The Perils of Touring - 1: Cinderella Syndrome

Posted in by CIVIL CIVIC | Edit

I remember a short, boozy conversation I had with the cruel and devious Andy Inglis shortly after he had agreed to become our "Encourager" (a term he coined himself, because the word "Manager" raises painful boils on his neck).

He told me about a side-gig he had going, lecturing at a performing arts college on the subject of the Music Industry. I believe the unit he taught was actually called Music Industry Studies, or something equally nauseating.

"My god." I mumbled, shaking my head. "That's fucking awful. What do you tell those poor kids?".

He shrugged and refused to make eye contact.

"I tell them the truth." He said.

I was shocked. What sort of institution would employ a known misanthrope like Inglis to take a room full of dense but ambitious 18 year-olds and systematically shit all-over their most cherished dreams?

"How do they take it?" I asked after an uncomfortable pause.

He just screwed up his face and started fiddling with his cuff-links. He didn't answer the question.

This is a slightly sideways lead into the topic I actually want to discuss today, the dreaded Cinderella Syndrome.

There is a certain kind of limited schizophrenia that will grow like a tumor in the brain of any sensitive person who tours on the particular limbo-level where we (CC) are currently operating. It is dictated by circumstance, and is therefore fairly predictable in it's movements, but not it's effects. 

Some people can jockey it like a cheap carnival ride, because in the end it is just as temporary and meaningless and if you're lucky it won't even cost you any money. But fools will be swung high and low by it's long arm.

Try it out.

There will be nights when that rotten pumpkin you've been driving around in will turn into a golden carriage without you even noticing. Looking like an animated pile of cold shit in tight jeans, you will wander up to reception at a ritzy hotel that you could never afford to stay in on your own resources and the clinically sexy young woman behind the desk will smile as she hands over your room key, and you will suddenly be gripped by the idea that she wants you.

Yes. It's so clear to me now. I have beaten the system. These people know in their hearts that I am loaded and famous and more talented than Da Vinci. There is no other way to explain why I'm here at-all, stinking and ashing in the potplants and making the other guests uncomfortable.

Fluffy white towels, artfully recessed lighting, movies on demand, miniature Glennfidichs, washing your putrid socks in a designer sink and admiring your blackheads in gigantic, spotless mirrors. 

"I thought you said soundcheck was at seven-thirty. 
Well okay, let me finish this."
Then it's off to the big, slick venue where they feed and water you like a trophy-winning racehorse  and where an alert, black-clad tech with a Mini-Maglite will suddenly appear, ready for anything, if you so much as frown during soundcheck. You wander around the big stage like some sort of electrified aristocrat, looking for a spot where the sound isn't quite right, but you don't find one

"Uh, Frank, can I get a little bit more ME in the sidefill?"

Then more fine booze, a boutique meal backstage, random people telling you how infectious your latest single is and then it's back on-stage to strut around and revel in your own magnificent noise. The seething masses of arch-hipsters howl and weep and tear at their well curated outfits and throw big rocks of MDMA and old iPhones at you.

Aaaaahhhh...The POWER!

The glow can easily last another 24 hours, until you turn up at some greasy little brick box on a filthy side-street in an ugly University town to play first-on to a gaggle of talentless nose-piercings for 30 euros and a spot on the promoters rancid living-room floor.

The sound-system is pure shit, the house engineer resents your very existence and the borderline-retarded drummer from the "headline act" steals your six-pack of domestic beer right in front of your eyes. 

 Remember that community center gig in Krakow, where that creepy middle-aged covers band pushed us around and took our sandwiches? And that junkie midget kicked me in the balls and you got food poisoning and while you were vomiting in the carpark the cops picked you up because they thought you were a dangerous foreign drunk and I had to spend the entire fuel budget for the tour getting you out of jail? Well, they've invited us back.

A handful of stale potato chips, a brief line-check to allow the house engineer to make absolutely sure you sound like wet turd and then rip into it. Half an hour of criminally wasted effort trying to win over the twelve teen-age beer-drunks that are standing like statues of pure contempt at the back of the room. 

