Tour Diary: Licking the Wounds, Perservere
After a few really good weeks, financially, in the northern part of the US, we finally hit some of the bigger cities. It’s nice to be back in a Metropolis, but gas prices seem to be higher, food is a little more expensive, parking is tougher and traffic is shittier. We hit St. Paul, MN on a
Sunday with not many expectations once we pulled up to the venue. It was in a part of a town that looks to be going through the growing pains of gentrification. Something we know all too well living in the Bay Area. There wasn’t a lot of walk-in traffic at the spot, and the few people that were there didn’t look look like they gave much of a shit about anything that wasn’t football or beer. Luckily, as we were setting up a few people took interest in what we were about to do and stayed. Plus, we had some good friends who live in the area whom we were mutually excited to see.
We were given the daunting task to find local openers for this show, which gave us another reason to not expect too much. That’s not an easy task in markets that you’re not familiar with. We live in the SF Bay Area. How can we REALLY KNOW what bands draw in a particular market when we don’t live there? Facebook “likes” are not the true test of how many people a can and will draw. Also, trying to make sure said band hasn’t played locally within the last few weeks of our gig is a hard one to gauge as well. Needless to say, the turn out in St. Paul wasn’t the best, but we did our thing and had a blast. Seeing our buddies was cool, and the venue people were kind, offering us a shower after an intensely sweaty performance in addition to good conversation. The opening band were good people too, giving us some good inspirational words for our long ass drive we had ahead of us, the LONG ASS DRIVE to Kansas City, MO, where we had, again, booked two locals that assured us it would be an awesome turn out.
Kansas City, MO would mark the 2nd show in a row where the posters we sent out were nowhere to be found. It sucks when you show up to a market you’re trying to crack and you can’t even get your promotional materials up! Frustrating. But we had local support so we hoped that would nullify the lack of promotion. Well…the opening band didn’t even show. The other local showed up, but the turn out wasn’t very good. After playing for a few weeks in front of some good crowds, selling merchandise and paying bills, we made $5 after an 8+ hour to KC from St. Paul, MN!? To say we were pissed is a bit of an understatement. Again, the venue people were nice and apologetic but there really wasn’t much that was going to make us feel better. We had just ordered more shirts since we’re running low and totally out of certain sizes and we are almost out of CD’s and Vinyl. A good problem to have I guess, but after you have spent that money, you’d like to feel good about your investment. Playing to a big empty ass room DOES NOT make you feel good about much of anything. Like we said in an earlier post, once our van/home died and we junked it, we rented a car to continue the tour. We told ourselves we’d go week to week, if we had a bad week, we cancel the tour and come home and try to figure out a living situation with whatever monies we have left. We were starting to thing it was cancelling time…
Milwaukee was next and we were excited to see our very very good friend from the Yo Gabba Gabba tour we did in 2010. That tour was a great bonding experience and we try to see everyone from the truck and bus drivers to the characters and stagehands. It was a big ass family on that run so to reunite with a few of the people we DON’T get to see a little more often is HELLA FUN! Finally, on this show we saw our promo posters, BUUUT… the venue made poster for the show as well. There is a band called Enabler from the Milwaukee area that has an album out called, “La Fin Absolue du Monde.” They are bit more harder and traditionally metal that us, but we know who they are and they know us. The venue made fliers with THEIR album artwork, but with our name on it. Found the mix up mildly amusing and so did Enabler. Again, the band we played with in Milwaukee were real nice guys, and the crowd there was better. Things we thought, were looking up. We were heading to Green Bay the next day to play with our homies, Donoma, and we know the show was properly promoted through not only print media, but the local radio as well!
But Green Bay as a whole, just doesn’t seem to be ready for something like us. They want the radio friendly cookie cutter bands that all sound like Nickelback. The old 90’s/early 2000’s bands like Soil, and Saliva, and Drowning Pool. Since we don’t play covers, sound like shitty radio rock, the sound sometimes falls on deaf ears. So, we don’t know if we should come back there again. The people in town just don’t get us, and don’t care, and that’s fine I guess. We’re not for everybody. To show you an example:
As I was setting my guitars up on stage, a random dude from the bar walked up to me, a little intoxicated but not all the way shitfaced drunk. He came up on the stage which is a bit of a no-no for me and said with a straight face, “Whataya got for me?” I didn’t know what to say since I didn’t really understand the question. I’ve heard what do you play? What do you sound like? But never, “Hey, whatdoya got for me?” Stunned, all I could muster was, “Something real cool you’ve never seen before”. He then looked puzzled at my response. I’m sure for a split second we could’ve both spoke in completely different languages to each other and that would’ve made more sense than the conversation we were attempting to have. Finally, the man explains that he thought we were some kind of karaoke, since Thursday (the night we were there) is karaoke night and that’s what he was there for. I told him we play all originals, and he continued to look puzzled. Puzzled by the concept of original music. He continued to ask me what I played, and I continued to tell him NOT COVERS. He kept getting more confused on this original music concept I was laying on him. He goes, “I know you HAVE to know something? What do you like? What kind of music to you play?” At this point, I knew the back and forth wasn’t working. This man’s need to hear karaoke, led me to one solution. I answered his question with a question. I asked him what HE LIKED. The ensuing answer threw me for such a loop I actually had no witty response. This dude looks me in the eye and tells me he loves Eric Clapton and Dire Straits and wants us to play “Money for Nothing”. My brain completely shut off at that point. I told him, that he should probably leave since he will hear NOTHING that sounds remotely like that. We played for the small audience. A few people stayed. Our good friends enjoyed the show. But all in all we felt that once again a good performance in Green Bay fell on deaf ears. When some one is DYING to hear, “Two Tickets to Paradise”, we now know that’s not our target audience.
