The Tour The Tour, Day Seventeen: Bridgwater Or Bust, A Strange And Terrible Saga

The first thing I did was wake up at 8am still high off of Lars’ damn apple, and get in Set Dressing Tim’s Rapmobile and head into Manny central where I was to be a guest on Envy’s Unity FM radio show. We left Jack trying to make another zombie mixer. I suspected he would go back to bed. I would have.

I still had my Tom Waits voice when I got to the Unity studios. My Tom Waits voice tends to afflict me for three (3) hours after waking and before sleeping if I happen to be drinking whisky or smoking weed, add another hour if both. It’s a very pleasing thing, sonically, but it really does wear off, in the manner of the bubble shields in Sonic, or something, which can confuse those who are unaware of it’s nature as a Temporary Special Power. Today it started to wear off during the on air interview, which seemed to confuse the hell out of Envy’s co presenter, who really ought to be aware of such things, given he’s been in The Game for thirty odd years. Perhaps they don’t have weed and whiskey in the bit of Manchester he’s from.

Anyway. I had a lovely time, and after the interview Envy and I played pool, wherein I was shocked and ashamed to discover that we are both as bad as each other, which is really flipping bad. If we’d paid, we’d have got our money’s worth fifteen times over. And we’d have gotten in a fight with other people who were waiting to play.

Afterwards I wandered into town and did some work in the Starbuxx. I wasn’t doing too badly on my whole working while on tour thing. I was supposed to be designing characters for an iPhone game, and I had had some terrible Wacom tragedy,  which was troubling me somewhat, and I wasn’t managing to Blob Blog a great deal, and I wasn’t managing to keep up with all my Twitter requests at all, but apart from that, I really wasn’t doing too bad. I patted myself on the back (literally), and clattered away at my raptop while I waited for the boys to pick me up. Which, at around midday, they did.

Still buzzing from the triumph and glory of last night’s incredible show, Set Dressing Tim, DJ Jack Nimble and I, Akira The Don, did get into the rapmobile and aim south, for Summerset, and Bridgwater. It seemed a strange thing to do. We were playing the mighty, goliath, and excitingly SOLD OUT Slam Dunk festival in Leeds tomorrow. Leeds is only a 30 minute drive from Manchester. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, we were to drive four hours south, then back up again the next day. I knew nothing of Bridgwater. It must be a special place indeed to make such a detour. I was excited.

We spent a pleasant journey listening to MC Lars’s first album, and Jack, who was on the phone to Bristol lost property. We were still trying to track down the mixer and stuff that ended up on that train.

“It’s a black M Audio bag, with a  DJ mixer in it, and a load of audio cables,” he explained, patiently, to the human on the other end of the line. “And a cowbell. Yeah, a cowbell. Really. Yeah, seriously a cowbell.  Nah, nothing else. Oh yeah, a Lars Attacks T shirt. Yeah, DJ mixer. Vestax. Yeah, hip-hop. Oh really? Safe. Yeah, I appreciate that fam, that’s fine. OK. Well, either myself or my friend will call. If it does turn up that would seriously make my day. OK, thank you bruv. Nice to talk to you.”

There was a pause.

Then:

“FUCK OFFFFFFF!”

“Fucking techno DJ,” he concluded, grimly.

I wrote the Liverpool blog, until my battery ran out. We passed some farms. “Fucking hell Worcestershire you fucking STINK!” barked jack. He’s so not ill anymore.

We were racing along the fast lane on the motorway half an hour out of Bridgwater, 45 minutes from soundcheck, and I was halfway through some monologue about the nature of RA The Ruggedman’s flow when Tim suddenly, but calmly, informed us that the engine had stopped. We drifted elegantly through three lanes of traffic to the hard shoulder, where we rolled to a halt, the bonnet steaming ominously. Tim turned the key in the ignition.

“Chugga chugga pffff,” said the car, lamely. “Chugga chug pfffffffft.”

We got out of the car, and after some vain fiddling with the smoking engine, Tim called the AA. They said they’d be 50 minutes. We hung around on the verge, because Tim had seen too many cars on hard shoulders getting wiped out by other cars on Youtube, and whiled away the time in various ways. Tim invented a rock throwing game, wherein one had to throw a rock up the verge, and it had to roll down into the gutter. I was crap at it. Tim was remarkably cheeery for a man whose car (which he loved dearly) had just blown up.

I climbed the verge and took a piss up the top, looking down on the rubbernecking traffic that slowed down to stare at our party, hoping for some blood perhaps, or just confirmation that someone was doing worse than they. Which I suppose we were.

