Home I Upcoming Shows I Members I Summer '03Tour Diary I Our Story
|Here's the Winter, 2008 tour blog as it
stands. We're going to try to keep updating as the tour
progresses. We should have some pictures up pretty soon also.
LITTLE ROCK, AR
Leading up to the departure, we were going to play a locals only show to maybe get some gas money so we could get off on a good foot financially. I had the day off so I ran errands and got prepared to escape from my life for 5 weeks! We were all very excited to be doing mostly fun stuff for the next 5 weeks... no bosses, no schedules (except making it to the next show. But boy was it stressful getting it all together to leave: planning for paying the bills, planning for who would take care of the house, and putting together our new CD and merch for the trip, and booking last minute shows.
The show was at the Lazer Puzzy house in Little Rock, an interesting house show venue where young kids and older people seem to find common ground and hang out together. The house is very nice and clean, not your average punk house, and there is artwork on the walls that would make the Phyllis Schafly scream in horror. The basement is where the bands play and its the perfect space for DIY shows. The only problem is the cigarette smoke. We played with Goose and Sean's band, Androids Of Ex-Lovers. We had our new CD finally done. Well, most of the materials were together. We had enough for this show at least.
Androids did good and let us use their drums and bass stuff when we played. The PA died in the middle of our set. We seem to have the affect on electronic equipment. We managed, and had a pretty decent show with pretty decent turnout. Michaela got the merch table all set up nice and took over the management of that operation.
After the show, we went over to Schiller St. and got some more screen-printing done and hung out with the local kids one last time before we departed.
I woke up in the morning, still in my bed at home thinking that this would be one of the most memorable days of my life. There were still a lot of last minute things to do, but we were pretty much ready to embark on a 35-day tour all over the continental US! It was so exciting. So I ran around doing more errands and packing up stuff at home and burning CDs. Finally the time came to leave for Memphis. I was behind so I made everybody mega late. Androids Of Ex-Lovers were going to play also, and since they were going to play first, we were so late that we were going to miss them. We got there and as soon as we pulled in we had to set up and play. We were playing with Bury The Living, an amazing hardcore band from Memphis who have been around since 1999, but they haven't played in over a year, so tons of kids were there to see them, but they were playing between us and Androids so we missed them too. I was pretty pissed at myself for making us late and missing one of my favorite bands from the region who I hadn't seen play in years. The odd thing about Memphis is that its very snobby. People only watched Bury the Living and the other local band, The Drawls. Its always been that way. Despite being so close to Little Rock, there has always seemed to be a disconnect between the two cities. But it was ok because it was a benefit for the Socialist Party local who were organizing a response to the David Duke white supremacist convention that was supposed to take place in Memphis that day but was somehow was cancelled.
We got up to play very quickly and as soon as I tried to let out a yell for the first line of the first song, I realized I had lost my voice from being sick. That came out of nowhere because I never felt bad at all. So I had to adjust the way I yelled to allow for the shift in my vocals, which were sounding more high pitched and ratcheted up. We changed the set list on the fly to do more instrumentals. Then there was a reggae band who were very good. We got paid pretty ok and headed over to our friend Ceylon's house, who is the drummer for Bury The Living. We hung out and crashed out then in the morning we went around Memphis to Goner Records and the flea market with Alex's friend, Seth. Then we got on a wild goose chase looking for an iPod charger for Dave who had forgotten his and then we finally got out of town.
ST. LOUIS, MO
The show in St. Louis was organized by my friend Chris who jumped in the van mid-way through our tour in 2003. He set it up at this neato place called Black Bear that was an anarchist bakery, like all collectively run and stuff.
It a small crowd but they were receptive to us and Androids. The space was dark and the PA was kind of on the outs, but it was a great show anyway since it was in such a friendly space. Chris couldn’t hang out for too long and went home after the show, whilst we attended a dance party down the street. I met a neat girl who was really into mid-90’s screamo just like me and we geeked out about that for a while, then we went and stayed at her house because she was friends with Alex. We started a bet between me and Michaela to see who could go the longest without changing clothes or showering and we shook on a $10 bet. I geeked out over their record collection and we crashed out.
In the morning we went to the “City Museum.” Where its like a huge five-story playground for both adults and kids. Caves, tunnels, slides, and art exhibits, magic shows, novelty museum. There’s this one huge area where they have these metal stairs that wind in a circle for five stories and slides that go down in a spiral for the same distance. Its like a mix of MC Escher and Nine Inch Nails, but for kids. The best part was, we got in for free, because the person at the desk was really nice and it seems to a policy there that they let bands in for free, because the same story got a different version of TTTAE in there a year or so before. Hooray for St. Louis!
At last it was time to head to Indiana.
On our way into Bloomington we got a little turned around, which became a common theme for the rest of the tour. But we made it. This was going to be another house show. We showed up at the show house and we jammed out with this awesome band from Bloomington called Ox-Eye and a couple more bands, one from Milwaukee called Tenement. After the show we went to the Kroger dumpster and grabbed some stuff. We stayed at Donovan’s house which was called Castle Grayskull. In the morning Donovan scored some burritos and Mike Lierly from Little Rock who lives in Bloomington now came by to visit for a sec. Alex and Michaela and Dave went walking around to check out the town had to offer and I washed the dishes. Then we went on our way to Chicago. Bloomington was very kind to us.
