TUES 8/28
1230am
Home

In 12 hours, tour starts. My laundry’s done, my ipod’s updated with new playlists and a handful of new releases, and I’ve made a pile of books to bring:
Harry potter 6 + 7
20000 leagues under the sea
Palm Sunday (Vonnegut)
Lord of the Rings (one volume trilogy)
Chuck Klausterman IV

We’re playing 18 shows in 13 states; 14 are in cities I’ve never been to with KG. 3 are in states I’ve never been in at all.

WED 8/29
1230am
The house we’re staying at, somewhere in northern Kentucky

Left home at 10, picked up Katie, loaded up the van, and picked up mandy. On the road by 1230. 9 hours to cincinatti, missed fizzgig, loaded in, set up, and played. Whole thing was over by 1130. best cincinatti show we’ve had so far (20 people…). Staying with todd’s (Second Saturday drummer) girlfriend in Kentucky. Wonder Lake, Illinois tomorrow.

Tired.

1130am
In the van, outside cincinatti

Towns we drove past on the first day:
Friendsville, MD
Accident, MD
Prosperity, WV
Baltimore, OH

Cereal with warm (room temperature) soy milk isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it is a little strange when you’re used to cereal being cold. I will attempt to remember to bring some in from the van at night.

2pm
Indiana, I-65

1. joe’s friend’s mom bought us a bunch of groceries for tour – cereal, chips, granola bars, bottles of water, etc. she also baked us cookies. I’ve never met her, but she is now in the running for Best Person Ever.

2. I wish reggie and the full effect would just concentrate on being awesome. We’ve been listening to them for about an hour, and we’ve skipped the metal songs, the linkin park song, a bunch of songs involving fake people that are actually james dewees, and at least a dozen tracks that aren’t songs at all. Give me Greatest Hits 84-87, minus the skits. Maybe cut out the birthday song, too.

3. this part of the country is obsessed with Abraham Lincoln. When you enter Kentucky, the signs say “welcome to kentucky, birthplace of Lincoln.” When you reach Indiana, they say “Indiana – Lincoln’s boyhood home.” Illinois? “the land of Lincoln.” We just passed a billboard for the “Lincoln lodge – color tvs in every room!” the stores here only take pennies and fives. Okay, that’s a lie, but I wouldn’t be that surprised.

345pm
Still Indiana

We just passed a town called Hobart. I couldn’t get a picture of the sign from the van. (later in the day, we passed Lilyville, IL. Lily and I had a pretty entertaining conversation via text message, which I was going to transcribe here, but it’s not in my phone any more. Your loss.)

THUR 8/30
2pm
Sam’s house, Chicago suburbs

Played an awesome house show last night in wonder lake, Illinois. Staying with a guy named sam from a band called dormlife, who kg go way back with. Having a nice lazy day, because we’re only an hour from tonight’s show, and we’re staying here again tonight. Time to go change my guitar strings.

FRI 8/31
7pm
The Annex, Madison, WI

Some days, you just don’t have much to write about, which is why I didn’t do tour journals the last couple of times we went out.

Chicago was pretty good (a free show where we got paid and fed!), and we stayed with sam again. Slept in, got burritos, and drove to Madison. My first visit to Wisconsin (leaving only a half dozen states I’ve never been to), so far a favorable impression. Pretty scenery – like the Midwest, but with more hills and lakes and rivers.

SAT 9/1
Noon
Some Coffee shop, Still Madison

We played to 7 people last night. Apparently, the doorman was telling people (including some friends of ours) that the show was pushed back to 10:00. we went on at 9:30. even the other bands (except for one guy from mad trucker gone mad) didn’t watch us play, which always sucks. But it all worked out – we still got some gas money, sold a bit of merch, and got three different offers for places to stay. The venue offered to have us back, and to set up a better bill for us (this show was all whiskey-and-cowboy-hat rock and roll bands). We ended up staying with a friend of a friend of a friend of one of kg’s old guitar players, a guy named alex, who has an awesome place, and draws a sweet webcomic, which you can check out here.

Today is the fifth day of tour, and I’ve spent $15. I finished HP6 yesterday, and am now well into HP7 (for the third time). These books get better every time I read them.

