05|15|08   Tour Diary: Day 1 – Oamaru

7.20am? The last time I had been awake this early, I hadn’t yet gone to bed. I had yet to pack everything I needed for the tour, swap my car for my aunt and uncle’s van, organize an A/B switch for my guitar, hire the trailer, bring back a few videos, and pick up Shaun from the airport. I had planned on leaving Christchurch around 12 and arriving at the Penguin Club as early 4 in the afternoon, thus, giving us ample time for a leisurely sound-check.

The first main task of the morning was to pick up Shaun from the airport. I had heard his music on the A Low Hum singles club and caught his set live at camp, so I was pretty certain we would mesh well musically, but I was still a little bit concerned about whether or not we would actually get along on a personal level, as we had never actually talked to each other before. Thank goodness, I took a liking to Shaun almost the moment we bumped into each other at the airport. I don’t know if it was his black-framed glasses, his army parker, his posture, or just his friendly and casual voice, but – as they say – he had me at “hello”.

Anyhow, the morning was proceeding just fine until Shaun and I went to pick up the tailer. Although our van was equipped to carry a trailer, the electrical plug in the back was so totally outdated that not a single one of the hire company’s trailers was going to be able to hook up to our van. Usually not an issue, but unfortunately we were already running a bit late, and it was a national holiday weekend in New Zealand. After a bit of a scare, however, we eventually found an electrician close by who fitted our ride with a new power outlet.

With a trailer in tow we headed back into town and, after introducing Shaun to the other boys and driving home to pack up all my gear and personal items, we loaded up and got our journey under way, stopping only to pick up our newly screen-printed t-shirts before leaving Christchurch.

The ride down to Oamaru was eventless, really, with us being content simply in taking in the late afternoon autumn sun, which was lazily sprawled out in golden hues over the plains of Canterbury and Otago. I was anxious about whether or not my months of planning would hold together now, but even more so relieved because at least we were under way, the tour was now a reality, and we were about to play our first show.

Of course, after the trailer delays back in Christchurch, we turned up well over an hour later in Oamaru, which is, incidentally, a totally gorgeous and ever so unlikely a place to exist in New Zealand. The historic part of town was built from local stone, which gave the whole waterfront area around the Penguin Club a morose and surreal grandiosity. After a bit of meandering we stumbled upon a note that wrote “Gone home. Tired of waiting. Phone [number] when you arrive.” Ouch.

We called the number left on the note, apologized for our delay, and were promptly recommended a Turkish place for dinner, then ran off to eat the most amazing kebabs ever, and returned in time to meet a not-at-all grumpy chap who was going to run the venue for the night.

We began setting up, but boy did sound-check ever turn into a nightmare! My guitar was giving me massive problems (I could write a book about that guitar’s list of issues), and Shaun, Evan and Simon were all getting a bit irritated at me for hogging almost our entire sound-check time just trying to get my guitar to function properly. After choruses of sighs I eventually decided to give up on my guitar and Shaun was sweet enough to let me use his guitar for the night.

People were now starting to stroll in, and our gear was just sprawled out everywhere. We were stressed, already tired, hot or freezing depending on our proximity to the fire stove, we knew our sound for the night was going to be rough, and we hadn’t even set up the merchandise yet. In short, we had been late and, on top of that, totally disorganized in our set-up procedure. Thankfully, all of us found a lesson in our chaotic first night and, starting the very the next day, began to get a whole lot better at setting up, as well as arriving places on time. However, tomorrow hadn’t yet arrived for us, and I was still feeling quite anxious about our impending set.

Shaun opened with a wonderful performance, and almost immediately I started to feel a bit more at ease with the evening. Listening to Shaun’s music had really helped get me in the mood to play, and we proceeded to deliver a solid – if a tad restrained – set. We started off, as usual, with Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot, but we were somewhat too loud and so Shaun’s guitar was feedbacking like crazy anytime I held a chord; my vocals, too, were probably rather inaudible. After turning down for the second song of the evening, the rest of the night went ahead without any technical glitches.

One thing, however, distracted me during our show: the audience was generally older than the crowds we usually drew in the cities (this was to be true of almost all shows to come), and I was still a bit uncomfortable with that fact. My confidence in my music and our performance would grow steadily throughout the tour, but at this early stage I just wasn’t quite sure if my music could really connect with people beyond my own generation. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but I clearly was going to have to work through a few self-confidence issues if I wanted to raise the emotional tenure of my delivery in the days to come.

After playing a cover-song as an encore (a mistake in hindsight, which we carefully avoided during the rest of the tour) we met some charming German travelers (a running theme throughout the tour), had a few friendly chats to the locals, were paid more than we had expected, and even sold a few CDs before packing up our van. Thank goodness Shaun had rung up his friend and fellow musician John White, who put us up in his wonderfully derelict home, as otherwise we would have had to pay our own accommodation at a local backpackers, which could have put us into the red right from day one.

Aside from poor Simon, who ended up sleeping on the floor on his very first night, the rest of us seemed to get a reasonable night’s sleep, although, apparently, I am a rather enthusiastic snorer and far less enticing than Shaun’s wife, which Shaun unfortunately had to discover after confusing me with his wife and trying to spoon me during the middle of the night – a story he went on to relate to giggling audiences for the remainder of the tour.

Next up: Day 2 – Dunedin!

Yay! Check out the new Enright House Shop I just finished making! Even if you’re not the type of person who buys music anymore, do take a look at how pretty and shiny it is! :)

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