Around the World, Part XXIII: 10,000LB Hamburger Tour

July 22, 2009

I'm about halfway into the 10,000LB Hamburger Tour so I think it's time for some stories. We started off in the South, which I think is a bit unusual. Most tours go through the South in the middle, it's typically the hardest leg of a tour because the distances are so long. It's tricky finding decent food on those long drives so the name turned into a self-fulfilled prophecy: We ended up really eating hamburgers all the time. I'm gonna get fat! Someone pass me a parsnip or something.

Before the real 10,000LB Hamgurger Tour kicked off I was finishing up the last couple of B-Live dates at the beginning of the month. I flew into Charlotte and was greeted by my very own tour bus! This tour is definitely a step up for me in terms of overall production and infrastructure. I remember doing 27 dates across North America in a Dodge Caravan just a meager three years ago.

This flight to Charlotte was also the first time that the Grateful Bear (my Kidrobot toy) got on a plane. He handled it very well, I was afraid he might get anxious around so many people but he behaved like a gentlebear. The airline lost my bag but my reaction was very calm: Every big project has to have some sort of snag so we may as well get it out of the way early. The show itself went great, they were an agitated bunch and as you can see in this video I almost knocked the table into the crowd. Heroic or clumsy? Maybe a bit of both. The next day I got my bag back and we drove to Atlanta. Upon my arrival realized that I left my passport at my last hotel. Argh! Then I got a call saying that Rye Rye, my opener for the whole Hamburger Tour, had to pull out as she was canceling all her shows. This was 2 days before our first show! How many snags can there be? Sometimes your gut reaction is the best one though, and I thought of Theophilus London right away. He was already doing my New York show so we reached out and quickly got him on board to be my new opener for the whole tour. My other opener Treasure Fingers was unaffected by any of this—no plans to go AWOL! The venue in Atlanta was beautiful, a classic theatre called The Opera, and I met Dallas Austin at my show. I love playing in venues that have chandeliers. Call it a personal preference. Then we drove to Orlando which was a bit strange because it was 4th of July and we were staying right next to Disneyworld. I actually found it entertaining to be staying at family resort and was getting all these ideas that boutique hotels were getting played out and that this was the future... but then it just became awkward.

Tampa was technically the first date on the 10,000LB Hamburger Tour but the full tour package was really slated to start at the 3rd show, in Houston. That's where Theophilus was going to join us and that's when my light show would be ready. The Tampa show was pretty casual anyway, it was an early affair at an old punk-rock club where they had a BBQ. I can't remember the last time I played in Tampa. Whenever I play a city like this there's always old school fans that come out; someone even brought their copy of the Allies EP! Anyway Treasure Fingers and I got a chance to test out our sets and also took full advantage of the hotel pool. After that we drove down to Miami, where we stayed at the Fontainebleau hotel:

We had a few days off in Miami so we hung out with my brother-from-another-mother Craze a whole lot. We went to see Transformers 2 at a spot called Cinebistro which is a combination of a movie theater and a fancy restaurant. I ordered yellowfin on brown rice with Chardonnay and enjoyed it on what could be compared to a business class seat in the theater. The movie was revolting but the meal was delectable! I also made a trip to Toys R Us where I found my 2nd animal partner for the tour: a horse that I named Mustard.

The Miami show was at a club called LIV which is one of these new bottle service clubs that try to bring in hipper DJs, whatever that may mean. The club was rammed with 2000 people and the ceiling had thousands of LED's like the Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way" video. Despite this, honestly I still prefer a club with a dancefloor. I really played for my friends who were there hanging out, luckily the crowd got into it too. I'm glad it worked out! After Miami we embarked on the longest drive of the whole tour: Miami to Austin. That's 21 hours which we broke into 2, stopping in fabulous Pensacola. In Austin I did the last date of the B-Live tour with Major Lazer, DJ AM and Matt & Kim. This show was originally planned for a 2000 person venue and then they had to move it at the last minute to a 400 capacity spot. I think you can imagine how densely people were stacked there, on top of one another in this oven. Whenever I tried taking pictures my camera fogged up! I located an AC vent before my set and stuck by it for as long as I could. That show was total A.D.D. madness, but in a very good way! I feel like Austin got a real treat that night, it's rare to get a line-up like that in any city.

Then came Houston, the first true show of the 10,000LB Hamburger Tour. Right from the jump there was another snag: I showed up to sound check and there were 2 rooms, one for 1500 people and the other for about 400. We were supposed to be in the smaller one, which really isn't that small, it's a perfect fit. I walked into sound check and found that we had been set up in the big room. My heart sank. This promoter just decided to move us without telling anybody. Frankly I was furious, but we had no choice at that point and had to make the best out of it. This was also the first time I saw my lights and I thought they looked great, in a Close Encounters of the Third Kind sort of way. I had only seen sketches up until then. As I mentioned before this light show is totally a new thing for me. I added some new gizmos to my DJ set-up to make it more interactive too. Theophilus joined the crew that night so the cipher was now complete. We all went to dinner at an all-American, all-Texan, all-Homer Simpson sports bar where they were showing a UFC fight on a dozen flatscreens and where we all stuck out like sore thumbs. In the end despite my heart attack we had a good turn-out and the show was good fun.

The drive to Phoenix was too long so we broke it up and stopped in El Paso the next day. Those drives are endless!!! The bus has wi-fi so that's how I run my record label, basically. On our night off we went to the movies and watched Brüno. I ate chicken wings at the theater. Then we bar-hopped a bit and failed at getting late-night tacos. After that came Tempe, which is basically Phoenix. It was 112 degrees. It had been hot in all of those cities in Texas but this was just unreal. You could actually taste the heat. I flew out my homie Adam G from New York to help out during the next couple of cities, he took a lot of the pics and videos that you see here. We met up with DJ Fashen for a proper Southern dinner. The show was dope, I played a really long set that night, even took a pee break.

Up next was San Diego, at a new club called Voyeur. This spot was a bit of an exception to the tour because in every other city we're playing concert venues, whereas this is really a nightclub with their own light show and whatnot. It is impressive though, and they actually serve delicious tapas. Treasure Fingers couldn't play because had another San Diego booking this month, so we brought down the perennial funkateer Dam Funk to open up. He was so dope, he even sings during his DJ set. Our turnout was hefty that night, we had 700 people on a Tuesday! We didn't have an LA show because I'm playing the Hard festival in just a few weeks. However we drove through LA on our way to San Francisco and I stopped at the Native Instruments office and I got a very informative tutorial on Maschine and Massive.

I have very fond memories of our stop San Francisco. First of all we ate really well, finally. Fig tarts and mushroom ravioli for dinner, crabmeat eggs benedict for brunch... Alain likes. Second, you might not understand this if you don't tour but I did laundry which is a huge deal. And third, the show was the best so far on the tour. We sold out The Independent and that room was perfect. Trackademicks opened up, everyone was on top of their game, and this was the first time that I brought out Mustard the horse on stage. He's a star! My old mentors Q-Bert and Shortkut even paid me a visit, I was really moved. One of the highlights of the year for me.

The Portland and Seattle shows were also really good, packed houses and it felt like we were just riding the wave of the last couple of cities. I love these parts of a tour where you get into a comfort zone. Today I'm in Vancouver where we had a rare day off: precious blogging time!! I hear that New York is now covered in posters for the Webster Hall show but before we get there we have to cross all of Canada, my fair homeland.

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Around the World, Part XXIII: 10,000LB Hamburger Tour