 

I cut my arm and my knee on the way down. It is to be expected.

Eventually some AA subcontracter showed. The belt was gone, the pistons were gone, the car was dead. Scrap. He towed us to the nearest MacDonalds, where we waited half an hour for another AA subcontractor to show up and drag us to Bridgwater. We were by this point way past soundcheck, and minutes away from stagetime. We rang ahead and they said they’d do their best to hold it back for us. The driver was, like his predecessor, a very nice man. He pointed out various Bridgwater landmarks as we entered the town. “That pub’s very rough,” he said. “And that’s the police station.”

The venue we were playing in was called Cherries. I wondered why and what sort of a place it might be. To have come all this way, it must be something special.

After some jiggery pokery with The Fucking Tomtom, which knows where it is about as often as I do, which is not very fucking often, we found Cherries, parked the dead car, and raced to the venue, where Science and JTL were waiting outside for us. This Cherries place, that we’d gone though proverbial Hell and High Water to reach, appeared to be…

A café.

A sweet, dinky little café.

We were pointed up some stairs, and wound our way up a few flights with our bags and record decks, WTFing amazedly at each other, and fell into a long thin room that looked like the sort of place one might hold an amateur dramatics rehearsal, or celebrate one’s auntie Vivian’s 60th birthday.  The place appeared to be mainly populated with deeply hormonal children. About thirty of them. There were also a couple of fourty something longhairs hanging around, from whom some of the children appeared to be stealing sips of beer. MC Kal and a flustered looking Lars manned the merch table, which looked like something from a jumble sale. I recognised the friendly faces of Slinky and James from the Swindon and Exter gigs, which cheered me. They'd bought us a chocolate hedgehog.

We made our way through the tittering, hormonal throng to the Performance Area, which was basically the back of a room with some sort of aluminum barrier set up to differentiate between the Audience Area and the aforementioned  Performance Area. We were greeted by a thankfully non-hostile soundman who later told Jack he was usually a glazer.

We were by this point half an hour late for our set, so we got our equipment and our merch set up (with the help of our friends from those aforementioned gigs) in ten minutes, and got our asses on stage. Well, on the bit of floor divided up with an aluminium barrier. We were greeted by a front row of amused looking teenage girls and boys, who giggled and whispered with each other for much of our set. Shit was intense, bubba. We gave it all we could. We didn’t come all this way to flake out now. And we are motherfucking pro-fesh-un-ALLs, after all. Soon enough, they got into it. They sang “WE WON’T BE BROKE! WE WON’T BE BROKE!’ with amused abandon. And they sure did enjoy their sing-along of Thanks For All The AIDS. I mean, who wouldn’t?

http://youtu.be/sLBqWqqViHI

Lars joined us for a final run through LITF 2.5. The stool I was sat on at the start collapsed. It was joyful.

http://youtu.be/mpsIFYJXybA

Like I usually do after a show on this here tour, I headed to the merch table, wherein one of the girls who’d been digging our set the most ran straight over, and started poking at the CDs. “Ooh, that one’s cool,” she said, fingering at Thieving. “What free stuff have you got?” I gave her a postcard. “Oh, thanks a lot,” she snapped sarcastically.

A clatter of click-clacks, a cloud of perfume and I was suddenly besieged by a crèche of teenage girls who descended upon my stall like a great hormonal thundercloud and proceeded to attempt to steal things and have a food fight with my Doritos dipping sauce for about half an hour. One of them, more self assured and industrious than the others, attempted to convince me that she was a beatboxer and breakdancer, and that she should be allowed onstage, and I should give her some of my drink. I agreed with the former idea, and disagreed with the latter. “But I’m eighteen in three weeks!” she wailed, not entirely convincingly. She attempted to demonstrate her worldly wisdom by explaining to one of her friends who were confused by my posters what “hemisphere” meant, in a very loud voice. “See,” she beamed. “I know what I’m taking about.” I gave her a high five.

An inappropriate ejaculation/acne of teenage boys lounged spread-legged to the right of the jumble sale/merch stall, ignoring the music and occasionally calling for the girls to come join them. “We’ve got MDMA!” shouted one. “I don’t CARE,” replied one of the girls, through braces caked with Doritos dipping sauce. The boy threw a chair at her. “Calm down son,” warned the doorman. “Fuck off twat,” chirped the boy, dismissively, then threw another chair at one of his friends.

