Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Breakout Tour: Day 15
Smith’s Downtown
Mishawaka, IN

Getting back on the road after our time off was a combination of easy and hard. Everyone was ready to get back on with playing shows, but we had essentially moved in to Ben and Gail’s house, so we had to pack up and move out, like disgruntled teens headed out to summer camp.

It took about an hour and a half to get to Mishawaka and the road took us by some of the best smelling Amish farms under the sun. (Sarcasm, if you didn’t pick up on it. I’m not a fan of smelling those odors, let alone having it smell so strong that you might as well be TASTING it… Ugh!)

We made it through the farmland without anyone passing out an rolled in to Mishawaka just in time for load in. Carrying in our gear promised not to be fun, as there were two flights of stairs between the main entrance and the stage. Dive showed up right after us, so once we had our stuff lugged up we helped carry their gear. The sound guy was running late, so the waiting game began.

The show was an all ages one and soon the room began to steadily fill up…….. with families that had tons of little kids. When I say little kids I mean 4-8 year olds. The rock club quickly developed a school yard recess feel to it, with yelling kids and disinterested parents. This lasted for about an hour and change, until the sound guy finally showed up and set up the mics on the stage and tested sounds for the first band.

The show itself didn’t start until an hour and a half after the first band was supposed to start. Interestingly enough, all the families had brought their kids for the first band, a good old fashioned hard rock/metal band. I think I went half deaf during their set, so I was a little worried about the still yet developing ears of the kids. Then I realized that we were in rural Indiana, and this was no doubt normal and acceptable behavior, and that hearing loss was probably one of the least of the worries that the folks there had. (That joke was for Gail’s benefit, since she grew up on an Indiana farm, haha)

Speaking of Gail, she had ridden with us from her house to Mishawaka, so she also got to experience first hand how boring the waiting game can be. Her family saved her though, showing up just after the first band and right when the second was taking the stage. The second act was scream metal, super loud and aggressive. I lost the pair of earplugs that I had, so I stayed outside the main room during their set. I guess the little kids didn’t have ear plugs either, because as the first few songs went on I saw many of the families pack up and head out. The sound guy running extremely late didn’t help either, because I think the show STARTED past their bedtime already. By the time the smoke cleared, all the kids and their parents were gone, leaving only the baggageless adults.

The club had nothing for lights, so I spent the time hanging with Ben, Gail, and their daughter Cami again. After the show, and the long goodbyes that happen whenever we leave Crawford country, the load out was just as bad as loading in, just exacerbated by being tired. When everything was all packed up, Dive decided to ride convoy with us. We drove about an hour, found a Walmart, and all went to sleep.

Rockin’ The Suburbs

Breakout Tour: Days 10-14
Casa de Crawford
Fort Wayne, IN

Having more than two days off in a row while on the road can be dangerous. Boredom sets in after about 36 hours, with full blown cabin fever striking around 44-48 hours. After 72 hours you run the risk of someone in your crew developing severe homicidal tendencies….

The scheduling for this tour left a five day hole right in the center, which as mentioned, can be a recipe for disaster. Aside from everyone getting irritable, there can also be boredom enhanced stupidity. Both bands feverishly tried to book fill date shows on the time off, to no avail. The routing left us just north of our friends Gail and Ben’s home, so that meant that we would have a home base for the interim, and wouldn’t have to spend the five days trapped on our bus.

It’s nice being able to have a spot to relax that doesn’t involve being stuck on the bus. We spend so much time being cooped up on it that whenever we can not be on it, well it’s refreshing. (That sentiment may not be shared be Mochello and Stevie G…. They seem more than content to be in their bunks than should be humanly possible…. At least they took respite from their caves this week!) Now don’t get me wrong, our bus is home, but fresh air and a change of scenery is really nice too.

Our first day in Fort Wayne didn’t begin until some time after noon. It did begin, however, with Ben’s world famous pancakes and scrambled eggs. That, and the fact that we were able to do laundry set me in the best of moods for the day. (Almost a good enough mood to make me forget that that I was missing my weekend at SPAC!) We spent the afternoon in Ben’s ultimate man cave, shooting pool, throwing darts, playing foosball, and listening to music.

That evening we headed down to Piere’s, one of the larger local music venues, to spend the evening with Sevendust again. This was the second time (that we know of) that our tour crossed paths with their’s in the last month. When bands are constantly crisscrossing across the country like we are it’s inevitable that we will cross paths with other bands they know. Since Nate works with their drummer and they are both constantly on the road, it was great for them to be able to get some more actual face time.

Piere’s holds a special spot for us. It we the first venue that Man on Earth played on the very first real tour that we did back in spring 2011. Going back and seeing a major act playing on the same stage was next-level nostalgic. Sevendust gave us all access passes again, so we spent most of our time hanging side stage and up in the radio station’s private viewing area.

The next few days are honestly a blur. We did go see one of the funniest movies that I’ve seen in a long while, ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’. It’s a Seth McFarland movie, so it isn’t for the easily offended, but if you have a cracked sense of humor, well, let’s just say I literally laughed the whole way through.

Throughout the rest of the week we BBQ’d, spent a lot of time hanging in Ben’s game room, watched some movies, lit a fire in the fire pit…. Oh yeah, and Nate, Gail, and I got tattoos.

After spending hours looking at ideas and checking out the portfolios from all of the Ft. Wayne artists we settled on Black Anvil Tattoos in the downtown area. Gail and I got ours done the first day, but the artist had to spend more time working up Nate’s design so he had to come back the next day.

