Rubbing The Road: Our Neighbours To The North

June 10, 2006

For the last installment (*wipes tear*) of our fabulous Sunglasses Is A Must tour blog, DJ A-Trak talks about the final shows of his tour with The Rub - three dates on young Trizzy's native soil, no less. Then Ayres, Cosmo, and even tour manager supreme Scooter give their parting words. It's fairly epic, read up on your read ups after the jump. Also check photos from the entire tour here on the Rub website.

The SIAM bespectacled spectacle wrapped up with three fabulous nights in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, each one exceeding our expectations. We already knew Eastern Canada would be nuts. Western Canada was nuts a few weeks earlier, and we’re East Coast/West Coast Killaz like RBX. But this was super duper nuts.

First we hit Toronto. As we pulled into the city I had to rush over to the MTV building, because I was fixing to appear on MTV Live, which is their daily variety show here in igloo-land. I was in good company, might I add. The other guests were none other than Robert Goulet (I wish it was Will Ferrell’s version of him, but he’s still good) and Eugene Levy, aka dude from Best In Show, dad from American Pie. He’s Canadian! Plus I had double MTV action that day, because they were filming for my upcoming diary at the same time. A bit rich, but at this point I’ve been running on no-sleep autopilot for a while so I just go along for the ride. Then I head over to sound check. We were playing at this big art gallery, and the makeshift stage was bordered off by yellow “Caution” tape. This was with our boy Tony Anile, who just had a shorty a few days earlier (congrats Tony!). My Canadian publicist is working me to the ground, so before doors I’ve got two more interviews to run through. And by that time there’s already a mega line-up outside. “Feels good to be home!” The show was so dope... I’m running out of epithets here. The room was über-packed, people were dancing the whole night. Ayres had a great uptempo warm-up set actually. And remember the cowbell that we bought a few days earlier? Merked it. I mean look, at this point we’re coming at you with 3 DJs, 4 turntables, 4 laptops, 3 mixers, foot pedals and all that jazz; Loopy the Bird; the Master P doll; of course the sunglasses; and now a cowbell? It’s an orgiastic feast for the senses!

To our collective dismay, Toronto was Ayres’ last show with us. He had to head back to New York to hold down The Rub, so the last 2 shows were up to Cosmo and myself. The triumvirate was now demoted to a two-headed monster. The jewsome twosome. So we got our first good night’s sleep in about a week and drove over to Ottawa.

Now let me ask you this. When did Ottawa become the crunkest city North of the Mason-Dixie? I used to go to Ottawa for Obscure Disorder shows back then. It was cool. Good shows. But this was completely bonkers! We didn’t even care that our monitors were completely kaput. It was raw energy the whole night. Scorching hot, pandemonium, funkdafied, coocoo in the head. Wow.

At this point we kinda felt like we’d seen it all. Quick drive to Montreal, and we actually had time to stop by Goodfoot and Moog Audio before sound check. Waddayaknow. Then when it came down to it, sound check was actually kind of a pain, for the first time. On the very last show of the tour, after having no real issues in any of the cities, now all of a sudden we’re fighting feedback, and they have to place rubber hockey pucks under the feet of the turntables to absorb vibration. How Canadian can you get? Could the security be Mounties while we’re at it? Anyways we fixed it and linked up with Skratch Bastid for dinner. And then came the show. Which was… shall I say, the best show of the tour? Not only that but one of my favorite shows in years and years and years? This went way beyond my expectations. 1,000 people showed up! From my old-school DJ homies to my whole high school (Collège Stanislas, stand up) to Obscure Disorder and posse to of course Chromeo to veterans from both the franco and anglo hip hop scenes to the new jacks to just a ton people I don’t know… I was extremely humbled by the support.

Montreal, thank you! We played past curfew, till 3:30. The venue used to be a church and they usually have ultra-cheesy events there with dress codes and all, but we brought the griminess to that spot and tore it down. Loopy the Bird was very popular that night, some girls wanted to steal him. And next thing you know, poof! It was over and done with.

On the really-real tip, this tour was a big deal for me. It was my first headlining North-American tour. And it was a way for me to try and find new directions to take turntablism, and at the end of the day just put together some fun parties. We wanted people to enjoy themselves, while being impressed without being beaten over the head. We all feel great about the tour. I want to thank big brother Dave for having the vision as always and for spending countless hours fighting for me, making sure it comes across the best way possible while I’m out in the field. Thank you Ayres and Cosmo for helping me to get these crowds a-rockin’, for putting up with quasi-hourly Anchorman quotes and for being the merry men that you are. Thanks Scooter for being such a workhorse and having our back the whole time. I wouldn’t have discovered Cracker Barrel if it wasn’t for Scoot. I want to thank Allison at Kork for putting the whole megillah together. Shalom! To the FADER crew, thanks for supporting us and agreeing to print our incessant banter on here. And more than anything, at the risk of being generic, I want to thank the fans! The cowbell was for you. And now let me pass the mic to my compadres for some closing words.