Half way through Chris’ set and I had signed about 6 MC Lars T shirts, a number of Akira The Don posters and a couple of arms, but had sold precisely nothing, except a couple of hoodies for MC Lars while MC Kal was busy chatting up the alleged beatboxer and breakdancer, who didn’t believe for a second that he was 21. “You look 16,” she said, to his visible disgust. It dawned on me that none of the point of sale items mentioned the price of the posters. I put a “£1!” sign on the pile of posters. As if by magic, a queue of small boys formed. They knocked a centimeter or so off the height of my poster stack, and wandered off to shout obscenities at MC Chris. The girls returned to try and steal sweets and Doritos dipping sauce. “Come dance with me,” demanded the alleged breakdancer, repeatedly. “I must man my stall,” I replied. “I am a professional.”

She turned her attention to Tim.

“No, said Tim. “You are trouble. MC Chris has a song about you. Jack will dance with you.” They skipped off happily to pester Jack, stopping along the way to cadge a drink off of one of 40 something metal dudes.

I was soon approached by a trio of children. “Did you enjoy the show?” I asked. “Meh,” they replied in unison. “can you buy us a drink?”

I sent them packing.

Considering it was the last night we were all together, it was somewhat anticlimatic. Chris made it through his set just about alive, and Lars and Science did an admirable job of cranking the assembled into something approaching if not a frenzy, certainly a merry state of near-joy. I took the opportunity to stay on stage following my final, emotional appearance on White Kids Aren’t Hyphy to kotch next to JTL’s drum stool and watch him smash the shit out of Science’s mighty Conspiracy Theories With Mel Gibson. He’d started doing this fucking amazing thing where he shadowed Science’s machine gun second verse crescendo on the toms. Shit was fucking fire, son. I'm gonna miss JTL.

It was a fun night though, all in all. We met laughed, we nearly cried, we hung out with some mental, some funny and some safe people. But the assembled children were never going to cover the cost of our motorway sandwiches, let alone our petrol, our Travelodge, and Tim’s poor dead car. We counted our pennies, packed our boxes, and stepped out into the night. It was cool, and still. MC Chris bade Jack a final, fond farewell, half-smiled and waved regally at me, and in a puff of exhaust smoke, The Lars troupe disappeared off into the night, where they were to be staying at Tour Managing Ryan’s Mum’s house, which was conveniently close. I dug into my Gmail account to discover the location of our next Travelodge.

It was in Bristol.

No trains, no car, and a hundred-plus-quid taxi journey away.

I might have said “fuck” at least a dozen times.

Phones were worked. There was no room in the (Premier) Inn. Or the Travelodge. Or the B & B. Tim disappeared off into the night, and returned a little while later with news of lodgings, in a pub, a snip at just 65 earth pounds. We trudged, wearily, through Bridgwater’s narrow streets, and soon we saw the inviting Manchester United Flags of the Blake Arms, flapping flaccidly in the cool night air.

 

Queen records blared through creaking, peaking PA speakers as we made our way through a Viagra of middle-aged revelers. We seemed to have happened upon some frenzied wife swapping party. There was not a soul under the age of fourty seven in the room, not a full male head of hair in the building, not an un-dyed female bonnet in the place, and not a dry eye in the house. They glared at us though hooded eyeslits, and we elected to avoid the nightcap proposed prior to entry, and hurried up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire, as my Granddad used to say. He used to call slippers beetlecrushers as well, and he had some pretty awesome sailor tattoos. I loved my Granddad.

On Twitter and Facebook, people were full of sympathy for our plight. One safe young lady called Cha Cha Gabor, who I’d put on the guest list for the Nottingham gig after she’d tweeted about how much she’d love to go if only she only had the money had even offered to drive down to Bridgwater in the middle of the night to pick us up and take us to our next destination!

But we had no need for such kindness. We laid down our weary heads safe in the knowledge that at nine am the following morning, we would be picking up a hire car pre-arranged by Tim earlier in the day, and making our merry way back up the motorway to play the legendary Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds. I couldn’t wait.

As my eyelids fluttered, faltered, and finally closed, I pondered the unfathomable insanity of our strange, unexplained, 207 mile detour. What a long, mad day it had been. Soon enough, I succumbed to sweet, sweet slumber.

 

Big up me, Tim, Jack, and Slinky for the photos. Thanks Slinky for the video footage. This blog is dedicated to the couple whose wedding Tour Managing Ryan attended not far from Bridgwater the next day. May you live long and prosper.