Blog No. 13
We were at the boarder between Canada and the US, Windsor and Detroit. There were five cars in front of us and the feeling that used to permeate Motown that can still be found in the right venues down the right streets and in the right homes was running high in the car.
When it was our turn to pull up to the booth we were nervous and excited. If you haven’t had the pleasure of crossing the boarder at one of the busiest crossings in the world, post September 11th, you won’t understand how nervous we were. Four guys in an SUV pulling a trailer full of gear stets off a lot of red flags, and a Boarder Guard on a power trip could end our trip pretty darn fast. But luck was on our side. Over the course of the competition that required the band to cross three previous times, every guard had been nice, and a few of them were musicians themselves. We tensed as the guard asked us citizenship and reason for visiting.
“We’re going to The Fillmore for a concert,” Chris, the bassist, said from the driver’s seat.
“The concert won’t be for at least five or six more hours,” the Boarder Guard replied.
“I know,” said Chris, “we’re playing.”
That got the guard’s attention, and amazingly our luck held. With a few words of encouragement and a standard passport check we were on our way. Inoke Errati was going to play The Fillmore.
We were early, even for the opening act, so we found a place to park and met up with the camera man that agreed to follow the band around for the night. Then we were introduced to the stage crew and with time to spare, went off in search of food. If you are at all familiar with Detroit, we were near Comerica Park and settled on Cheli’s Chili. If you only know Detroit from what you’ve heard, we were close to down town, and the area is actually quite lovely with a lot of things to see and do. With our hunger for food satiated, we focused on our hunger for music and walked back to the venue excitedly.
We walked out onto the main floor and were treated to the opening band’s sound check. We stood in silence watching Third Eye Blind going through their apparent ritual with sound techs and equipment techs working with speed and precision that comes from years of experience working with the top acts in music. Once we realized it would take longer than we initially though we headed up to the band’s green room back stage.
I can’t speak for the members of Inoke Errati, but I can tell you that I was exhilarated walking up the steep and narrow stairs, graffiti and signatures left by previous bands written on the walls. Stopping to read some of them, we were giddy trying to one up each other’s find.
We were decidedly more mellow by the time we made it to our designated room though. The climb saw to that. We dropped the stuff we were carrying around, the band’s equipment was waiting in the trailer for the stage to be open for load in, and took a seat, joking about what famous people may or may not have done to the decades old couch. We could still hear the opening band and knew there was still a long time to wait. What happened next was almost as magical as the rest of the night combined. Out of the equipment bag that I had been carrying came a classic 1990’s hacky sack. Words fail to do justice to the next hour or so. You’ll have to follow the link to get the full experience. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhm-AMsuy8c&list=PL3BcJqFKflVjs8sCAzPncqP9AczT2LKqs&index=1)
We caught our breath in time to load in the gear, usually a labour intensive task, made much easier by the stage crew jumping into action, taking gear off the trailer and even out of our hands. Set up and sound check was a blur, the band finished with only minutes before people were let into the theater. (The lineup was around the block). We went out in the crowd, meeting family and friends who came over to see the show and stood on the main floor, looking up at the stage where they would be playing momentarily. We all got our passes by then and were free to roam the whole building, but we thought it was probably time to get back stage and prepare. The camera man handed me his iPhone, I was to catch a different angle of the show, and the band stood in the wings, psyching themselves up for the biggest show of their lives.
They had decided that they would cut out one of their songs for time and had casually mentioned this to the stage manager. He had already done a great job comforting the band, reassuring them that the venue had hosted huge acts and Inoke Errati would bring down the house. Coming over to see if the band was ready, he went even further and suggested they go out a couple minutes early, so there would be enough time to fit the extra song in. It also served the job of keeping the band focused on the task and not thinking too much about the full house, clamoring for the act to start.
With adrenalin running high, the three members of Inoke Errati walked out on the stage, camera man in tow and me following after.
A word about the crowd. I was at the side of the stage looking out and even with the stage lights blinding us I was taken aback by the sold out 3000 person crowd screaming and jumping about. It was even more intense when the music started. I can only imagine what it was like for the band, but I do know that they didn’t look up right away. Good move I think.
The screaming started as soon as the band hit the stage, once the music started it turned into a roar. They loved it. The band when from one song to the next and the intensity grew even more. A few small mistakes, an unruly shoelace and my running out onto the stage at the urging of the drummer, only to be confused and ultimately unable to help him when his snare mic came loose, and before we knew it, it was all over. The crowd was buzzing and the band was on another frequency entirely. With the help of the stage crew we tore down the equipment and brought it all right out to the waiting trailer, glad to get a bit of fresh air and, for once, happy to be outside in the cold of a Detroit winter.
We strode back in triumphantly and climbed the stares back up to the green room. With a relaxed sigh of relief that it was over mixed with the excitement we were still all feeling from the successful performance, we laughed at my running out on stage, flummoxed, and each recalled the event from our individual perspectives. We finally had a drink and celebrated. It was a night to remember, but it wasn’t over yet.
After the short break we were back out in force. We met up with family and friends again, enjoyed the rest of the show and then jumped into action.
There were download cards and cds to hand out to the crowd, and when those were gone there were business cards. We put on our best retail smiles and did our best to charm as many people as we could. Once the crowd had dissipated, we did a last check of the green room and stage for any equipment we may have left behind, thanked the stage crew and especially the manager, again and climbed back into the SUV to cross the border one last time. Coming back into Canada is never as daunting as making the trip into the US. As soon as the border guards know you are all Canadian (and that you haven’t purchased anything) it’s a quick passport check and a cheery welcome home. Amazingly Bobby, the drummer, knew the guard, so it was even easier. All of our family and friends had preceded us and we were expected. We drove on triumphantly to celebrate properly on home soil. We were all exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to bed, but that could wait just a little longer. Inoke Errati played The Fillmore, and it had been an awesome show. I can’t believe I got to be a part of it and I am looking forward eagerly for the next big show.
I want to give a special shout out to Jake, Chris and Bobby from Inoke Errati. I’ve been a fan for as long as they’ve been a band and I have been lucky enough to have gone on many adventures with them. Please check out their website and give their music a listen. It’s really fun and reminiscent of the great bands from the alternative 90s. I think you’ll really like it.