Eyes on the Back Door Log-6/20/09 (Part IV: “17”)

Saturday night on a festival weekend. A time to combine new found knowledge, experience, rage accessories, and dance moves attained during the previous days into one unavoidable and often legendary race to that beautiful Sunday sunrise. The only difference this time was that the crew’s tents were packed, there weren’t multiple stages to choose from, and we were in the middle of downtown Philadelphia.

Dusk was upon us, the air was cool, and any sunshine that escaped the clouds was blocked by the towering skyscrapers that sounded our parked cars. My phone’s navigation system’s robo-female voice let me know that we had arrived at: “1800 Market Street.” The EOTBD trailer parked on the opposite end of the street from the rest of the caravan. Once the crew was out in the street some partook in a booming sidewalk sing along of Rage’s “Killing in the Name Of.” “Philly Raging!,” I yelled across the street, as I danced in the rest of the crew’s general direction. “Rage high? Rage high! Rage low? Rage low!,” Leah Dibicarri said as she smiled and motioned high and low. We stood beneath the massive golden sign/awning that read in red lettering: Crowne Plaza Hotel.

We entered through the metallic revolving doors and made our way to the lobby where Kappeli had confirmed 8 rooms on the 17th floor. I didn’t realize the significance of such a request until after the show. I immediately noticed the Elephant and Castle restaurant and pub positioned between the elevators and main desk. “North America’s leading British Restaurant and Pub concept,” as the website states. How appropriate, considering we would be representing Britain’s leading British musical and creative concept, The Egg. The elevator’s mirrored doors and walls provided an inside look unto the state that all of us we were in. And what state was that? One synonymous to being well-prepared for a Saturday night at a music festival.

On the 17th floor, EOTBD was preparing to for the night’s work ahead. The Egg would arrive at the hotel after the show, and Mike was on the horn working out a guest list. “See that pool down there! Raging that later, fo showw!,” Adam said as we peered out the window to an enticing roof-top pool below. However, the 17th floor would turn out to be more than an efficient space to after party rage. Zack, Alex, and Mack were in the room next door going over footage collected. Those of us shacking up in the couple rooms located down each end of the hallway put on our rage gear for the show and prepared to do what we do best.

Kappeli and the film crew headed out to the TLA before the rest of us. I needed to relay the message regarding the guest list as soon as possible to all of the Solstice crowd. “What’s the word?,” I asked Mike over the phone as I took a step out into the hallway. “So, I managed to get 15 open spots on The Egg’s guest list. You guys are in, I convinced them it was necessary after Solstice,” Mike said, “But I’ve got to get back to work, see you at the TLA.”

Cabs were hailed, the group I was with needed to squeeze in five in two cabs. Despite our fanny packs, wacky sunglasses, paint splattered t-shirts, and an indian headdress–we found two cabbies who didn’t object. We made our way down to South st. and hopped off a block away from the The Theater of Living Arts. The atmosphere was electric. Neon lights, party people, and police officers filled the area. It felt a little like Bourbon Street, a lot like 6th Street, and lit up like some condensed version of a hotspot in Nevada.

As I clamored down the ramp onto the dance floor, the scene inside the TLA was to be expected. The older crowd flocked to the upstairs bar and onto the balcony, those who were interested in valuable dancing or scurrying room remained down nearer to the stage. We set up shop across the front of the stage, as The Egg prepared to begin their set. Maff, Ben, Ned, Matt and Shaun tuned up and looked well rested from their unexpected Friday night off in Manhattan. Shout-outs were made, mumbling conversations traveled around the crowd, and I knew this night was gonna shape up to be a banger.

The Egg played a hell of a set. Ned whispered lyrics into his mic as Maff just Maffed it, Ben’s swagger on the Moog deserved our respect, and Drew-dressed in all black–ripped on the all white guitar. Mack positioned himself near Ben to the right of the stage, snapping shots of the band and the crowd. The Solstice crew’s knees shook as they made designated dance circles happen throughout the floor. The Egg played an amazing version of their song “Further” and introduced new material that worked off a similar sound to that track. After watching the guys from the UK work off each other in an impressive fashion, I barely noticed the absence of the usual Walking Away throw down. Summer Solstice was far removed from our heads that night. The show at the TLA that night was a second chance for friends to show friends what they had in them that weekend.

I moseyed my way over to what seemed to be the entrance to the backstage. “I haven’t gotten a EOTBD badge made yet, but I’m with Mike and the Eyes crew,” I said to the bouncer with the ponytail sitting with his arms crossed. He didn’t hesitate to believe my slight fabrication, as I told him I would return with Mike to confirm the excuse. Backstage, the Conspirator crew was setting up as I scoped out the place. “Is there a room on the other side of the stage?,” I asked someone who was preparing the sound equipment. “Nope, this is it,” he replied. For an instant i was confused, until i noticed a stairway to my right. By looks of its dim lighting and the muffled sounds coming from above, I knew it led to the action.

As I rounded the corner at the top of the stairs, I handed off a couple of Use Your Head pins to Lane and Brownie as he moved back downstairs. “Thanks,” they replied as they glanced at their new acquisitions. “Ranch!,” I heard Caeli and Jules shout from the Egg’s dressing room. Inside, The Egg was taking a load off with a handful of close friends and EOTBD crew members. A case of Stella appeared from downstairs, some goof’s black light fan thingy was shown off, and backstage rage was well underway.

