Food fight

Our 1991 European tour with Eleventh Dream Day was a huge success.  From the audience perspective, a double bill greater than the sum of its parts; on a personal level, we were friends when we started, and better friends when it ended.  Whichever band was headlining on a given night, inevitably one or more members of the other group found their way on stage.  On this night 23 years ago, we were playing last.  We did our set, and a three-song encore, but the audience at the Loft in Berlin wanted more, so we returned for one more number as trio, then brought up Wink O’Bannon to play guitar on “I Heard Her Call My Name.”   He was situated on stage right, just a few steps from the door to the dressing room.  I’ve never thought to ask Rick, Janet or Doug how this started, but somehow they decided it would be a good idea to pelt Wink with every last bit of food that had been provided for us–and it had been a very generous spread.  The stage covered with fruit, bread, meat and the like., we finished the song and said goodnight.  Once again, the response was too enthusiastic to ignore (I’m sure the mayhem from out of the dressing room contributed).  Georgia and I came back by ourselves for one quiet song, something we did frequently, which never failed to convey that we were done . . . except for this night.  There was really no point in Yo La Tengo playing anymore, so we quickly figured out what the two bands could do together and came up with Roky Erickson’s “John Lawman.”  It was part of Eleventh Dream Day’s repertoire, but the three of us also knew it, so Wink went back to guitar, and Rick and Janet stood up front singing.  As Wink and I let our guitars feed back prior to the beginning of the song, Rick picked up an entire pineapple, bit a leaf off it and flung it back to the ground, announcing “This is called ‘The Pineapple Song.'”  During the guitar solos, which were plentiful, Rick and Janet, idle hands etc., started tossing the food that littered the stage into the audience, and the audience started throwing it back.  Someone–I no longer remember who–came out of the dressing room with a bottle of ketchup and squirted it all over the place.  Do I have to tell you that nothing could have been more out of character for either band?  It was a never-to-be-repeated event, but that didn’t mean that the staff from the Loft was anything but livid (who could blame them).  As we were packing up our equipment, they were describing everything we’d ruined and what it was going to cost us.  Rick–who probably wasn’t sober but had definitely lost his shirt (and had banana and other food in his hair)–was insisting that if we’ve destroyed microphones and are being charged for them, then we get to take them with us.  It was left to Christof Ellinghaus, from our label City Slang–who managed to miss the whole thing because he was in the office getting paid–to somehow work it out.