SUN 9/2
1245pm
The van. On the way out of Iowa

Last night’s venue had the worst load-in of all time. The venue, called the hall mall, is in the middle of a long strip of bars and restaurants, which faces another long strip of bars and restaurants, with a big patio/walkway thing in between, with tables and benches and foodcarts and hundreds of drunken college idiots. So the closest we could get the van was maybe 50 yards away. Also, the venue is on the second floor. And, as advertised, it is a Hall Mall – that is, a long narrow room with shops all down the sides (or at least, spaces where shops could go. All but 2 were empty). When we arrived, the promoter (and I use that term extremely loosely here) is drunk and passed out on a couch. He doesn’t seem to know anything about the show, except that there is one. The first band is playing their first show ever, and they leave right after they play. Unfortunately, they take the dozen or so people they brought with them when the go. So we play for 7 or 8 people (3 from the last band, and one guy who appears to be homeless), make $18 from the door, and don’t sell a thing. Luckily, we already had a place to stay (2 girls who found us on the myspace).

Iowa City wins the new “worst place in the world” award.

TUES 9/4
1230pm
I seem to do all my writing in the van, Minnesota

Our show in Minneapolis on the 2nd was probably the best one so far. The venue was cool – the acadia café, a coffee shop with a good-sized room for bands to play in. they fed us (a delicious veggie melt for me, black bean burgers for everyone else), and they had an excellent beer selection (many of which I had never even heard of). Since we booked the show, it was also our job to run the show. So we scheduled set times, ran the door, divided the money, and assisted in the changeovers between bands. The other bands were enjoyable, especially now now every children.

After the show, we stayed with Jen, and old friend of mandy’s. we had Monday (labor day) off, so we hung out with jen and her boyfriend all day. We went out for thai, and it was amazing (and also the most expensive meal of tour so far: $13. I suspect house party will exceed that). After lunch, we watched 300 in HD, which didn’t really look much different, while the girls went swimming, and later we watched Hot Fuzz. I thought it was okay – I’ve been hearing about how awesome it is for a while, so I was a little let down when it was merely entertaining. Also, it’s hard not to think of those guys as their characters from shaun of the dead.

Having just about worn out our welcome at Jen’s, we stayed with Brandon, who runs sound at the acadia, last night. As we were all settling into bed, brandon’s cat started howling like crazy and jumping up on the window sills. Before we could figure out what he was so upset about, the cat managed to push a screen out of a window and escape into the night. By the time I got outside, the cat had been followed across the street, down an alley, and into someone’s backyard. Brandon was able to catch it (somehow), and we returned to the apartment. Apparently, there was another cat (or cats) howling outside, and the girls witnessed some sporadic cat fighting and hissing.

Disaster averted, we shut all the windows and went back to bed.

THUR 9/6
430pm
Brandon’s house, KCMO

We arrived in Kansas city Tuesday night to an amazing dinner prepared by our friend Brandon. He thoroughly spoiled us with a couple of delicious asian dishes, ice cream, and a substantial quantity of tequila (the later of which was consumed in large part by people who are not me). We spent a highly enjoyable evening swapping tour stories and reminiscing about common acquaintences.

Wednesday morning, we went to the bell street café for breakfast, where we had decent omlettes served by a waitress who had plainly been a man for most of her life. She was about as good at waiting tables as she was at covering up her masculinity – she only visited our table to take our order, bring the food, and deliver the check. My coffee cup was empty for most of the meal, and her adam’s apple was more pronounced than mine.

Wednesday afternoon, we hung around brandon’s house, and among other things, watched an episode of the Bodog Entertainment Battle of the Bands. This program made me want to stop playing music, and possibly stop living, too. Shows like that are the reason I don’t have TV anymore.

Around 5, we hit the road for St Joseph, which about an hour north of Kansas city, for a show at a place called scalliwags. Scalliwags looked like it used to be a nice venue, but had fallen into disrepair.

Highlights of the show included two stellar “team additions.” First, a crazy, drunken, potentially homeless man who danced both awkwardly and constantly, whether or not music was playing. He was frequently heard to yell “rock and roll!” and “I love dancing!” and at one point he attempted conversation with me, but he was slurring his speech so badly that I could not understand a single word. So I just smiled and said “yeah!” He is now a star of joe’s team. Second, the bassist in the opening band: he was dressed in denim overalls, women’s sunglasses, and a bandana, and playing a dean “explorer” bass. He danced in a very similar manner to the drunken weirdo, and now resides on mandy’s team.

