Monthly Archives: May 2014

Not A Lightsaber, But It Can Fry An Egg

I’m a huge fan of things that can set stuff ablaze, so you can imagine my glee when I stumbled across this flashlight from Wicked Lasers that can focus it’s emitted light in to a beam that is hot enough to ignite a forest fire.

The flashlight has an internal rechargeable battery that lasts between 10-40 minutes depending on usage, a military grade casing, and a 4100 lumen light output.

The $200 price tag is the only thing that stops me from purchasing what has to be the ultimate emergency flashlight. One day, when I have disposal income I’ll have all the cool toys. Until then, I’m sure my friend Jake is silently rejoicing that I don’t. Because you know one of the first things I’d try to do is see if it could singe off his arm hair….

Video below:

The Show Must Go On

Breakout Tour: Day 2
Camp Hill, PA

Short distances between shows and multiple gigs in a row is a recipe for shorter blog posts on my end. For me, last tour created a number of issues regarding this day to day transcription our journeys. Firstly, the amount of driving and days off that we had in between shows left a lot of empty holes in our goings on that really forced me to constantly have to lump multiple days together just to have a readable length blog post. (Because let’s face it, there’s only so many ways that I can describe us going to Planet Fitness, Starbucks, and driving down a highway…. There’s a lot of ‘Groundhog Day’ moments when you’re on tour…)

The plus side of having so much time is that I was able to put extra effort into formulating what I felt were slightly more descriptive posts. That in itself is a double edged sword though, as I found the more open time schedule was killing my creative buzz, which in turn left me constantly behind in my blog. Having a daily deadline forces me to knuckle down and spend the few hours a day it takes to write these.

Anyways, we did our classic morning routine of waking up at a Walmart, getting coffee, then heading to Planet Fitness for a work out and showers. (Obligatory boring stuff out of the way! By the way, with the amount that I plug Walmart, Planet Fitness and Starbucks you’d think I’d get some sort of kickback… Someone make that happen!) After all that we headed over to the club.

Gullifty’s is a combination restaurant/rock club, with an upper middle class dining area and billiards tables upstairs, and a full bar with a stage downstairs. The area it is in is a strip mall, so there was plenty of things to walk around and see.

We got to the venue for load in at 5pm, but our set time wasn’t until 10:15pm so we had a bit of time to kill. I walked around for a while with Nate, then decided to crawl in to my bunk and watch a movie. (I watched Pompeii, which I went in to with no expectation except that I might fall asleep. While it wasn’t a ‘this-movie-is-so-great-everyone-should-see-it’ kind of movie, it did keep me awake and entertained!)

When I was done watching the movie, all of us went and had dinner at the venue’s restaurant. The food was surprisingly good, and it left me with enough leftovers to save for a whole other meal.

After dinner we headed downstairs to watch a bit of the band that was on and to prep for ours. Once that band was done we began the set up process for us. While we were getting ready Dive noticed that someone in one of the previous bands had accidentally smashed the screen to the laptop that they use to control their lighting system and click track. Panic mode kicked in as they frantically tried to come up with options. The solution hit me fairly quickly, so I told them not to worry, I had a fix for the night. I went to our bus, grabbed Root’s tv and one the VGA cables from our projector, and hooked it up as a second screen that mirrored whatever was on the laptop’s screen thus allowing them to see what was going on on their computer. Crisis adverted, the show went on.

Man on Earth finally played their song ‘On Our Way’ again, which is on the new record but hasn’t made it in to regular set list rotation. It was actually only the second time that they played it at a show, the only other time being the March 21st show in Waterbury, CT that kicked off last tour. Here’s to hoping it stays in the set!

After the show we were told that the venue was cool with us parking in their lot over night, and had available outlets for us to plug in to so that we could have power on our buses. Since we only had an hour and a half drive to our next gig, it made complete sense to just stay there for the night. We hung out with the Dive guys for a while and then one by one everyone headed off to bed.

Just Like Starting Over

Breakout Tour: Day 1
Clifton, NJ

So I’m laying here in my bunk thinking of writing this blog and it feels like I’m planning the screenplay for a too soon reboot of a major motion picture franchise. Kind of like when it was announced that a new Spider-Man trilogy was being made only a few years after the third one in the Tobey Maguire trilogy was completed. It almost feels like a continuation of the last tour, but lower budget, and with different players. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking this tour when we’re just leaving the gate, I’m just stating the fact that this is across the board a much more D.I.Y. tour.)

