Madness at the Core of Time Tour: Week 1
Our own Mat Weir is on the road with Band of Orcs and Gwar. Here’s the first installment of his tour diary.
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- PRE-TOUR, SEATTLE AND BEYOND.
by Mat Weir
While I’m sitting on Southwest Flight 3789 from San Jose to Seattle, the new morning sun is climbing over the hills, on its endless cycle. The sweet, psychedelic sound of Dead Meadow trips through my headphones as I silently type, reflecting on everything that led up to me working the “Madness At the Core of Time” tour, while I wait for my whiskey and coffee.
This is the first breakfast I’ll have before 10am in months. When Oog Skullbasher, the drummer for A Band of Orcs, approached me at the beginning of the year about working merch for them while on tour, a couple things crossed my mind: 1) He must be crazier than I thought if he wants to take me on the road again after the tour of 2011 and 2) It’s almost a year away, I’ll have plenty of time to think about it and get ready. HA! Oh be warned ye who tempt the gods of fate.
Yet after an already insane year, here I am, on my way to meet up in Seattle, with coffee and whiskey in hand, on 5 hours of sleep in the last 30. I will be working merchandise for A Band Of Orcs, along with documenting the tour via video and written media. We are doing 38 cities in 44 days, 22 states and 2 countries. There’s a total of 4 bands including thrash act, Iron Reagan, metalcore stars Whitechapel, and GWAR, the homicidal, alien metal musicians complete with their brand of blood, sex and gore. . . .
PORTLANDIA – JUNK FOOD HEAVEN, GUT ROT HELL
The Orcs’ usual load-in time has been 2:30, so we rested for a few hours, eating the catered breakfast provided by the Roseland Theater and Voodoo Donuts. Which, by the way, are as amazing as everyone says. Between the Froot Loop topped donuts, the caramel and Oreo cookie ones and the cock ‘n’ balls donut (give you a wild guess what it’s shaped like), there’s a cream-filled treat for everyone in the family. Oh yeah, I went there.
Rumor has it Voodoo also supplied the cream-filled, chocolate, weed cupcakes at the end of the night, but that is neither here nor there and I’ll get into that later. There was also a cake. . . .
The Roseland Theater itself is a premiere venue with a capacity of 1410. Much like the Filmore, its walls are adorned with pictures of a smorgasbord of artists who have played the stage from Frank Zappa to Prince and, of course, GWAR. They have a built-in restaurant where they fed us menu courses like bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, burgers and mile-high sandwiches. The cheese tortellini with mushroom cream sauce was definitely the best food I’ve had on tour so far. It was even better scarfing it down at the merch table 10 minutes before doors opened.
With a presale of 950 tickets and an eventual 1243 total, the Portland audience was ready for a legendary concert and the bands did not disappoint.
A Band of Orcs shuffled out and blew through their set with an energy that riled up the newly-arrived crowd. Immediately when they began the set, a circle pit opened up and kids began thrashing about with an intensity that didn’t break until the Orcs were done.
After Iron Reagan and Whitechapel brought the crowd to a whole new level of chaos, it was almost time for GWAR. I was sitting behind the merch table when Jesse walked up to me with a professional-looking, chocolate cupcake in each
“Here,” he said with a suspicious grin, “It’s a special cupcake from Oderus (GWAR lead singer).” Not thinking twice, I unpealed the foil from the stump and bit in.
“Oh shit, they really are special.” I replied tasting that familiar spice of THC. And special they were. Within the hour, Jesse, Oog, Gogog and myself were watching the spectacular show of lights, blood, crass humor and ridiculously offensive alien costumes on stage; laughing our asses off at the blood-soaked crowd slipping on the floor and making fun of/with the fans in a good-humored way.
HOLLYWEIRD AND THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF SUNSET.