But they hate you for wasting their time with your silly racket, for using up valuable oxygen before the local boys can take over and play their badly disguised My Chemical Romance covers while their whorish, emaciated girlfreinds gyrate in front of the speakers and their mongoloid, tribal-tattooed buddies nod along seriously to the beat. Oh God, the horror.

But it's not over yet. You are stuck there, until these walking bags of premature senility are finished and a hair-gelled afterbirth deejays chill-house for 3 hours. It is a grinding eternity before the bar closes and the lights go on and your 30 euros gets doled out like kidney-stones by the surly bar-manager, who somehow makes you feel like you are stealing from him.

Then you peel the rain-sodden parking tickets off the windshield and drive to some tiny, reeking apartment where you must be vocally grateful for the luxury of curling up on the greasy carpet to cry yourself to sleep while a three-legged dog snarls at you from a dark corner and the promoter sits next to your head playing Call Of Duty and sucking bongs until 8am. 

 "Just make a space, guys. I'm gonna stay up for a while."

Strong minds have been shattered by far less stark reversals of fortune, and remember that this one has happened in less than 48 hours!
So it takes a peculiar kind of mental flexibility and a queasy vacuum in the soul to not only cope with this sort of existential whiplash but actually get a quirky boot out of it.

Well, I possess those qualities, and so does my shredding colleague, Baaron Von Cuddles. That's why small samples of our DNA are on file at a private facility in Denmark, and are being diligently combed for the mutant gene that will one day deliver a marketable drug which will be hugely popular among bankers and traders when the freak tides of finance suck their multi-billion dollar sand-castles away into nothing overnight.

Cruel Fate will be left punching at thin air and it's victims will just giggle and roll their eyes and move on to other things. Then we will be the billionaires, me and The Baaron, and we will pay to play un-promoted Monday night support slots at suburban youth centers in Tashkent, just for kicks.

In the meantime, please stay tuned to this fine, righteous blog as we continue to feature "30 Nights Of Bushweek", the only live-music journal on the interweb that brings the diseased chickens of the Cinderella Syndrome home to roost in your tender brain.

You're welcome.

"Your everyday Nervous Breakdown is nothing compared to the hopeless Craziness of a man who woke up as a Prince and goes to bed as a Toad....if you don't go insane from suddenly having to see everything in the world from a point only two inches high, your brain will surely be churned into cream by having to crawl, head-first, with your eyes open, down a muddy hole in the ground just to have a place to sleep."
Hunter Stockton Thompson, Doctor of Divinity
 1937 - 2005.


  1. Matthew

    I'm not quite sure how to say this or if it should even be said buuut...

    I think I love you, dog.


    January 11, 2011 at 4:39 AM

  2. RamyArida says:

    I share Matt's sentiment.
    A well realized theory, Ben. You are a wise man.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:12 PM

  3. CIVIL CIVIC says:

    That's swell, guys. Thanks.
    I'm totaly into having wisdom and the love of my fellow man and shit.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:30 PM

  4. RamyArida says:

    hey Ben, I'm in some crappy Film school, and me and a group gotta make a music video. It'll likely be awful, but can we use a Civil Civic track?

    January 12, 2011 at 8:34 PM

  5. CIVIL CIVIC says:

    Hell yes. Do your worst, Ramshackle, just as long as we get to see the dang thing.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:04 PM

  6. RamyArida says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

  7. RamyArida says:

    Ramy says:

    Ramshackle is a new one, and I've hear tonnes of variations of my name. Ramstein, Ramses, Ramster, Rampire, the list goes on. The same ones inevitably pop up again and again, so good job being original.

    And yes you guys will definitely see it. Likely, the most I'll have to do with it is getting the rest of my group pumped on CC and their inevitable huge-ness. Beyond that, I'll probably do nothing. So, just a word of warning, the video will not be masterminded by me, the devious and brilliant Ramy Arida, but by over-ambitious and under-skilled film students.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

  8. RamyArida says:

    what the hell just happened there?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

  9. Bec says:

    No matter what you end up with Ramy, feel safe in the knowledge that it won't be worse than the film I tried to do to Less Unless before I got hold of proper film editing software. What a travesty that was. Go forth and do better.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:55 AM

  10. CIVIL CIVIC says:

    Happy to throw a new one at ye, Rambunctious, but I have to say Ramses and Rampire are my new favorites.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:57 PM

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