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Day 91 - San Diego, CA

Do you know that feeling of camping and waking at the crack of dawn to a misty crisp refreshing lung full of air? That beautiful scene that you sealed outside as you zipped your tent in the darkness the night before? Well, touring is nothing like that. At some point during the previous night I escaped the gig after the my little bit of the load out was done and shacked up in the bus while 12 trucks of gear was loaded. At some point the world I left behind when I closed that bus door disappeared and a brand new world showed up in the morning. Hello new day, hello new city, or parking lot as the case may be. No real fresh air, just a hot parking lot and the little game of 'find the entrance to the gig' that I get to play.

Today is laundry day. The way it works is I pack my little bag with all my dirty clothes, go find a numbered tag in the production case and pin it to my bag. Then I put $20 in an envelope and write my number on it and my name. At some point, later if all goes well, my bag and an envelope full of change will be in the production office. Also at some point later, someone will come on the bus after the gig and say "hey, Dave Rat, you know your laundry is still in the production office." I then go get my laundry.

Take a look at this picture and remember it clearly the next time you even consider complaining about what a pain it is to parallel park.

That is a 53 foot articulated trailer, down a ramp, fully loaded 4" from the wall.

Want to see some speakers before they get dressed?

Look at the cute little Rats on the backs of these V-Dosc boxes, 72 of them on this tour. Each box has two 15" speakers, four 7" speakers and two 2" horn drivers. If you multiply that all up it equals a lot.

Finally, oooooooh sexy Rat Subs! 44 dual 18" cabs out here. These babies can really move some air and are responsible for the breathless pauses in time when Flea hits the super low notes and the stage wings are actually aluminum grating over a block of 12 of these.

The 'showing my sound nerdy roots'

Dave Rat


Day 90- Show Day - Glendale, AZ

It was hot, really hot. Then it was wet, really wet. And then there was lightening, lots of lightning. So much lightning that I actually stood outside with my finger on the shutter button and it only took me about 20 minutes to actually take a picture of lightning. Not a great one, but it felt like a feat accomplished!

Walking by I grabbed a quick pick of The Mars

And then Nick the Fly took a wander around the gig with my camera and grabbed some cool shots:

And, yeah I know, doing just the all pictures is kind of the the lazy man's post but hey, look at the pretty colors!

Off to San Diego,

Dave Rat

Day 89 - Day Off 2 - Denver

Special "what people do on tour" special!

**** The Amazing Durable Roadie ****

Touring gigs vary drastically in workload, responsibility and exposure to stress. Equally diverse is the schedule that each roadie in the herd maintains.

Riggers - are the sharp edged early risers. First in and last out, they calculate and hang the heavy loads safely over our heads. These clean, mean and meticulous machines effortlessly climb to frightful heights. The upside is that they typically can get a nice long mid day sissy nap.

Bus and truck drivers have even earlier call times as they drive all night and sleep all day, these nocturnal roadies like riggers, hold our roadie lives and the safely of our beloved wires in the grip of a steering wheel. An interesting side note is that bus drivers typically get carted off to a hotel during the day, while truck drivers sleep in the micro hotel room located in the cab of their truck. Bus drivers drive straight through to deliver their roadie cargo while truck drivers do showers at truck stops that are setup for exactly that, along the way.

Production roadies include the production manager, stage manager and production assists. With their early load ins and late outs they have possibly the most stressful gig of the bunch. Their chosen tasks of keeping the whole show running smoothly, sooner or later brings every unresolved issue into their lap. Plus they are responsible for organizing all the humans and gear to show up in the right place, right time, within budget and as many people as happy as possible. The positive side? Well hey, they run the show so if they need something they just ask themselves if they can have it and that has its advantages.

