‘Keep track of yellow lines, you check your watch too much.’ This is another gem from ‘The Mellow EP,’ and I think the only song of mine that references driving, and I’ve been doing a whole lot of that this week. I drove the van home, from Vancouver to Toronto, with Steve as the navigator. The rest of the band had gone their separate ways after the last show of the tour, and that left me to get the equipment back home safely. Approximately fifty hours of driving time altogether, with a nineteen-hour shift to finish off the home stretch. This is probably the longest drive I have ever done or will ever do by myself, but it was ok. I had known for months that I would be doing it, thus was emotionally prepared.
So while Kevin went off to the Grey Cup, and Brent was dropped off at his home in Vancouver, Steve and I had to kill a whole lot of time in the van. We listened to a couple of audio books (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and the new Stephen Hawking book – which, I was disappointed to learn, is not narrated by the man himself). We made stop-motion videos of much of the drive, which I think will be stitched together eventually to make another video, maybe for ‘Everything You Need.’ We stopped in Regina for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants (La Bodega), I wrote songs in my head when we weren’t listening to music, and got super into it when we were. But mostly, we drove. And drove. And drove.
But like I said, I was prepared for it. When you have an experience in life, its classification as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is often buried in the context of what your expectation was prior to the event. You know when everyone tells you how amazing some new movie is? You get hyped to see it, and it seems mediocre because the reviews have made your expectation of it too high. I found this with ‘The Hangover.’ Everyone said it was the funniest movie they had ever seen, and it was pretty good, but no matter how funny it ended up being, it could never meet the impossible expectations that had been established in my head. The same can work in reverse. A moderately good thing might seem ‘extra good’ because of the context that you as the viewer bring to it.
So, knowing for months in advance that I would be making an impossibly long drive made the actual experience not too big of a deal. The same can be applied to my rating of the tour we just finished. I feel like I brought my expectations to every city, and they either were or were not met from night to night. We expected to play to a good crowd in Ottawa. When the crowd was light, it fell short of an expectation and thus made the show a failure in our minds. At the same time, we expected to play to no one in Calgary: It was cold as hell (just outside of town was the coldest place on earth that night – beat out Antarctica with a temperature of -65 degrees without the windchill), it was a Monday night, and odds were against us, but people still showed up! Not the most I’ve ever played to, but I still considered it a full on victory.
And of course a show’s ‘goodness’ is not totally dependent on the audience. That has a lot to do with it, but we’ve had bad shows to great audiences and good shows to horrible audiences in the past. Still, the size of a crowd can often dictate your mood going into it. We had good shows on this tour, and we had bad ones, but that is all according to my expectations of what they would be. My fault, really. What’s important is that you keep moving, and stay positive for the next thing, which we did and we will. The good life is near.