Santa Barbara, CA – “Triple Header” -The Coach House – July 2, 1999

The Coach House is a large venue featuring layered platforms scattered with maple-yellow tables and chairs, perfect for enjoying live music. The dressing room had dark brown walls and a bizarre mix of furniture that seemed like leftovers from the owner’s last garage sale. Futons, broken floor lamps, and a haunted dollhouse were strewn about, making it feel more like a storage room than a green room. I did my vocal exercises and examined the equally odd furniture inside the haunted dollhouse—a miniature pan with a fried egg sticker, a leafless potted plant, a tiny spinning wheel and a Hotwheels car.

We were one of three bands playing that night, and a chef prepared a meal for all of us as a group. I ate rice and veggies, occasionally slipping in my goofy false teeth between bites to freak everyone out and break the ice with the other bands.

Brian and I took advantage of the last bit of daylight by going rollerblading. As we skated along the shoreline, people exhaled the end of their beach day, shaking sand out of their towels and picking up sunburnt babies from under candy-colored umbrellas. Seagulls surfed the wind while pelicans swooped in the shallows for dinner.

Back in the dressing room, the bands mingled, snatching and opening cold bottled Dos Equis for one another from a frosted, weeping, metal tub. We were so preoccupied, the second band was already 1/2 way through their act when we noticed we were up soon.

The problem with a multi-band bill is you feel like part of a circus.

  • Its hard to know which part of the audience is there for you and which is there for “Interbreader” or “StormRider” or whatever bands you’ve been mismatched with and sandwiched inbetween.
  • Your gear mixes with their gear and you wind up leaving with three extra guitar cables (two that don’t work) and one less mic than you came with.
  • Finally, there’s the end of the night with its inevitable squabble over which band deserves more of “the door” or “the bar” (most promoters will guarantee a band a certain amount $100-$1,000 for a gig and then offer a percentage of the door (the cover charge) or the bar (booze sold). This way, a band is more likely to promote the show and bring in a crowd for the venue). We always walk away from a triple header with the fuzzy end of the lollypop.

By the time we got on stage, the audience looked burnt out and tired of listening to music. I stood before them like a stewardess, trying to sonically tuck my musical pasengers into places I thought they’d feel more comfortable. Children sat diligently upright while parents slouched with crossed arms, daring me to keep their children awake. I wondered if the bands preceding felt their sets were as long as ours.

I raced through intros, invited people to sing along and even abbreviated our set list but still felt I was burdoning the audience and keeping them from their beds. Leaving The Coach House I felt beaten as though I’d been in a race and and not even crossed the finish line.

The cool night air outside brought some relief, and on the 20-mile drive to the hotel, I drifted into a light sleep accompanied by multiple neck pillows and a scratchy army blanket. We arrived on the rounded edges of the morning. As we gathered our suitcases and silently rolled them through the parking lot, the morning light cupped the edges of a starry sky. We fell on top of beds without undressing and leaped into dreams with relief and gratitude.