Lighting Techs. One thing about lights is that they take a lot of power. Big power means big heavy wires and a heck of a lot of them. These roadies are coming in soon after riggers and are at the gig till the hairy end. If you look to the upper sides of stage during the show, you will see there are four follow spot roadies. Those the specialized lighting people you see climbing ladders right before the Peppers play. We carry two of them, the other six are locally hired each night. Lighting techs to this day tend to be some of the more rugged roadies, maybe it is the wires or genetics but the work hard/play hard ethic runs strong in lampi world.

Carpenter. A highly specialized roadie whose purpose is to be able to fix, repair or build anything the tour may need and then do what ever else need to be done afterwards. Carps are cool!

Catering - In Europe we, as most large tours, carry full catering. In the US, the opposite is true. Why that is, heck I don't know. On this tour we carry a band chef and he also looks after the crew a bit as well. They shop, they cook and they feed and though it is a good solid day of work over hot stoves, the appreciation they get from grateful eaters is not in short supply.

Video Techs - Video is a bit of a newer gig compared to old school lighting and sound worlds and as such tends to vary quite a bit from tour to tour. With huge video sets like we have out here, the vid crew is running about the same workload/schedule as lighting. With the current video setup including two active cameramen and two roadies in real time control over video shots, they keep pretty busy during show time.

Sound Techs - A bit later call times than the lighting, the sound techs get to do a lot of waiting and then have a bit of a crunch to get set. The sequence of events during load in is usually rigging, lights, video, sound and then backline, with overlaps of course. The state of the art sound systems that we use today are a far cry from the old "hang a pile o boxes here" mentality of 5 or 10 years ago. Currently, every room is measured with laser range finders to determine the dimensions. The data is input into 3D sonic prediction software that calculates optimum coverage, potential volume levels and determines the precise angle of every speaker box. To learn this, the techs go through a training course and are certified as such.

Dressing room coordination - As you get closer and more directly involved with the artists, things take on more of an air of finesse. A far cry from thousand pound set carts bouncing on a forklift, building the happiness escape that keeps the musical humans smiling and harmonious is the job of dressing room humans. A world of comfort within a world of frenzy. Their day starts later but the end is dictated randomly by who stays how long. So, flexibility and adaptation are the name of the game while being the delicate buffer to protect one of our most valuable assets and the reason we are all here, the band.

Backline Techs and Monitor Engineer- These techs have an even later of a call time and finish relatively early in the big picture. The workloads are fairly light comparatively but the responsibility huge. Each backline roadie deals directly with their band human, one each for bass, guitar and drums while the monitor engineer with all four in he band. Every nuance from which guitar tuned how and when, to making absolutely double extra sure that the guitar, bass, drum and monitor rigs operate as close to perfection as possible, every single show. There is no error unseen by either the band member or possibly the entire audience. They have both awesome gigs and mind bending stress as each of them is pretty much responsible for the band hearing themselves and each other so they can perform the show.

FOH World - Lighting designer and FOH Sound Engineer live in a bit of a different realm. On one hand they are far from the fray of stage where the action is, on the other hand, everything the audience sees and hears is at their finger tips. The mass of ears is a unique critique that responds to feeling and emotion. Meanwhile, there are enough people in the know at each show that errors do not go unnoticed. It's an ethereal slow distance once removed stress that can pop into immediate trauma if something important goes pear-shaped. A gig I love and would not trade for the world.

Band Entourage includes the tour manager, TM assist, the band members and a few key people that keep 'em in tip top shape. The band entourage travel separately from the rest of the tour crew and many mysteries surround them. Actually, I am just side stepping the description as the documentary Spinal Tap has already adequately covered the facts from the band angle.

**** End The Amazing Durable Roadie ****

And time for this roadie to sleep,

Dave Roadie Rat


Day 88 - Day Off - Denver

Last night the trucks and busses all headed out on a 900 mile drive to Phoenix Arizona, I did not. Instead I am staying in Denver for a couple of days to regroup my mind, rest up, enjoy some healthy air and reduce my exposure to massive quantities of humans for a bit. I booked a flight on show day into Phoenix.

