On what had been a strange US tour in 2004 with Exodus thus far; our final routing got confirmed very late in the game, which resulted in low attendance in non-key markets (I remember a show in, I believe, Dubuque, where the band, crew, and the local band outnumbered the paying audience), I had one of my most memorable moments.
That previous fall, I had started working for the band, jumping in to replace a guitar technician who had been sacked, and the main guitar player (even though it was still only my 3rd tour by that time) considered me one of the best guitar technicians he’d had.
It was more than logical for them that I’d be asked to join them on their comeback USA tour as well. Elated about being considered this important of a pawn already, I had said yes without hesitation.
I would come flying in a little earlier, to save money on airfare, and to acclimatise; to both the timezone, and the weather.
I am glad that US Airways no longer fly under their own banner. Aside from meeting the wonderful Nila (after that, we’d only see each other every so many years, sometimes unexpectedly), on my way back to Amsterdam, that experience was utterly and completely unpleasant. From their poor food and drinks service on an intercontinental flight, to the horrible transfer @ Philadelphia (where I had to transfer – after collecting my luggage and no carts available – through the parking garage to get from the International to Domestic terminal, to only just making it to my flight). I had heard people referring to that airline as “a bus with wings”, now I knew why.
The shows were mostly fine, but I don’t rememnber too much of them. We played in a small venue connected to a bowling alley in Colorado Heights, the Brick by Brick in San Diego, the Backbooth in Orlando, and old church turned cinema turned venue? in Tuba City, The Pound at Pier 96 in the band’s hometown San Francisco, a show in an Irish bar on Long Island, while a few miles down the Road, Metallica were playing, and so on.
I had one of the most serene yet humbling experiences on tour yet. And it still is, even exactly 16 years later.
We were set to play a show at the Hopi Civic Centre in Hopi Land, For lunch, we had been invited by the Chief to have lunch with him and his family. The food was weird; but as authentic as it gets; I remember a strange-coloured soup being offered, that I think I passed on the things I didn’t know how to identify; I was not as adventurous with food then, and I didn’t feel like getting ill on tour by eating something I’d not know how it’d react with me. Now I wish I had tried more of the local food.
When lunch was over, the Chief invited us all over to the old town of Sipaulovi, a little further up the hill, where the elder people lived; and wehre they made their souvenirs. I respectfully thanked the Chief for the invitation and declined. Just outside the place we had had lunch, the best view I had seen from up close beckoned me.
Facing south, the plains of the Hopi Reservation spread out below and in front of me. I felt its call, and heeded it. I had to sit there, and look out, way past the horizon, and have the wind and sun explain to me how insignificant I was, and I gladly let them. In bliss.