Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Backstage w/ Deftones and Baroness

I got your attention with my winning title, didn't I?

Well before it all got to be THAT and such, I had a hell of a day....

So, it's Thursday morning at 5AM. I have to be on the road by 6 to reach the border by 7. I'm driving from Vancouver to Bellingham, Washington to catch a 10AM plane out of there to Seattle, where I switch planes and then fly to Spokane.

In Spokane I am to be interviewing the radtastic band, Baroness, and then reviewing the concert with the Deftones. Only problem at this point is that I am not sure WHEN the interview will take place. I know bands only have so much time before and after soundcheck, yadda yadda. My plane lands in Spokane at noon so I shouldn't have much of a problem so as long as the band doesn't want meet before then.

Anyway, so it's 5AM and that's a TOUGH wake-up call because I was out until 1AM the night before, covering the Chromeo concert. Here's a pic (I am such a dork):


Really cool dudes. Laid-back, relaxed, polite.

But that aside, I was tired as hell. I am no rockstar. On to the next show.

So I get to the border at just before 7AM and am immediately sent inside to get a "visa" - why? Because I am working. It didn't seem to matter that I don't get paid at my job, they thought I needed to apply for a visa anyway (and no I didn't want to lie and say I was seeing a concert... in Spokane... by myself, cuz that would seem weird).

Anyway, after dealing with the actually very polite and young US Customs agents inside, chatting about music and showing them my (NON-PAYING) portfolio, they decide since I don't get paid that I shouldn't need a visa (d'uh). All that hassle for nothing.

So I go on my way, stop by Jack in the Box for breakfast (I know, bad), enjoying the highway drive to the airport, the sun shining on dewey meadows, grass waving. Even though it's only August 12th and this point, the light has a distinct look of Fall about it. I'm feeling good... excited. I love solo adventures and flying to Spokane for a concert is just a lot of fun for me.

I should note here than when I said I would cover the concert, I was going to drive. It's about a 6 hour drive from Vancouver to Spokane and gas wouldn't cost me that much. But at the last minute my mom stepped in and insisted I fly - so she paid for my flight there... I was fine with driving but she would have worried if I had.

Back to the early morning sunshine. There's a huge low-laying grey cloud of fog up ahead but I don't pay much attention to it. Didn't really look sinister, just added to that damp, Fall feel of things.

Of course, that fog was sinister. It lay low over the airport and our plane (that would take us to Seattle) couldn't even land. It circled above the airport for a loooong time. First we were told 10 minutes... which already had me worried about missing my Seattle connection. Then we were told another 10.. and another 10.

In the end, plane lands an hour late and of course I have missed my connection out of Seattle. I even think about taking my car and driving down to the Emerald City but it's still at least 90 minutes away. Luckily I had the foresight to have the airline put me on the next flight out of Spokane (only an hour later) so I would at least get to my destination. But now, hopefully when I can still interview the band.

But there was no point freaking out. Even when we got on the plane and it still sat on the runway for 20 minutes. Or when it circled above Seattle for 20 minutes. Suddenly the chances of making even the NEXT flight were slim.

Everyone had connections though, so as soon as we landed we were off and running through the concorse. I stepped on to the plane to Spokane just as they had given up on me and a few other late passengers.

I get to Spokane. Hot, dry, wonderful interior weather with fields of tan and hardy ponderorsa pines which always remind me of summers in the inner reaches of BC.

I got to Spokane but the one bag I checked did NOT! No, I was not planning on checking the bag at all but with a purse and laptop, I had to. Anyway, my bag is in Seattle still apparently. That's fabulous. They tell me it will come in on the next flight. I tell them to send it to the Ramada Limited downtown where I am staying.

Get a cab to the Ramada Limited, absolutely exhausted at this point, check in to the hotel. Turns out they don't have my reservation.

Turns out I actually booked at the Days Inn, which is on the other side of town. I don't want to spend money on another cab to go there, this Ramada is a block or two away from The Knitting Factory venue where the bands are playing... so I just check into this one.

