Tour, Day Four

One of the coolest things about playing outside of your own town and your own state is seeing how other local music scenes function, and I have seen very few as vibrant and passionate as Knoxville, Tennessee.

The show was at a house run by members of a local band called Lions, who just got back from a tour of their own, and despite some booking confusion that resulted in City Mouth not being able to play, it was the most fun night of tour so far. There was a fairly large crowd gathered before the bands even started – credit that to Josiah’s smart tactic of charging only two dollars before that show started and full price afterwards – and most, if not all of them, attentively watched all four bands that played.

Even Mighty Ships, a band with no prior foothold in the area, seemed to get a really positive response. The highlight of the night for me, however, was watching Little Big League, an emo/punk group that I had been wanting to see for a while. They sounded huge even in such a small room, and they were great to talk to afterwards about touring and the business side of things.

Speaking of seeing new bands, I’m edging towards a milestone of my own on this tour. For as long as I’ve been going to shows, I’ve kept track of every band I’ve seen, and I’m on track to hit seven hundred later this week.

I think today is the halfway point of the tour. So far, everything has gone pretty smoothly. We’ve had places to stay every night (huge thanks to Sami’s family, Gabe in Cinci, and Matt Kennedy), we’re close to breaking even on gas money (thanks to my parents for letting us use a reliable, efficient van), and we’re only on each others’ nerves a little bit. We’re in Nashville, Tennessee at Springwater Supper Club tonight, but before that, I’m looking forward to exploring the city and checking out some more record stores, especially Third Man.

It’s sort of strange to think of what I’m missing at home. Friends are moving in and out of new places, May Term is wrapping up at IWU later this week, and rad shows are happening at Firehouse. Out here, we’re so far removed from all of that. This is great as a vacation, and Facebook and phone calls with Liesi keep me connected, but I don’t know if I could spend weeks or months as, in the words our host’s former band, a “permanent tourist.” That has been quite a realization.

Tour, Day Three

This will be a short one since I slept later this morning than I ever have in my life. That’s what happens when I spend an entire day without air conditioning (which may not yet have been invented in Ohio) and stay up until 2:00 AM playing a show.

Last night’s show was bizarre for a number of reasons. First, the venue – The Rake’s End in Cincinnati, Ohio – had a sign outside, but instead of the bar’s name, the sign was just a bunch of closeup pictures of eyes. It was also full of weird but very cool art. Then there was the lineup: We played with small time country music star with a boy band and some TV appearances under his belt and a band who broke up weeks ago and never cancelled because the member Tyler talked to forgot to tell them it was happening. They were cool and played anyway, which was great because they gave us a place to stay.

In other great news, Dan Bretz decided to hang out with us for a few days and play percussion and saw in City Mouth!

Today, we’re off to Knoxville, Tennessee to play a house show with Lions and Little Big League. Hopefully I can find time to preorder the new album from Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties and spin today’s releases from Masked Intruder, Sad and French, and Junior Battles. Rock and roll.

Tour, Day Two

I’m as far away from home as I’ve ever been with a band, but day two of our tour made the world seem smaller than ever. Ironically, we spent it on a college campus that dwarfs even ISU.

After driving to Bloomington, Indiana and getting to know Indiana University a little bit, we met up with Dan Bretz, a good friend who has played drums at a few Modus Aurora shows and been in quite a few other great bands. Tyler happened to be a big fan of one of those bands, a sweet punk group called Sweater Weather, long before he met Dan. That was cool connection number one of the day. Number two was the discovery that Harry, the Mighty Ships bassist, is friends with Liesi’s sister from school.

The coincidences are neat, but I’m even more impressed with the amount of hospitality we’ve already been shown. Dan let us play his N64 for an afternoon (I’m still awful at every game) and showed us the best pizza place in Bloomington, Mother Bear’s Pizza (apple gouda chicken sausage sounds like a strange pizza topping on paper, but it’s actually excellent). For the second night in a row, Tyler’s friend Sami (whose name I now know) helped us out a place to stay. Her family has been great to us these past couple days, and I’ll be sad we can’t sleep on their couches and floors every night.

Other highlights of the day:

We hit our first record store of tour, a really cool place called Landlocked Music. I picked up Signals by Rush (a mediocre album with one song so good it made the purchase worth it), Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA (because I don’t own any Boss records yet), and Oh, Inverted World by The Shins. There’s a running bet going on Twitter as to how many records I’ll buy on this tour. Here’s how the guesses stand so far:

  • Tony: 25
  • Katie: 20
  • Mike: 11
  • Cale: 6

If we find a store every day that has a solid selection and great prices like Landlocked, I might come home with a pretty sizable addition to my collection.

The band that closed the show at Rachael’s Café was called Caligula’s Birthday Party. I wasn’t sure what to expect from that name and the matching Line 6 Spyder combos, but they turned out to be an impressive, mathy indie band. On another show-related note, thanks to Brad Schumann for teaching me how to wrap cables in a way that impresses the sound guy at a tiny venue in southern Indiana.

I also got to talk to Liesi on the phone for a long time while the rest of the gang ate second dinner. It was really nice, and as fun as tour is, I can’t wait to see her again next week.

Tour, Day One

I guess we’re somewhere near Indianapolis. I’m not really sure, since I slept the entire way here from the show. What I do know is that I’m the first one awake (no surprise) and the basement of Tyler’s friend whose name I awkwardly can’t remember is covered in awesome vintage movie posters. My mom would appreciate Moonstruck, and Matt and I argued about Blade Runner for the third time in as many days.

Some context: I just finished day one of my first real tour. It’s a nine-day trek around the Midwest with a stellar emo/indie rock band called Mighty Ships. Their frontman, Tyler Bachman, set the whole thing up and asked Matt and I (formally known as City Mouth) to play some of our acoustic jams as an opening act.

The first show was at a really neat bar with an outdoor stage called Be Here Now in Muncie, Indiana. We made the true rookie mistake of forgetting that there was a time difference, so we showed up an hour late. Hardly anyone was there anyway, so it was no big deal. The Ball State campus isn’t exactly hopping after school lets out for the summer, apparently. Regardless, it was a perfect night for an indie rock show. The headliner was an Indianapolis group called I Dream In Evergreen, a name that was so familiar that I swore they had played Coffee Nation or something years ago. It wasn’t until I mentioned to their vocalist that their show reminded me of another great Indiana band called Olympians that I saw years ago at Cornerstone that I made the connection. Three fifths of this band was actually in Olympians, which was a really cool connection, so we geeked about the Get Up Kids for a minute because the best Olympians song ends with a referential yell of “You’re still all that matters to me.”

Day one also gave us our first great tour story: Somewhere around the eastern edge of Illinois, we drove by some roadkill. Now, that’s a pretty common sighting along the highway, but after this one, Matt and I looked at each other with a little disbelief. He asked the question we were both thinking: “Was that half of a dead dog?” Yep, it was half of a dead dog. The head and forelegs were there, but the torso down was nowhere in sight.

So far, this is a lot of fun, and I don’t think we all hate each other yet. Today, we’re headed to Bloomington, Indiana, so I’m counting on a Dan Bretz sighting, mass confusion about which Bloomington we’re from (someday, I’ll learn to just say I’m from Normal), and more nice texts from Liesi.