Conspirator had already begun by the time I made it back out to the dancefloor. The Solstice crew was in the zone, and the TLA was swaying. Lane tore up the skins on stage left, Murph and Magner made the electronic magic center stage, and Brownie busted some bass-lines to the far right. The large projection screen positioned behind the band was illuminated by strange and weird images and video from the moment the set began until the lights came up. Images of masks worn by Archedream for Humankind-the blacklight responsive preforming group touring currently touring with Shpongle-flashed behind the band. I vaguely remember dancing from the stage up to the balcony and back down to the stage in one wild, unexplainable run. Everyone appreciated Conspirator’s well-arranged setlist–with a cover of NIN’s “Closer” and a remix of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2” to keep things interesting.

When the show ended, I knew everyone on the 17th was making haste to return to the Crowne. I ran backstage to pass out a few last minute buttons, and let Conspirator know I dug the set. Ned and the Egg looked as though they had a lot of equipment that needed packing up. For whatever reason, I had more than enough energy to help out–carrying cymbals, synths, and one fucking heavy mixing board out to the tour van. Fans gathered to talk to Murph and Brownie underneath the marquee. A man’s car was being thoroughly searched by a group of police, poor guy should have booked it to the Crowne. The ride back to the hotel with The Egg was marked by a number of random, deep conversations–in the usual Egg style. “We sample strings on our songs,” Ned said, “I wish we could get real string players on stage with us. I did my music degree at Oxford. I did a film with a cello player, a short film which I composed the piano/cello parts. We improvised to the screen all in one shot. It is called ‘A Case of You’. It got officially accepted to Venice film festival about a few years back. The story is about a kind of disintegration of relationships.”

I stepped onto the the 17th floor. A tall sullen security guard stood directly in front of me. In our absence, 1716 had already raised the decibel levels too high on their portable sound-systems. Many guests from the TLA were clearly worried about the man sticking out of his room screaming, “Kick them the fuck off my floor!”. Those of us who had booked rooms knew better than to accept any one’s negative attitude towards that which we hoped to accomplish behind the door of our surely overpriced suites. Everyone in 1716 decided to hold a moment of almost silence as to not push the envelope quite yet. Kappeli and Conspirator were off somewhere, perhaps discussing the show or their next moves. Shaun Hunter took it upon himself to give the neighbor in 1714 the business. “We are NOT going to bed!,” Hunter screamed at the man. “You need to go to bed,” the guard replied. “Bed?! I can’t even spell bloody bed!,” Hunter assured him. It went on like that for a few hours. I then decided to move from room to room to try and get a handle on the rage situation.

Before the show, 1708 was a quiet place. Alex, Mack, and Zack kept a neat, clean room; a room where they could relax in peace. Not really the plan for the afterparty rage. The room was packed, every side of each bed was occupied by 3 or 4 people, and a thick smoke had risen (hooray for smoking rooms). It had become the designated room for raging loud and fast. An hour into the party, a pizza man showed up with a pie. I didn’t pay attention to the food’s price, as I grabbed the pizza and assured him he would be safe stepping inside the room while I looked for the owner. He was definitely not so sure. Brownie was headed out for the night as I stood with a pizza in his face yelling, “Who the fuck ordered a pizza?!”. 1708 would remain packed and rowdy until the morning, appropriate considering the room was under Adam’s name.

Late night conversation on the 17th floor varied uncontrollably. Long Island residents enlightened The Egg twins on the origination and impact of Gatorade on the U.S.–marveled at how gators could possibly be found in any random backyard in Florida. Ned and Charles noticed a 10 bill lying on the floor of one of the rooms. Ned proceeded to pretend to rip the bill in half, but then, without hesitation made the tear. “Dividing portions between us, it must be carried until 1 year from now when they will be rejoined to conquer the world,” Ned prophesied. “If your job is to catch fish than you find the best place to do it you find the best methods. Well you know, we’ve got it right down to a science,” Sean said in regards to The Egg’s evolving ability to connect with their fans.

Mike spoke openly about progress made on putting this year’s Trinumeral Festival together for its last year at Deerfields in Asheville, North Carolina. “I have a vision for festivals,” Kappeli said, “We need to cater this thing in a way where VIP is the pass you get for the regular ticket price. Yes its called VIP, but its not. It’s more about: Do you want to rage right? I want to do most of our sales on VIP sales so that everybody is on the same page together. You combine the artists with the fans and you put them in campsites right next to each other. They don’t feel weird about it and they don’t think they need a security guard. My aim is to bring the price of VIP close enough to the regular price that the right people will be able to make the upgrade.”

As the 12 pm checkout loomed, those who continued to keep the rage alive congregated in 1710 to spend their precious remaining hours with friends, play on a couple portable KORG synth pads, and hesitantly allow me to squirt blasts of Jim Beam into their months from a small water gun. “We are heading to the bar for some breakfast cocktails!,” Jules proclaimed as she left the room headed for the Elephant and Castle. Deep into the afternoon, beers and stories were exchanged on the outdoor patio of the Elephant between the EOTBD crew, The Egg, and those of us still standing.

Despite the Solstice mess, our weekend wound up being successul, unforgettable, and raging. Took it to 11, no doubt about it. Many things clicked, many people clicked, and July was just around the corner. I think Ned said it best in regards to our collective direction, “People are kind of born with an awareness of each other,” Ned said, “And so people are usually taught to be friendly and generally, that means to go towards truth. You can’t bullshit your self to that kind of truth.”

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