Everyone started saying their good byes today, I think everyone knows it's going to be crazy in Irvine tomorrow for the last show. Last shows are always strange, you try to cram as much time as you can with everyone to give hugs, take pictures, and exchange contact info (even though most of our numbers are in the tour books that we've had since day one). Tour's a lot like summer camp but you get to perform for thousands of people and ride on sweet buses.
So anyway, San Diego is Tony Hawk's hometown show so as you can imagine it's a pretty big deal. We set up on the Chargers' practice field so crowd got to sit on the freshly cut grass, it really felt like a festival. I was told that as far as skate events go, San Diego is the toughest audience you can find. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the best skater of all time pretty much created the industry out of there. Whatever the case, the athletes knew things had to be kicked up a notch today. I've got a great grasp on everyone's musical tastes by now so that's all covered. Tony's been dealing with the shoulder injury he sustained last week and Sergie's knee is the size of a softball. I don't know how he walks up steps, let alone skates a 15 foot ramp. Speaking of injuries, Kevin Robinson was out for about a week and has re-joined the tour for the last few days. Kevin Staab is also back in the game, he's been out since he unfortunately stepped on a nail at the venue in Birmingham. It's great to have both of them back, even though we've only got 2 shows to go. That all said, San Diego turned out to be one of the best shows of the tour. Of course, I'd like to think that everyone just closed their eyes and let the music take over, forgetting about any of the physical pain. But to be fair, these guys are pros and they've rode through worse pain and everyone seems to be in great spirits. Especially Dennis McCoy, but that's pretty much how he always is.
Off the topic, I've been getting messages on my Sidekick from a rapper who is trying to get a hold of his manager. Apparently I've got his manager's old phone number. Being that I've had this phone for over a month, I'd say it's high time for him to find new representation. So dude, if you're reading this, you should probably move on.
One more show to go! Irvine is gonna rock!
Rain, rain, and more rain. That's what I've come to expect from the northwest, and Seattle definitely had some showers going on. Not a problem, we just went with plan B and set up in the amphitheater. Like Boston, the ramp looked pretty fresh under the lights and the major upside is that there was no wind for the athletes to compensate in mid air for. Seattle was one of the best audiences we've had, even before we gave away Sidekicks. Of course, the moto parts of the show were scrapped because of the indoor situation but that meant almost double the amount of skate and bmx!
A lot of the guys on the Huck Jam are also competing in the Dew Tour, and today Jason Ellis took the liberty of calling out Dennis McCoy to do his competition run during his Huck Jam ride. Dennis came through, and showed us some new tricks. I asked him what the setup for the Dew Tour was like and apparently the ramps are completely different, so I guess it doesn't really give him a huge advantage in the contest. Best of luck to Dennis!
Like I said, the crowd in Seattle was great and they got to see some skate and bmx tricks that aren't normally done on the tour. Once again, Tony Hawk does not disappoint!
Well, we’re just about at the halfway point and it feels like this tour started just yesterday. We’ve had to deal with a lot of unfortunate injuries in the past few weeks, the latest being John Parker and Kevin Staab. I’m really pulling for those guys to recover as soon as possible, they’re two of the most sincerely good dudes you’ll ever meet. Being the “new guy” on the tour it was great to see them every day with a smile on their face. Thankfully, I’m told that both of them will ride again soon.
Kevin Robinson joined us today and he’s been unleashing a whole lot of amazing tricks. The guy’s won numerous medals at X-Games and is definitely one of the best BMX riders on earth. Last week we watched as he broke the world record by flying 27 feet in the air at the Red Bull Experiment in Central Park, NYC! I don’t know how he does it, my stomach starts to turn just looking at the ramp he dropped in on. He’s one of 3 people I know who have held world records, of course the other two are Tony Hawk and Sergie Ventura.
I’ve been switching up a lot with the songs I’m using for the Huck Jam, seems to be working out. I know everyone appreciates a change of pace, it’s never a good thing to listen to the same songs over and over every day if you don’t have to. You know, I don’t think there have been many parallels drawn between skating and scratching. But something Tony says to the audience at each show is that “skating wasn’t always cool”. Neither was scratching. Now here we are, joining forces!