Root and I took over the basement game room for the nights, and it totally screwed up my sleeping schedule for the duration of our stay there. The windows had heavy curtains on them which and it completely left me disorientated as to what time it was… I’d wake up, see that it was still dark, then surrender to more sleep.

The five days seemed to breeze by and soon it was time to pack ourselves up. Not that we weren’t having fun, but everyone was more than ready to get back in to show mode. We set our alarms for 9am, leaving us enough time to gather our things and make it to Mishawaka for load in.

Rake It Up To Take It In

Breakout Tour: Day 9
Uli’s Haus of Rock
Lansing, MI

I woke up in a melancholy mood that Friday. Being on the road so much means sacrifices, some big, some small. We have all had to miss holidays, birthdays, family events, and countless other things in the name of rock and roll. Personally, those types of things have never been big in my family, but I have been doing my best to create my own traditions throughout my life. One of my biggest is, (judge away!) the Dave Matthews Band weekend at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. It’s a weekend of BBQing, friends, and music in one of my favorite music venues in the country. I’ve been going yearly since 2005, so not being there put me in a funk.

We drove the rest of the way to Lansing that morning, and then had some time to kill just hanging out during afternoon because Stevie G had a Skype lesson to teach. The extra time was spent at the closest Planet Fitness to the venue, and also grabbing lunch at food court in the attached mall after our workout. The guys did their best to snap me out of my ‘poor me’ mindset (and it kind of worked, but don’t tell them!), and soon we were on our way to the club.

Uli’s Haus of Rock had more of a ‘Hell’s Angels Club House’ feel to it than most clubs we’ve played, with the exception of maybe the Vegas stop that we had on our Spring 2013 tour. (I actually have a reference point for that statement. One of my friends from growing up had family that was part of a local Hell’s Angels chapter, and we spent a little bit of time hanging out there. Good times… Good times….) Sharing the building with the club was a medical marijuana dispensary. The strong, skunky odor of the weed penetrated the walls between the two spaces and hung within the club’s air. When mixed with the smell of stale beer and cigarettes, well, the ambiance was set. (Note to the booking agents for Linkin Park: Probably not a venue for y’all. Just saying!)

Root and I took off for an exploratory walk of the surrounding area but found nothing terribly interesting besides an auto parts store, so we headed back to the club. We arrived in time to greet long time friend and supporter of the band Gianni, from Motor Energy Drinks. While we were talking to him one of the evenings opening acts was in the process of loading their gear back in to their trailer. They decided to last minute drop of the show because the venue wouldn’t let their band’s sound guy touch the house sound board. (They wouldn’t let me touch the light board either…) The first opening act had started late, so this actually helped get us back to our scheduled time slot. I spent my ‘night off’ hanging with Gianni and also Gail and Ben, who had driven up from Ft. Wayne for the show.

We had the following five days off so our plan was to head down to Ft. Wayne to spend the week with Gail and Ben. Dive had some friends up near Detroit, so they went that way. We drove straight there after the show, arriving well after our usual sleep time. There was no arm twisting involved in going right to bed that night, as almost everyone was already asleep by the time we landed.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Ohio

Breakout Tour: Day 8
The Auricle
Canton, OH

The Auricle very easily became one of my favorite venues that we’ve played so far. Everything about the club, the sound, the staff, and the vibe of one of Canton, Ohio’s hidden gems makes you feel like you’re playing a hometown show.

We started our time in Canton by grabbing some lunch at a pizzeria and then meeting the guys from Dive at the club to wait for the owner to show up to let us in. Dive told us how their technical issues continued, when the night before they realized the motor mounts on their generator were shot, rendering it out of commission. That made their previous night sleep a bit hellish, because their A.C. has to plug in to a 110 outlet (like the one on the generator) in order to run and they don’t have any other ventilation in their bunks.

The building that the club was located in had us a bit leery of what to expect because it had a very ‘medical’ feel to it. At very least it felt like an office complex, with large glass entrance doors, high ceilinged hallways, and separate suites, each of which had blank, windowless, slab doors covering their entrances. It was next to impossible to shake the feeling that I should have my insurance card ready when we loaded in.

When the owner, Josh, finally arrived that preconceived notion was shattered. We all walked down the stairs that led to the main entrance of the club and into the perfect rock-n-roll club environment. A long granite bar lined the one wall parallel to the stage. The stage was huge, to get a visual of how big I’d say it was large enough to easily accommodate a 6 piece band and plenty of gear comfortably. While the room was essentially a huge rectangle, black curtains hung on the same plain as the front edge of the stage, creating a faux side stage area for storing empty road cases. Around back behind the curtain was a green room rivaling any large club that we’ve ever played.

The club owner was a former touring musician, which is why the place is so accommodating. He had done the runs where venues treated musicians like peasants and decided that when he started his place that that wasn’t going to be acceptable under his roof.

There was two opening bands on the bill before us, and then Dive took the stage after. One of the highlights of the night was hanging with the crew of fans that we had met on our run with Miggs and OAS. They had driven a few hours to catch the show, and stuck around until the very end. Oh, and the soft pretzels. The ones that the bartender miraculously made appear. Those were definitely another highlight of the evening.

After the show Dive decided to stay in the venue’s parking lot so they could have power (air conditioning!) for the night. Not wanting to have to wake up at 7am to unplug before the offices above the club opened, we opted to drive an hour or so and stay at La Casa de Walmart.