So this past weekend The New Loud headed down to play CMJ in New York City. After a harrowing drive with no speedometer through the mountains we made it to our hotel in Newark, NJ late Thursday night where we quickly crashed after a loooooong day of driving.
Our CMJ slot was at 9PM the next day - Friday at Wicked Willy's in Greenwich Village. The New Loud is getting close to releasing 2 records - an EP followed by a full-length in early 2010. Much of our day in NYC was spent in meetings with our publicist and lawyers - all of which went well. We were very happy that everyone could make the time in their busy schedules to meet with us.
We finished up the last meeting at about 6:30PM at Vol De Nuit - just a few blocks from Wicked Willy's and headed back to our van which rested parked and undisturbed about 1.25 blocks from the club. We then proceeded to load all our gear in 2 person trips from the van to the club just as a light rain began to fall.
Wicked Willy's was a sizable club, but it typically has just one band for the entire evening doing 3 a hour set, sometimes with an acoustic opener. The club was in no way, shape or form meant to handle a 5 band CMJ night as was evidenced by having no room AT ALL to store gear, save for the stage or middle of the floor. The club did have a backline(supplied drum set, 1 guitar amp, bass amp) which would've been fine for any typical rock band, though The New Loud's setup with sequences and half acoustic/half electronic drumset was not going to translate to the typical backline they had at the club. This created a lot of unfounded stress in the soundman who didn't quite understand why we would need to augment the house PA(which was mostly set up to handle vocals only) with additional power to handle our electronics.
We maintained we were quick at getting on and off stage with our own gear and as the club wasn't too big, we compromised by leaving half of our amplification in the van.
The first band finishes up and we load on to the stage. At this point, the fact that we brought along our friend Nick both to mix sound and for extra loading muscle was a priceless relief. After a rapid fire line check we're good to go and start. In the middle of our second song, security at the club is all a flutter - talking back and forth with each other through their cute little Bluetooth headsets. Apparently one of the neighboring clubs called the police because we were way too loud and it was disrupting their performers - so much for rock and roll in NYC! The cops showed up and we had to pause while security talked the cops out of giving anyone citations with the understanding we'd be quieter.
I told the soundman, "Look we're going to play 2 more songs".
He was like "Cool, man you have time for more and you need to turn down as low as possible".
I said "No problem" and changed absolutely nothing. We burned through our last 2 songs, volume full out with a break in between to give a disparaging shout out to NYC's finest.
In whirlwind we broke down and loaded out. Outside we had to do 2 person trips to the van and back again - this time though it was pouring rain. After about 45 minutes of walking our equipment down the block and loading we were drenched, hungry and pretty disappointed in general about how the evening went. We were really looking forward to playing CMJ and having been cut down to about 1/2 our set because we were too loud just totally sucked.
I relaxed in the van for a moment while Jessi(keys) and Radish Beat(drums) went to gather some of our friends still hanging out at the club. They came back with our friend Sarah and we decided to indulge ourselves with a Sushi dinner to offset the night's disappointment. We hung out at the sushi restaurant for about an hour and finally were able to relax a bit before we headed back to our van.
We got back to our van and said good-byes to our friend Sarah. Then we got into the van, ready to head back to our hotel room when we noticed that ALL OUR BACKPACKS WERE GONE. In the hour we had eaten someone had stealthily broken into our van through the passenger side door, damaging the lock in a way we hadn't even noticed in the darkness outside. Nick's pack didn't have much in it, but mine had my brand new 13" Macbook Pro laptop/iPod/Photo camera/video camera extra shoes/earbuds/etc. Radish lost his pack and prescription sunglasses. For a moment everyone looked all over the cab, as if we had forgotten where we stashed our bags, but I just sat quietly as I knew they were gone. We rode back to our hotel in complete silence. Between getting shut down by the NYC cops and getting a couple thousand dollars of items stolen, we had reached bottom for the trip.
It was only in the days after that I realized how lucky we were that the thieves didn't break a window, giving us the impossible mission of finding someone to replace it on a Saturday or Sunday in NYC or New Jersey; or they could've stole the whole van with all our music gear inside and leaving us with no way home. So as I write this, I'm now at peace with the situation as it could've been so much worse. We are back in Milwaukee - our bodies and band intact - alive and well to play another day and that is what matters most.