May 16th, 2004

classic beard

Words vs Meaning

I got the "Rush in Rio" DVD for Christmas, and finally took the time to watch it. It was a lot of fun; I've seen them in concert before, but wouldn't ever want to be in a stadium like that again (and that was just Foxwoods; Rio had 60,000 people...)

One little thing that shows up is a set of front-loading washing machines, on stage, during the concert (behind Geddy Lee, so you see them a lot.) No clue why, except that during one of the songs, a trio of guys with wigs and guitars walk up, each open one up and do something with it, and then walk off. No further hints, so of course I hit the web.

Searching google for rush rio washing machine finds several pages of hits, all of which are people mentioning them, either wondering why they're there, or proposing theories like "they're there for balance, since he doesn't use a big amp stack anymore" (and some puns about "clean sound" :-) Strange that the web fails to have the answer...

Then I started looking at the documentary. One shot has someone showing a red t-shirt with white lettering: "I got this t-shirt from dryer #3 on the Vapor Trails tour". Dryer? Not washing machine? Sure enough, googling for vapor trails dryer turns up this gem:

Geddy's amps are replaced by three coin operated laundromat dryers, which spin and light up with different colors. When the dryers stop spinning, roadies walk out on stage and restart them by adding more quarters. These roadies are seen wearing "doing the laundry" type costumes: without pants; a female wearing a maid's uniform; a female wearing a house robe; men wearing nothing but towels around their waists, a cowgirl wearing a bikini top and thong chaps; a border patrol officer, NYC Cops (at Madison Square Garden), and real life Rush fan, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson. During the short break preceding the encore, Geddy and Alex reach inside the dryers and pull out t-shirts which they threw out to the audience. These t-shirts have a variation of the Vapor Trails logo on the front and "I got this shirt from Dryer #"X" on the Vapor Trails tour" on the back.

The concert DVD doesn't show any of that, though if you're looking for it you do see clothing tossed around at one point. What I've watched of the documentary doesn't mention it either, beyond the one shot of the shirt itself. This isn't really about the shirt, though - it's about the words. The "human" answer to "what was with those washing machines on stage during Rush in Rio" is "washing machines? Oh, you mean the dryers" (widening from "washing machines" to "things that look like washing machines", identifying them, and narrowing back to "what they are" at the same resolution.)

Google probably isn't going to do that any time soon. Remember this.

On the other hand, this post has the potential to bridge the two questions...
  • Current Music
    Anything but Temptation - Rush