I went through a phase about four years ago where I’d salute in front of the audience. Thankfully, it was short lived, but I got some neat shots out of it.
This was taken in Dortmund, Germany, the day before my birthday and first time playing an arena. I’m throwing up slightly in my mouth reliving the post show celebrations. I dimly recall conga lines and challenging grizzled Russian crew vets in arm wrestling, nauseatingly emboldened by rum and cokes and champagne. Never mix those two. Our tour manager mercifully had in her possession anti-nausea medication they typically prescribe chemo patients.
It’s 2013 and we’re opening for a German band called Seeed. Yes, with three “e’s”. I’d never heard of them and assumed we’d be first of three on a club bill, an appropriate slot for a baby band with only one hastily planned Berlin show under our belts. You can imagine my surprise when I emerge from my bunk to elated bandmates proclaiming, “they have a juicer in catering! A JUICER!”
Inside the arena, I’m greeted by a fleet of ping-pong tables and everyone from management to crew producing custom paddles from designer cases. It's one thing being generally next level- it's entirely another being next level at ping-pong. I’m asked in German whether I’d like to play. I answer, in English, yes. In both German and English, my ass is handed to me 21-0. Ridicule, dear readers, demolishes any language barrier.
Seeed’s performing a pre-concert concert for contest winners, dry-running their new show while also giving diehard fans a peek behind the curtain. Turns out, they’re an 11 piece hip-hop/reggae/pop/jazz band singing mostly in German that sells out arenas throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Huh? Tonight’s show would be “small,” their production manager informs me. Only ten thousand. And all their fans show up for the opener. Oh, and they’re usually hostile. The last opening band quit the tour.
This is the first of several posts about Seeed- there are so many stories worth sharing from the couple weeks spent in their world- but what struck me right away was how large the musical world really is. As an American, we’re taught that success in the US is the mountaintop. Well, here’s a band I’ve never heard of, popular in only a few countries, playing to tens of thousands every night. It’s my first time on a bill with a giant band not a household name in America, they're playing music that would send most A&R folks running and they CRUSH.
In 2013, I'm beginning to understand that perhaps my path shouldn't emulate anyone else's. Four years after the fact, I'm realizing these few weeks with Seeed were some of the most musically formative of my life.