Wednesday, September 18, 2019Light Snow -5°C
Music

A European Tour, #1: Terminal Social Dynamics

Posted by Greg / May 28, 2009

20080528-Gear.jpgNathan Howard plays guitar for Montreal's Bonjour Brumaire. We've recruited him to send us stories from their first European tour, underway through mid-June.

I immediately learned to hate airports when touring. Your utterly conspicuous cart of aluminum-bound plywood road cases rarely fails to be not only in everyone's way, but also to pique the curiosity of any lonely security folk littering the terminal. These in turn are perennially disappointed to learn that they have not in fact heard of your band.

Their disappointment necessarily entails the involvement of some greasy, 'used car salesman in waiting'-type floor manager. Today, ours sported a number of oversized gold rings and reminded me of a mix between the Fonz and that guy you avoid at parties because he watches too much Internet porn (wait, didn't he work at Trudeau airport?). Greasy manager type (GMT) lets you know, via thinly veiled derision during requisite small talk (requisite since you're trying to get that over-the-weight-limit keyboard on the plane aren't you?) that he thinks less-than-famous musicians should get real jobs.

The necessity of this entailment is underwritten by a relatively simple and pervasive social dynamic. Lonely security guards abound; it's a professionally lonely job. This loneliness causes him to approach you because your conspicuous road cases give him a professional veneer with which to justify much needed social stimulus. Upon learning that the band is entirely unknown to him, this fact affirms either (a) he really is as out-of-touch as his job makes him feel, or (b) the band isn't worth knowing. (note: most often, both options are true) He naturally turns to the alpha of his social circle, GMT, for guidance. GMT, self-aware enough to know that his time spent more on smut than sound risks his status, bluffs that, "if he hasn't knowledge of them, they aren't worth knowing." This self-loathing, predicated on his conspicuous porn consumption, is then vented on the cycle's cause: your band.

Other fun air travel mainstays include: carry heavy awkward metal things around poorly restrained children; aging female check clerks, pining for the lost beauty of their airline stewardess years, mistake the charm you've deployed to get overweight baggage on the plane for actual flirtation (remember to check the weight of the keyboard more assiduously next time...); your drummer's tattoos are catnip for border security; "oh shit, I was certain we took that out of my suitcase before we got in line for security check," etc...

I've been assigned, along with the entire rhythm section, those awful middle seats down the center of the plane's left side. There is nothing to be done, and I spend 5 hours talking to Leon, a jovial, chatty, and remarkably pragmatic Swiss man.
20090528-Leon.jpg
Shit shit shit! The realization that I've placed my most beloved in mortal danger happens over the span of three or five seconds. A plaintiff baby drowns out the plane's engines and I suppress the thought that this baby's keening cry is my precious and cherished Gretsch White Falcon's funeral dirge. For those of us who've flown with a stringed instrument before, even the rankest greenhorn knows that a plane's cargo hold is only thinly insulated against the -65 degree temperatures outside.

High school physics reminds us that all things save water shrink as they freeze; guitar strings are unfortunately subject to these same physics. Given that these strings are fixed in length and strung over my precious, the physical pressure they exert against the body of my instrument increases dramatically. As the plane climbs, the shrunken, frozen, strings can produce such appalling effects as headstocks popping off necks and bridges collapsing entirely.

As the Air France attendants begin to serve breakfast, I look on the bright side since at least this cruel fate-sent cloud has a silver lining: it provides a natural cliffhanger.

We arrive at Charles-De-Gaule and I am burned out.

(Epilogue: the guitar remains in one piece but the action on my D string is fucked. I consider it a slap on the wrist and a lesson learned.)

Discussion

8 Comments

Peter / May 28, 2009 at 03:35 pm
user-pic
Thanks for the reminder about the strings. Thank you for your sacrifice in the line of duty.
Greg / May 28, 2009 at 04:06 pm
user-pic
I love imagining the security guards who gave you flack about not knowing the band. So classic.
golu dolls / February 1, 2019 at 01:34 am
user-pic
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / February 1, 2019 at 01:35 am
user-pic
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / February 1, 2019 at 01:35 am
user-pic
nice post
herbal powder / February 1, 2019 at 01:35 am
user-pic
nice post

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Toronto