I learned something about the Huck Jam today. It can be storming outside, thunder showers and all - and the show will go on! In other words, we set up under the safety and shelter of the amphitheater's "shed". It actually looked very cool, and for the first time we didn't have to deal with wind (the only thing that the wind does to me is blow my tie all over my face, but for the athletes who are doing tricks well over 20 feet in the air, wind is definitely a factor). Another thing I learned is that Tony Hawk REALLY pays attention to the audience. More on that later.
The audience in Boston was by far the best we've had on the tour so far. I had a great time with them during my opening set, they seemed to really appreciate the musical aspect of the show. There were quite a few people who saw me with the Blue Man Group, so it was nice to see some familiar faces!
So the moto-x dudes got the afternoon off. I think everyone understood since only bad things can happen if you launch 60 feet doing tail whips in the rain. It's a good thing we aired on the side of caution, but that meant we had to make the show even longer. More skate, more bmx, and more music!!! To me, this is what the Jam is all about. Performing the awesome routines which no one else in the world is doing, and then throwin down the sickest individual runs possible. Elliot Sloan, the newcomer to the tour, found his groove in Boston. He'd been attempting a 540 tailgrab on several shows but couldn't quite land it. We were all pulling for him and if he was going to make it happen, this was the show where he needed to most. As you can probably guess since I'm writing about it, he totally nailed it. On his last show as a 19 year old, no less. Wait, 19?!?!? I was barely figuring out what I kinda wanted to do with my life when I was 19, and this guy's on the biggest skate tour in the world. It's no easy task, as Jason Ellis reminds him every show "you know if you crash into Tony Hawk on the ramp you'll be fired from skateboarding."
Back to that amazing audience that Boston was. Tony makes the call as far as how the show goes from day to day, but this one was different. The crowd was so loud and supportive, he went for a trick that he hasn't even attempted since his "loop of death" slam as seen on MTV's "Scarred" episode. I'm not going to say what it was, it felt like it was a gift from him to Boston. Now, to do that at a show says a whole lot about the role a crowd plays in a show; it was a very special moment for the tour, and we're only a week in! He and Ellis also added an extra segment to the show which I personally call "what people do for a Tony Hawk Signature Sidekick" (you can see that and more in my upcoming video blog). As far as the individual runs, they just didn't stop! John Parker and Dennis McCoy really let loose, landing combos they haven't done on the tour yet; it might have had something to do with the fact that BMX legend Joe Johnson was in the audience. Joe Johnson is the inventor of the tailwhip air, in fact in '89 he was doing double tailwhips when no one else could do a single. I'm constantly surrounded by incredible talent on this tour!
The audience in HOTlanta was treated to our most action packed show yet! Tony Hawk brought out some more moto guys to spice things up. Drake Mcelroy (inventor of the "dead body") and Greg Garrison have joined us, so along with Graham Gustin that makes three moto-x dudes. Prior to the Huck Jam, I've seen these guys on tv, which is cool and all but witnessing this live is surreal. It probably helps that I'm about 20 feet from their launch. So anyway, the lineup is pretty full and I hear Tom Stober is going to be joining us next week.
Tony Hawk has got to be one of the most determined people on the face of the planet. During the individual runs, he tried hitting a couple 720's but it seemed like the wind just didn't want it to happen. When most athletes would call it a day, he stayed on the ramp AFTER the show had officially ended and skated until he landed the 720. And not only did he nail it, he did it flying over Jesse Fritsch! It was the best encore I've seen in a long time, at any show.
Speaking of Jesse Fritsch, he's a man of many skills. He plays guitar in the band "Sayvinyl", and in an industry where everyone's sponsored by someone, I believe he's one of the few skaters sponsored by Fender Guitar. I managed to snatch a copy of their record and I after a few listens, I'm going to predict that I'll be listening to "The New Pope" for the rest of the tour. Trust me, it's good. I don't know where he finds the time to do what he does; I just found out he's also doing a tour blog for ShredOrDie.com. Man, I thought I was busy. We geeked out with our Sidekicks for a minute too, and I'm really starting to see what all the hype is all about.
Back the the show. One of the things that an audience should be aware of is the fact that the louder they are, the better the show will be. Atlanta was a perfect example. Early on the crowd was okay, but once Tony Hawk's signature Sidekicks were given out it was pretty much mayhem. For the rest of the show, they showed so much love and it definitely helped the athletes try things they haven't on the tour so far. As you would guess, once one guy tries something new, they all go for the gusto. And we're only 5 shows in, I can't wait to see what these guys have next week!