The show in Chicago was supposed to be at this place called the Cunt Collective. My friend Leila helped us get the show set up pretty last minute, so we were really glad to get a show. But getting into Chicago was a pain in the neck. The freeways coming from Indiana are under construction and the detours were confusing. Finally after about four wrong turns and much gnashing of teeth, we straightened up and got headed in the right direction to downtown Chicago.
When we got to the venue, we found out it was actually an apartment, and the people there were all anarchist queers. They were having a meeting when I walked in and so I just used the bathroom and went back outside. Later we came back and checked out the place. It was a two story apartment with wood floors. It began on the 2nd floor of a downtown office building so we had to lug our equipment up a long flight of stairs, but it was OK. We helped the self-described "Cunts” move furniture and bikes out of the way to make room for the amps and drums. The crowd slowly built up to a decent enough size to fill up the living room. The band Cloud Mouth opened up for us and they were pretty good. We played a pretty tight set and during this show, I could tell my voice was starting to come back. The kids seemed to be having a good time.
After the show we hung around with the folks who lived at the Cunt Collective until it was time to crash. Turns out that their apartment was situated right up next to the “el” Train, just like in the Blues Brothers movie, and it ran by just about as often. I’m sure the people who lived there weren’t as enamored with it as I was since they were probably sick of it vibrating the floors and walls and making it very loud and hard to talk. But still, they had this awesome balcony that gave you a great rooftop of their neighborhood and the el train when it would come by was right there only 20 or so feet away from the balcony railing.
I hung out at the apartment and worked on booking more shows the next day. I also had vegan biscuits and gravy and talked politics with the Cunts, which was stimulating. They are very intense about their activism, which is awesome. While Alex and Michaela and Dave went exploring to Wicker Park they ran into a guy from the band, Total Abuse, who we tried to get a show with in Austin, but they blew us off.
When we all got back to the Cunt Collective, we found out from our contact in Milwaukee that the show was starting pretty soon and we needed to make haste and get there pretty quick.
We hustled it to Milwaukee, and got there just in time to meet up with our contact, Eric from the band: Holy Shit! and see Rapid Adapter, the first band. The show was in a very small basement room that reminded me of like catacombs beneath Rome. Everyone crowded in there and watched the bands play. The microphone would send voltage into my lips whenever I would accidentally touch it.
After we played, a good band called Gut Reactions played, but I had to go upstairs and lay down on the couch because my leg was hurting pretty badly. The living room where I was laying on the couch became slowly filled with party people and housemates. All of them seemed to be smoking, as did people in all the other rooms in the house. Eventually I had to get up and take a walk outside. After the Gut Reactions were finished, everyone played “kick-the-ball-into-the-bass-drum” down in the basement. I wandered in on the tail end of it.
We loaded up the stuff and head to Eric’s for sleep. His house was very clean and comfortable, and he let me use his dryer, but he wasn’t using the heat and so it was pretty cold. But he had crazy blankets going on so it was OK. In the morning, we got up and headed out pretty early since Eric had to go to work to his “espionage” job. On the way we stopped in Madison, Wisconsin, and I had lunch with my old friend from the campus organizing world, Ben Manski while Dave, Michaela, and Alex went wondering down State Street and looking in all the shops. Turns out that Ben’s married now, but still keeping the faith and doing movement work. I’m glad for him and maybe we’ll get to work together someday.
We got a little turned around again in Minneapolis but eventually made it and found the house where the show was to be. Our friends, Ski and Melissa had worked together to get this show set up and we were getting to play with Ski’s band: Dirtyard, who we all saw in Little Rock a few months prior and really liked a lot.
There were so many people at this show, and all were highly energetic, Dirtyard played and the basement room where they played in was so small that many people had to stand on the stairs leading down into the basement. When we played it was so awesome. People were dancing and moving around, and the room was completely packed with crusty trainhopper-type punks, most having dreadlocks or some other angular oddly shaven heads. We sounded pretty good I think. After the show we hung out and talked to the locals. This other band, Terracide was totally metal and badass. They did a His Hero Is Gone cover, and shredded on their own original song material as well.
The Minneapolis show had the most energy up until now. People were really into all the bands. We sold several CDs and t-shirts and stuff. This was a really fun time for everyone in our crew because we already knew several people there in Minneapolis, but also just because of the show’s energy. After it concluded, Alex and Michaela went to Melissa’s house, and got some tamales and brought them back to where we were staying. We stayed up a little longer talking and then crashed out. In the morning we got up early because we had a long drive to South Dakota. We headed on down the road, wishing we could stay longer in Minneapolis.
