The Feminists: The Color Of Sunbeams

Grief drove us to Sudbury. I found I was able to sort of sleep better with less coughing sitting up in the passengers seat, so I faded in and out of consciousness as the van rumbled along. At some point, I was aware of a strange heat beam of some sort on my face. I opened my eyes the tiniest little bit…perhaps Mike was shining his pen flashlight in my face, that’s one of his favorite pastimes when he’s bored. But it wasn’t Mike. It was the sun. The sun was shining. In the morning, during the day like it’s supposed to. I even had to take off my top two layers of clothing . Because it was warm in the van. It was warm in the van!
The light was overwhelming. I sat up blinking and cringing in the brightness. I felt like a wee mole who has spent the entire winter underground and now is venturing forth into springtime for the first time in months. My skin looked extra pale and pasty and the dark circles under my eyes stood out even more ghoulishly. Ah yes, the “I Look Like Crap Tour” was still rolling along. I looked out the window and saw lakes, trees, blue sky. The autumn leaves (drift by my window) really were red and gold, scarlet and vermillion, amber, burnt orange, soft butter yellow and stood out in such vivid contrast to the deep navy blue of the water and the evergreens at the shore. My favorite part of this beautiful morning was the sunshine glinting off the water. It was wonderful to see the color of sunbeams again, I thought as I drifted back to sleep.
By the time we got to Sudbury, I definitely had a fever. Thankfully, we were allowed to camp out in the band room at the Townehouse downstairs. This year there was no hot water for the shower. But I didn’t care, because there was a room with a bed that I could close the door to and sleep, which I did for most of the day. I was dimly aware of Grief and Zobac gleefully setting up for a long Magic battle. Poor guys. We’ve been so busy on this tour playing and driving they’ve hardly had time to play Magic.
By late afternoon, I felt well enough to make a pilgrimage to the internet cafe at the mall. Mike and I went together, wandered around Music World, had some coffee, and checked our e-mail. It was very good to be with just Mike. He’s the guy in the band I’ve known for the longest – since I was a teenager, long before this band was ever thought of – and it’s a rare blessing to grow up together with someone instead of growing apart. I even had a chance to catch up on world events. We’ve been very isolated on this tour so far, no time to read a newspaper of watch the news. Did you know there was a military coup in Thailand? News to me, my friends. Other than that, the same old Wars continue. I was kinda hoping that the American people would have overthrown their war-mongering non-elected murderous power drunk monkey of a president since I last checked in, but no dice.
Grief and I smuggled our stove downstairs to the band room after my epic journey to the mall and made soup. Zobac was busy doing a phone interview with FFWD in Calgary. The writer asked him for one of his road recipes which I think made him pretty happy, as he is the official band chef. I’ve been suggesting that he try and get his own cooking show that features his band chef duties. I can see it now: Zobac with a black apron with the Feminists logo in red and white. And a tall black chef’s hat, with Kiss The Cook embroidered in red thread in the same font as our band name. “Be sure to crack the middle of the egg directly against the van bumper”, he’d be saying, “and remind the bass player to slice the potatoes thinly”.
I slept more after soup…pretty much right up until it was time to play. I forced myself to get up, and the fever was back in full force along with sniffles and coughing and a general sense of disgust and irritation. I climbed wearily up the stairs and stopped short before opening the door that led to the bar. I put my hand on the knob, but didn’t, couldn’t turn it. I rested my head against the cool steel and thought, is there any way to avoid opening this door? Maybe it will be a fun show, I tried to reassure myself. Lots of people, good sound. I may not be able to play as well as normal, but I could probably hold it together okay.
I knew as soon as I walked through that door that my feeble hopes were dashed. This would not be a good show. The bar was empty, and we were playing on a Wed night, when they usually feature acoustic acts. In fact, our opener was a solo acoustic guitar playing songwriter. His small audience left with him, leaving us three people to play for. Plus the sound man and the bartender, of course.
The fever gave me a sense of floating and seemed to muffle most of the sounds in the room. The lights were too bright and hurt my eyes. I stood unsteadily behind my keyboards, eyes watering and squinting, sniffling pathetically. The good news continued to pour in. “I’ve only been doing sound for a couple of months”, the sound tech announced cheerfully upon meeting us. Perfect. Then he told us that at least we weren’t as stinky as DOA, who apparently don’t wash their asses, or Sloan, who have an $80 000 van and you’d think they’d have the means to take a shower. I guess it had been a jam-packed couple of months doing sound for huge established Canadian bands. I play in a rock band, that’s true, but I’m also a female and believe me, no girl wants to be told in so many words that she is stinky, even a little bit stinky. My mood became stinky, very very stinky. Oh, and we had to play for at least an hour, until a half hour before last call. For three people.
We played a massive set of an hour and twenty minutes, no breaks. My nose ran while I was singing and playing, and there was not a thing I could do about it, except hope that the lovely glistening effect was not visible to the audience. All my hands were occupied, and I didn’t have any sort of wiping material onstage anyway. At times I felt like I was floating up, up, up, away from my keyboards. For the first time I drew a blank when it was my turn to call tunes. I couldn’t remember the names of any of our songs.
Finally it was over. I felt like I’d aged 10 years, and I was bursting with resentment and bitterness. For this I had left my lovely teaching practice and driven halfway across the country. To be on public display with a runny nose, struggling to remain upright while playing rock and roll to an empty bar.
I must admit though, all three audience members stayed for the whole show and bought cds and t-shirts afterwards. And the bar gave us $50 and offered us another show on a weekend. I collapsed into bed for another night of coughing before the big drive to Kingston.