So I did some wandering and off to the beautiful mountains for a drive. The sights were amazing though it did rain a bit

But there was some irresistible shopping along the way:

And finally I reached my destination:

The now dry,

Dave Rat


Day 87 - Show Day - Denver

**** More Roadie Research ****

Just as pictographs, petroglyphs and later, hieroglyphics were used to depict the hunting, battling and deaths of ancient man, roadies too are capable of understanding simple little pictures. Astute stage-manager roadie Tim was quick to pick up on the surprising intellect of his fellow roadies and determined the best way to communicate clearly was in exactly that method, simple little pictures. Below you can see the load out sheet for our Denver show:

Though time has weathered this ancient papyrus scroll, if you look closely you will see to the bottom center a depiction of the antifreeze escaping from the bus motor. Directly to the right notice what appears to be a catapult launching roadies into the burning fire of Phoenix desert heat. You can ignore the other scribbles here, as they have to do with which gear goes in which truck and stuff, so it can be considered useless info.

There seems to be some disagreement between experts as to whether roadies were truly able to make a catapult that could fling a roadie over 900 miles. Many believe that it it is just a symbolic representation of an event while others believe that the roadie catapult did exist and may be located on a mountain top somewhere.

**** End Roadie Research ****

So, I took a wander backstage looking for something new to share and look, I found a little tiny drum kit! And it was in a room strangely enough called "drum room." Turns out, this little kit can make a ton o noise when Mr. Smith beats the crap out it before each show. And I must say, it is really cool to watch Chad warm up.

And lastly but not leastly, here is venue early on in the eve. For the PA nerds out there, you can see the dual stereo V-Dosc clusters in this shot.

good night.

ave at


Day 86 - Travel to Denver

We lost a roadie transporter unit on the trip. There is something spooky about that SLC to Denver drive and more than once I have had strange experiences on that road. If I ever get around to digging up my old journals I remember writing down some interesting stories of trips through there. And whatever inspired someone to put a giant Brontosaurus on the side of the road and name a town dinosaur, clearly had no idea of the trauma that would cause some already lost and unsuspecting hallucinatory sleep deprived punkers. Talk about thinking you made a wrong turn. Add in all the crazy lightning and insta-storm thunder explosions and cops that have that backwoods mentality of shaking down the undesirables and that trip was a bit of a gauntlet run back in the day.

But now we ride in the comforts of our bunks in a professionally driven land yachts. Well at least some of the "we's" did. One busload of "we's", bus #1 to be specific, lost all the motor coolant 150 miles out of SLC and were scooped up and divided into busses #3 and #5 to do a cramped over packed trip showing up six hours behind busses #2 and #4 arriving at noon. The only good part was that bus #2, my bus, was so far ahead that turning around was not feasible. Though we could feel slight compassion for our delayed comrades, fortunately we were not personally inconvenienced and were well rested enough to give them a hard time when they finally made it in.

The realities of traveling in these luxurious sardine cans at high speeds while sleeping also came crashing into clear focus when bus #1 took a hit earlier this tour leg. From what I heard, a wayward truck tire slammed into its front bumper from across the highway with enough force to mash the bus up a bit while and test the crews ability to restrain themselves from pissing in their bunks. Just take a moment to admire these sexy land yachts that carry the precious roadie cargo from city to city:

No land yacht is complete without its brave bus captain. These specialized and highly navigationally developed roadies are amazing in their ability to operate equally well diurnally and nocturnally. Here we can see bus captain roadie Brian caring for his precious land yacht:

The sometimes nomadic,

Dave Rat


Day 85 - Show Day - Salt Lake City

Last night we did an overnight drive from Boise and I must say that I appreciating the bus ride over driving the equipment truck. I have done the run that we will do tomorrow between Denver and SLC on a few tours driving after a a long day setting up PA gear, bouncing stage, doing monitors and then driving again afterwards. I sure don't miss trying not to crash those slow beat up bobtail trucks on tour with no sleep. And hey, speaking of driving trucks, here is a picture from Black Flag's Loose Nut tour in '85 of some of us standing on the truck I drove on that tour:

From left to right is Cel who played bass for Flag on that last tour, Vince was the guitar player for the band Painted Willie, Davo was front of house sound for Flag, Joe Cole was the Rat Sound tech that worked with me, Dave Markey played drums for Painted Willie and the last one is me.

