Friday April 23, 2010 – New York
23 April 2010
The day before the gig I arrived with Todd (our stand-in merchandiser, as Ruben was still stuck in Europe due to the volcano ash cloud) in New York to prepare the New York show. The band and crew came in a few hours later. Unlike the travel to Canada, the travel from Canada was a nightmare with all the gear. A lot of money needed to be paid for the extra or overweight luggage, and with almost not getting on the flight in the end they came into New York.
New York is a great, great city. I had a nice walk through the city with some of the crew. But as I was not there to hang like a tourist, I soon went back to my room to advance the two gigs that where still coming. In the evening I found some time to go to the Empire State Building to enjoy the view.
In the morning of the day of the gig I went for a breakfast and suddenly someone called my name. How big is the chance that when walking in New York someone will know you? Well… with almost 900 prog fans in the city that chance was a little bigger than normal. It so happened to be a fan from India who travelled all the way to New York to see Transatlantic play. Amazing! We had a nice talk, he asked me to sign his copy of So Many Roads – live in Europe, and after some nice chatting I continued my search for breakfast. I had a great organic fruit smoothie and loved it!
The venue was a nice but small club, with an even smaller stage. Unfortunately we could not use the risers, so Mike and Neal had to be on the floor. I set up my office down stairs in the basement where the back stage area was situated. Unfortunately the local sound system had some technical issues, what took a long time until solved. This concert was sold out for weeks, and still there where people who wanted to buy tickets at the door.
A few moments before the concert should start I went outside to see how many people where still in line to get in. There was a long row all around the block, and many where concerned that the concert would start without them. I quickly talked with the venue and the band that we would start a bit later, until everyone was inside. So I told the people still in line that we would wait until everyone was inside. So the gig started a bit later, and the place was totally packed. There was a good vibe and the audience was really into it. It was a partly standing concert, and I like those more than seated shows, as there is much more energy in the hall with standing audiences. During the show there was some technical difficulties like the headset mic of Neal stopped working and some other microphone lines that where bad. So the band struggled with it, but showed their skills by improvising around these problems, making the show have some unforgettable improv jams. In the intermission our tech crew solved the problems and the second part of the show went very good. Every night they seem to be playing even better and tighter. During Stranger Neal took over the drums and Mike went crowd surfing. The audience went nuts, and it was fun to see!
After the show a lot of fans wanted to buy some merchandise, but a lot of the T-shirts where sold out before the gig. So if you are coming to one of the European gigs, and you want a T-shirt, be sure to get ‘m while they last!
After the show Mike had to go to a radio station to get on the air with Eddy Trunk, and while he was doing that, we all went back to the hotel, that was actually 3 minutes walking from the venue.
The crew where the early birds of today and with a fresh Starbucks in hand, we drove off into a traffic jam on our way to the airport. Montreal was the city of today, and it was my first time into Canada. We where a bit worried about all of our luggage when flying with Air Canada in small planes, but we managed to get it over to Canada without real problems. Just when we thought it all was good, and we where walking to the exit of the airport we where stopped by someone of Customs. We needed to walk into a room, where we saw some people get investigated (all their suitcases where open and all contents spread out), so I thought the worst. This would take ages until they will have cleared us, and what will they do with all the instruments? So there we go, 5 baggage carts FULL with piles of bags, cases and instruments. The customs person looked at all those gear, and started asking me some questions about what kind of music we play and how long we will stay, and if we will sell our gear in Canada, etc. In my kindest and best English I answered all his questions, and then I saw him thinking: “Do I really want to search all that luggage… hhmm…. Let me think about it….. hhmmm… I guess not, I want to be in time for my coffee break… this will cost at least 45 minutes…” and that is exactly what he did, so we could walk on, into Canada without much trouble. Few…
21 April 2010
Our driver got us straight to the venue, and immediately the crew started to set up and prepare the gear and instruments. I prepared the back stage area and within minutes the first press people gathered for interviews with the band. As soon as the band arrived, and the interviews where don, the sound check started. It sounded good, and as the gig was almost sold out it would be a full house.
Outside the row was long, and people where all excited to see Transatlantic. Some people recognised me from the Sola DVD and I had to sign some DVD’s and CD’s and had some nice talks with people. It amazes me how long people travel to see these guys play. It is great to see that progressive rock is still going strong!
During the show Nick D’Virgillio came by to see the guys, as he is living in Montreal for the time being, as working with Cirque du Soleil. After the show he came to meet the guys, and we had some nice chats. Of course Nick, Mike and myself had to take a picture with Neal, as having three drummers of Neal in one room! Rock on!!
