A PMJ Tour Recap by Bassist Adam Kubota:
“Private jets…they got us private jets!”
It’s a story that I’ve eagerly repeated to so many friends over the holidays. In the early days of Postmodern Jukebox, we were paid in falafels and now we get to ride in our own jets. So, speaking as someone who was once paid in chickpeas, the “falafels to jets” progression is a nice symbol of the current trajectory of the band (pun intended?). And I think that the Fall 2015 tour truly marked a turning point in the progression of our quirky homegrown YouTube act.
Jetset life in Wyoming.
(Of course, we had to take the jets because our tour bus couldn’t cross a snowy pass in Wyoming and at that point I would have gladly traded a flight on the Concord for an extra night’s sleep.)
First, the audiences. At our L.A. show, we played a show to 4,000 people, and I’m pretty sure that was our largest audience ever. I won’t forget that show for the sea of happy faces who were so thrilled to see us. I also remember being a little distracted by seeing myself on the Jumbotron screens and then having a few moments on stage where all the steps we had taken to get to this point were running through my mind (See above re: falafel). Further, I got to meet Jason Alexander, AKA George Costanza, after the show and that was very cool.
The crowd at the Microsoft Theatre – our biggest one yet.
Over the whole tour, we played to consistently large audiences at some amazing venues including Austin City Limits, Massey Hall in Toronto and the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta. However, the show that had the most personal meaning for this Bay Area native was playing two consecutive sold-out nights at the Warfield in San Francisco in front of friends and family. When I was teenager, the Warfield was where I would go to see the “big shows.” For example, I saw the Björk play there in 1997 when she was touring on her album Post…actually, I just made up that show because I can’t remember a specific show that I went to there…but I definitely went to shows there and would’ve gone to that show had it existed.
Hanging with my mom and tap dance queen Sarah Reich at The Warfield. Mom switched from wine to PBR.
Second, the cast members. What really struck me about this group was not only their obvious talent, but how great everyone got along. We had a great mix of long-timers like myself, Robyn Adele Anderson, Ben the Sax Guy, Allan Mednard and Chip Thomas together with first-timers like Sarah Niemietz, Joey Cook, Aubrey Logan, and tour musical director Todd Schroeder. This statement is not at all rhetorical; it’s really hard enough to find 15 really talented people, much less find 15 people who are easy-going enough to live together on a bus for an extended time. It’s like Scott Bradlee is the Professor Xavier of talented and cool musicians…except that he can walk and is not bald…and what does that make me?…Beast?
So, unbelievably, this group is picking up new talented people all the time. If you haven’t seen us for awhile, you might not have seen the AMAZING Sarah Reich bring it on the tap board every single night, or witnessed LaVance Colley make people gasp hitting soulful high notes on “Halo,” or heard Aubrey Logan impress people with her vocals and then drop a killer trombone solo just moments later.
#PMJtour music director Todd Schroeder, with his style inspiration.
Third, a note about touring. I have the distinction of having performed more Postmodern Jukebox concerts than ANY other cast member. I’d have to sit down and look at how many I’ve done but it’s probably getting close to 200—I’ve basically been touring since I graduated law school in May 2014. However, it’s still sort of new and exciting to me since I never toured before that.
One thing that strikes me as novel is meeting people who already know who you are. It is cool and strange to have someone in another part of the world introduce themselves and already know your name. You’ll be out at a pub in Australia and someone will shout, “Hey Adam!” and you kind of go from there. Sometimes, it’s just normal conversation, but it can be kind of awkward. On the positive side, people from all parts of my past life turn up at shows–I’ve met friends, distant relatives, old school buddies, people with whom I went to summer camp, former prom dates (for real; check out the video here). Some of them know that I’m in the band but some are as surprised as I am.
Touring itself takes a certain kind of temperament and skill–not everyone is cut out for it. I’d saying it’s a little like living in college dorms in the sense that you are with your friends, and kind of “bro out” all the time: drinking beer, jamming after-hours and making a lot of jokes (most of them wholly inappropriate for mentioning on this blog post).
Hanging out and probably making inappropriate jokes with our stage manager, Rook.
It’s also like being on a family vacation, in both good ways and bad ways. Good, in the sense that you are never lonely and if you are going through something then you always have someone to talk about it. Bad, in the sense that you are one of 15 children and you sometimes you have to shout and push to the front of the line to get what you need. Additionally, it’s really, really hard to find some quiet time. That’s why I bring my running shoes and always try to go for a run and see the town, away from the rest of the cast.
Then, there’s the post-tour decompression. It actually takes awhile to live amongst normal people again. I legitimately feel bad for people who have to deal with me the first few days after I get off of tour. One example: Rook (our stage manager) and I went to the mall after wrapping up a tour. We went to Banana Republic and heckled some elderly women for letting their friends cut in front of us. Then, I kept hassling the cashier to give me a discount on pants because they were the only thing in the store that weren’t on sale. Not really things that I would do in my “normal” life and I’m not proud to admit it, but that’s what tour life does to a person.
Despite all this, I can’t wait to hit the road again after a few weeks of being home, especially when it’s an exotic place like Europe or Australia. I actually sleep better on bus bunks than I do in a regular bed—something about the complete darkness and the gentle rocking of the bus (some cast member think of them as tombs, but I think it’s like a giant cradle).
I’m going to wrap it up by saying that I had a great time playing for and meeting with audiences all over North America during Fall 2015 and am now really, really looking forward to hitting Europe in Winter/Spring 2016. I am excited to see Postmodern Jukebox grow and eagerly anticipate my next private jet ride [editor note from SB: don’t anticipate that too eagerly]. Happy New Year, everyone!
Tickets for the PMJ Tour of Europe are available here.
Adam is a longtime bassist for Postmodern Jukebox, is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and also operates his own booking agency called Redux Booking (http://reduxbooking.com/). When he’s not touring the world, he’s trying to go for a run or binge-watching “Perfect Strangers” on Netflix.