gracious what a week: dark's tour remarks part one
Pre-Tour, Practice, Atlanta, Wilmington.
Je Suis France finally became a true band last week, ten years into our existence. Okay we've been truly bandish for most of that decade, but with no tour ever lasting more than four days we've always missed out on a vital aspect of bandmanship. Last week's tour helped correct that.
seven towns, ten dudes, one van = everlasting infinite majik. Here's what happened.
Week before tour fucking blew. Had to practice, had to clean, had to work late to make up for missing hours on Friday, had to take care of the dog on Thursday and Friday as the wife left for a sales meeting on Thursday, etc. I was hoping to sleep a lot this week in order to preemptively make up for the massive lack of sleep I would most definitely fall prey to on tour. Didn't happen. Got six hours maybe one night all that week. Already operating on a deficit. Shit.
Friday the 13th I went to work for an hour and a half. I'd worked 'til six the four days beforehand to make sure I could get away from work, run Oscar by the kennel, and still make the flight that I thought departed at 2:30. Computer mishaps screwed my workday and kept me logged out of the system 'til 9:45. By that point I had enough time to fill out my time card for that pay period and then log out. Total timewaste, I should've just stayed home and slept in.
So I rush home, grab Oskie, walk 'im, rub his belly, let him lick the bejeez out of me, etc. Ran his little behind down to the kennel out in Watertown. He flipped out, unhappiness incarnate. Sorry little guy, gotta go. Mom'll get you in a couple of days. It hurt, deeply. I don't want to make my dog sad. But things've gotta happen.
I get home, think I'm ahead of schedule, decide I can kick back for twenty minutes or so before calling a taxi. I go to check in for the flight on my computer and notice that departure time is actually 1:50, forty minutes earlier than I thought. It's 12:30 right now. Oh shit. I call a cab, grab my stuff, don't even have time to turn off the computer and unplug all the appliances and stuff. Allyn'll be back tomorrow, no big deal. Cab gets there, takes the city roads to avoid traffic, and promptly gets waylaid by a damn bridge raising at the canal near the Science Museum. Cabbie's no dumbass though, he flips around illegally and hops on the highway. I make it to Logan at like ten after one, charge through baggage check and security, and get to the gate right when they call my zone. I have absolutely no time to grab a lunch.
Flight's uneventful 'til the landing, when the elderly lady next to me barfs her bloody Mary up into a plastic bag.
I grab my shit from the belt, walk outside into the hot Georgia air, and see OJ, Brah, and Crog hopping around like retards out by the median. Awesome dudes, fantastic to see, yeah. We hop in DJ's car and make way to WRAS for an interview. The girl dj is nice, seems to like us, but that station's got some mixed-up rules when it comes to interviews. We had to sign some paperwork, do it taped instead of live, and Brah wasn't allowed into the studio. No idea what the interview sounded like, as it aired the following Thursday, probably as we were on our way from NYC to DC. Hopefully we didn't suck.
After that we drove over to Ice's, got that dude, hit the Dwarf House on the way to Athens, and then got to Nuci's sometime before ten. After hitting Oak Street Package, of course.
So I see Jeff and Jon for the first time in forever, we commiserate, share a frosty brew, and commence to the practicing. It is soul-stirring. "Whalebone" sounds awesome almost immediately. "Wizard of Points" is a drag, though, and unfortunately never gets learned. Suck.
After practice we retire to various locales for sleep and/or further dude time. I crash at the Dude Hospice, a jaunty little hovel somewhere in the heart of Athens. About four hours later we awake to go shoot the video down in Marietta. We grab some biscuits, pick up SA at a MARTA station on the way, and reach the Bergeron estate around ten am, or so. Jais Berg and Ian Cone take us out to a giant clay pit where we spend a few hours shooting the video for "That Don't Work That Well For Us". Jason's mind is a beautiful one, and the video shall most assuredly rank among the highest and most fully-realized expressions of that profligate artform. I get a taco thrown at my face multiple times. It's grand.