So, welcome to the Breakout Tour, feat. Dive and Man on Earth! I’m not exactly sure where we’re breaking out from, but wherever it is I just hope that it doesn’t involve me having to tattoo the schematics of a prison on my back….

This run was booked entirely by Dive, hitting many of the markets that they’ve been cultivating for the last few years.

Just a little back history, the last time Man on Earth did a run with Dive was back in November of ’08, coincidentally the first show that I met Nate at. Back then Dive was a completely different lineup, well, except for Johnny Dive, the lead singer. (Man on Earth was at their beginnings too, Nate being the only one still around now that the lineup is solidified.) I haven’t seen Dive play since their 2009 album release party for their record ‘Picture Perfect’, another show that Man on Earth played with them. Needless to say, there was a bit of nostalgia seeing them take stage again.

I spent my morning/afternoon in transit, taking the bus from Great Barrington, MA down to NYC to meet up with the rest of the guys before heading across the river to New Jersey. My bus dropped me off at the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan, so I began to walk north toward the direction of Stevie G’s house, where the band was headed from. Traffic was so horrendous that I walked 12 blocks in less time then the guys could drive as much. When I saw them pulling up I just walked into the street and hopped on without them having to stop and pull over (being that traffic was at a nearly a complete standstill!).

The club was only like a 45 minute ride away from Manhattan… when there’s no traffic, that is. Three and a half hours later, we finally pulled up to the front doors of the club. Dive had save us a spot right next to the side stage door, so we had prime load in conditions. The bar had a classic ‘metal’ club feel, with black painted walls and a plethora of band stickers covering them on every reachable surface. Since Clifton is Johnny Dive’s hometown the staff was super friendly and treated us very well.

I finally was able to get behind the light board again, which felt like a long time coming. It felt good to actually be doing something that felt productive again during the set as opposed to sitting by the merch booth the whole night. Dive had their own DIY lighting system that has given me a few ideas for getting my own cost effective show in the works.

After the show we had to wait a bit to load out so Nate and I went across the street to another pub to grab a snack. There we discovered a new favorite snack…. They were these pizza roll bites, but instead of a doughy outside these had a crunchy egg roll shell. They were so good we had to get a second order.

After we finally were able to load in we took off and headed to a Walmart parking lot for the night. Most of the gigs on this tour are within a couple of hours of each other, so that gives us plenty of time each day. Because of that we fell asleep good, knowing there wasn’t a huge rush to wake up and hurry over to the next city…

Saturday, In The Park

Days 48-51: Gulfport Music Festival
Gulfport, MS

The run to Gulfport from Austin was the definition of a beeline drive. We had driven a few hours the night before, so there was only 8 and a half hours left on our gps (which translates to about 10 hours Man on Earth time). Trying to make minimal stops, we rolled into Gulfport just after dark.

We stopped in at Jones Park, the site of where the festival was being held, to check out the stage setups and locations. No one was on hand to greet us (or stop us!), so we just walked straight in, unannounced and undeterred. The site was sprawling, with our stage set up right in the beginning under the entrance pavilion. Just past that a mini carnival was set up, with rides, games, vendor tents, and the like lining the walkway that led to the main stage area. After a few minutes of taking it all in, we returned to our bus.

We wound up heading over the Hard Rock Casino with the intention of killing a little bit of time before we decided where to park the bus for the night. Nate and I went to the casino’s restaurant to get dinner while everyone else just floated around. While at dinner we met tons of people who were in town for the festival, including the owners of one of the sponsoring radio stations, so most of our time was spent promoting. We all met back up at the bus after dinner and the decision was made to park for the night at one of our radio station friend’s house, so that our bus’s power system could be plugged in and not have to idle it all night.

The next afternoon was the first day of the Gulfport Music Festival, so we headed down to the park to spend some time checking out the other bands and also to promote our show the next evening. There was tons of big names attached to the festival, including Sublime w/Rome, Third Eye Blind, The Pretty Reckless, 311, Ludachris, Kid Rock, The Violent Femms… to name a few. Our set was on night two, headlining the second stage during the set change between Ludachris and Kid Rock. Almost as soon as we got there, Nate and I went to find our radio station friends from WCPR so that we could get the rest of the band backstage passes, especially since Mochello REALLY wanted to see Third Eye Blind (and had been trying unsuccessfully to for quite some time). On our way back stage to find the WCPR people it started to sprinkle. Not wanting to run the risk of a wet cellphone, Nate got us a couple of rain ponchos from the merch tent, then we headed to the security checkpoint.

