LA duo Sego are set to play Chicago’s Empty Bottle on Thursday, NYC’s Baby’s All Right on May 11th, and DC’s Black Cat on May 16th; while those are all likely to be DOPE performances, we decided to ask the band to think back to a less than ideal show that sticks out in memory // what they came up with is actually pre-Sego, and is exactly as follows:
When you’ve toured as an independent band, the chances that you saw some nightmarish scenarios on a regular basis is pretty much 100%. Before the beginning of Sego, I spent several years with bands touring the states in seemingly soul crushing (or character building?) tours. I liken them to scout camp when things go wrong. There is a distinct bond that is forged between a group of people that somehow survive extremely inclement weather or conditions that isn’t often discussed, but is more of an understanding. Which of these do you choose as the epicenter of the nightmare? Hard to say. Touring can be tough, but is also very rewarding in many ways. Otherwise, there’s no chance anyone would stick with it.
My experience is more of the bizarre dream that you wake up from and try to explain to the roommates, but trail off because it made more sense in the dream than it does in speech.
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles (while playing in Eyes Lips Eyes), our good friend and former manager got us a show up in Taft, CA. Now, if you’re not familiar with Taft, go ahead and do a Google image search or watch There Will Be Blood and you’ll have a better idea of this booming metropolis. Driving in is somewhat post apocalyptic; with an endless display of oil pumps on either side of the desert road for miles. We pulled up to the charming main drag in town and started loading in the rear of the old bar/venue. I struck up a conversation with the son of the owner out back by his truck. He told me that he works the oil fields and that it was somewhat his destiny. He carried a Normal Rockwell Americana attitude and matter of fact delivery.
I assumed that no one would be there since it was a very small town and we were a strange band. When I went inside there was a good size crowd assembled and chatting inside the venue. Mostly middle age gentlemen and some wives and girlfriends. “Ok ok…” I thought, “perhaps they’re here to see the LA band play their small town and came out for the early show (5pm).” There were some long tables set up and a few pitchers of beer on each like an adult birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. We met with the sound guy who set us up on stage and did a brief line check while placing me on a cool circular riser that was on top of the PA on the right side of the cramped stage.
As is custom, we went over to the bar to see about hospitality for the band, when we noticed a greeting table near the entrance of the venue. I saw some people filing in and picking up a paper from the table so I went to inspect. I saw a stack of folded papers with a gentleman’s face on it. It was a funeral program. Well, somewhere between a funeral and memorial, complete with different speakers and culminating with a musical performance. I was stunned for a minute. Fearful that they thought we were more of a gospel group or something, I consulted with the guys. We frantically came up with a set of our calmest (hardly) sounding songs and dialed back the arrangement a bit.
The program got kicked off with announcements and greetings, the reading of the obituary, a few speakers, etc. Then we were up….started off with our only acoustic tune. Then, a few slower songs that we asked Thomas to sit out on drums, in order to mellow them out. They had asked us to play a full length set so we started to panic when our only remaining options (bulk of the set) were intense songs. Too afraid to back out after only a couple songs, we dove into the other material and Tom dropped the beat for a song called “Sweat Swat Swote.” I kept my head down, too uncomfortable to take in the disapproval, but at the last song, I looked up to see and hear a roaring crowd. They’d already started to push the tables to the sides and dancing commenced. We took this as a cue to proceed and continued turning up the speed and volume.
The whole thing continued on like an regular sweaty rock show and ended with big hugs and some genuine conversations.
While the circumstances ended up being positive and fun, we pulled out of the town (still light outside) in silence with a strange sense of unspoken brotherhood coupled with that confusion that follows a bizarre dream that you’re unable to convey to those outside your head.