When we led the band outside into the van there where quite a lot of fans still outside waiting to get a glimpse of the band, and hoping to get some stuff signed and get on a picture with the band. I had to play bad cop a bit, as the band really needed to get to the hotel. I am so sorry that some people had stood there for a long time, but what can you expect. The guys have played for over 3 hours, combined with insane travelling – they need their well-deserved rest.
First the driver dropped off the band to the hotel, as we where wrapping up at the venue. Somehow the driver took ages until he came back, so when he finally came to get us we where more than ready to go to the hotel. In the area of the hotel they where rebuilding the roads, so there was only one hidden entrance to the hotel. Our driver could not find it, leaving us circling the hotel for more than 25 minutes. Every road we tried was ore a dead end, or getting us further away of the hotel, or circling around it. In the end I was cracking up it was hilarious! Finally we found it, so around 3:30 am. I entered my hotel room. Remember, I did not sleep the night before, and the night before that I had only about 5 hours of sleep. So I was glad to be able to sleep. During this trip we had great hotels – I got them for real good deals, so the beds where all very good!
But sleep was short (again) as I had to catch the shuttle to the airport at 07:00 am. Again a short night of 3 hours of sleep…
My alarm rang around 9 am. Took a walk to the nearest Starbucks, and went for a walk through the neighbourhood trying to find a birthday cake. Birthday cake? Yes! Today is Mike Portnoy’s birthday so we planned on getting him a cake.
20 April 2010
The gig was booked in a very nice theatre/club Park West. A small stage, for the size of the theatre but enough room to fit the TA mothership. Preparations went well, and in no time the stage was set, and the sound check started. For me this was a special day too, as I had an appointment with Dave Gaynier, the inventor of the Moon Mic – a sub bass mic for bass drum and floor toms. I am one of his endorsers and I am very happy with these mics! They sound phat!! So Dave and his wife where my guests of the day and I showed them around. Dave brought a mike with him, and we end up using this mic on Mike’s drum kit. Rich, our FOH sound guy, really liked it, so we decided to use it that night. In the afternoon Dave and I took some promo pictures and we chatted a bit. Unfortunately I had to get back to my tour-managing job so had to get back to my little office in the attic of the building. We had some Subway sandwiches as diner and sooner than later it was time to rock. The place was almost sold out so it was pretty crowded.
The band played great, third gig and it sounded massive! In the second set after All Of The Above I walked on stage with Mike’s cake and the band jammed some Beatles songs in honour of Mike’s birthday. The set list was the same as the nights before (with the addition of the Beatles jam) – clocking just over 3 hours of music.
When the concert was over Neal decided to come out and chat with the fans. Around that same time Roine and Daniel came out, as well as Pete. Immediately there was a big congestion of people around the exit of the hall, and every movement came to a halt. No one could get out or come in, let alone meet one of the band members. So I decided to improvise, and stood on a chair and shouted some directions. So I put the band at some tables, and together with security we directed the crowd into a long line of fans, waiting to get something signed, or a picture to be taken with one of the band. This spontaneous meet ‘n greet lasted some time, and when Mike came out, the whole band was complete. It was nice to see all those fans and the love they have for this band.
It was also nice to hear from various people that they are reading my blogs and that they will continue to do so, so I am honoured to have you as my readers!
When the last fans where gone we all went back to the dressing room to enjoy the birthday cake and a very lovely Chicago Deep Dish pizza (very nice). We had fun, but it was getting late, so the runner took us back to the hotel.
I had much to do, but first had a nice Skype chat with Jessica and Debora. It is always good to be able to chat with home thanks to Skype. It makes the distance a bit smaller. Because I had to prepare some things for the comings shows, I decided to work until I was finished. The next day we would be picked up at 6:45 am to go to the airport to get to Montreal, so I planned on getting some sleep. But when I was done with my work it was almost 6:10 am – so a quick shower, pack up my stuff, and off to Montreal, with no sleep at all… pppfff….
Today was a travel day. After a way to short night in a very nice hotel we would be going to Chicago. While walking out I noticed a sign next to the entrance. Apparently it is very unhealthy to stay in this hotel… Well… rock on!
19 April 2010
Because we have so much baggage with us, we would not all fit in the van. So I went earlier with Jose and John to the airport with all of our baggage to sort it all out at the airport with extra baggage and overweight baggage etc. With only 12 people, we have over 30 pieces of luggage, consisting of personal luggage, but also keyboards, guitars, pedal boards, cases with leads, wires, microphones and in-ear systems. A lot of stuff to haul around… But we found this friendly skycap that helped us with everything and did not charge us too much for the extra and overweight luggage. The flight itself was good, and I slept a bit on the plane. When arriving we went to the hotel, while our gear was brought to the venue by our local runner. The hotel was really great! We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. All in style rooms. When I checked in, the manager gave me an upgrade to a very nice room with a nice view of Chicago. A big ass TV , iPod station, nice desk and free use of the in-house business centre, including printer and copier. Just what I needed!! Because I had a lot to do, I decided not to go out with the rest and have a bite at the hotel. I know that the Hard Rock Café burgers are pretty good, so I choose to have that delivered to my room. Way to expensive of course, but at least I could continue to work. I spent the rest of evening preparing for the shows, and went to bed around 03:00 am.