Our friend Jeremy, from the band Candlelight Red (who is engaged to Riley, one of the WCPR radio hosts), met us at the gate and brought us all backstage. When we arrived there all of the people responsible for putting on the show were frantically trying to pull up the weather radar, as it seemed the looming storm that had been threatening to rain on our parade was actually changing directions and headed our way. The thousands of people at the festival were clogging up the cellular network, making it almost impossible to get a full data connection on any of our phones. When someone was finally able to connect we saw the huge storm was indeed changing course and heading straight for Gulfport. As the drizzle intensified to a full on downpour, the decision was made to postpone Third Eye Blind from taking the stage for an hour (I thought Mochello might actually cry at his string of bad luck whenever he tried to see the band!). Lightning strikes and rolling thunder grew ever closer, and with them came the possibility of having to cancel the rest of the bands for the entire evening. Worried faces of event coordinators were abundant in the backstage area as the rain continued to fall in buckets, runoff from the main stage field creating a steady 4″ deep river as it flowed by and dumped back into the Gulf.

The nail in the coffin came when a blazingly bright bolt of lightning struck the ground about 50 yards away from us, in the area where the main stage crowd was still milling about. The strike was so close to us that the smell of ozone was almost overpowering. (If you’ve never been close to a lightning strike, the massive electrical spike produces ozone, which is an enriched pure oxygen containing three oxygen atoms instead of two. The smell of ozone created by lightning is the same as the smell emitted from photocopiers, which is also ozone).

Fortuitously, the strike was in a large empty section of the field so no one was hurt, but it was the final word on the issue of whether or not the show would continue for the evening. (In case you didn’t get the subtle hint, the verdict was, in the famous words of Chloe O’Brian, ‘Shut it down’)

We stayed under the backstage pavilion until the rain subsided a bit, and then made our way out of the park. At the main gates we met up with Scot Fox, the music director for WCPR and a few other of our Mississippi friends. Along the way we also ran into a few of the people we had met the previous night while promoting at the Hard Rock casino, including the bartender from the restaurant. Hanging with Scot was Mr. Mike McCabe, our genius of a mechanical wiz of of friend. We briefed him on the concerns we had with our bus, and he told us to stop by the next day and he would give it a look over.

If we weren’t soaked before, the walk back to the bus finished the job. After getting changed, we floated along the flooded roads to Scot’s house, as he had invited us to spend the night at his place so we could have access to power for our bus all night and showers in the morning.

The next day came fast, and after everyone was set to head back to the park we found out our bus, yet again, was refusing to start. We called Mike McCabe, who said he’d be over shortly.

Root and I decided to ride down to the festival with Scot’s wife, because all five of us standing around was counterproductive, as we had to get our guest list in and secure our artists passes for the day. (Also, on a selfish note, I really wanted to see Sublime w/Rome, who were set to play at 12:30pm after having rescheduling from the following night due to the thunderstorm).

We arrived just as Sublime w/Rome started their set so, after taking care of the necessary band business, I went to watch the rest of it from the sound booth with Root. The next band we wanted to check out wasn’t until 4pm, so we spent our time walking about talking to people about our show that night. (And also eating some killer BBQ chicken at the WCPR R.V.)

The phone call came that Mike McCabe had diagnosed a possible glow plug issue, but he had Macgyver’d the bus to start with a paperclip, a hair tie, and a piece of chewing gum (ok, in reality it was a can of wd-40 and a screwdriver, but same difference!). The guys took the bus over to his shop where he set up a temporary fix to get us through the day that that involved a piece of wire that was held on to the battery while someone turned the engine over. Once that was all ready, everyone met Root and myself at the park.

The rest of the day was spend promoting and preparing for our set. There was no sign of storms in the days forecast, so there was a lot less worry in the air. Show time seemed to come quickly, and soon we were up on stage, set up, and ready to go. I was manning Nate’s camera, pumped and primed to get some video of our first festival show ever. (Until the battery died, at least!)

The guys played with a ferocity and intensity befitting a festival stage. In the crowd, our WCPR friends all stood, watching intently. For them, it was viewing another step in the Man on Earth evolution, from playing a hole in the wall bar the first time they saw us, to now headlining the second stage at their huge music festival.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it couldn’t have been a truer adage then on that day. It seemed like mere seconds from the time I hit record on the camera to the final notes of “Bang Bang Bitch”.

