Breakout Tour: Days 24-26
I have a bad habit of waiting a few days or more after tour is over to write the last blog, mostly I think because I find myself wishing that tour wasn’t over. No matter how many miles or how many cities we stop in, I still have that thrill of being on the open road, never knowing what to expect along the way. Also, for me, until I’m headed on my way back to either Massachusetts or Colorado, well, tour really doesn’t FEEL over. I need that few days to collect myself and wrap my head around the fact that it’s time to go back home.
This time, letting go was a little worse on that front, I think. We’ve basically been on the road for 3 months, and even though we had tiny respites along the way, it all felt like one great big long tour. This was the end of a long journey that started on March 21st in Waterbury, Connecticut, went all the way down and then back up the east coast, shot clear across the country to the Pacific Northwest, down the Pacific coast to San Diego, across the desert heading back east to Texas, on then Mississippi and then back to New York. From there we continued on, crisscrossing the lower eastern states and into the Midwest and back. But, as it always does, we came down to one last show, and this one was in Wilmington, NC. Now I’m finally back home in Massachusetts and I can reflect back with a clear head. So here we go, a week late, but still fresh in the mind…
To start off with, to be completely honest, I’ve never even heard of Wilmington, NC before this tour. I will say though, for a small city, and one previously unknown to me, it wound up being an amazing spot to end our tour.
Not wanting to take any more chances on the traffic situations, we woke up that Saturday morning and checked out of our hotel then began our trip north. It was only about an 8 hour drive from Rome, GA, and we had 36 hours to get there, so we weren’t in a huge hurry but we still arrived in town the night before the show. Load in wasn’t until early evening on show day, so we slept in as much as possible, then headed to a Starbucks for one last afternoon of office work.
When it was time, we headed downtown. Wilmington, NC is an old port city on the southeastern shores of North Carolina. It’s downtown area is peppered with historical buildings and the like, creating a vibe that is a great mix of the old and the new. Restaurants, pubs, tattoo shops, and boutique stores all commingled together to create an almost unique environment that set it self apart from many cities that we had visited.
We loaded in to the venue at about 7:30pm, and then found some parking in a lot directly across the street. The Whiskey was another ‘dive bar’, but not the type that you were ashamed to be in. We brought in our gear and then had some down time because the first band didn’t start until 10.
Nate and I set out to explore the city and to find one last tour Mexican restaurant, which we found down by the city’s river walk. The food was tasty and the waitstaff super friendly, the D.J.’s sweet 16 playlist, well, not so much. After dinner we headed back to the club by way of another exploratory jaunt around the historically laced streets.
Since this was our last night of the tour we had planned a gag of sorts to pull out on the Dive guys. End of tour pranks are kind of a tradition among tour mates that are usually pulled on each other, but we honestly couldn’t decide exactly what to do to mess with Dive. So, we fell back on an often discussed but never implemented gag.
When we were out with Miggs Nate came up with the idea that he wanted me to go up and sing a ridiculous 80’s song on stage as an end of tour gag for our last night with them. Now, I’m not a singer. I’ve never performed on a stage like that before. I’m actually not even that much of a musician. I know that you’d think if I have been traveling the country for so long with musicians that I’d have picked up a thing or two but time while on the road is a weird thing and it seems as if there’s not ever really the time for anyone to teach me to be proficient. Anyway, I digress. The fact is, up until we were stuck in Yreka, CA I had never really even sang at karaoke before. I did however agree to Nate’s request, so I left any shred of dignity I had at the door and gave it my all and used the karaoke bar to practice. The sad part of all that is that the final show of our run with Miggs was canceled, so that never happened. Until Wilmington.
We had run the song through a few times that afternoon on the bus, but I still had tons of apprehension about actually getting up and singing in front of people. I had a few shots of whiskey to ease that a bit (I needed a few more, but oh well!), and tried to get in to a clear mindset.
The guys took the stage and time seemed to fly by as they breezed through the set list. Last minute, they pulled a Crazy Ivan and skipped the second to last song from the set, which threw me off because things were suddenly 4 minutes ahead of what I was planning. As the final notes of ‘Bang Bang Bitch’ rang out signaling the end of our tour, Mochello began playing the drum beat to Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”, and that was my queue.
I jumped up on to the stage with a quickness, and I could see the guys from Dive were both shocked and thrilled. I certainly looked the part of the 80’s rocker, with tore up blue jeans, a Harley Davidson shirt, a red bandanna, dark sunglasses, and that 3 size too small ridiculous denim vest that Root made me that I reserve for such special occasions.
Once I was up there I knew I had no choice but to fully commit. Luckily, the song doesn’t require being a good singer, and Nate also agreed to sing keywords and choruses to help me along. I looked at him, and we visually agreed it was go time.
I was immediately blown away by how little I could hear while on stage. I’ve been on stage before during the set, well, when stuff goes wrong at least. At those moments I was so focused on fixing whatever the issue was that I never bothered to listen to the stage volume.
I was doing my best to sing as loud as I could, but I couldn’t hear myself through the monitors and everything else sounded like auditory soup. (Later I was told that the mix coming through the monitors wasn’t as good as it’s been, so I didn’t feel so bad)
After a few seconds I went in to a sort of autopilot mode. A few times I became a little disorientated and lost my way, but I was able to pull it back by looking at Nate and lip reading where he was in the song.
Soon the song was over and I walked off the stage with a whole new perspective on what is happening up there. I mean, I’ve always heard “The sound on stage is way different than you’d ever expect”, and I’ll tell you, they’re right. What I heard up there was gibberish. The ability to take that and turn it into a non-confusing, referenceable beat to follow is in my mind almost a whole art on it’s own. And then to consistently play the song the same way no matter the circumstances? Well, that’s talent. It really makes me want to learn the sound board better so that when we’re out on the road the guys don’t have to deal with complacency from the sound engineers.
Dive played next, and during their set an over enthusiastic ‘slam dancer’ was doing his best to try to start a mosh pit. He was the only one who was actually in to it, and he wound up crashing in to one woman causing her to break a glass, and also slammed in to Dive’s merch guy, Taco, who had recently had back surgery. I saw him in my peripheral vision, careening uncontrollably on a collision path with me. Subconsciously, I turned sideways and launched an elbow that connected perfectly into his side. He stumbled backwards, away from the crowd and into the waiting bear hug of Root, who had seen the whole thing and who promptly carried the guy to the bouncer for ejection.
Dive finished their set and we got ready to say our goodbyes. They were spending the night in Wilmington, but we wanted to knock some hours off of our ten hour trip home. Touring with Dive had been a fun experience, especially since I’ve known Johnny for such a long time. As we said our farewells there was a bittersweet overtone from camp Man on Earth. This show wasn’t just the conclusion of our 3 weeks with them, it was also the end of our 3 month spring tour. Summer was just a few days away, we had spent the whole season on the road. In contrast to the sadness of goodbye, everyone was happy to be headed back home for a while. We have a busy summer ahead of us, and we would finally have the time to be able to push the new record properly.
We drove until about 4am, stopped for some sleep, and then finished our trip north, getting there before the sun set. This was a long journey being brought to a finish, but I can say with confidence, see you all again soon!