A fluk. I already had tickets to the show at Universal the next night, but I was on ebay and saw two tickets to this show for $100, so I jumped on it. I wanted to bring my roommate (and new Travis junkie) to her first show. At the very last minute, she ended up not being able to come, so I trekked down the SD by myself, which was hell, because of course I got lost, and got to the theater after Remy Zero had been on (whom I really wanted to see.) I stood in line with drunken Scottish guy (how appropriate) who offered me a spot next to him and his friends closer to the front, which I stupidly didn't take. But my seats were pretty good, the theater is small enough that the band is pretty much right there in front of you. (Later, the Scottish gang got a little roudy and were to told to "shut the fuck up" by Fran, so am thankful I was not a part of that...)
They were really on good form that night, one of those bands that is just as good, if not better, live. Played this great song "20" for encore, really funny and touching. Completely worth the extra hundred and the getting lost...
It's my first trip to San Diego, so after a hearty breakfast I decide to walk the few blocks from my hotel down to Spreckels Theatre.
The weather isn't unlike the London I left behind yesterday - grey and cool - I blame Travis, and the curse of "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?".
When I get to the venue, it's about 10am. There's a guy on a ladder at the front of the building, putting up the sign for tonight's show... "Spreckels presents TRAVIS - Oct 21 7:30pm. 220-TIXS".
If that wasn't enough of a clue that I'd found the right place, there was also a huge gold tourbus parked around the corner! The band had driven overnight from Phoenix, and were still soundly asleep on the bus - all the windows shaded and the door locked.
Round by the backstage door, the local crew were unloading a huge red truck - an endless stream of flightcases were being wheeled down the ramp and onto the stage. Inside, lights were being hoisted into position, and mixing desks being unpacked. Spreckles is a small old theatre, and at times the stage feels quite crowded with technicians going about their work.
At 11:30am, I spy the first member of Travis to awake - Andy. He didn't sleep particularly well, and heads off to have a cold shower... there's no other kind at this venue! Once he's woken up a little, Andy, Nick (Andy's guitar tech) and myself decide to go and do a bit of shopping. On our way out of the stage door, we spot Neil and Dougie getting off the bus... three quarters of the band are awake(ish!).
When we get back to the venue at 1:30, the stage is looking more complete, and the lights are being tested and focused. Fran is in the production office, checking his email and guzzling Coca Cola.
We both pop outside to take a closer look at the truck, and Fran signs a few autographs for fans who have arrived very early!
Soundcheck starts at 4pm, and after running through a few songs, Travis are joined on stage by the members of Remy Zero. It looks like some kind of supergroup - 2 singers, 2 drummers, 2 bassists and 3 guitarists - but it's all for a good reason. Tonight will be the first public performance by both bands of the David Bowie classic, "Heroes".
Fran and Cinjun clutch bits of paper with the lyrics on, as all 9 musicians on stage launch straight into the song. It sounds amazing, even though Dougie's bass amp decided to stop working half way through (fixed by a swift kick from Jonny). Hugs all round at the end, and Travis leave the stage to let Remy Zero start their soundcheck.
Fran and I retire to the dressing room to eat our McDonalds dinners (who said touring was glamorous?) and then Ian McAndrew, Travis' Manager, arrives straight from the airport having just flown in from London. The rest of the band are back on the bus, watching the "U2 - Rattle and Hum" video.
The obligatory "meet and greet" at 8:15pm, there's a lot of sitting around before showtime. Andy is strumming an acoustic guitar and there's an impromtu sing-song in the dressing room. Fran fixes his famous haircut, and Neil warms up his all important wrists.
Then, all of a sudden, it's 9:15pm and Pete shouts "You're on!". The band huddle at the top of the stairs, and then run straight down towards the stage - I have trouble keeping up! There's a huge cheer from the San Diego crowd, as Fran walks to the centre of the stage, looks up to the balcony and says "Wow, look at you up there!" before launching straight into "Sing".
At the end of the set, Fran returned to perform "20", before being re-joined by the remaining members of Travis, together with Remy Zero, for "Heroes". Dedicated to all the brave people working at "Ground Zero" in New York, the song sounds spectacular, and receives raptuous applause.
With Remy Zero departed, there was just time for the standard show-closer "Happy", before a hasty exit via the stage door, straight onto the waiting bus, and away to Los Angeles. Three hours later at 1:30am, we're all checking into the hotel and heading straight for bed!