Next up was our show in Kenosha, WI that was shaping up to be more and more of a disaster. Constant venue switches, a last minute effort by one of our good friends out there landed us a gig at their friends’ birthday party at a small bar/nightclub. The club had a DJ that was scheduled to spin (I feel so dirty saying that considering dude just press shuffle on his iTunes)until 1am. It was going to be a late show, but we were assured people would still be there. Plus, I got to see a childhood friend from my home in Richmond, CA that had moved out there. That was cool. The events that had transpired, however, did not turn out as pleasant.
We waited A LONG TIME at the club. It was a weird environment. It was like a singles bar for older people on their 3rd divorce. The DJ was playing an unpleasant mix of modern country, contemporary hip hop, and the occasional radio rock Nickelback song. It was like never ending nails on a chalkboard to us. The party goers that came to see us as well started to get a bit restless, looking forward to the live music that they were hearing about. The DJ brought the PA and wouldn’t let us use his, so we were able to, with the help of some local musicians and our friends put one together. It can be a beautiful thing to see the DIY ethos in action. We did a little soundchecking which was more like level checking, and we started to play our first song. A new song that isn’t out yet tentatively titled, “Kill Yourself”. (I’m pretty sure we’re gonna change that title) A heckler, a woman, yelled out, “Oh my god I don’t want to slit my wrists tonight!” We were pissed. So many things were passing through my head to say. We’ve had so many tirades on stage, this was my chance to really let loose on this horrible woman. I thought to myself, “We pay money we don’t really have to spend hours practicing and writing this material. Paying to get it mixed and mastered, then travel all over the world and play live with the hopes that some uncultured, undereducated, stereotypical small town piece of shit like yourself would step up and say some horribly dumb shit while we play. Yeah, that’s what we want. You are the reason your city can’t have nice things.” Unfortunately, I didn’t say that. All I could muster was, “Ahh shut up!”
That was enough to piss that woman off and led her to tell the owner of the club that we were ruining the night. He came over right as we were having some trouble with our homemade PA and told us we’d have one more song and that was it. Frustrated, we said, “Fuck it.” Fuck this place. Fuck this town, fuck this state, fuck the neighboring states. Anger was a bit of an understatement. I felt like we were truly wasting our time in the area as a whole. Green Bay the night before and now Kenosha. We couldn’t take it. The week was not only taking a toll on us emotionally, but financially as well. This was a Friday night and here we are not quite 2 songs in, and because some drunk doucher wants to complain, we have to stop. And according to the owner, she was speaking for the consensus of the venue. Cyndy was equally mad and we both wanted to break shit. As we were putting our stuff away, people start talking to us, asking why we quit playing. They told us they were WAITING FOR US TO PLAY! That made us so much more mad. Once people noticed that we were no longer going to play, they left. Before we could even get all of our stuff to the car the place was empty. Morally, we felt a bit better. We felt better that we were somewhat wrong about Kenosha. There are people there that want to hear new and different music. There are people there (more than Green Bay) that want to hear more than American Idol/The Voice karaoke talent shows, and cliche hip hop. To those people, the people that came up to us, we’ll return…
Saturday was a show in Chicago at the Abbey Pub. We were again playing with our friends Donoma. The local Chicago band backed out last minute so we knew at that point it wasn’t going to be the best the turnout. The Abbey Pub has two venues. A big room, and across the hall a smaller room in the main bar/dinning room where we played. We would peak into the big room to see what was going on. A bunch of local rappers doing a hip hop thing. It wasn’t packed, but they had more people there then the few bar goers we had. Our buddies opened the night and gave an inspiring performance in front of some family that made the 1 hour trip from Kenosha, WI to Chicago, IL to see them. We knew that after they were done, we would give our most heartfelt, angry performance ever. There was an indescribable rage inside us from the previous two days that had to be unleashed. Chicago was going to feel the wrath. I was a dizzying rampage on stage. I stopped and looked up and people from the hip hop show started to come in our room. The applause started to get a little louder, you could hear the chatter of surprise by what they were seeing. Mission accomplished.
The week was to end in St. Louis, MO. Another show were we had to find the local openers. We couldn’t find ONE! In a months time, not one band in the area was down to play with us. Granted, we don’t know EVERY BAND in St. Louis, but damn, nothing. We told the venue that it was probably best to just not do the show. We got to spend some more time with our homies, Donoma, in Kenosha, and my good friend from California. It was the wind down that we needed, and we got some rest. Another thing we haven’t had much of. Between long drives and sleeping in the cramped rental car, we’re getting a little beat up, physically.
Cyndy was able to get some last minute dates for this week, so we weren’t tripping too hard on St. Louis. Columbia, MO was going to have us. Our first time in the city, a promoter put together a bill real quick of locals who he felt could bring a few heads out on a Monday. We weren’t expecting much, but we knew if we could play in front of just a few people, then we’d have an opportunity to make some money, and maybe if Columbia worked out, we could have a spot to return to when we go out again. The staff, the promoter, the other bands, the concertgoers, damn, it was a perfect mix of awesome. The opening band set the mood with some instrumental post rock and then we came in with some LFADM madness. Again, we were trying to make sure every single person in the place had an “experience” with our sound. Just so you guys know, Roxy’s in Columbia is a class act. Good sound, great staff, in a city full of very supportive people. I don’t know what prompted him to do it, but the owner got us a hotel, where I’m writing this now before we check out. Gas is only $2.98 a gallon. My lovely wife finally got some sleep, and I got another reminder of why we do this. I got to meet more good people, share tour stories with other band guys. Woke up to free hotel breakfast. In a few hours we head out on another 7 hour drive. This time to Muncie, IN. Life is good..Life. Is. Good.