RAPID CITY, SD
The drive to Rapid City saw the landscape dramatically. We had been in the Midwestern, cornfields since St. Louis, but now the landscape became much drier and much more desolate. As we got into Western South Dakota, the Black hills rose up and presented themselves. Even though it was night, it was pretty cool. This was the first time I’ve ever been to South Dakota so it was a big plus for me. I had been to every other state in the country other than South Dakota and Rhode Island. And now, all I had left to see was Rhode Island. And there is some chance that we still might be going to Rhode Island.
Anyway, we got to the venue and it was in the basement of a hotel bar. A pretty nice place with a really great PA system. The scene in Rapid City has apparently been through some hard times lately because the kids told us that there were tons of awesome bands coming through especially in the 90’s. On the desk where they were taking the door money, there was a flier talking about how people need to get over their personal problems and go to ALL the shows even if they have personal problems with the people who set up the shows because if they don’t, then the scene will suffer and touring bands will not come through as much.
The first band that played at the show was called Women is the Earth and they sounded like At the Gates. Then we played and kids seemed to like it although no one really moved around or anything. I tried to initiate dialogue with the folks there but they were real shy and didn’t say much. After we played, this group of guys who were in their 40’s and 50’s called American Heavy Metal Weekend got up and played an hour worth or punk covers from the 80’s. A couple Black Flag songs and DI’s: Richard Hung himself was the only ones I recognized.
After the show we went to this kid Andrew’s house and ate some ramen noodles and crashed in preparation for the long ass drive to Boise, ID.
We started out the day with high hopes of making the 14-hour drive to Boise kind of fun by heading through Yellowstone National Park. Bad idea. First we went through two snowstorms and got slowed down and made really crappy time. Then, we hit a realization after driving about 6 or 7 hours and finally making it almost all he way to Yellowstone. The signs said Yellowstone was closed! We had no idea. We should have checked it out before we went that far along because now we had to make a huge detour to get around the crazy snowy mountains. It cost us a lot of hours driving, and we were looking at not making it to Boise on time. We stopped in to the visitors center near the entrance to Yellowstone and asked the staff there to give us some help in figuring out what to do.
We called our contact in Boise to see what she thought. Then things got really screwy because we found out the she had gotten the dates mixed up and she thought we were coming the next day. But she said it wasn’t a big deal and they could make some calls and make it work out and get people to come out that night instead of the next night. The only thing was we were looking at getting into town at about midnight if we were lucky. We decided to try to make it work, knowing that we probably weren’t going to make it on time, but at least we would have a free place to stay and we would get to meet Kimberly who was really nice and would likely be a good contact therefore future shows. About 12 hours later, at about 3:30 am, we pulled into Boise and went to Kimberly’s house and she let us in and we slept like babies after a 21 hour car trip. She said that there was indeed a show and kids showed up, and the local bands were good, but it was too bad that we couldn’t play because the show was most definitely over. The next morning we ran some errands and headed to Seattle. Too bad we didn’t get to play, but it could have been much worse I suppose. At least we got to meet Kimberly and see a little bit of Boise.
We drove across Oregon and Washington and hit the Seattle city limits at about 6 or 7 pm. Alex, David, and Michaela all had never been to Seattle before and they were all getting really excited, especially Alex, so as we came into the city, I cranked the Pearl Jam to be funny. We went to the show house: the F.B.K., which stands for “Fortress of the fire-Breathing Kangaroo.” My friend Aaron Johnson, who I know from Fayetteville, Arkansas from several years ago hooked us up with the show several show contacts down the coast. They made some crazy good peanut sauce pizza and salad. Very tasty. We sat around listened to music and talked and watched all the Seattle crusty punks show up. They were remarkably similarly dressed and most had variations of the same haircuts, like shaved on the side and short in the front and long in the back, kind of like a combination Mohawk and Mullet. I’ve seen lots of these before, but these were immediately striking because there so many of them. But I’m not making fun or anything, It was just very noticeable immediately to an outsider such as us, and we kind of felt a little like under fashioned, or just not in tune with the same fashion. But people were very cool to us and we really enjoyed the show and the Seattle punks’ scene.
We went down to the basement and watched Pillow Fight Fight play. I had seen them when they came through Little Rock and talked to them on the phone getting some contacts. They played a great show, and it seemed different that when I saw them in Little Rock, like a little more stripped down. After they played, we went on and we played our best show on the tour yet. It just clicked and people were really into it and we played great… no mistakes. Then we watched Glue, the band that Aaron is in. They were really good, playing a mix of pop punk and quirky hooks like all Minutemen style.
After the show we hung out and made friends with the Seattle punks and crashed out on the floor at the F.B.K. house. In the morning we went dumpstering and found some treats in the Willow Foods (tofu company) dumpster. There was a quick trip to the Space Needle that was aborted when we found out it costs $18 to go up that thing. So we have up on that and headed for Portland.
11-16-08 and 11-17-08
On the way to Portland, we stopped in Olympia at a “punk brunch” daytime show that we had heard about where Glue and this other band, Son Skull were playing. We found the house where the show was and we had missed Glue but here there three other bands playing, then we watched the other bands and then got to see Son Skull. One guy was doing the whole solo electric/rap/dance thing. Another band, Halo Fauna played, kind of indie-pop.
