Our third and final day of driving to the first show has taken us up into the remote reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or “The U.P.” And though on a map it looks like it should belong to Wisconsin, or even Canada, you can see why Michigan would want to reach over and claim it for itself. Frozen lakes pocket dense forests that enforce a peaceful silence over the land with their sentries of ancient trees. During a roadside stop our delighted hollers echoed and disappeared into the ranks of gray trunks.
After stocking up on replacement fuses for our van’s power inverter and bakery outlet bread for our daily sandwiches, we made our way to Marquette’s lakeside downtown. There we found a music store with instruments in the window but nowhere inside, and a recording studio in an historic house-turned-strip-mall that we unfortunately had no time to cut a song in. On the lakeshore the discussion inevitably turned to the strange blend of emotions we were experiencing at the thought of opening for a band we grew up listening to.
Tonight’s show was quite the way for our first-time tour manager to jump in and learn how to swim. First of all, the water in the analogy would be frozen as the venue turned out to be a hockey arena. The show’s coordinators were somehow completely unaware of our inclusion in the night’s proceedings and we were banished to a less-than-pleasant smelling locker room with nary a bottle of water to quench the thirst of our dry, open hanging mouths. Any tour’s first night is going to be a hectic, but this has seemed particularly haphazard. Katie, Third Eye Blind’s tour manager, also a first-timer, would later ask, “Does anyone do this more than once?”
During load out, I realized my guitar was conspicuously missing from our gathered gear. No one in 3EB’s crew had seen it or had any idea what might have happened to it. But we did. The hired help that assisted us in removing our instruments from the stage seemed to be comprised of students from the university putting on the show, who probably assumed that every piece of equipment laying around belonged in one of the two semi trucks traveling with the show. Though the fellow supervising their loading maintained that the crates holding guitars were full and couldn’t possibly be holding mine, he let me investigate. “But you gotta go now—we’re about to close her up.” Scrambling over bicycles, boxes of t-shirts, and the disassembled stage, I reached the front of the carrier where the guitars were kept. There, sitting on top as if waiting for my rescue was the misplaced instrument. Holding it aloft, I gingerly picked my way over the uneven terrain and rejoined my band mates in the van.
A rocky start to be sure—it was also our first proper tourdate with our newly configured trio, which demands most of our spare limbs, and all of our concentration, to make up for the lack of a drummer. Everyone, including us, seemed to be getting a feel for things. But we enjoyed sending our unpolished sounds out over the board-covered ice, and getting to know our tourmates whilst joining them on their bus for a toast. Our lovely couch surfers for the night had a pet bunny that was trained and as soft as they come. As I drifted off I knew we were only going further down the rabbit hole, but I imagined it belonging to a furry friend like him, and the thought was quite comforting.