Call is an early 9:30am at the hotel in Brisbane for the two hour ride out East, past the Gold Coast and down to Byron Bay for the big Byron Bay Blues Festival, an annual blowout of 200 bands, five stages and five days of music. Because there are so many acts all sets are shortened and though the G3 jam will be standard length our individual sets are whittled down to 25 minutes each. Joe’s set is five songs, Vai and Luke’s are four apiece. It’s a hot day near (but not near enough) the ocean.
Back on the bus and, as has been the norm on this tour, Luke has gotten us laughing so hard our stomachs hurt.
The teeth were Joe’s idea and he brought along several sets which he handed out.
The drive wears on and we quiet down into the rhythm of the ride.
I see yellow “koala crossing” signs and large bridges built over the freeway that aren’t paved but instead covered with trees and bushes. I imagine these forested pathways are for the koalas, among other creatures, who would stand no chance of survival meandering across three lanes of heavy holiday traffic. It’s Easter Sunday and not even the observant would be able to stop in time.
Our driver tries several gambits for entry into the festival, turning around and retracing his steps more than once. We begin to recognize landmarks and I notice operator frustration in the way the bus is being muscled around corners. With relief we arrive at the site, park and everyone gets out. We are told immediately to get back in the bus. We’re not there yet.
A sign is spied and the hint is taken.
Once we are debouched everyone receives his or her laminate. Without the holy laminate a backstage orphan would quickly be seized, prosecuted and mulched, the better to return any valuable nutrients not decimated by years of abuse to the soil. Okay, maybe not but still….you’ve got to hold on to your laminate. Losing it just isn’t done. It’s Bad Form, as we’ve mentioned before. Protocol will be observed.
My laminate is A2 level so let’s see what I can get away with at this event.
Well that’s too bad. I’m not an Authorized Decision Maker, I can’t tell Security where to go, nor can I escort guests with impunity. So much for my designs of bum-rushing the show. But I am distracted in the backstage area….look at all these names…and this is only one of the five stages on only one of the five days of the full festival run.
I decide to take a quick walk out to the festival area and am quickly surrounded by wandering multitudes dressed in celebratory attire, much of which is pointed social commentary of a (thankfully) higher sort. Whales, biodeisel, gender politics, youth and teen culture and green energy organizations are everywhere displaying information, education and outreach. Many local independent makers offer handmade clothing, jewelry, hats, and shoes as well as various sculpture, painting and other monetized craft pastimes. A hundred food stalls offer everything imaginable. I buy a hat from the Sea Shepard people (“Stand By To Ram!”) because they insanely risk their lives by intervening with whalers on the open ocean in an effort to protect diminishing cetacean populations.
Surrounded by all this talent, and since we’re only hard rock act, we absolutely bring it for our final date in Australia. Though our sets are short the energy is very high, incandescent even. The crowd responds enthusiastically, deafeningly, though how they can compete with our front of stage volume remains a mystery.
Why we fight.
The short shuttle from stage back to hospitality finds current Chickenfoot drummer Kenny Aronoff maniacally giving us the Beatlemania Treatment.
Once inside we relax, happy, satisfied but sad too, bittersweet. This tour is over.
The full moon follows us through gathering dusk for the two hour ride back to Brisbane. Runner call to the airport is way too early in the morning. It’s time for the long trip back to the U.S.
Here ends an online diary of G3 on tour in Australia and New Zealand, March and April of 2012. I fully intend to continue this diary for the European G3 tour in July and August of 2012 as well as a possible South American G3 tour for October 2012. One never knows what’s going to happen.
Thanks very much for reading.