Also of note was the owner/soundman, who unplugged every mic cable between each band, only to have to untangle them each time, and inevitably plug them back into the same things while the next band was setting up.

We played one of the weaker sets of tour (two days off and retched on-stage sound will do that to you…), the architects killed it, and we headed back to brandon’s.

Thursday morning we slept in, and eventually went out for burritos and coffee. The girls visited a yarn store while joe and I checked out a used record/book store. I didn’t buy anything, but the girls loaded up on yarn, and joe almost bought a paula abdul 12” single (cold hearted).

THUR 9/6
745pm
The van, on the road to Wichita

A billboard, seen from the van:

“Accept Jesus and be saved- OR REGRET IT FOREVER!”

(almost as good as “jesus is coming… AS LIGHTNING!” which is the best billboard ever.)

SAT 9/8
1 pm
the van, driving in northern texas

thursday night, we arrived at kirby’s beer store in wichita, kansas to a discover a bar approximately the size of a two car garage (and that we are the only band playing. we’ve never been to wichita, and we don’t know ANYONE there…). when we got there, there were four people. when we started playing, there were zero (except the bartender). when we finished having ‘band practice,’ two of the original four had come back in – two middle aged guys who couldn’t care less about a rock band from baltimore. i think they were annoyed that our playing interrupted their conversation. we made $9 (i think the bartender gave us his tips), and decided to get a hotel room for the night, seeing as we had no other choice but to sleep in the van (which would be reasonably comfortable for whoever got the bench seats, but miserable for the rest). the hotel was a first for me with this band, which is pretty remarkable – half a dozen tours, and we’ve always managed to find somewhere to stay, even in totally unfamiliar towns. i suppose having a couple of girls in the band helps; people seem more inclined to trust female strangers in their homes.

we checked out at 11 and went to a souper salad (a buffet that, as it’s name implies, is comprised mostly of soup and salad) for lunch. i’ve been craving vegetables all tour, so it was exactly what i wanted: a huge salad, a baked potato, pizza, mac + cheese (which i put on a slice of pizza, because i’m 5), cornbread, and a soft serve cone. also of note was an exchange between the cashier and myself:

cashier: do you want anything to drink – coke, diet, tea?

me: oh, do you have a soda fountain? (a reasonable question at a buffet)

cashier: it’s really a yes or no question.

me: (taken aback by unprovoked rudeness) ah, i’ll stick with water.

that exchange reminds me of a couple of others, both of which took place in Iowa City, further solidifying it’s distinction as “worst place in the world:”

1.    among the 8 people at the show at the hall mall was an older, probably homeless, grizzled african american guy. on the way out of the venue i said something like “take care,” to which he replied “you better show me some love, or i’ll shoot you with my bop gun.”

if ice cube is to be taken as a reputable source, bop gun means penis.

i don’t think the guy was coming on to me, but i suppose it’s possible. it seems more likely, given the context, that he thought he was threatening to shoot me in a playful manner.

totally creeped out, i received one of those half hug / half handshake things.

2.    walking to the van a little later, i found myself walking a few steps behind one of the previously mentioned college idiots, a girl dressed in her best go-to-the-bar-and-get-ogled-by-drunken-f

rat-guys finery. as i passed her, she said with a hint of what i took as sarcasm (or perhaps disgust?), “nice tats.” to which i replied, with as much sarcasm as i could muster, “uh, thanks?”

friday’s show could not have been more different from thursday’s.

the show in altus, oklahoma (a small town just north of the texas state line) was set up by a kid named steven, whom we had never met, who emailed us out of the blue when he saw we were in the process of booking a tour that would bring us through oklahoma, and offered to set up a show. apparently, he heard us on a radio show DJ’d by the rentals (ben, the rentals’ keyboard player is an old friend of kg’s, and he played one of our songs because he is awesome).

shortly after arriving, steven told us he had already booked a hotel room for us (even more unusual than us paying for one!). he also treated us to delicious mexican food! about a hundred kids showed up, we sold a ton of merch, and got paid almost $200! best show so far.

after checking in to our hotel (much nicer than last night’s) we tried in vain to find a liquor store (they close at 8 in altus) and watched ‘a mighty wind.’ i enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was as good as ‘best in show.’

a good night’s sleep in a hotel bed, some free continental breakfast, some more sleep, and we hit the road for austin, where we’re playing emo’s with cruiserweight and rory + the artificial heart (ex-slowreader!).

we’ve been out 11 days, and i’ve spent $74. austin is our furthest point west, tomorrow we turn towards home.