Growing up in Southern California, you have no idea just how different it is, not only from the rest of the country, but even from the rest of the state as well. At least my friends and I didn’t, or if we did, we were too busy getting into trouble and trying to numb our brains to think about it. We grew up going to Hollywood on a weekly basis, driving past the prostitutes lit under the neon of the clubs and billboards. A town that promises anything you want with no repercussions, your dreams in your hand, as long as you sign on the dotted line and sell that soul. Don’t worry baby, you’re in good hands with us. We’ll take you up that rollercoaster of life and it will be all downhill, smooth sailing from here until you’re all used up and we can’t make that golden green off you. Shit, they’ll even suck the money out of your corpse, just look at Tupac.
So if you finally move away from the Mecca of SoCal and live life with a different view, you can infiltrate the city in a new way. You know how to maneuver your way around a conversation better than a regular outsider, because you understand the other person’s mindset, sometimes better. It’s a skill that came in handy when we needed to move the trailer and find someplace the park the behemoth on the Strip on a Friday night.
For those who didn’t grow up in LaLa land or have never been to the House of Blues on Sunset, it’s an amazing venue to see a show. The sound is impeccable, the food is great and if you don’t mind rubbing some elbows, the view is excellent. Plus, it’s Hollywood, so EVERYONE plays there. Playing there, however, is another story entirely.
The club is on the edge of Sunset, right on the side of a massively steep hill and the side street ends for 2-way traffic abruptly after the club. We had pulled in early since we were carrying the GWAR guys and parked downhill from the venue. Thirty minutes later, we were told the club didn’t have any available parking for us and we were on our own. They advised us to ask the hotel next door if we could use their free space.
Another problem with the venue is that their insurance won’t allow their load crew to take anything if it’s outside the property line for liability reasons. The next 20 minutes were spent by the band, Jesse and I stacking cases and riding them up the street and slowly down the hill, all hands on deck. With only a few minor falls and multiple strings of cursing, we got the equipment to the main hall where I departed from the band so they could set up the stage and I could set up the merchandise next to Iron Reagan.
The Orcs’ set went off without a hitch and the House of Blues’ sound was crispin’ like Glover. For my money, it’s been the best sound on tour so far. And holy Jebus, was it packed.
As soon as their set started, a decent size pit opened up and didn’t quit. As it goes in tinsel town, people show up fashionably late, and hour by hour hordes of drunk and crazed fans piled in, screaming, “Ggggwwwwaaarrrrr!!!” at the top of their lungs.
Of course, the Industry was in full force. Reps from Nuclear Blast and Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, showed up and word began spreading about a “buzz” around the Orcs. Gwar is the perfect band for the Orcs to open for. Not only do they share elaborate stage shows, but the styles of metal are similar as well with heavy death and classic influences. Every night more and more people approach the merch booth, telling me they had never heard of the band before that night and can they please have a cd or t-shirt.
The music industry isn’t the only one in LaLa land and soon enough a group of Vivid Entertainment girls, all primped and looking as “LA hot” as possible. And in this town, there’s a lot of competition. Even Jessie Lee, the seductive siren from Burning Angel entertainment and star of such classic, punk porn cinema as “Cum on my Tattoo 4” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fuck Alone,” was rocking out and later fed into GWAR’s Meat Grinder like a champ along with several of the other girls.
It was a whirlwind of a night complete with fights, 4 fire engines out front (nobody knew why), pissed off cab drivers yelling at our RV for taking their spot (apparently one of them kept yelling “Fuck you, weirdo!” at Gogog which has now become the new insult on tour) and more familiar faces packing into the crowd.
It was when we were unwinding in the back of the RV that I heard Cretos yell, “Fuck!!” at the top of his lungs. I jerked out of my sleepless daze and asked what happened, thinking there would be blood.
“Look at this!” he said passing me the laptop.
It took my eyes a few seconds to realize what I was staring at. Lemmy had posted a picture in front of the Rainbow Room, right at the time we decided not to go check it out. That night there was a free listening party of the new Motorhead album for anyone who wanted to check it out, complete with the man himself. The metal gods had given us the opportunity and we wasted it like the mortals we are. Moral of the story: now or never.
VISIT WEIRDJOURNALISM.COM FOR FULL VERSIONS OF THESE STORIES AND MORE FROM THE “MADNESS AT THE CORE OF TIME TOUR!” or CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS AT THE WEIRD JOURNALISM CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE!