One For The Roadie: Kasabian Will Sing To New York On 9/11

As someone who lived through 9/11 in New York City, I tend to be cynical whenever it’s brought up to promote something. However, I didn’t get that vibe when Brit rockers Kasabian (who I’ve seen twice) announced that they would be playing a gig on top of a building during the weekend commemorating the events in New York a decade ago. They will be performing during a break in their European tour at a soon-to-be-disclosed location.

It was that day band front man Tom Meighan said changed his path in life. “I was at work and remember hearing 9/11 unfold on the radio. I remember going home and being in absolute shock. My mum had it on the news. It was… awful.” He realized how easily things could be gone, and he decided to make a run at music, and now he’s at the top of the UK music scene. And while he’s now celebrating successes, he knows what’s at stake with so much attention now placed on him and his band.

“It will be strange for us playing in the city on such a big weekend for New York people,” he told The Sun. “It will be emotional.” It will be a heavy burden, with this heavy anniversary coming on the heels of a near disaster like Hurricane Irene. As long as he understands that New York just wants to keep it real with his rock, then everything will be okay. Everyone loves an underdog.

One For The Roadie: Portugal. The Man’s Van Stolen (Although, not in Japan)

I own a chair that I’ve been writing on for about eleven years now. Most of my best writing has been done on sitting in that chair, and it’s followed me from New York to Austin because I consider it a tool as much as my brain or keyboard. So when I heard that Portland-based Portugal. The Man’s van and 97 pieces of equipment had been stolen during their set at Lollapalooza in Chicago, I had to shake my head. Here is a band on the cusp of breaking out, and now they’re without a lot of their gear—something that could have been easily prevented. Portugal. The Man will be writing without their favorite chair for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t the first time, thieves has jammed off with stolen pieces. Most famously, it happened to Sonic Youth in ’99. Their van, which was broken into in Los Angeles, had several pieces of irreplaceable equipment, one-of-a-kinds and instruments that were so perfectly tuned that the band had to re-write and rehearse songs because their new guitars and drum kits had to be broken in (although it did lead to new album for them, so there’s that). My question is, if your van is stocked with your precious tools, why leave it unattended at any point? When I was driving down to Austin with my wife, we would always be with our stuff. Sure, it probably had to do more with our dogs in the car rather than the “stuff,” but we were there.

As for what can be done about it, here are two ideas: why don’t bands bring at least one snotty cousin or extra roadie to sit in the van during gigs where more than 50% of your stuff’s in the truck? A lot of bands have had their vans broken in to after retiring for the night (in sometimes shady neighborhoods). I know amps and kits are heavy, but 30 minutes of grunt work to bring the stuff inside wouldn’t kill them. And it’s a lot less maddening than getting your brand new Fender Jazzmaster perfectly tuned to E. I would throw in some type of renter’s insurance-type solution, but this is about the music, maaaan.

There are silver linings to situations like this. Portugal. The Man’s Van has been returned, alas sans equipment. Bands and companies have been sending their support, both moral and with instruments. Hopefully, this won’t happen to another touring band in the near future, although the price of Keytars on the black market could go up soon. Then, all bets are off.

Here is a collection of snippets from Portugal. The Man’s set at Lolla, as their stuff is getting stolen! At least they got groovy alibis… groovy, groovy alibis.

One For The Roadie: Go See TV On The Radio. They’re Oh So Good.

When I saw TV On The Radio for the fourth time, it was at a Masonic Temple in the middle of Brooklyn. They had just released their fourth album, Dear Science, and were playing with a cracking horn section in what could have been your high school gym (albeit a gigantic one, something belonging to one of the big bad rival schools on Friday Night Lights). It should have been weird to see this internationally renowned band, who’ve played on Letterman…

… in such an intimate setting after watching them absolutely crush festivals and Webster Hall. But it wasn’t. Not even when band guitarist Kyp Malone stood four feet away from me before they hit the stage to check out the opening act.

So here it is, three years later and I’m stoked to see that they’re touring again, promoting their new fantastic album, Nine Types of Light. Sadly, they will be without their bassist Gerard Smith, who they lost in April after a short battle with lung cancer. He was only 36, which makes a tragedy even sadder. It’s going to be interesting to see how raw they’ll get, especially when playing “Second Song,” whose lyrics may hit a little hard when thinking about Smith.

I’m going to see them at the Austin City Limits Festival, which will be my first. I wonder if this renewed line-up will make it seem like I’ll be watching them for the first time, too. Bands, much like sports teams, know each other’s quirks and can feel which way their energy’s moving. It’s part of being human, this important rapport with your collegues, and why there hasn’t been a sucessful band of robots to hit the Top-10 since 98-Degrees. Smith’s death makes going to watch TVOTR one of the most exciting non-Irish wakes I can remember. And like those Irish wakes, I know the show will be more a celebration more than anything.

Will you be seeing TV On The Radio this year, or have fond memories of past performances? Share them in the comments!