Now that I've got a couple shows under my belt, I felt great for the Houston show. It's a good thing too, because MTV was filming. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say what it was for exactly, but I can certainly tell you it wasn't "Date My Parents" or "Pimp My Ride". Ever since I signed on to Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam, my email box has been mildly flooded with questions about the show and about Tony. I would like to address a couple of them here, while I've got your attention. "What are you doing on this tour? You don't skate!" I'm on for the entire tour. For the first time in Huck Jam history, there's going to be an opening act - me! They've also got me in playing while the athletes do their thing, since music is something I know a few things about. "Does Tony Hawk really use a Sidekick?" Yes, Tony does use a Sidekick. He actually taught me a few tricks with it, he knows it inside and out. I'm working overtime on the Boom Boom Huck Jam, so after my opening set I'm rocking all the music and all the videos that introduce the acts. Yes, acts. These guys don't just get up there and do their best tricks one after another. Tony Hawk has hand picked a top notch group for this demanding show. They're on the ramp with different combinations of skaters and bmx at the same time, sometimes crossing in mid-air within inches of each other. My favorite is the "triple stack", which is exactly what it sounds like - three guys crossing the same vertical plane in mid-air. It's a work of art. But they also have time to get loose and show off with some individual runs. It's during this part of the show where you really get a taste of everyone's unique styles and approaches. It's basically a free for all with some of the best skaters and bmx riders in the world. And when the moto guys start their jumps, just about everyone in the building's jaw is dropped. I'll have to take some photos of them since their landing is about 20 feet from me. The energy of the show was great, I really feel like everyone is getting into a groove. What they're doing out there is beyond what most people would consider a sport, it's an artform. It still amazes me how accurate they are when they're doing routines. Sergie Ventura was telling me that they'll talk to each other in mid-air. I can barely talk while I'm scratching. Sergie is a seasoned veteran on the Huck Jam tour, he's been on since day one. He's known for going big, he once held the highest air record. I asked him what his secret is, and he answered simply "I feed off the crowd's energy". I believe it, as I've seen him reach incredible heights when the crowd is really showing love. I'll have to ask him later about his adventures on the Madonna tour. Something that I found cool about this tour is that Tony does take the time to do "meet and greets" before each show. It's great to see how excited these kids are to meet him and tell him how much they love him. And he does this less than 2 hours before show time, when most performers would rather sit in their dressing room and watch tv. Kudos to the Birdman for taking the time to sit down for some positive interaction. I don't know what qualifies someone to get to the meet and greets, but I'm gonna find out. Another guy on the tour who is putting in some extra work is Jason Ellis. Not only is he skating in the show, he's wired for sound and HOSTING the Huck Jam. Just imagine one of the funniest guys you'll ever meet skating a ramp and never missing a beat. He had me rolling during rehearsals and he's just as good during the show in front of thousands of people. He's also a mixed martial arts dude and has a radio show on Sirius 28 Faction. Ellis is one guy who can have you in stitches in more ways than one....that was a horrible pun, I know. But seriously he takes care of business, in fact he's probably doing his show remotely as I'm typing this. During the show he kept mentioning that he didn't have a Sidekick, so Tony challenged him to hit a 540˚ for one. He landed it, and Ellis is now the proud owner of a Tony Hawk Edition Sidekick LX. More on Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam later, I need to get some sleep!
The neverending adventure that is my life continues as I embark on a new voyage. This time, I'm joining Tony Hawk, Kevin Staab, Sergie Ventura, Jesse Fritsch, Neal Hendrix, Kevin Robinson, Dennis McCoy, John Parker, Matt Buyten, Drake McElroy, Greg Garrison, and Jason Ellis as the show's opening act. As an added twist, I'll also be handling the music and on-screen treats during the entire show! This is something that's never been done in the history of both action sports and turntablism, so you can probably guess that I'm hyped beyond words. I've been spending the past few days at Tony Hawk Industries, hanging with the whole crew, familiarizing myself with past Huck Jams, working on 2008's show, and most importantly celebrating Tony's birthday.
There are so many things unfolding, but right now I need to wrap my head around the task at hand - pre-production.