While we were waiting there, this guy Matt who is in Son Skull came up and suggested to me that we should play after they finished and use their equipment. Dave and Alex were first thinking they would be too tired, as they are sometimes wont to do. But since we didn’t have to load equipment, they agreed.
So after Son Skull played, we got up there and used their stuff to play a very short set, but it was a really good short set and people really liked us. We sold some merch and they gave us some donations from the hat they had been passing. All in all, it was a very worthwhile stop along the way.
In Portland that night we were booked to play at the Chaos Café, a rad vegan restaurant and show venue. We got there, loaded our equipment in and met the band Semi-Evolved Simians, who we were going to play with a couple of days later in Santa Rosa. We got some free food from the café and enjoyed that with the Semi-Evolved dudes. Then we watched the first band Silent Majority, who were kind of rock and roll punk. Not my thing, but they were sincere about what they were doing and the other people with me were into it. Then Semi-Evolved Simians played and they really impressed me with their mix of tons of different styles and they were really tight and they sang dual vocals a lot, which is impressive. One of the most original and good bands I’ve seen in a while.
Unfortunately, the show was kind of lightly-attended, and the Simians didn’t have a lot of people watching them. I kind of felt guilty since I had booked the show and gotten them added onto it. Then we played and it was alright, but still not a lot of people there. Then after we played, a band called “A Ghost Face Two Inches Away From Your Own Face” began setting up. They were pretty unfriendly and stand-off-ish. 20 or so of their friends all showed up at the moment they were about to play. These people were there the whole time and didn’t come in until the Ghost Face metalcore band or whatever went on.
We packed up and headed to our friend Clare’s house who used to live in Little Rock. On the way there, we had the directions, but I took a wrong turn and it proved to be very disastrous from a navigational perspective. We were unable to change course and ended up going over this long bridge and routed across these various highways and byways of Portland, unable to turn around. It also sucked because the Semi-Evolved Simians were behind us in their van the whole time following us because they didn’t know how to get to Clare’s, and we supposedly did. We probably drove around for 30 minutes before getting back on course. Needless to say we felt like a bunch of dolts. Finally we used the GPS dewhicky to get us to Clare’s.
Clare lived there Todd who is also a Little Rock expatriate and a bunch of rockers and bike messengers. Clare and Todd were fun to hang out and are just rad DIY people. We sat around with them and the Semi-Evolved Simians and swapped stories about Little Rock and other various people.
We woke up the next morning and took it pretty easy, taking our sweet time to do things. We did have another show that night, but we didn’t have to travel for it. So we slept late and spent all day being lazy/productive doing laundry, getting an oil change, and doing stuff on the internet. Finally we went to the show, which we were just kind of added to with help from our Seattle friend Aaron, who helped us out so much all up and down the west coast. This Portland band called Amalgams played and I missed their set because I got stuck on a log phone call about shipping a package. Then we played and as we were setting up, I noticed that my guitar amp had a slightly different look to the back side of it. Like the sharpie handwriting that I was used to was gone. But everything else was totally the same. The make and model and everything was identical, and to top it off it also had a broken top handle just like my amp did.
And I thought, wow, how did someone modify my amp since last night? Then I thought more and realized that this was an amp from one of the bands at the show the night before that had gotten accidentally switched! Inside, I freaked out a little. I asked David and Alex how this could have happened… and I called Adam from Semi-Evolved Simians and Collin who set up the previous night’s show since I figured he would have the numbers for the guitar players from the other band, Ghost Face, etc. But I was only able to leave a message with Collin and Adam’s band the Simians used a different amp he said. So I had to play the show using the other band’s amp, which I kind of felt bad about, but hey desperate times call for desperate measures. And I resolved to get the whole thing figured out before we left Portland, since it would likely be too difficult to track anyone down and have to deal with shipping these heavy suckers. As we played a few other annoying problems came up like I broke a string 30-40 seconds into the first song, Alex kept having drums fall apart, and the amp didn’t sound the same at all. It sounded like a more modern version, built for sounding like Korn or something.
But despite all that being kind of messed up, we played a decent show, and as soon as we were done with our last chord and I set down the guitar this kid comes up to me with a Marshall amphead, and says: “here’s your amp.” I was so relieved that it was all sorted out that I gave him a big hug and he kind of looked at me like I was a weirdo. I think he was kind of younger and into the metalcore scene because he was from the band, Ghost Face 2 Inches Away From Your Own Face so that might have explained the reason he was acting kind of weird, but I didn’t care… I was just very very happy that he was there to switch the amps out. So after that little episode, we packed up and headed to Santa Rosa. We decided to drive all night because it was such a long drive and the show started very early the next day at 5:30 pm. So we said our goodbyes to all the great people we had met in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Olympia, and Portland and jumped in the van and prepared for a long drive.
We slept as much as we could so it would be tolerable. On the way Dave got a speeding ticket and we cringed as the cop shined his light all over the van. I was wondering what he thought of this situation with all this luggage and amps and drums and four weirdos from Arkansas driving in a packed van down the Northern California freeway at 6 am. He probably thought we were meth traffickers. But all we had to deal with was a speeding ticket.
