We were awoken at 6:00am for load-in to the Atlanta Fox affiliate's TV studios. These TV load-ins weren't too bad, since all we needed to bring in was the four keyboards and small drum set (no piano shell, no PA). But it's not easy to lug shit at 6:00am in 95-degree heat after three hours' sleep. We managed. The lugging wasn't really the problem, and two of the musicians went above and beyond the call of duty by helping out. But we were never told that several load-ins/load-outs per day would be part of the job. In fact, I was specifically told there would be only one load-in/load-out per day. Had I known what the situation actually was, I doubt I would have taken this job (as I later found out, they were so desperate for a roadie that they purposely didn't mention some key aspects of the job). And in fact we usually didn't find out about these radio or TV appearances until the night before...or sometimes not until we actually pulled up to the station. This was starting to cause problems for the singer too, as these TV/radio appearances, plus numerous phone interviews, were starting to wear down her voice. For whatever reason, major label management wankers rarely take things like the health of the musicians as it relates to their ability to perform well into account when putting them on these grueling promotion treadmills.
We got everything set up and plugged in, and waited for the show's host to enter the studio for the interview/performance. He had this exaggerated TV Voice that I found kind of hilarious. After a typically fluffy interview, ACB played and faded into the closing credits. Then we disassembled and lugged everything back onto the bus.
The show that night was at the Tabernacle Theater, one of the most beautiful venues I've ever seen. And the acoustics were great, which means that they weren't so great for anything amplified. The amazing local crew helped us get everything up a series of ramps into a backstage area where I assembled all the gear. I went back up to the stage and waited impatiently for Neko Case's soundcheck to finish up. It seemed like it was taking longer than normal, and that we might not get a full soundcheck, but she was always a joy to listen to, so I didn't really mind. With help from the local crew, we got everything onstage smoothly, much more smoothly than at the previous show in Austin (the routing from the backstage area to the stage was much less awkward). I was starting to get the hang of it, though I was still forgetting small details (like the power cord for the Fender Rhodes). I watched the set sidestage, and we got everything offstage and down to the bus with no problem. Except the amount of time it took me to disassemble everything and load the bus caused me to miss Neko Case's set again. Loading the bus bays is like playing Tetris in real life with really heavy objects. And you see those shapes in your sleep.
Tonight I was determined to see more of Rufus Wainwright's set. After Austin, this was the most nutso audience I saw on the tour, and it helped that the show was just about sold out. While I was still hearing Rufus as not much more than a Jimmy Buffett who just appeals to a different demographic (same overall blandness in approach, lack of tension in the music, no sense of risk or danger, vaguely and self-consciously "pleasant"), there were a few fun moments in his show. But they were the same moments in every show; after two shows you could spot them a mile away. I don't know, maybe that was the point; maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough to dig it on its own terms.
As I touched on in a previous post, I felt weird being one of Those People with an Official Laminated Tour Pass. People open doors for you just for this fucking piece of plastic. I stood at one of the backstage entrances during most of the show, and there were a few people trying to cajole the security guard into letting them backstage. I thought about loaning my pass to them, but that would have been cruel: there is nothing in this world more boring than backstage at a Rufus Wainwright concert (actually, I shouldn't single him out; I'm sure the backstage area at most mid-level shows is just as boring, if not more so). Nothing remotely interesting or funny happens. It's just a bunch of people sitting around working on laptops and contemplating broaches. That's it. Whatever your job is, odds are it's far more exciting to watch than this was. I wanted to usher some of these fans backstage just to show them that they weren't missing shit.
After the show we had another night drive to Nashville. And that's where it started to unravel for me.