Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ela Tour Journal #5

tour diary – buffalo / Toronto

Pulling into the city of Buffalo on a Sunday is like entering a city from Mad Max. The streets are deserted, old steel factory’s hang darkly on the outskirts. We arrive at the club, the Tralf Music hall, with everyone feeling gray and old and shagged and fagged. We load, and soundcheck is once again running about 2 hours behind schedule. We’ve been having this problem, because of the amount of gear between the three bands, of clubs not really being prepared to mike everything. What this means as the opener is that you are at the end of the defrayal line – ie, no soundcheck.

OR, in the case of buffalo tonight, a quick sound check as the club is halfway full on its way to filling up completely. We are having a lot of trouble communicating with the soundman, and start talking with the crowd instead. It feels right for us to be once more playing a short low stage, no barricade, in touch with the kids who have come out.

We start playing and everything is hitting right. Some nights you can go from feeling so shitty, like you don’t even know why you are out here, just want your bed, a routine, some silence, a stove top, a bathtub….but then you start playing and the communication is HAPPENING, and you feel connected even though you never knew you’d be here, they never expected it, the music comes together outside but connected to all of this, and it just lifts you up.

Subtle and the Bear kill it, some kids unleash a ton of balloons and its just a party. Totally impressed by Buffalo on a Sunday.


The drive into Canada has us all on edge. Ela as a band has never played another country, and are unsure of what to expect in the border crossing. We decide to leave the bulk of our merch in Buffalo and take as few things as possible in the event that we have to pay taxes.

At immigration, we have to go through a special line to explain our business and just generally be checked out. It is very tense, almost militaristic in the waiting room. Lots of coughing and shuffling of feet. The person in front of us is an old man, who notices a ring on the border guard, and makes some comment none of us can hear. Next thing we know, they are laughing, winking at each other, and he is on his way. The man says something along the lines of “To the east my friend, always eastward” to which the guard responds “oh , most definitely”. We are confused, and continue to listen as his guard-mate asks him what was up. We catch him say something about the Masons, and that hell “explain it later”. Hmmm. Secret society here we come?!!

Finally we are in, with time to spare. We get to the club, the Opera House and meet up with everyone. Already I am just amazed at how nice everyone in Canada seems. Also endearing, the main production lady keeps referring to her backpack as a “Knapsack”. We’re early, so load in and head down the street. Toronto feels like a much cleaner, more European Chicago. We pass the time at a Japanese-ish restraunt eating noodles and hot and sour soup.

Tonight the club TOTALLY has their shit together, with a great front of house and super nice monitor guy who really knows his tools. We get a great soundcheck, in this huge, empty castle-like room. Its got like 3 balconies, stone walls, and the stage is beautiful old planks of shining wood. Everyone is happy with the way things sound on stage, and we go downstairs to try and prepare mentally to warm up another night by writing a super-set-list. Just the Jams sons, the transitions sons!

The set feels absolutely amazing. This is pretty much the biggest, fullest club I have ever played, with insane lasers and smoke and the sound is on, and there is room to move around, and we are just letting the music breathe. We played the song “build a garden” which I was conscious of feeling very different to sing in a different country. Especially a country that seems much less entrenched in misguided foreign politics. I try to speak the lines to that song especially clearly, mainly to hear them again myself.

We quickly sell out of all the CDs we brought into the country, and feel dumb for not having brought more. Oh well, more incentive to plan a 1 off to Toronto in about 6 months.

The rest of the night is fantastic, with the crowd just getting more and more amped up. Ela and Subtle bro out in the basement, drinking Molson and whiskey. Marty (sax player from Subtle) and peter just GETTING into some jazz land talks while Dose-One , Jel, and Sean just get deep into some hip hop esoterica. It feels great to be making these new friends. The night is capped by a fucking BATTLE session between Sean and Dose One (who is quantifiably one of the best freestyle rappers in the country) with me (billy c) providing the beats. Um. Funzo from Minus the Bear has this on tape, and I will shortly be putting it on You-tube / Myspace for you fine people to witness your self. Words will no longer suffice.

Thanks to Canada, for ruling so hard and once again proving what a superior operation you run. Im torn between wanting to work towards turning my own community into something more closely resembling Toronto, and just dropping everything and moving there and making babies. (Hi Abby)


Bill C + Ela



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