SANTA ROSA CA
The countryside in Northern California was beautiful especially when we got off the freeway and got onto the state highways and county roads. We had some extra time so we took a few scenic routes to get there and we ended up going to a tourist trap called the “Petrified Forest”, which was a bunch of trees that had been covered in volcanic ash so they were petrified and dug up. The counter person gave us a discount because we were a traveling band. We promised not to tell the boss.
We got to Santa Rosa and I went to sleep in the park then we went to Adam’s house where the shows would be. We got some rest and then played along with locals, The Semi-Evolved Simians and Box Office Poisons. Great show for all the bands. There was this one guy who was “that guy” in the mosh pit and was running into everyone. But Adam asked him to chill out so I guess he left. The Semi-Evolved Simians are very good and the people in Santa Rosa were very friendly and treated us well.
After the show people hung out for while and I met this guy selling his CD by direct appeal. He asked me if I liked grindcore and if I wanted a CD. His band was called Wendol, pronounced “ven-dull”). We traded CDs and it was really good. We hung out and ate cake home-baked for Adam’s b-day, which was that day. Then the next morning I took the van into the local Firestone to have an inspection because it had been making a strange noise. I rode my bike around Santa Rosa for a while the van was in the shop. Michaela and I got some free grapes the next day that were on the front step of a house just 2 or 3 doors down the street.
Santa Rosa has lots of connections to Little Rock from 90’s cross-pollination between the two punk scenes. Adam, who hooked us up with the show, used to live in this house in Santa Rosa that housed some of the LR-connection people, and he wrote a book about it collecting the photos and stories of the kids who lived and hung out there. When I was riding around, I went to see the house and thought about it and it reminded me of Little Rock punk houses a lot.
The show in Oakland was awesome. The kids had a generator and the show was held under this freeway bridge near the train yard. Cops drove by a few times while we were there and never said anything. The bands that played were fun, one band it was their first show and they didn’t have a name yet so they used Are You Shitting Me? for the flyer. The other band was called Pigs and they were extremely loud and very good metal, but the guitarist’s amp was like the size of an alarm clock. Pretty amazing. They were awesome. After the show, these two kids interviewed us for their video blog asking us for our impressions of Oakland mostly. We went back to Heather’s and crashed. In the morning I got a ton of music for the computer from Heather before she went to law school we wet dumpstering and got a ton of bread in Oakland. We went by Gilman St. and looked at the sights and went to our favorite restaurants in San Francisco.
I would have liked to spend more time there but we had no plan and didn’t know where we were headed that night. But alas, we had to go to the next show. The pattern was becoming recognizable where we were going to all these awesome places but weren’t getting to see as much as we wanted because we had to spend the day driving. We went to the beach along the way. And at this very relaxing moss covered beach, I got a message saying that our Miami Florida show, which was in 6 days, was getting cancelled. Kind of a bummer to get that message while kicking back at such a relaxing place.
SANTA CLARITA, CA
We took a long drive to the show in Southern California. The funny thing about it is that it wasn’t actually a show, at least not like a normal punk show. It was an art show for art students at this private art college called Cal-Arts.
This band called “God Equals Genocide” saw the listing on our webpage that we needed help booking that date and called me and offered us the chance to play at the art show with them.
We got there and found the gallery. It was one of many in the building that were set aside for this art show. The student displaying her work in that particular gallery was allowing the bands to play in her gallery as an adjunct to the art. Her name was Ali. She was pretty cool and her artwork was pretty neat-o. One of her pieces was a big wall made up of different colored rubber bands woven together.
The show was a little on the shaky side at first: a microphone, stands and cables were not on hand and had to be located, and the allotted time was running out. It was 11:15 pm and we had to be done by midnight and both bands still had to play. So the God Equals Genocide kids started playing and holy cow they were crazy. Slop-punk is what they called themselves, but it was tight enough to get people freaking out. But I don’t think that was too difficult that night because it seemed pretty obvious to me that lots and lots of the art school students in attendance were high on something else besides life. Not sure what it was.
Nonetheless it made for an interesting set for us. We played pretty loud and it sounded pretty good and people wigged out kind of. After the sow, we made some friends and hung out for a while until we headed back with the God Equals Genocide folks to their place in a nearby community of San Bernadino. They were really awesome people and made us feel welcome and we had a great time. We had breakfast in the morning, traded records, and left pretty early to get to Tucson, AZ by 7:30 pm.
We were sad to be leaving the West Coast, where things just seemed to click and people were very receptive and hospitable. We turned back eastward to cross the desert.
The Mojave desert was pretty cool to view as we drove through. But the traffic going into Phoenix was murder. Nonetheless we got to Tucson pretty much on time. At some point in the drive we got a call from our contact in Lubbock, TX, where the next show was supposed to be, saying that the show was being moved to another place because the cops were shutting down their house from having shows. The place they were moving the shows to was a bar that was normally 21 and up. Not the kind of place I wanted to play at. I can’t stand the idea of excluding people form seeing our band because of their age. I asked them to see if they could make the show be all ages at the bar just this once. And she said she would let me know. So we waited to hear back and kept on.