And though I didn't drive, I still did not sleep much, lots of winding highway and up down pressure changes heading out of the mile high city and up again. Did I mention my skateboard died? Well it was crushed to death by amazingly agile ollie'ing and somewhat inebriated big boned girl outside the peppers dressing room a few show back. I actually heard but unfortunately missed the event, though I was told it was a sight to see. Anyway, I persuaded a two friends to take me out for a replacement to a skate shop and it was a cool little adventure. Not only did I score a new deck but I could not resist this bamboo flex unbreakable long board:

So now I have a way to cruise a bit farther from the gig.

Speaking of gigs, here is a shot of SLC load in and two of the most important roadies on the tour for keeping this monster machine running. On the left is roadie Liam who takes care of very important things and does stuff that is also important. Center we have Big Bill Rahmy, also known in pro wrestling circles as "The Crusher." I have had the privilege of knowing Big Bill for many years, since we were both little roadie pups. Liam, well, he is a Canadian roadie and since roadies get bored very easily if you do not continuously give them a hard time for anything and everything you possibly can, being Canadian is fair game for endless and redundant ribbing.

**** The Order of Roadientia (pronounced Roadie-en-sha)****

A unique and not very large group of mammals is the Roadientia. Many nomadic mammals are roadies: there are about 43 known living roadie species (out of about 4,000 living mammals overall). Many people are familiar with lampies, humm heads, guitar jockeys, and noise boys which are occasionally kept as pets. The Roadientia also includes squeaks, squints, ampers, lampers, rampers, prairie dogs, marmots, chinchillas, voles, lemmings, and many others. (Incidentally, the Roadientia does not include muso; muso's differ from roadies in that they often know how to actually play an instrument or they pretend so well hat people like to watch. Muso's include singers, guitar players, drummers, and a few other species make up the Artistia. Groupies, shrews, moles and hedgehogs are also not roadies; they are classified in the Punterentia.)

Roadies are found native on all continents except Antarctica. One particular family of roadies, the Truck Driver, contains over 1100 species: Though many researchers argue that truck drivers are not true roadies even with their close association with the road itself. Despite their morphological and ecological diversity, all roadies share one characteristic: their hands are highly specialized for handling wires. All roadies handle and have an overwhelming affinity for wires.

**** End Order - Roadientia ****

It is very important that you take notes as there will be a test at the end of the semester. And rather than bore you with band shots, here is the very interesting rear stage left corner of the venue.

The happy to have a functioning skateboard,

Dave Rat


Day 84 - Show Day Boise

Wow! The unfriendly item that visually resembles a bed located in my hotel room really makes me miss my bus bunk. I am not sure if it is the sandpaper sheets, spring board pillows or just the fact that the bed is so unusually short giving the short sheeted feeling which I most appreciate. At least all those other things distract from the similarity between whatever is located where the mattress belongs and with the comfort level of cardboard.

Off to the gig and Hey Look!

Trucks and busses all over the place, I wonder what's going on? Oh boy, I hope there is going to be a rock show, I love rock shows!

I have been meaning to post this pic or one like it. For some reason, I think it is so cool how cell phones have evolved and become the preferred modern day method of the audience doing the slow song 'lighter' illumination:

There is just something magical about using a cell phone as a modern day emotional candle.

Today's show featured special guests The Mars Volta:

Surprisingly followed by The Red Hot Chili Peppers for a change:

That's it for today, Hey, what are y'all doing tomorrow? Want to go to Salt Lake City?

Until then,

The very mobile,

Dave Rat