And the Horseshoe rode in on

In the early years of our band, the only time we had ever been to Canada was a single 1990 show in Toronto, supporting the Sundays.   So we were especially excited about ending our April 1992 tour at the Horseshoe in Toronto.  Sure, we were once again the opener, but none of us had ever heard of the Waltons, and consequently were completely taken aback when we arrived and appeared to be nothing but an anonymous nuisance to the club.  We were told by the house soundman (and we were no longer traveling with our own) that not only wouldn’t the headliners move any of their equipment on the small stage to accommodate us, we wouldn’t even get a soundcheck.  Neither was unheard of, but the combination of how-dare-we-expect-more and the glorified dive ambience of the Horseshoe was infuriating.  (And don’t get me wrong–I mean glorified dive as a description, not an insult.  I’d characterize Maxwell’s the same way.)  The Waltons were the headliner, end of story: “It’s their night,” we were told.  We tracked down our booking agent, who got ahold of his Canadian counterpart, who in turn sent someone to run interference for us (and found someone else to mix us, because by then we were definitely off the house guy’s Christmas card list).  But meanwhile, we were instructed that if we weren’t happy, we should leave without playing, and we’d be paid either way.  But after traveling all the way to Toronto, who wants to leave without playing?  It’s not like there was an all-night SCTV museum to distract us.  Things gradually improved, although our local booking agency representative never lost the look of someone who’d eaten some bad poutine.  Our set went fantastically well, but there was no thought of an encore, not on the Waltons’ night.  So as the house music played, James, Georgia, Joe and I set about breaking down our equipment . . . while the audience continued to cheer and cheer.  Finally–and I have no recollection of whether we were told to do this, or it was so obvious that no one stopped us–we plugged the bass and guitar amps back in and Georgia sang “Cast a Shadow.”  We had our first experience with the toothsome Toronto hot dog cart, and hightailed it out of Canada, with a little too much gusto, as Georgia got nailed with a speeding ticket.