We pulled up at the Gnarwahl house and there were a few people hanging out on the porch. It was funny because their yard was pretty much sand all around. There was some time until the show started because it was one of those where they were just waiting for people to show up and no one was really there yet.
We met Brian who was the person who set up the show. We ate some chips and salsa and all of a sudden my old friend, comrade, bandmate, and roommate tapped me on the shoulder. Andrew Darezzo had shaved his Mike Watt handlebar mustache and looked more like he did when I used to run around with him. We hung out and caught up a lot before the show, then the first band, Ultra Maroon played and they were really good. Like a louder and faster John Spencer Blues Explosion, employing a volume pedal and overdrive together with a delay or something. Very few people were there also, which is unfortunate because they were really good.
The we played, and everything seemed to go OK. Then Brian’s band, Sabertooth Snatch played. They were awesome, a lot like us… sort of like prog-punk. Still not too many folks there. We were going to go stay at Andrew’s but it was decided that it would be best for his domestic situation if we didn’t since his wife would be coming home from a 14-hour shift at the E.R. at 5:00 am and didn’t know anything about us being there. So we said bye to Andrew and crashed at Brian’s house, just down from the Gnarwahl house. It was kind of a busy place and the kitchen was almost completely unusable. But the Simpsons were on and there was much friendliness and hospitality going down. Brian was a cool guy and was into the same music as me. We chatted about all that and hit the hay. The next day we got up and decided what to do about the Lubbock show.
We started driving and we waited to hear back form the Lubbock people, butt he never told us anything so we acted pessimistically and skipped Lubbock, assuming that it would probably not be all ages just because we asked. So we took the turn at Las Cruces, New Mexico to Austin making it pretty much irreversible to go back to Lubbock.
We drove across the super desolate west Texas landscape. It has a certain beauty to it, but it’s also really, really boring. So we made quite a few stops along the way. At one gas station somewhere, we ran into some people we knew. Danny Malone, who is the brother of Teddy Malone, one of the former drummers of TTTAE, just happened to be at the same gas station in the middle of the desert. Danny helped us record vocals and mix some TTTAE tracks back in Sept. 2007 at his “Hot Tracks” studio in Austin. His bandmate was with him, and we chatted for a while, and found out that they were on their way back from playing some shows in L.A. What a coincidence. We said bye and kept on driving.
Somewhere along the way in West Texas, with cell phone signal fading in and out, we got a message from the Lubbock contact, Ingrid, saying that the Lubbock show was indeed going to be all ages. But at that point we had gone way too far towards Austin to be able to go back to Lubbock and be there before the show started. Its unfortunate. We should have been opticmistic and headed there anyway, but we did what we did based on the information we had and my own hunch that a for-profit bar out to only make money wasn’t going to change its door policy just for a little old hardcore band form Arkansas. Too bad. I called and apologized to Ingrid.
About 8 hours later we pulled into Austin around 2:00 am. Teddy, who we were going to stay with, was still out partying, as he is known to do sometimes. When he came back from the club to let us in, he brought the party with him. It was funny because we were all so incredibly tired from driving al the way from Tucson, AZ. But there were 7 or so people who showed up with him to keep it going. Anita and Danielle from Little Rock were there visiting. And of course, when these characters get together, there’s gonna be some dancing afoot. , and Joe Diffie from Conway/Fayetteville was there too; he lives there now. As expected, the table was moved out of the way and passed out the wine glasses and it was on. So, we didn’t get to sleep until 4:00 am or so. It was cool because we didn’t have to do anything special the next morning, so we could just sleep in. A good time was had by all. I even caught a glimpse of David dancing.
The next day was a great day. I helped clean the house with Teddy, did some laundry, and walked around town with Teddy and his roommate, Callie, who was totally crush material. We went on a walk around town because it was the Austin Eastside Studio Walk. That’s an event where people open up their homes to display their artwork. There were like 40 different spots to hit. Some of it was kind of yuppie or whatever, but some was pretty cool. It was neat getting to see inside the homes of Austin’s east side. The neighborhood is traditionally Latino, but has been getting pretty gentrified as of late. We went to the coffee shop and while we were sitting there talking, Callie, Teddy and myself, and in the middle of a sentence, she just gets up and says “see you chumps later.” We both looked at each other and laughed. She was kind of known for being unpredictable.
Then it came time to head to the show. The show was at Snake Eyes Vinyl, an awesome record store that specializes in punk and metal vinyl. The bands that played were all really good. First up was Pools, and they were a lot like the mid-90’s hardcore bands that I grew up on. Then Girlfren’ who are like a mix of riot grrrl and power violence. They played in Little Rock before, so some of us knew them. Then a noise/psychedelic/punk band called Magic Jewels played and I have to admit I didn’t see most of their set because I was setting up the drums with Alex, but what I heard was great.
Then, we set up and had a really good show. Teddy joined us on the drums for one song, which was fun and nostalgic. He got it mostly right, and everybody loved it. Yay. The band who set up the show, Naw Dude, played next and they were kick-ass. Hardcore punk rock as it should be, loud, chaotic, fast, and pissed.