FRI 9/14
2pm
the van, I-10, mississippi

our show at emo’s (9/8) was great – good bands, good sound, free beer, and at least 100 people. however, the load-out was awful: the local college had won a football game that night, and as a result, what seemed like every student at the whole college went out to the area where emo’s is located. iowa city x20.

(which reminds me of something: in the past, while playing the “your team” game, players deemed ‘unassignable’ have been sent to texas (and subsequently, the entire state is ‘off-limits’). after consulting the board (moochie and diana), an amendment has been made: unassignables now get sent to iowa city, since that place seems to be wholly devoid of any redeeming qualities. texas has been good to us, and we’ve met a lot of cool people there.)

back to the emo’s load-out: because of the influx of drunken college idiots, many roads in the area were blocked off, and the one’s that weren’t quickly became gridlocked. we couldn’t get the van closer than a block away from the venue, but fortunately emo’s was prepared for this sort of situation: several guys with carts and dollies helped us get our stuff out to the van. while packing the trailer, i managed to slice my right thumb open on a broken keyboard case latch (thus my five-day hiatus from chronicling our tour). the emo’s gave me some paper towels, bandages, and whiskey, but the cut was so deep that it was still bleeding when we got to dave’s (cruiserweight’s bassist) house 45 minutes later. with joe’s help (he used to be a certified EMT) i was able to bandage it up tightly enough to stop the bleeding.

after a few hours sleep we headed to a pizzeria managed by urnie (cruiserweight’s guitarist) for some delicious free lunch.

we arrived in dallas around 4 to tape a live performance at a radio station – we did a piano + vocals “diversions”, and an a capella “the pit.” afterward we met up with adam’s (katie’s fiance) parents for dinner at chuy’s, found a cvs so we could replenish our first aid supplies, and made our way to the venue. the show, at a place called the barley house, was good – a decent crowd (cruiserweight’s hometown), good sound on stage, and cruiserweight was awesome again. playing guitar with a bandaged thumb was not as difficult as i expected it to be, but i did have to alter my technique somewhat.

while we were in dallas we stayed with adam’s parents, who spoiled us thoroughly. their house was amazing (joe and i each had our own rooms!), they fed us very well, including taking us out to two excellent mexican restaurants, and they even sent us off with a care package full of snacks! we had monday off, and the yeargins were kind enough to let us stay another night. we used the day off to get our oil changed, mail out some cds, loaf around, and eat tons of food. after dinner, joe, mandy, and i went back into the city to see the rentals at the house of blues (once again, ben hooked us up).

tuesday morning, around 7, i awoke to a loud crashing sound, and upon looking out my window i saw that our trailer had a new dent. adam’s dad had backed into it on his way out for work, which is funny because the previous night, he had made several comments about everyone else being “careful not to hit the trailer” (it was resting in the driveway, un-hooked from the van. the crash was the jack that holds up one end falling off of it’s woodblock). no serious damage was done, except maybe to richard’s pride, and our trailer is so beat up already that we hardly even notice one more dent.

in keeping with this tour’s apparent theme of ‘feast or famine,’ our show tuesday in houston was dismal. it almost got canceled because an hour and a half after the scheduled load-in, we were the only band present. the other bands did show up eventually, but they were all terrible, and didn’t bring any people to the show. so we played for around a dozen people, mostly the last band and their girlfriends. worst of all, no one would let us stay with them. luckily, at the last minute, as mandy was calling to get us a hotel room, the soundman offered to let us stay at his house, which was literally next door to the venue. his house, which doubled as a recording studio, was cold and dark, and we managed to sleep until 2pm. we had a great lunch at a coffee shop next door called the daily grind (veggie mufflettas!), and i found manzana lift in glass bottles at a taqueria around the corner from the venue.

around 4 we were walking back to the van to head to the next venue (also in houston) when the promoter called to tell us that the show was canceled, due to the incoming tropical storm (which would eventually come to be known as hurricane umberto). houston was expecting six inches of rain, so understandably, a rock show wasn’t a great idea. this was terrible news for us, first because it was supposed to be a good show, with other touring bands and a $100 guarantee and free food, and second because we had nowhere to go – we were counting on finding a place to stay at the show.

