In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the pop artist, Laryssa Birdseye, shares one of her stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
So pre-pandemic, my bandmate and I would go on these west coast tours. Because we’re independent, we were booking all of our own dates, so most of the shows were good, but some of the dates were…just soul-crushing.
So we’re passing through Bakersfield to play at a wine bar, and we walk into the spot. The first thing I notice is that there is an overwhelming odor of human sewage, so I look at Matty, we’re like “uh”, but we start setting up anyways. We’re told to set up in the corner of the bar, in sort of a boxed room, as far away from the bar as possible. So essentially we’re playing in our own isolated far away corner, and I don’t think that anyone has cared less about anything ever than the people in the bar cared about what we were doing. But we’re hired for a certain amount of time, and we’re already being paid, so we muscle up and get through the first set. On break, we both order the salmon dish. Why we order salmon in Bakersfield is literally anyone’s guess, but we do, and this is important to the story later on. During the second set, the bar crowd has gotten progressively drunker, and they’re literally sloshing their drinks near us, waving $20 bills in our face and yelling/requesting John Legend songs. Matty and I are both firmly in the camp of “doing mostly anything for money”, so we’re literally just looking up the chords and playing whatever they ask, as long as the dollars are flowing.
Both fairly demoralized, Matty and I start packing up our gear, and he goes to the bar to grab our check. He comes back a moment later, livid. I ask him what happened, and it turns out that a drunk girl at the bar after he smiled at her, called him a racial slur (Matty’s South Korean). After he tells me this, I grab a mic stand and am ready to beat this girl to death, and he’s calming me down and asking me not to, telling me to let it go, cuz we can’t play the rest of the tour if one of us is in jail. I’m FURIOUS at this point, and I finally go outside, find the girl, and have a very firm one-sided conversation where I let her know she’s a garbage person. We load the rest of our gear into the car and drive to the hotel.
As far as hotels go, this is a pretty low-budget one. The kind where roaches and dealers hang, but we’re on a budget and are pretty used to sleeping on floors and on couches when we’re on the road. We spend an hour listening to people screaming outside the window, and as I’m about to fall asleep, something unspeakable happens.
The Bakersfield salmon that we both thoughtlessly consumed hours before is making a glorious return in Matty’s system. I can hear him wrenching—and worse—in the bathroom, and I’m just praying that he assumes I’m asleep so I don’t have to become involved in this. He emerges and tells me he needs me to run to the pharmacy because he doesn’t think that he can physically make it without ruining the upholstery of my car, and at that point I’m awake. It’s 3am at this point, and I drive across town, buy whatever I can for food poisoning, and check out. At the register, the cashier tells me all about Valley Fever, which can be fatal, and he muses about whether Matty has caught it or not. I’m just like, “we need to get the fuck out of Bakersfield.” I get back to the hotel, Matty takes what he needs, and we both fall asleep. The next morning we drove to LA in absolute silence, traumatized.
The rest of the tour went great though, haha.