Day 22: Chicago
Welcome back to the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago!!! Last night was our 3rd time in Chicago, and the 2nd time playing at the Hard Rock there. The first time was was a few years ago shortly after Root joined the band. It was actually on the first tour I went on with Man on Earth, on our first run to sxsw. So much has changed since then! We have a new drummer, our own tour bus, Things They’d never Believe is released with a follow up record coming very soon, bigger tours, international fans…. I’ve moved up from Merch dude, to Tour Manager, and now lighting director….. And the changes keep happening on the daily. Every show on every tour is a learning experience, and the band that wants to be successful is a band that views them as such. If after a show a bands focus is on celebrating a good show or diluting the feelings of a crappy show with copious amounts booze, the odds are that 15 years from now they’re going to be working as Walmart door greeters or fast food lackeys instead of living a reality that consists of doing what they want to do with their lives. The question each band member needs to ask themselves after each show is, ‘What did I learn tonight?’ Asking that allows each member to grow in a positive manner, without becoming ego maniacs.
The lessons that we have learned since our first foray into Chicago have been life changing on many levels, physically, mentally and even emotionally. Being on the road together so much, and having an attitude and desire to learn to better ourselves has created a brotherhood among us that didn’t exist 2 and a half years ago.
Tonight’s show was great. There was a decent crowd, many familiar faces, many new ones. Last night’s Invade Our Bus Tweet-n-Greet winners were nothing short of amazing! They were two friends, who found us on twitter. They got their moms to drive them an hour to see us, and they knew all the words to the songs. Chicago proves over and over again to be a great addition to our tour schedule. Can’t wait to come back again!
Day 21: Lincoln, Ne
The drive along I-80 through Nebraska is enough to make the even strongest, most stable minded individual suicidal. Endless miles of cornfields, broken up only by the occasional overpass or gas station. Ive made the trip 3 or 4 times in my life already, so I was well aware that it was going to be one of the worst parts of the journey. On top of it being hands down the most boring section of the country to drive through, well, it’s equally as boring as Kansas, but, on top of that, the whole state smelled like cow sh*t. Not just a little whiff here and there, it straight up smelled as if there was a cow pie on the bus. For those of you who say that you like the smell of the ‘country air’, you are very sick individuals and I have the number of a great therapist. DM me. After endless hours of enduring the biohazard zone, I lost all hope for Lincoln, Ne.
Yet again, America surprises me. When we touched down in Lincoln and the doors opened for the first time, the very first thing I noticed as a complete lack of ANY putrid smells, organic or industrial. The city was actually very clean. The club was pretty cool too, all the musicians said it had some of the best on stage sound so far on the tour. Even more surprising than that, our resident Mexican food expert, Nate, said that the tacos and salsa at the corner restaurant was by far the best on tour so far…. In Lincoln, Ne. Go figure! We’re on the road, headed to Chicago at the moment. At least there’s hills to look at. And Kum & Go gas stations. My inner teenager is snickering….
Day 20: Denver
For me, Denver was a hometown show. Being that I was one of the co-promoters, it was probably the most stressful show of the tour for me.
Our bus treks across the country slow and steady, like a determined geriatric headed to the jello line. We usually average 60mph, but, given the topography of southern Colorado, we were lucky to stay above 50. This put a damper on my day of show promotion plans, and while I knew it was beyond any of our control I felt my frustration rising like an ocean tide. We finally got to the club late afternoon, loaded in and made our way down to 16th street mall with Flagship Romance to grab a bite and promo.
One of the local burrito shops/venues Illegal Pete’s runs a deal for traveling musicians called the Starving Artists program. The deal is, if you are playing a show in Denver Illegal Pete’s will give each member an entree in exchange for promoting them. Truth is, they’re frickin good burritos and I’d recommend them even if they didn’t give us free lunch, but they did, so it’s a win/win for everyone.
After lunch, we hit the pavement talking to everyone we saw (except this group of crackheads and this homeless guy who was begging for money so, in his words, ‘he could go buy a joint and get high…… At least he was being honest!)
We headed back to the club and began prepping for the show. Three Kings Tavern has a great aura about it. There’s a large stage, decent sound system, and an adequate lighting situation. Pool tables, old school arcade games like tetris and astroids, and pin ball machines line the walls and fill in the back end of the club. Stickers from hundreds of bands, some known, most unknown, and nostalgic style art populate the wall space.
People began piling in, and it became apparent that the club hadn’t expected us to do so well on a Tuesday night. (Final count was over 70 people, triple their usual Tuesday night crowd).
I found myself bouncing between my normal tour duties, the things I had to handle as a promoter, and hanging with all the different friends that came out to support my home show. I felt like one of the pin balls in one of the machines that lined the club’s walls. After the show we had to pack up right away and hit the road. The 8 hour drive to Lincoln, Ne is the one stretch of road I’ve dreaded this whole run. We’re half way through that drive now, and yes indeed, it sucks just as much as I remember it. See y’all on the other side!
Day 19: Drive day
To be 100% honest, I spent most of yesterday in recovery mode.
After our trip to the Grand Canyon, the plan had been to find a spot to camp out, have a fire, BBQ up some burgers and dogs, have some drinks, and actually enjoy the end of the only real day off we had on this tour. What ended up happening was a bit of a compromise.
On the way to the Grand Canyon we rode convoy style with Gone by Daylight. They also left with us and were game on to do a little camp out too. By the time we were able to find a market to get supplies it was already dark outside. Being that they are traveling in a van and the mercury was dipping pretty low in the vial, they decided to opt out of camping and get a hotel room. Not to be deterred, we brought our hobo kitchen up and BBQ’d right there in the room. It was also an in character party. I donned the American Muscle vest, Stevie G had his rock star leather pants on, and Mochello was in full Parrot mode. Also, Gone by Daylight’s alter egos Barry Blazer, Rocko Phoenix, and Maurice were in the mix.
Somewhere along the way that night I may or may not have ingested too much rum, and I may or may not have woken up in my bunk still inebriated…. (Ok, yeah, I did. In my defense, I don’t drink beer and we were in New Mexico and it’s really dry here and I was really thirsty and I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately….. See that? Those are excuses!)
So, yet again, I was super thankful we have the bus. I was able to hole up in my hovel, and bide my time there until I felt human again. That didn’t happen until about 5 or 6 at night.
Lesson learned? Of course not. I’m sure that won’t be the last time in my life that I try to conquer a handle of rum. There are no more nights off on this tour though, so I can say for a fact that it won’t be any time soon.
The Grand Canyon adventure