05|25|08   Tour Diary: Day 2 – Dunedin

[Photo by Roger Grauwmeijer. View entire set.]

All of us actually woke up quite early in Oamaru. We didn’t have far to drive to Dunedin, but this was the first morning where we had actually risen from our sleep being “on tour”. I felt energized and wide-eyed. The day before I arose in the same old bed that I’ve slept in for most of the last few years: a small room, dark, barren, rather unpleasant really. But this morning I was already living an adventure, and I was grateful not be at home. I felt like taking deep breaths slowly; I was glad that it was a bit brisk; I felt freer than usual.

I rounded up the boys and, after Simon stunned us with some pretty rocking renditions of Slayer and Metallica on the resident upright piano, we left a thank-you note for our hosts and made our way into town for breakfast. It was Anzac day (a local NZ holiday honoring past heroic war efforts) and so the whole town crowded into the only cafe that was open for business. To my delight we ran into our hosts, John and his partner, whom I had little opportunity to speak to the night before. Both of them were absolutely darling, and I left Oamaru, glad that I had met them.

The drive to Dunedin was quite beautiful. The landscape of central Otago lacks the flashy beauty of supermarket calendars, but the plains, hills and far-off mountains radiate a wholesomeness I found comforting.

Our first stop in Dunedin was at a guitar luthier’s workshop. My guitar was giving me serious trouble (the pickup wasn’t amplifying the strings uniformly in volume), and I was very fortunate to find a friendly and competent guitar builder in Dunedin who was willing to take a look at my instrument on such short notice, particularly since it was a public holiday.

There’s actually a marvelously funny story that came of our visit to Steve’s workshop, involving me crashing through a little bridge he had built to get into his workspace. During the course of our tour I captured roughly 13 hours of footage. 3-4 minutes of it catch my crash and the aftermath of my fall on tape from a first person perspective (I was holding the camera during the whole ordeal). I’ll just defer the full story to the roughly 30-40 minute documentary we are editing, which ought to be available mid year for free online.

Anyhow, after leaving Steve’s workshop with a more tonally balanced guitar, a massive bruise and a wide grin, we drove into town to find that the Arc was closed until 6 on Anzac day. I called Kieran, the new owner, and we agreed that 6 o’clock would still leave us with plenty of time to set up and have a bite to eat, so the four of us had a stroll around town and eventually decided to split into two groups and promote our show a bit more. Evan and Simon grabbed a little over 100 fliers and made their way towards Otago University’s campus, whilst Shaun and I awkwardly and a tad haphazardly started handing out fliers to “indie-looking” people in town.

At first, I was a bit shy, but eventually I resolved myself to the reality that if I didn’t believe in my music enough to tell people about it, then certainly no-one else would. In the States hand-to-hand flyering is how everyone promotes their shows. If you’re an indie-rock band playing a show in town next week and Sonic Youth is playing tonight, you go stand outside the Sonic Youth show with 1000 fliers and 100 CDRs next to the other 20 bands handing out their fliers and their CDs. Total normality in a city like Chicago to leave a show with 7-8 fliers, a promo booklet and two CDs of random bands you’ve never heard of.

Anyhow, whilst living in the US, I never really played in any one band long enough to get into the whole promo routine, so for me it was still a really odd experience walking up to a stranger with a flier and telling them about my music – and that’s despite the fact that I actually worked for a year at Chicago’s cult venue, the Metro, handing out fliers at shows three to four times a week. It’s actually way harder to push your own music, rather than someone else’s band that you really couldn’t care less about.

In the end Shaun and I handed out about 50 fliers each, and I don’t think a single person we talked to on the streets actually came to our show. Still, it was a cool experience I must say, because it really forces you to talk to strangers about what you do. You have to be able to explain who you are, what style of music you play, and why that person should come to see your show – all in like 30 seconds. My hang-ups about pushing my music flew right out the window after about the first 15 minutes…

“My name is Mark and I play in a band called The Enright House. We’re playing an acoustic show here in your town tonight and would be really grateful if you would consider coming out to our show. We play a mixture of tuneful but thoughtful indie-rock that sounds a bit like Sigur Ros, Death Cab For Cutie and the Shins…. oh yeah? Yeah Death Cab is a great band… yeah that’s my favorite album, too. Anyhow man, maybe catch you later? It’s only a 5,- cover and the show starts at 8! See you!”

Not great, but it’s early days and at least a start, you know?

[Photo by Roger Grauwmeijer. View entire set.]

So… the show ended up being really beautiful and, contrary to all the rumors that have been circulating around New Zealand, the Arc Cafe is still a great venue in my books. It’s run by really sweet and genuine people, who took primo care of us and gave us free reign to set up the venue as we liked. We ended up playing downstairs and arranged all the chairs we could find into a lush, bohemian lounge. There were about 20-30 old and worn chairs, and, after lighting some candles and firing up our vintage lamps, the Arc started to look like a charming, derelict old theater.

The turn-out was quite small for a Friday night, with many students having left for home over the long holiday weekend, and one of Dunedin’s venues, the Backstage, celebrating their anniversary with a festival-like lineup of local bands. Despite the smaller-than-anticipated gathering, it easily ended up being my favorite show of the tour. The atmosphere was just perfect.

I had been taking care of the door and suddenly felt this urge to shake everyone’s hand, introduce myself by name, and thank everyone for coming out to our show. When it came time to play, I felt safe. I had touched every person’s skin and looked into everyone’s eyes, and I felt like I wasn’t alone. We were all trying to make this night a meaningful experience. By the end of the show I felt like I had done more than just play a few songs – I felt somehow that I had connected to people, and I am still just so grateful to everyone who trusted us enough to come to our show that night… you gave me something precious to remember.

After packing up, the four of us headed back to Lucy and DJ’s house. Lucy and DJ are two of the seriously nicest people I’ve ever met and were our hosts for the night. We listened to music, chilled out in their kitchen, played guitar hero (especially Shaun!) and eventually fell asleep around 3 AM, happy and content.

[View the complete picture set from our show at the Arc Cafe.]

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! :)

View Comments

  • http://paulcapeblogspot.com Paul Capewell

    Hey Mark I just wanted to thank you so much for this tour diary! I’m really enjoying reading it (and I’m glad you are staggering it rather than putting it out all in one go).

    Would love to see the doco when it is ready too. I’m loving your writing.

    I was lucky to catch you twice at Camp earlier this year and now feel silly for not saying hello, but I just wanted to say cheers. :)

    (also, loved the tracks from the 7″ – thank you so much for making them downloadable – your music is incredible and you use the internet so well)

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