miraculously, before we had even hung up the phone, urnie (who will hence-forth be known as the ‘patron saint of touring bands’) called to tell us he had arranged for us to stay with his uncle in kingwood, just north of houston. we arrived at uncle jimmy’s to discover another amazing house, complete with hot tub, pool table, and an adorable little dog. we spent the evening shooting pool and watching movies (waiting for guffman and serenity), and as far as we could tell, it never rained.

we awoke the next morning to find that it had, in fact, not rained at all where we were. however, as we drove to baton rouge, it appeared that we were following the storm, as we saw a lot of standing water, a few splintered trees, and more than a few car accidents. but we reached baton rouge without incident. the show, at the northgate tavern, was pretty good. we played between two southern/blues rock bands, but were well received, and made over $100. we stayed with a girl who named her dog karmella in honor of us.

TUES 9/18
1030am
the van, I-81, Virginia

friday (9/14) we arrived in pensacola a little before cruiserweight (with whom we played a total of three shows, for those keeping track), and we all had dinner at chris wilkes’ house. cruiserweight played their new album for us (and gave us a copy!), and we went to the venue around 7. for the first time all tour, i bought drinks – a couple of sparks before our set – and as a result, i was a little drunk during our set. and, as is typical when one consumes sparks, i felt wretched by the time we were done. this was also the first show i played without a bandage on my thumb, which greatly improved my guitar playing, but did not do much to improve the condition of my thumb – the cut has healed, but now it looks like i had a blister that popped.

there was a great crowd (chris always sets up good shows for us), cruiserweight was awesome (even more so now that i was more familiar with their new songs), and by the time they were done the effects of sparks (both good and bad) had mostly worn off.

when we got back to the house, it was party time (it was, after all, pensacola). ‘someone’ did their traditional “we have to finish this entire bottle of rum” routine, which this time resulted in their sleeping on the front porch steps. sadly, there was no journey/abba karaoke party this time, but i still didn’t get to bed until around 6 am.

after far too little sleep and another delicious meal courtesy of chris, we hit the road at noon. everyone slept most of the way to starkville, except, of course, for me, because i was driving (with the help of a steady stream of coffee and soda). we arrived at the funderburk’s (mandy’s boyfriend’s parents) just in time for one of the best meals of tour (mushroom casserole!). after gorging myself, i took the nap i didn’t get to take on the way.

despite not playing with second saturday or young agent jones (our usual starkville companions), the show was excellent, and our highest paying show of tour (over $400 with merch sales included). every kid in starkville has to have our cds and t-shirts by now, but somehow we still manage to sell a bunch every time we go there.

at this point, my end-of-tour-crankiness was starting to get the best of me, so i spent most of the show reading in the van. after a brief stop at a party we christened ‘brofest,’ we turned in.

we had a lot to in nashville sunday, so we set out early. upon arrival, katie recorded her vocals for the new second saturday album, bross fixed my moog, and we ate at house party, which never ceases to be awesome. our show was at a house in the suburbs, set up by amy from the protomen. the crowd was small, but the show was fun. amy’s band (happy birthday amy) was fantastic.

before we left nashville, bross fixed one of katie’s keyboards, and another stayed behind for more extensive repairs. i slept most of the way to johnson city. we were told load-in was at 6, but no one else showed up until almost 8. again, we didn’t play with any of our friend’s bands (panzer, the neverwills), but turnout was still good. we played second (of 2), so we had a nice, leisurely load-out. we stayed with a girl we met at the show who had an adorable puppy named tulip. we turned in early, got up at 8, and were on the road home by 9.

WED 11/7
130pm
home

it was a bad tour in the “lost or broken stuff” department:

lost: a mic, a mic cable, 2 speaker cables from our PA (thankfully, no one’s keys or wallet were lost this time)

broken: kick pedal, numerous cymbals, piano case, pro-one case, bass cab wheel. i broke more strings on this tour than all of our previous shows combined – at least four that i can remember. probably due to a combination of humidity and lighter gage strings…

we drove about 5000 miles, made a small profit (like, a few hundred dollars. not enough to pay the rent, but it’s something), and can’t wait to do it again.

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