19 April 2010
I am so sorry for not having written any blogs – but these last few days where insane, time schedule wise. In the last 4 day’s I had about 8 hours of sleep total…. way to less of course, so yesterday (23rd of April) during our day off I finally got some sleep – slept for 12 hours straight. Lovely!!
So tomorrow we will drive to Philadelphia and have the last US-gig. It will be a blast!!
I will update my blog asap, so stay tuned!! In the mean time, here are some random pictures I took.
Today we got to fly to San Francisco for the second gig of the Whirld Tour. A beautiful city, but I only have seen a few parts of it during transit from airport to the venue. When we came in, the sound system was all in place, backline delivered – this looked like an easy gig. The Palace Of Fine Arts is a beautiful theatre situated in the ruins of a semi-old building (there are no real old buildings in the US of course, let alone one that could have been in Rome). Looking good though. I quickly set up my mobile office, and arranged the dressing rooms, made the guest lists, press material, arranged the interviews, backstage passes, press passes, overseeing that the time schedules will be met, fighting with the Union guy in getting more time for soundcheck, ordered food for after the show, and in between advanced some of the coming gigs. In the meantime the band was soundchecking an they sounded good. The hours before the gig are the most busy hours of the day – getting all in place so that the guys can shine on stage. The best moment of my day is the moment where the intro tape ends, and the first chords are being struck – and the venue fills up with music. That’s where it’s all about. Music! And not just some music, but this is definitely the proggiest happening that is around. Having all these amazing players come together and seeing the effects in the faces of the audience of this synergy of combining talents is just amazing.
19 April 2010
The gig went really well. While the band played their second gig of this tour, I was back in my office, working on the settlement/accounting, advancing shows, rebooking some flight tickets, arranging some changes in crew etc.
Yes, rearranging the crewmembers. Why? Unfortunately due to the volcanic ashes in the air Yenz Nyholm (lighting guy) and Ruben Schuring, our merchandiser are stuck in Europe and is not be able to come for this first part of the US tour. We all are very sad about this, but what can you do… We have to make the best of it. So Pam, a woman from CalProg (the promoter of the first gig in Downey CA) who has been directing the lights for our first show (and has done many other CalProg shows) will be joining us until Yenz can make it over here. Todd, a good friend of Neal will help us out in the merch side, so we are covered at all sides. So I was almost the whole gig busy with rebooking tickets and preparing so that they could join us.
After the gig some of us had some killer Chinese food and after a long but fulfilling day at 03:00 am I finally went to bed.
Tomorrow we will fly to Chicago where we will have the night off. I think I will go to bed early – and won’t join in the Chicago sightseeing, restaurants and going out. Next time Chicago, next time 😉
Trusten!! (Dutch slang for ‘good night’)
And then before I knew it, it was Saturday, the first gig of the tour. After almost 10 years of absence the mother ship called Transatlantic finally hit the stage again for their first concert of the Whirld tour 2010.
17 April 2010
Load in and set up was easy as a breeze, as the hotel was next to the venue. So after a few hours of tweaking, changing the stage plot, tweaking some more, deciding we do need the whole band to move up more to the edge of the stage, some more tweaking it was time to start the sound check. When they hit that first chord of the Whirlwind, the theatre was trembling (no it was not an LA earthquake) and like a rocket, slowly the mother ship rose for a test flight of 1,5 hours or so. At 7:15 pm it was time to open doors for the crowd, and it took not much time to fill the theatre up with sheer excitement. You could feel the expectations of the fans and there where a lot of familiar (and famous – people from other bands) faces. I was back stage fighting with my Internet connection and in the end I spend many walks back and forth between the venue and the hotel to get online. What a hassle. Jim Harrell from CalProg promoted this first show. They organise a lot of progressive rock concerts and festivals and it all went pretty smooth. They really took good care of us during this week of rehearsals and hosting the first concert. Of course catering was impeccable and they brought in some great Mexican dinner (what else can you eat when you are in this area, hahaha).
At 8:10 I had them dim the houselights, and Rich started the intro tape. The excitement of the crowd rose into a loud cheer and applause, and when the band hit the first chord of The Whirlwind it was a fact: Transatlantic is back on tour! They played for almost 3 hours, and after the show there was a special meet ‘n greet with a select group of fans. Well, I’m not going to tell you all the details of the show – you just have to come and see it for your self. But it was a great gig, great set list and only the first of 22 shows.
