Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 32-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
I don’t think I’m crossing any lines here. All pretty innocent stuff. And it isn’t indicative of how Mecca Normal is as a band and maybe it doesn’t reflect anything at all about the Julie Ruin either.
When we got to the Showbox—Seattle’s iconic 1,100-capacity rock venue—there were four or five big, burly, bearded guys (BBBG) waiting out front for us. Our friend Jack kindly drove us to the show, and he was very impressed with this treatment at the front doors, after which he was directed to park his car for free in the lot next door.
Jack went somewhere for dinner, and we went inside. While we were sitting at a table waiting to soundcheck, the promoter (the umpteenth BBBG I’d seen and really only a small percentage of the staff was on site at that time) came over and introduced himself.
After a few pleasantries, I said something awkward like, “How is your payment protocol scheduled?”
And he said something like, “What???”
So I stood up and said, “When and where do I get paid?”
He said I’d go to the front desk after we played and one of the guys would take me into the back office. So, after we played I went to the front, leaned across the counter and yelled over the music to BBBG #46 that I wanted to get paid.
“For what?” he asked.
I motioned towards the stage and said, “I just sang in the last band.”
He asked me my name, motioned for me to wait and disappeared into the back. When he reappeared, he let me in through a side door and I followed him into the office to meet the woman who was going to do the paying. BBBG #46 left and we got down to business, but before we’d gotten very far, BBBG #46 was back, standing in the doorway, saying, “They need two mugs.”
He had one hand on his headset, still receiving details about this situation. The woman paying me straightened up from the paperwork she’d been bent over. She put one hand on her headset. It appeared she was getting more information from another source. She told whoever was on the other end they were working on it. Payment ground to a halt as they tried to figure out what to do about the mugs.
“They want coffee,” BBBG#46 said with just the slightest nuance of reaction to such rock ‘n’ roll extravagance.
“Check the kitchen,” the woman said, who showed the same teeny-tiny touch of frustration that the band wanted something. Just a smidge. Not really even worth mentioning, but they let me see it without any hint of awareness that maybe I know the band or that, at the very least, I am of that same ilk. An artist playing their venue and hey, I’m sure all sorts of crazy stuff happens around riders—what needs to be backstage, etc. This was all really nothing, but I was intrigued to be behind the administrative front lines for this minor interaction. I just stood there quietly.
BBBG #46 said, “I could just go next door to Target and buy two mugs.”
“Check the kitchen first,” the woman said again.
BBBG #46 left and payment resumed.
It really wasn’t anything. Maybe I’ve even entered the realm of creative non-fiction here.
When I got a chance to tell Dave the story I suggested that, on our way home, we stop at Target and buy two mugs as souvenirs. Here’s mine!
“One Man’s Anger” from the album Empathy For The Evil (M’Lady’s, 2014) (download):