Ayres: “I’ve never been on the road for this long and although I had heard
about the thousand yard stare I didn’t really know what to expect. It was
pretty hard: sleeping three or four hours every night for a week straight without a day off; getting that wake up call every morning in a hotel room with Cosmo in the other bed instead of sleeping in at home with my wife; the long drives and all the loading and unloading gear every night and every morning; having no time to myself to think or read or work on my own music; losing a charger or power plug or box of CDs in damn near every city; shitty food; nonstop Anchorman quotes and delirious rambling...

BUT! I had a great time meeting fans and finding friends and supportive people almost everywhere we went. I saw my brother in Portland, my parents in Baton Rouge and Mississippi, my sister in Atlanta, and my wife surprised me in Texas. We had a whole lot of good shows and just a handful of lackluster ones, even on weeknights, even in cities where our reputation didn’t precede us. Despite the fact that we were the support and A-Trak was the headliner, he gave Cosmo and me a lot of shine, sharing the stage with us all night and giving us free rein to take it wherever we thought it needed to go. I thought we did a really good job of bringing together the scratch fans and the party people, the dancers, the “real hip-hop” heads and the indie crowd (alright fine, the hipsters) and all the people who were just curious about Kanye West’s DJ. And even though I grouse about not having time to myself on the tour, I really miss all the fun I had with A-Trak, Scooter and Cosmo DJing and swimming and bowling and playing Yahtzee and drinking and blogging and shooting fireworks and being stupid. Sunglasses is a gang and I’m in it. I would do it again in a second.”

Cosmo Baker: “With this whole thing, this was when the game got real to me. It's almost like one of those things that you can't process or even examine cause you can't see the forest through the trees type of thing. But ultimately when you break it down this was the type of shit where the professionals are separated from the rest. Now understand how hard we were grinding on this. I'll give you this example - within two hours of the conclusion of the last show, I was knocked out in my hotel room with a fever of 103 that lasted for several days. It was almost as though my body was telling me "Okay I got you through this and now you don't need me anymore. I'm checking out." That's what's real to me. That's what's tangible. I'm looking at my body and I'm seeing scars and bruises. I'm so far from fully recovered.

And the recovery I'm talking about is in no way just the physical. There is this feeling like I've just come back from a long war campaign, like a true and living veteran. I'm now here in Brooklyn feeling proud as a motherfucker. In retrospect the thing that I might be most proud of is the overall sense of accomplishment, in the fact that we ended up having the vision and the concept of the show go down exactly the way we all saw it would. All of us came together to make this whole thing happen. Straight up unprecedented.

As for the crew? Well Sunglasses crew is some unbreakable shit there, holmes. Trizzy, that's the dude. None of this shit would have gone down without him and he really made it happen for all of us, putting his neck on the line for a couple of dudes like me and Ayres. For real I ride for this dude for life. Scooter, man I didn't know what to expect but in the end Scoot-Mecca was the glue that held us all together. Bless that dude, my dude, you know I got you son all day every day. And Ayres, well he's just Ayres. My partner. Por vida. So yeah, like I said, it's gonna take me a minute to finally digest everything that's gone down in the past two months. It seems like it's been years. But even before I do start to process it all, I do know that it's all love, and that it was one of the greatest journeys that I've ever been on. Like I said to A-Trak when we departed, the best word to describe it was "altering." Life altering, for the best.”

Scooter: “My friends....what more can I say? A-Trak makes this ish look easy and not just DJing but the whole experience of life on the road. This guy is so driven it’s scary. Up 2 hours before me most days with the internet IV deep in his arm on full drip... Cosmo is the epitome of "last night the DJ saved my life" and the master of dad rock, wizard rock, and white heat... Thanks for the Parliament lesson homie. Ayres... if there's anyway to work a monkey reference into a conversation, my man will find a way. Setting the vibe every night is not the easiest position to take on one's self but Ayres succeeded on setting up the pins so that the crew could roll a strike… Or maybe a spare. Or if you’re me a slow motion gutter ball.... but never ever on shomer shabbas.... More cowbell.”

Posted: June 10, 2006
Rubbing The Road: Our Neighbours To The North