, finally. At one point Kerry went up to get more guacamole, and came back amused--the guy behind the counter asked him, "So you all following Phish around?" Kerry told him no, we were on tour, performing electronic music. The counter guy indicated Jason and said, "Oh, well then you might want to have a band meeting about the hat."

We returned to Girl Talk Manor, checked email, picked up Manny and Greg, and followed his friends down to the venue. Kerry put in his Streets CD again, and we commented on his polysyllabic rapping style. I suggested that he needs to work with a monosyllabic partner for contrast. ("Government funding for further education--HEH!--pales in insignificance--YEAH!" Or "In the afterlife Gladiators--OW!--meet their maker/Thrown through the wind fields and lakes of Bluewater--UH!")

Down we went to the Flats, and...yep, this was an emotionally resonant landscape for me. Great place for a music venue, as there were no neighbors to disturb. We pulled up to Pat's, loaded in and set up. It looked like I'd be going on first, which was fine by me. We pulled a line of tables in front of the stage and set up at floor level. My soundcheck was a bit loud, so I asked the sound guy to keep it lower, although ultimately, I probably should have had it cranked up.

With some time before the audience arrived, we hung out in the bar and wandered around the neighborhood. I managed to get a few photos of the overall industrialness of the place, the tanker trucks pulling out of the pumping stations, the fenced-off facilities with no easily discernable purpose... It was good.

At the time, my set wasn't doing it for me. In the good ones, the decisions one makes have effects that just seem right, and lead to the next right possibility, and I wasn't feeling that here. On listening back to it, however, there's definitely something worthwhile going on, particularly in the first part where the little delayed melodies retain some interest. The dystopian drony part with the W samples doesn't do as much for me, however. After a bit more meandering, I pulled out a granular breakbeat and finally played it straight for a few iterations before reversing it and playing over top. I actually used some chords this time to build up density, then let things fade and put the beat through the granular processing again, and finally messing with the delay time for that IDM flavor to lead into the fade. So ultimately it had its moments, but there was a momentum-losing aporia in the middle. Some people told me they liked it.

I wandered around for a while, checking out others' sets, going outside to get some air. It was quite a nice night after the rain of the day, and I learned that if it hadn't been for the rain, the show would have taken place outside. It's unfortunate; I think I might have had a bit of a boost from an outside show, but it was not to be. Xanopticon turned in a great, intense set which went over well with a death-metal fan whom I met (and who gave me his CD; I'll have to give it a listen), and pretty much with everyone else as well. Greg ended the evening with a joint set of him and his friend Hearts of Darknesses. I'd heard stories of his performances going a bit out of control, so I took my gear down to the van to get it out of the way. In the event, they were indeed entertaining and theatrical, slamming into the audience for involuntary participation, and both he and Greg ending the evening on the floor in their underwear, entwined in the audience's legs and covered in beer, but in no way were they destructive. Good sets by all.

At this point I was ready to get rolling, although I could feel myself start to lose my driving edge, and there would be problems if we were to wait too long. There was a party going on at Greg's, which Manny had suggested we check out, but I pointed out that if we went to the party, we'd be up late and it would be impossible to wake anybody up until noon, at which time the van would be late. So we rolled. I began following Mapquest directions, and at the point that we were to take the highway South in the direction of Akron, Kerry vehemently argued that we should NOT go through Akron; it'd take forever to get home. Instead he thought we should head East on 90. Considering how strongly he felt about it, I thought maybe he knew something I didn't, but it turned out to be wrong. Perhaps he thought we were going through Akron, which wasn't my intent; I was just thinking of heading South to the turnpike. But I went along, and we soon realized that this new route would be a problem. We needed to go South.

An hour or so later, we were on the road to hook up with the turnpike, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to continue driving at this point. We stopped for gas and I chugged an energy drink and a coffee, but still felt exhausted. I suggested that I needed to get a half hour or so of sleep before taking the wheel again, and we could just hang in the parking lot for that time. Kerry, though, thought it would be best to continue driving, and took the wheel, while Jason took the co-pilot seat. I took the middle row, closed my eyes, and waited for the coffee to work.

At some point the CD player was turned off, and the AM radio put on to some late-night talk show, and the coffee and energy drink began to take effect. We were listening to a talk show in which some guy was talking about his out-of-body experiences, and Jason and I were providing sarcastic commentary to help keep Kerry awake. Finally, at the last rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike, Kerry was unable to continue, and we switched. I bought (with much effort--it was around four in the morning and no one was behind the counter) a bottle of water and a candy bar to augment my caffeine peak, and we rolled into Pennsylvania, at last. Jason again provided the very useful service of running commentary/court jester/philosopher, making sure I remained conscious. I generally drove at the speed limit and took 279 into town, the easiest way from the Turnpike.

We dropped Ryan and Jason off at Ryan's place at around 5:00, retrieved the second middle row seat which we'd left there, and tried to put it in (unsuccessfully). Kerry wasn't feeling well, and he asked us to take him home to Point Breeze as soon as we could, so the seat project was abandoned for the time being. We dropped him off, and after he'd left the van, I took a moment to read the instructions on the seat, and was able to get it to latch. I took Manny to his place, and we loaded out his stuff. I could see the first light of the day over the row houses of his street, and called Patricia on the cell. Manny was taking a while to get back to the van; it turned out that there was a problem with his front door and he had to go in through a window. But we soon headed to my place, where Patricia was waiting outside, and it was great to see her again.

I unloaded my stuff and took it up to our apartment, where I could see that she'd been busy all week preparing for the electricians who were rewiring the house. Everything had been either moved into the bedroom or covered with a drop cloth. (We'd seen from the other apartments that this wasn't going to be an easy or neat process.) Now we had to return the van, so we went out to the airport with all the van windows down, and Patricia following in the MINI. We did a loop of the airport to get over to the one gas station on the airport grounds, filled the tank, and on my way out to the loop again, I noticed a local TV van with the satellite boom extended--right, I now remembered that W himself was due in town that day, and I was relieved that we were early enough not to have to go through a massive security snarl.

We'd already cleaned out the van, but I was a bit concerned about some of the worn spots in the plastic trim of the cargo area, some from Jason's boxes, some from the edges of Geoff Cutups's mixer. The rental agent, however, took the van back and charged us the agreed-upon amount, and so Manny and I went looking for Patricia. She'd said just to look for the MINI in short term, and we eventually found her after one false positive (yep, another MINI in short term, 6:30 Monday morning). Heading back onto the highway (Patricia, mercifully, driving), we heard Manny moaning from the back seat. Was he about to be sick? We offered to pull over, but he said he was just worried that he'd lost the Austin check. I can't say I was surprised, as I'd anticipated this back on the 24th. He did, however, find it, and we continued into town with me dropping off to sleep and then jumping awake any time the car changed direction or went over a bump. We dropped Manny off, hit the grocery store (I was hoping to have a caffeinated Clif Bar for breakfast; we were successful), and arrived back home just as the electricians pulled up, at a few minutes to 8, beginning a week in which we had very limited use of our apartment. For now, we would have to go elsewhere for showers and a quiet place for much-needed sleep, so once again, we hit the road.

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