I am typing this while sitting in the lobby waiting for our ride to bring us to the airport of Long Beach for our flight to San Francisco. Tonight we play there, so I’m looking forward to that!
I’m singing off right now!
Well, what can I say…. These last few days where complete copy of each other…. The band rehearsing, I’m organizing all the logistics etc. making the tour book and calling around to check if the venues are ready for us. Making sure all the gear, backline, sound stuff etc is present at the venues, and buying missing gear at Guitar Center. Quite too boring to write about actually. That’s why I combined these three days into one blog. The real touring starts this Saturday and I think that that is more interesting, so wait and see.
17 April 2010
Yesterday I got the news of the volcano that erupted on Iceland, and the ash cloud that drifted over Europe causing all flights to be cancelled. This is also affecting our tour, as our lighting guy Yenz and our merchandiser Ruben are stuck in Europe. They will not make it for the first two gigs. The airline changed their flights to Monday – but even then, if nothing changes, they will not fly then, so we will have to see how this one goes.
I hope it all clears up quickly so Yenz and Ruben can join us as soon as possible.
Oh, the weather here in California is great!! Lots, and lots of sun and warmth. The only thing is that I am sitting inside all day…. But I don’t complain. I’m touring with Transatlantic – so the music makes up for missing the sun 😉 This night I was finishing the tour book, and was copying and manufacturing this up until 02:45 AM. When I walked out of the business corner in the hotel I heard a few people shout my name, and I bumped into some Transatlantic fans from Mexico that came all the way to see Transatlantic play. “Collin, I got a gift for you”, one said, and the other person took it out of his bag: a really cool Mexican coloured scarf. So nice of them!!
Well, it is past 03:00 am now, so I really should be getting some sleep.
I was up way too early (5:15 am) again today. But did sleep a bit better. Slowly my body is adjusting to the new time zone. It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day, so I took this opportunity to have a nice walk outside. Of course I made a visit to Starbucks to get the day going with a nice Latte. Because somehow the internet in the hotel does not let me connect to the MobileMe servers of Apple, I took my laptop with me and uploaded the blog to my site at Starbucks. When all was uploaded, I then wandered about in sunny uptown Wittier.
13 April 2010
Around 10 I met up with the rest of the band and we had breakfast at this Coca Cola dining place, like we where in the movie set of Grease. Pete, Daniel & Roine are great fun, not only is there a musical chemistry between them, but also in the humour side of things. There is a lot of laughter all day long.
The rest of the day was a day just like any other office day would be. I decided to work out of my hotel room, so I did not go with the band to the rehearsal studio. A bit boring indeed, but kept me focussed on my job. And that is what I am here for of course. Before I knew it, the day was over. Unfortunately I could not enjoy the beautiful weather much (but did hear the pool noises: people who where swimming and sunbathing) as I was inside all day but had a good day. After watching the latest episode of Lost (Everybody loves Hurley) and some Skyping with home I went to bed. All in all a good and productive but a bit boring day. So that is why this blog is a bit short. Nothing more to say.
Today was the first day of rehearsals. After a nice jetlagged broken night, up way to early I decided to take a walk in sunny Wittier (LA area) in search of a nice little breakfast. I found a Starbucks so started the day with a very nice Latte. Of course junk food joints all over, so I really had to search for a nice place to have breakfast. And…. did not found it. Finally I had a sort of breakfast at Subway – the healthiest version of junk food available at that time and place. Hhmm….
12 April 2010
At 10 a.m. Pam picked me up to go to the rehearsal studio where I set up the drums for Mike Portnoy, set up the keys for Neal Morse and helped setting up the sound system with Richard, the studio owner. When all was ready some of the band arrived and a few hours of tweaking and getting the gear going started. Mike came in a bit later, so when all was working the rest of the band started to play some of the Transatlantic material without drums. It was great to hear them play live again, and it sounded really good. So while Mike was not there yet, I jammed a bit with them – how nice to play with these guys.
When Mike came into the studio they immediately dived into the set and from the first bars of music I knew this tour was going to be very special! During the day TA played trough the set and man, they sound amazing! The talent, musicianship and most of all the chemistry between these 5 guys is truly unique and amazing! I am really looking forward to these gigs, they are going to be great! Not to be missed! And while the band was rehearsing I set up my office at the studio and worked on the management and business side of the tour for the rest of the day, with some nice Transatlantic tunes live in the background. Who needs a radio when you have the real thing in the room next to you?
At the end of the day (…) we had dinner at this Mexican restaurant. Being so close to the Mexican border Mexican food is the way to go here.
Well, time to go to bed now – I’m still not all present in this time zone, so I hope for the best. and not having a too jet lagged night. See you on the road!