Grey Goon (aka Doug Walters) is a songwriter / producer / DJ who fronts the band Champagne Fever. A few notable acts he’s produced, written, and remixed for include DJ Khaled, Bear Hands, US Royalty, Tiny Victories, and Raven Felix. Champagne Fever performs at Black Cat, tonight, Friday the 13th as part of 8×8. -ed.
My old synth-pop band Red Wire Black Wire was touring the US with a couple shows in Canada. On our way from Chicago to Toronto, we realized that we were a bunch of dummies who were unprepared to cross the border. All we had with us were passports and a half-assed letter from the promoter at the Toronto venue, which we’d been told to give border patrol.
It said: “In my opinion, the venue space at Sneaky Dee’s is neither a bar nor a restaurant. Therefore this performance should not require a work visa.” Or some stupid shit like that. Apparently, if you are an American getting paid by a place that serves food and booze in Canada, you need paperwork. We hadn’t looked into this at all, assuming Canada would just be chill about it. Which, it turns out, they were.
We handed this sketchy note about Sneaky Dee’s to the border lady when we got to Canada who looked at us like we were idiots (we were idiots). She took us to some office while she looked up Sneaky Dee’s venue on Wikipedia to find the first sentence: “Sneaky Dee’s is a bar and Mexican restaurant.” She then took a virtual photo tour on Sneaky Dee’s website and confirmed with detailed photographs that we should totally not be allowed into Canada.
She let us into Canada anyway.
So we drove to Toronto, bewildered by border law, and made it to Sneaky Dee’s in time for soundcheck. The venue had lots of stairs, no elevator, and no drink tickets. The bartender charged my drummer 5 loonies or whatever for a goddamn seltzer water. We opened for some old-timer Canadian punk band with a bunch of older punk fans who watched us play our synth pop with what could optimistically be called impatience. Our bass player broke a string on stage, asked the other band through the microphone if he could borrow their bass, they said no from the silent crowd, and we awkwardly finished the set minus one bass string. Our drummer and keyboardist had a semi-violent altercation on stage towards the end. The audience hated us. I hated us. Our keyboard player wandered Toronto afterwards and I ate a burrito and some Xanax and laid down in a hotel I couldn’t afford.