A note about this show: the people who set it up were awesome. The bands ruled, the space was great. But I sat by the door watching people come in and Doug from Naw Dude was taking donations at the door. For the time I sat there, which was about 10 minutes, I must have seen three or four people come in that when asked for a donation, said, “Aw man, I just spent my money on beer.” Or if they didn’t say that they just said, “I ain’t got no cash bro”, but were holding a 40 oz or a 12-pack. That’s just a pet peeve of mine since it such a lame hipster copout that deprives hard working bands of financial support. I’ve noticed this becoming more and more of a problem in the last 5 years or so at DIY shows. OK, I’m done preaching now.
The night was young still, and I was up for some hanging out. After we loaded up and said all our goodbyes to the punks at the show, we went back to Teddy’s house. The others in the TTTAE crew were all gonna crash because they wanted to get up hellafied early to drive to Pensacola and have as much time there as possible. I wasn’t ready to turn, so I called up Teddy and his crew of Arkansas and Austin kids to see what they were up to, and they were all going out to the clubs again. This time they were heading to a bona fide dance club. They invited me to come along. I am known for not being a dancer. But I went anyway to hang out and have some fun. I went to the bar down on 6th St. and found them and then we walked over to the nearby dance club. We freaked and frolicked to some actually pretty bad club music. It wasn’t even that great for dancing. But the crowd wanted to dance so there was no stopping them. There were probably 100 people there just getting down. Plenty more were being wallflowers. I got to dance with like six girls at once who were in our crew. I bet it was making some other guys jealous.
Eventually I realized that I needed to get back and sleep since my bandmates wanted to leave by 5:00 am. So I said my goodbyes and headed back to Teddy’s house to crash. Within one hour they were all back and ready to hang out some more. They were all on the porch, talking and I was just on the other side of the front door on the living room floor, so I could hear every word uttered. So, even though I only had about 2 hours left until my crew wanted to leave, I got up and went out to hang out some more. It was great getting to hang out with these guys, but eventually I did catch about one hour of sleep before the TTTAE kids who had been sleeping for 5 hours, woke me up and said, it was time to go to Pensacola. I reluctantly got up and got in the van for another marathon trip.
I was asleep most of the drive to Pensacola, but drove the last couple hours. It was long, that’s all I know. Sluggo’s was the venue for the show. Its an awesome café/bar/venue that is run by some DIY punkers who are in some bands. Our pal, Chris from Little Rock was there because he sometimes lives in Pensacola. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been able to get a local act to play the sow, so it was just us. It was a little awkward, but no big deal. We got some awesome vegan food from the Sluggo’s kitchen, and we had a pretty good set. A fair amount of people did actually turn out, too so that was good.
After the show, we went to the house where Chris lives, the “309” as it is known. It’s a pretty famous punkhouse that is featured in the “Punkhouses” book. It has lots of character. Some very nice awesome people live there also.
The next day, we went on a walk to see if we could scrounge up some Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and that proved successful. Then we went to the awesome End of the Line café, and had some coffee and food and that was awesome. Then we went with Julie and Martha from the punkhouse to the Pensacola public beach and that was super awesome. The water was cold, but we totally went swimming in it for a long time. I wore these totally funny weightlifter shorts that were small and tight and made me look like I was in Van Halen from 1984 or something. Then when I got out, my body was shivering so much, my mouth almost wouldn’t move because my face muscles were spazzing out. I went over to the Pensacola Bay on the other side of the barrier island and then when we tried to go back there was a stupid cop and we didn’t want to walk by him because Julie had her cute cute dog with her, so we devised a secret and successful escape plan to pick her up farther down the road. We then parted ways, and were sad to leave Pensacola.
After a short drive across northern Florida, we got to the venue a little early and had some time. Wayward Council is an awesome record store and infoshop in Gainesville’s university district. David, Alex, and Michaela wanted to go to Taco Bell, but I remembered an awesome falafel place from the last time TTTAE played here and I sought that out on my own. It was well worth it, even if it did cost a couple bucks more than Toxic Hell. I made some calls and tried to patch some holes in our tour dates.
The show was starting pretty late, at like 11 pm or so. We got there and waited around for things to start. Wayward has tons of books, zines, and such things. We found this “Punkhouses” book, which is a collection of photos of crazy rocker houses all over the USA. We noted several of the houses that we had stayed at and/or played at in the last two or three weeks. Unfortunately they missed out on any in Arkansas, which is too bad because there is one punk house in Little Rock, the Barton St. house, that has been around for a long time, at least 9 years at this point, and has all the cred and such that all the others in the book had. The other funny thing about it was that the forward to the book was written by Thurston Moore, and the first line of his forward was “I never lived in a punk house”. I thought that was a little ironic. Anyway, the book overall was very awesome, and I wish I had the 27 bux to buy it.
Finally people showed up and the show got going. The first band was Dead Friends. Very cool music; kind of chaotic metal influenced hardcore. But not metalcore at all. Catch them because they are supposed to tour soon.