That moment is where I’m going to say our Spring Tour ended. I’m not going to bore with unnecessary details about getting our bus worked on again the next day or the exhausting drive from Mississippi to NYC. No, the story of our spring tour ended the moment the lights went down after Man on Earth finished their second stage headlining gig at the Gulfport Music Festival.

Now, ten days later, it’s time to head out on The Breakout Tour w/our good friends Dive. Here we go again….

Come Back To Texas

Days 44-47: Red Eyed Fly
Austin, TX

The journey across the deserts of the SouthWestern United States was long, hot, and miserable. Luckily, our air conditioner was pushing out cold air… for most of the trip at least.

Somewhere in the middle of the desert we had to pull off the highway do that Stevie G could give one of his Skype guitar lessons. Root and I walked around the truck stop that we were at for a bit, but the fact that it was literally a hundred degrees in the shade made it so that we spent most of our time in an air conditioned Subway sandwich shop. Because Nate had his big office days Monday/Tuesday, we drove all the way to La Cruces, NM and found a Walmart to sleep at, so that we could have another solid office day yet still make good time on our way to Texas.

After a productive Monday in a Starbucks, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Shortly after we left La Cruces, we passed the mountain ranges that were the backdrop of the ‘Bombs Around Me’ video. Ten nostalgic miles later, we crossed the border into Texas.

Our plan had been to make it to Fredericksburg, TX for the night as it was the only big town between where we were and Austin, so that we could have another office day at a coffee shop or wherever. The road to there was a county highway, and not an interstate. Our progress was slowed down dramatically because of the enormous deer population roaming about. I grew up in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts where deer litter the roads like New York City pigeons, but I think for sure that I saw more deer lining the sides of that highway than I have all the ones in the rest of my life combined. To top it off, as we were climbing the gradual Texan hills, some of the same transmission slippage that had been going on randomly started happening again, so we shut down all unnecessary systems (including the newly charged A.C.!), and found a place to pull over for the night.

The next morning we finished the trip into Fredericksburg and found a coffee shop. Nate dove in on work and we called to set up a appointment with our Mississippi mechanical MacGyver, Mike McCabe. Our plan was to keep going, play the Austin gig, and then beeline to Gulfport, MS, so that we could be in town for our festival show and so that Mike could diagnose our bus. That also meant that we would be driving with only essentials on, so as not to tax our power system. While the worst of the heat was over, Texas is no temperate zone.

After Nate was done work, we finished our drive to Austin. We arrived close to sundown, so we stopped on the Congress Ave. bridge to see the nightly nature show that the thousands of bats that live under the bridge put on. Typically at dusk, every night from spring to fall, about a million bats awake from their day slumber and take flight, turning the sky almost black for a few seconds as they fly by on their way to hunt insects for the night. True to our luck, that evening the bats decided to sleep in. It was well past dusk when the they started their flight, so there wasn’t much to see.

Leaving the bridge, we went to grab some BBQ. We stopped by Stubb’s, which during SXSW is currently one of the premier venues for bands to showcase at. After some BBQ’d brisket, we headed out on the town.

Austin, when it’s not SXSW (as I’ve said before), is a whole different city. It’s still very a musically charged city, but it’s less hectic and over crowded. We walked the streets a bit, promoting our show the following night. Once on 6th ave, we stopped by a few tattoo shops because Nate was looking at design concepts to flesh out the ink on his bicep. Armed with ideas, we continued on down the strip.

I was soon in a much better mood because we found a bar that had $1.25 well drinks… Cheap non-beer drinks are a rarity all across the country. We finished the night out and headed to a Planet Fitness parking lot, to make our morning routine easier.

Two Gatorades, a 15 minute workout, and a shower later, the next morning didn’t seem so bad. We headed back downtown and I went with Nate to get his tattoo. (If you want to see it, bug him šŸ˜‰ haha)
After the tat, we headed to the venue for load in.

Red Eyed Fly has two stages, a small inside stage and a larger outdoor one that abuts a small ravine with a stream below. We were playing the outside stage, and during Man on Earth’s set nature interrupted a bit… but, not in the typical way. Usually, inclement weather is nature’s middle finger to us, this night, however, an overly comfortable raccoon meandered about disturbing the people watching the show. Apparently, the coon was a resident of those parts and while docile, has been a nuisance to patrons and extremely elusive to the animal control officers.

We took off shortly after our set because our goal was to get to Mississippi early enough to make some more friends with some promotion, and also have Mr. McCabe check out our bus. With Austin in our rear view, we continued east, Gulfport Music Festival on our minds.