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Letter From the Editor

On the road with MGMT

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I just flew in from Houston, and, boy, are my arms tired. Actually, it's not so much my arms as it is my entire weary, aching body. And it's not so much the flying itself that does the damage; it's the time between the actual flying part of air travel that wears you out.

I spent a week on the road with MGMT, my son's band, journeying by plane from Milwaukee to Vancouver to the lovely Okanagan Valley in the British Columbia interior.

It was fascinating to see the logistics involved in transporting massive amounts of equipment by plane and truck, not to mention rounding up the 15-member entourage of band members, roadies, merchandise manager, lights person, sound man, guitar tech, etc. I grew to dread the phrase "lobby call," which was usually inordinately early for people who'd stayed up late making rock-and-roll (or watching it) the night before. (Although, I have to admit watching bleary rockers and roadies stumble onto a bus at 7:30 a.m. can be entertaining.)

We had a couple days off in Kelowna, which is situated on the vast and crystal-clear Lake Okanagan in central British Columbia. It's an extraordinary place, surrounded by towering mountains crosshatched with hiking and biking trails and sparkling streams and waterfalls. And it's populated by tan and healthy Canadians who look like Californians, except, unlike Californians, they're mild-mannered, modest, and relentlessly helpful.

It was a great trip. Andrew and I got in a lot of hiking and exploring in the mountains. And I got to see him in his element — the day-to-day life of a band on the road. I learned that there's a lot of work and tedium that goes into putting on an hour-and-a-half of live music a day. Also, I would add, it's definitely a young man's game.

And so is the kind of travel day I had coming back home. Due to the dearth of flights coming in and out of Memphis these days, I had to make three connections to get here from Kelowna, an all-day dance from airport to airport, eating crap food on the run, guzzling water, just barely making connections — or not. Air travel roulette caught up with me in Houston, as my flight from Calgary was delayed and I missed the Memphis connection. I had to spend a very brief night in a Houston airport motel, sans bag, of course, before catching a sunrise flight to Memphis, arriving exactly 24 hours after leaving Kelowna.

I know. Big deal. First-world problems, right? Besides, no trip is perfect. And this one was certainly good enough for rock-and-roll.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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