Go into my room... collapse on the bed. Wait for my bag. Wait to hear back from Greg, the tour manager of Baroness. Hearing back from neither, I get dinner... from Carls Jr. Yes it was a disgusting food day all right.

Still no bag though. So much for the bag coming on the next flight. So I contacted the front desk who contacted the airline and, well... they sent the bag to the WRONG Ramada. They apparently didn't realize there was more than one of them in the city... no big deal, except THEY live Spokane, not me, they should know!

Anyway, not worth getting upset over. What was worth getting upset over was the fact that Baroness weren't even IN Spokane. They were on the bus still (50-hour bus ride from Georgia) and wouldn't have anytime for the interview beforehand as they had to load and soundcheck right away.

At this point I was so tired and annoyed at not having an extra change of clothes (or deodorant), that I barely even cared. But the tour manager was very easy to talk to and really wanted to make the interview happen. He suggested while the Deftones were playing but NOOOOO way was I missing that. Normally I would yield but not this time. I had to cover the Deftones and more than that, I WANTED to, badly.

Deftones were my second favourite band love growing up (back in the mid-late nineties) and though I lost track of them after White Pony, my discovery of the underrated Saturday Night Wrist and their new Diamond Eyes threw me back into hard-core D-tones mode. I was never a fan of Faith No More in high school, but the Deftones were clearly very influenced by them. I like to think that they merely picked up where FNM left off in 1998... Deftones picked up the reigns and kept going, evolving, changing. It makes me happy that this band is at least out there, still creating music (despite tragedies such as Chino Moreno's drug use, Bassist Chi Cheng being in a severe car accident and going into a coma where he sadly remains to this day).

But I digress - couldn't miss them. Luckily Greg was accommodating and said we could meet up after the show. Perfect.

So I headed over to the venue (bag was due to arrive - properly - but I had no time to wait anymore), got my photo pass at will call and headed straight to the bar. I needed a drink, pronto.

Going to concerts alone is interesting - I think I've gotten the hang of it. The only awkward part is the pre-show (during the show, it's not like you are talking to anyone). But with my photo pass on my chest, I've quickly become a "cool" person to talk to. Concert-goers (mainly men) assume I have something to do with the band, so they ask me questions. Before I know it, I'm having conversations with random people and I don't look so silly, a female haunting the venue alone. Which still does happen and I still feel silly but whatever.

Then it's time for the show and I head off for the photo pit and jockey for position among photographers.

EXCEPT this time. No one was in the pit. I asked one of the security guys (who were all very nice) and he told me that Deftones rarely give out photo passes so I was very VERY lucky that I got one. Go me! And thanks to Baroness for that one.

So Baroness starts and it's my first gander at this Southern boys of prog/sludge/metal. I had been listening to their epically acclaimed Blue album a lot, so I knew what to except but I had no idea how awesome they would be live. Energetic as hell, talented to the extreme and just having a great time up there on stage. Their sound was phenomenal...






After the show, when my ears stopped bleeding (in a good way) I went and met with their tour manager who was a really cool dude with knee-length dreads (Puffy got nothing on this guy) and blue, blue eyes. We decided to meet up at the merch table apres-Deftones which was perfect.

Back to the Deftones. Again ONLY PERSON IN PHOTO PIT. Crazy. And the BEST PART is that, just like I had done with Baroness, I was able to stay at the front for the entire set!! That's right! I had the best spot in the entire house... at the stage, in front of the crowd, by bouncers who would give me water and I wasn't getting moshed on.

Which was a good thing because that crowd was WILD!


And no wonder because the Deftones were wild. You can read my review here, but they, in short, were awesome. Chino sounded great (looked fabulous too), he was engaging with his band and the audience, Stephen flashed me the banger sign several times, Chi's replacement Sergio was fantastic, Drummer Abe gave it his all (though it seemed Abe gained the weight that Chino had lost as a fellow Tweep pointed out). I don't think I've ever had so much fun at a show before... they were SO good that I think my FNM concerts have a close runner-up for best show ever.









