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Tour Blog: Mission of Burma at Pitchfork

[We asked Roger Miller to give us an insider's view of Mission of Burma's trip to this weekend's big Pitchfork blowout in Chicago, and thence to Detroit. The words and photos that follow are all his.]

JULY 18: Airports: fuck 'em. Before 911 (Bush's illegitimate ticket to bring that glorious "1984" idea to fruition: endless vague fear), airports were bad enough. Of late, it's even illegal to bring water on a plane. OK, so it sucked when they stopped you from bringing in your own vodka so you could get the bloody mary mix for free on the plane at your own leisure. I mean sure, someone might get drunk and threaten to smash a window, with the result that everyone would get sucked out into the heavenly sky.

But think about this objectively: water is a danger (we're not talking about enough to drown in, or w/such currents that it will pull you under: just water in a bottle). They say that water might well be combined with something else to make a bomb. But stand back a bit: water, the essence of life as we know it, has become a potential evil. From an objective standpoint, that is utter madness.

Let's carry this one step further, since we've already gone to this obviously totally insane degree of inefficiency -- what is the real danger on planes? It's humans, not water. I say if the TSA really wanted the job done, they'd check all humans at the gate and not let them on. 

Nonetheless, we all had to pour our water out. 


Logan's Terminal C after all passengers poured out their water.

Despite our sound-check nearly being terminated by a thunderstorm, the show went pretty well. A bit off-kilter, as I broke TWO strings in one hit during our second song, "Progress." But the oddball "Laugh the World Away" was a nice opener that we weren't sure we'd be allowed the time to play. We were doing our 1982 album Vs. here, and the "bonus tracks" from the Vs. CD formed the first 4 songs, starting w/"Laugh." Then we did Vs. starting with track 1, side 1, through track 6, side 2.  Bob Weston -- our loop-man and sound mixer -- supplied record surface noise from the sound booth between side 1 and side 2 for the "authenticity" of turning the record over. The audience charmingly tolerated our 4 or 5 major gaffs (I started one of the songs out of order -- none of us actually remember the order of the songs on the LP), but we seemed to rock, or at the very least, the audience thought we did. Basically, very much fun.


Porta-potties during soundcheck.


Audience shot taken from stage. Note Porta-potties in distance.

Now I sit in the AC dressing room, anticipating a fine heated dinner supplied by Pitchfork. Shit, I gotta do an interview w/someone at Pitchfork. Well, that's not really so bad. That's what we're here for, and as long as I can eat dinner, I'll be fine. I hear Sebadoh playing onstage. Who knows if I'll actually get to hear them.

******

Damn, that was really good food. Supplied by "Big Delicious Planet", a whole foods group in Chicago, they had everything from Beef Briskit to Cajun fish to BBQ Sietan (plus food coop vegetable medley!) and it was all top notch.

Saw some of Sebadoh, and they were quite good. Perhaps Massachusetts should be proud to have two bands on the opening night of this festival, I wouldn't know.    I'm not so familiar w/Sebadoh's music -- they were early '90s, and my son Chance was born in 1989, so my rock was put on hold for a while there. But it was certainly enjoyable.

Great. Just had seconds of the Big Delicious Planet dinner. I didn't expect that, but it was too good to pass up. And the Goose Island (Chicago brewery) IPA was quite superb. You might notice that my spelling is slowly going downhill....   

Shit, Public Enemy just went on. I'm out of here....

******

I don't know. I get a serious kick when they start chanting "Don't believe the Hype!" It could be hype about a music group, it could be hype about why we are supposed to be in Iraq (or possibly soon enough in Iran or Afghanistan again). They do this thing where they follow a riff into a "turnaround", and the music lifts up and then you are slammed back into the main riff and it is SO satisfying. Loved hearing Terminator and Flava Flav's voices intertwining. (Mercifully I don't watch TV at all so I have never seen his TV show -- that probably allows me to still be glad to hear his voice...). They had a guitarist and a drummer, but I heard "through the grapevine" that they were performing ALONG WITH a pre-recorded version of their original album, and played and sang over that. They weren't lip-syncing, but actually rapping and playing over what was there before. Who knows, I was just happy to be there hearing it.


Public Enemy from my first vantage point.

I tired of my vantage-point (see photo), and decided to get onstage (Clint was up there but I didn't know it). One stairway was barred: I had an "artist" pass, but not a "Public Enemy" pass. So, try the other stairway. No problem. This was Real American Fun in my book.

Wound down in the AC dressing room again which was, during the week, a kid's art room. Signs around saying "do we use capital letters at the start of a sentence?" and "always clean up your watercolors!"  What could be more appropriate for Mission of Burma?

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