Then we played and most of the notes were correct, but damn it if the feeling just wasn’t there. We were tired from swimming in the ocean earlier that morning, so the show had less energy than it should have. People in Gainesville are awesome and they treated us well, and seemed appreciative. We left the show went and crashed at Dru’s house and I remember his sweetheart was a teacher in the Gainesville public schools and we talked about that because my mom is a veteran of the Arkansas public schools and I can relate to tat somewhat. The next morning we went and picked up a traveler kid named Corina and took her to South Carolina so she could hitch to Asheville, NC. She was cool, and very young. It made me a bit worried for her, but she seemed very confident and awesome. We said our goodbyes and headed on to Baltimore.
We had a show that we got added to in Baltimore. It was going to be an all-acoustic show, except for us. We were helped out in gaining access to the bill by our friends Alex and The Imaginary Friends and Project Citizen, from upstate New York. But we had to be in Baltimore by 7:00 pm, and it was a 13-hour drive from Gainesville. So we were hoofing it, and we were on track to make it, but then we hit the pre-Thanksgiving traffic in the Richmond/Washington/Baltimore area. It was like crawling, so we soon realized we would not make it on time. But we kept on.
When we got to the show, it was very very cold. We tried to still get a slot to play, but it was a no-go. The place had to be done by 10 pm and it was almost 9pm and there were still three acoustic acts left. So we chilled out, and relaxed and had some food that was there made available to everyone. The music wasn’t really my thing, but all the people were cool. We went with big crew pf people over to this place called the Frisby House and crashed in the basement. There was some exciting talk of some guy coming over to the house to “fuck shit up”, but it never happened. Too bad, it would have made for a very interesting night. I watched an episode of South Park and fell asleep.
The next day was Thanksgiving, and so I called my family. This was actually the first Thanksgiving that I didn’t spend with my family. The acoustic kids sat around and played NSync songs and we went for a walk outside to not have to hear it. We got some free food from Kate, the house host who has a connection to Food Not Bombs and was going to go around playing “dumpster fairy” as she called it. I started to miss home a lot and wished I could be there. But we persevered. We said goodbyes to the acoustic kids at the Frisby House and headed out to do some laundry. Then we drive up to Kingston, NY, not really sure if we could crash there a day early or if we would have to camp or what.
We headed north to play in Kingston, NY with Dead Unicorn, a band who we had played with in Little Rock in 2007. But it was a day early, and we couldn’t get a hold of Zac, our contact there yet so we didn’t know if we would have a place to stay. But we couldn’t stay in Baltimore, and all the people I used to know in NYC were gone. The only option if we couldn’t get a hold of Zac was camping. The only problem with that was that it was probably in the mid-30’s temperature-wise. I was game for it, but I don’t think anyone else was. The other complication with that was that all the campsites in the nearby Catskills, close to Kingston, were all closed after October. So, it was looking like a hotel or something. I was not wanting to stay in a hotel because well, its just expensive and makes me feel like a loser.
Luckily, when we were about 2 hours out of Kingston, we got a call form Zac, and he arranged for us to crash at Rob’s apartment. Rob was the owner of the venue where the show was going to be held. We were so relieved that Zac called because camping was going to suck (bbbrrrrrr!) and a hotel was going to be way too much money. And then it just got better. When we showed up at The Basement, which was Rob’s bar, they had a Thanksgiving potluck going on and were watching Clint Eastwood movies on the big screen. There were a few vegan things too. Awesome! Everyone was really nice and it was a lot of fun. We went up to Rob’s apartment and crashed out, while some of the folks watched a TV show called Upright Citizens Brigade featuring Matt Besser, a guy who did a zine called “Barking At Life” back in the early days of the Little Rock punk scene.
The next day I went and got another oil change. The last one we had was in Portland, OR, so it was crazy to think that it had already been 3,500 miles since then… wow. The others went to a brewery tour and were gonna get some sandwiches but balked at the high prices. The show got underway at the Basement and we were set to play first. We got set up and we played but people didn’t really seem that into us. There were a fair amount of folks there but they mostly sat around the bar and drank and socialized. I have never liked playing at bars, and this proved to be exemplary of why. But it was still an OK time and all the people who were involved were awesome and I really can’t complain.
Dead Unicorn played next and were awesome, then the Fudge Ruckers and the Kiss Ups, both good bands played. Paul from Dead Unicorn was in all the bands, except for TTTAE obviously. We hung out over at Zac’s after the show and had some left over Thanksgiving food. I chatted it up with his sweetie who was working on her master thesis about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and how it is depicted differently in various cultures around the globe. She was neat and very smart. The next day we woke up and watched silly stuff on YouTube together walked around downtown Kingston, which was very quaint, New Englandy style. We went to a cigar shop to get coffee, but as soon as I walked in there, I walked right back out. Way to smoky… nasty smelling old man smoke at that. We went over to Paul’s where things smelled better and talked about old bands and other stuff. Then we gathered things up and drove to the next show in Warwick, NY which Dead Unicorn were also going to play at, and also their and our friends, Casket Architects.
*To be continued...
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