Sure, they didn't have the emotional and personal connection I feel I have with FNM, but they were FLAWLESS... more so than FNM are (which is part of FNM's charm). Plus the whole "this reminds me of high school" feelings that were raised up when they played anything off of Adrenaline and Around the Fur. I'm sure some FNM-purists will strike me down for comparing the two but anyway - Deftones = stupendous. Me = Blown away!

Plus, I was taking photos whilst head-banging, screaming and dancing... for a shy girl like me, to do that just below the stage, was pretty bold. I musta looked funny... in fact I know I did, here I am on the bottom left (blonde head, just below Stephen):

Then it was time for apres show. I met with Greg, we went backstage. I met Chino (just in a towel, why do I always meet my heroes in half-naked situations?) who was like "hey, you're the photo girl, I saw you singing to the songs" and Sergio (whom is "Twitter Friends" with a friend of mine, she already told him I was going to be there so that was pretty funny "hey Chino, this is also the girl I told you about, Twitter friend's friend" LOL).

Didn't see Stephen, but saw Abe frequently drinking from a cheap bottle of red wine. Deftones know how to party!

And of course there was Baroness. I was chatting with singer/guitarist/amazing artist (just look at the Blue album cover!) John in his dressing room for 15 minutes before I realized I should probably start the interview. He was just so friendly and articulate (and smart as a whip). Naturally then, the interview went well and should be up on the site any day now. Funniest thing though was listening to the interview later... Chino was roaming the halls singing/rapping during most of it lol.

After that I just hung out with Greg and John outside Chino's dressing room (Greg: "Do you think we know the Deftones well enough to drink their booze?"), listening to them talk about interesting stories about being on tour and the like. John is a really nice, fascinating, down-to-earth guy... he may look all grizzly mountain man when he's roaring his songs on stage but he is just so cool in real life. As is Greg, no doubt.




Then it came time for all of us, Deftones and Baroness, to leave the backstage area. I joined Greg and went on Baroness's brand new tour bus and hung out there for an hour with the rest of the band, some crew, and Abe who finished his wine there before going back to the Deftones bus. Again... really, really nice guys. Can't say that enough.

But then it was nearing 2AM and it was time for the band to hit the road and drive to Utah, their next stop. I felt totally at home with these Southern gentlemen, but it was time for me to go. We said our goodbyes (which wasn't really since I'll be seeing them twice more over the next three weeks) and I skipped off to my hotel, ready for some much-earned sleep. Oh... and to finally get my bag.

Sure, my day was one stressful ordeal after another, but like Joensuu/FNM and Wroclaw/Mondo Cane, I just went with the flow and things turned out pretty damn awesome by the end.

For more info on Baroness, please listen to them here. They are rad - big things in their future.



smokeyandbella said...

Wonderful review, as always. Glad you turned me onto Baroness, looking forward to seeing them again next week. After Deftones/Baroness show in NOLA, I told a friend that it surpassed FNM in San Fran for me. Who would have thought!?

Annie Spandex said...

Look at you with Chromeo! Cool, cool!

I saw the Deftones back in 98 for the Around The Fur tour, lol... That would have sent me back to high school as well. ;)

Eyeliah said...

Moral of the story….. travel messes are worth it for the music?! Lmao and stoked!

AsianCajuns (Cath) said...

How awesome! I can't believe you survived that whole day. I would have thrown in the towel with only 4 hours of sleep. So glad it all paid off and your bag finally found you!

kamika said...

Hey I local Vancouverite girl like me! Glad to have found you and your blog, your photos are awesome!

Megan said...

Nice review! Now I'm looking forward to my chance to see them even more. It's always great when bands exceed your expectations.

WendyB said...

1) I knew a drag queen who went by the name "The Baroness." Hadn't thought of her in a long time.
2) If you're some kind of magnet for half-dressed heroes, will you help me stalk "Eric Northman" from True Blood? Hopefully his clothes will fall off when you get close!

Caffeine said...

Really nice review and superb blog indeed... keep it updated.