After a low-key, half-assed practice in the Bergerons' basement, along with some of Jack's cold Miller Lites and a few rounds of basketball, the caravan returns to Atlanta and then splits for a bit. Most of them head over to Covington for Adrian and Mandy's baby shower, while me, Crog, and Crews take it easy back at Ice's. We take a nap, watch some guy survive in the Everglades, and then walk up to Zesto for a couple of Chub burgers, or whatever. Around seven we reconvene and head over to the Drunken Unicorn for the first show of the trip. Excitement abounds. I'd never been to the DU before. It's a great club, and I hope we can play it more in the future.
Brass Castle starts off the night with some excellent hard-riffin' punches to the gut; these fellas are not just primordial rockers of the greatest order but also gentlemen and true adepts. Thanks, guys! We follow them up with some sloppy, bass-amp-blowing drunkenness that seems to go over well enough with the crowd, many of whom were wearing their workout gear in anticipation of Rump Posse's headlining set. Their grunge feint plus guitar lasers highlight an awesome piece of earnest ridiculousness. Before and after I get to see like 800 people I never ever see anymore, which was beyond rad, and completely made the night. I think at one point Chris Thorn and I were yelling at each other about Identity Crisis
, which to be honest I've never even read. Also my brother made it out, which is always a great thing. Thanks, bro! Anyhow, by any measure this was a fantastic start to the imminent proceedings.
Next morning we finally load up the van for real and, after picking up final tourmate Robbie Beers, head off to Wilmington, North Carolina, one of the most beautiful towns in America. I've been going to Wilmington and the outlying Kure Beach since before I was born; we've had a house out in Kury since the late '60's. Wilmington is one of the four or five places in America I actively want to live in. As I mentioned above we blew the bass amp we were renting from Chris Bishop on the very first night. On the drive up to NC we passed the van for Canada, the kids from Michigan we were playing with. We figured we'd ask if we could borrow their bass amp and wrote up a quick note to press against our window. I have no idea if they noticed it or not. We get to Wilmington, find out the club we're playing, Bella Festa, is closed for insurance purposes, and load instead in to the venue next door, the restaurant Tango du Chat. We had no idea until hours later that this was the very last night for Tango du Chat. We also begin to realize that, although the name and business has changed, Tango du Chat is the exact same location we played at back in '98, when it was some form of sandwich shop. But so we set our stuff up and then go for a walk around the city. Unfortunately none of the river cruises were operating on a Sunday night, and all the seafood restaurants down by the river were too expensive. Still, absolutely beautiful area, so much so that I tried to talk the other dudes into cancelling the tour and just hanging out in Wilmington for a week. We grabbed some food from a great japanese / gyro / sandwich shop called Nikki's and return to Tango du Chat. We assumed nobody would be there, as the bill was two touring bands with no locals, and it was in a weird non-venue whose layout was far more fitting for a restaurant than a rock club. The audience was never huge, but the turn-out was surprising, probably about 25 or 30 folks at its largest. We met a few locals, including a guy named Randy who used to tend bar and appear as an extra in locally shot films and tv shows; a marine who lived out on Kure Beach and who hosts a local indie-rock podcast; and a director who lived in Brooklyn who was in Wilmington to visit his parents. Maybe his name was Gary? Either way, some fine and/or entertaining guys. Canada was also a fine group of kids who put on a good show of plaintive folk-rock-esque-ness with strings and such. All around just a surprisingly fun and successful show. Good times, high spirits, etc. Unfortunately that wouldn't last.
We had a long drive at this point, eleven hours from Wilmington to Brooklyn. We decided to cut into that and forego the sleeping problem in Wilmington by driving a couple hours that night up to Crews' house in Durham. Solid plan, horrible execution.
In the confusion of the night before, between the drinks and conversation and large number of dudes moving equipment around, one of our amps and two pedals failed to make their way back into the van. We didn't notice it until Monday morning. We already had a forbidding drive ahead, to double-back would make the entire Brooklyn show questionable. Thank God the club had the equipment, and thank God even more that Nicole, the amazingly amazing lady who booked our show, was willing to grab our stuff and meet us halfway between Wilmington and Durham. She went far above and beyond the call of duty and single-handedly made it possible for us to make our Brooklyn show. Best booker EVER.
So long-ass drive, for real, but actually not nearly as bad as we had expected. In fact the van itself, with ten dudes inside, was still comfortable, and not at all a pain in the ass. A true shock.
More in a bit.