the as-brief-as-possible details of my weekend working for the Xponential Festival as a driver, shuttling artists and their equipment and their crews around between mt. laurel, nj and the camden waterfront, and the philly airport:
thursday i only had to go pick up “Pedro” from Los Straitjackets at the airport at about 1am. on the way to the hotel, he wanted to stop for food, so i took him to the crystal lake diner. on my way back home, crossing the walt whitman bridge, i did the dumbest thing ever: i forgot my bridge toll. this is the first time in my entire life i have done such a thing. they made me pull off to the side after the toll booth, and wait with two other poor schlubs until a “public safetly officer” came. to do what exactly, we were not told. after waiting almost 40 minutes, a cop finally pulls up and says, “you have to go back to new jersey. follow me.” he then led us around the loop and back onto the bridge going the opposite direction. i had to go all the way over to admiral wilson boulevard to find a gas station that was open where i could get cash, and also fill up the tank of my 15 MPG chrysler town and country. i didn’t get home and to sleep until around 4am.
friday, i only had one pickup to do. i had to take 4 guys from the robert cray band from camden to the hotel so they could shower up before the show. they talked about weed the entire time. it was pretty funny.
saturday, i had to drive Pedro back to the airport, and then pick up a guy that was playing the trumpet for They Might Be Giants (TMBG) at 30th street station. i had been hoping for one of the Johns, but they drove themselves down from nyc, apparently, as i saw them pull in a little later at the artist checkin booth. i ended up not having to do anything else for the rest of the day after that, so i hung out with my pal, serena, who was volunteering at the festival, and watched John Gorka, some of Pete Yorn (boring), and all of TMBG. they were so incredibly super fun, i irritated the crap out of seuss later by telling him about it. hard to believe that i’ve been a fan since 1992, and was only just seeing them for the first time. also, i wouldn’t have thought that singing along to a song about the number 7 could be so much fun: “we want cake! where’s our cake?!”
sunday was pretty hectic by comparison to the rest of the weekend. i had to pick up the band Donna the Buffalo at the hotel and bring them to camden. (i have to mention here that the other drivers and i had been having a hell of a time with the police who were in charge of keeping people from driving up where we needed to drive. they apparently weren’t instructed that there were authorized vehicles full of performing artists that should be let through. the night before, one of them had very grudgingly waved me around on the wrong side of the barrier instead of bothering to move his vehicle.) when we got to the police barricade, i waved my badge, pointed to the big white paper in my window designating me as authorized, and went around and up. the cop went apeshit, honking his horn and racing after me with his lights on. so here i am, sitting at the checkin booth pulled over, with a band who needs to get to the stage trapped in there with me. nothing i said to the officer was anything he wanted to hear, and he threatened to take me downtown to book me for driving on the wrong side of the road. later, when i had to drive one of the band members to the airport, he told me the band was impressed with my refusal to take crap off that asshole cop.
oh, and when i went to the hotel to pick up Donna the Buffalo in the first place, there was a band-looking group sitting out front, so i asked if they were Donna. when the guy turned around it was John Linnell from TMBG, and i promptly became a goofy blabbering idiot.
anyway, later i had to go pick up a lot of gear and crew members for Peter, Bjorn & John at the hotel. that crew was really awesome. one of the dudes was wearing the wolf-howling-at-the-moon shirt of current internet obsession. i got an English guy named Jules in my van. he was psyched to listen to Bon Iver and Elvis Perkins with me on the ride. just at the end of PB&J’s set later, there was an incredible fast downpour that swept in. i had been hanging out in the broadcast tent, which looked like it was going to blow away. then i had to drive back with the crew and the gear to the hotel. i had another English guy named Eddie in my van. also a very cool dude.
i spent a lot of time telling all the people i drove around about Camden and Philly and why on earth they were playing a concert in a ghetto. also spent a lot of time talking about tv shows, diners and dive bars, and surprisingly little time talking about music.
my final drive of the night was a bunch of crew members for Guster. we left Camden at about midnight. and my final drive of the weekend, on Monday afternoon, was driving one of those same guys to the airport. i’d say the weekend’s events were well worth the $500 i got paid. (oh, i also saw a guy who was so drunk he fell on his face, and with blood streaming out of his mouth and nose insisted, he was fine, just fine.)