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October 29, 2011 Tour notes: full dispatch

Throw 4 men in a minivan and we’ve got a tour on our hands, traveling the familiar route of Chapel Hill, NC, to Portland, ME and back. Our borrowed minivan is packed to the gills but still allows for ample elbow room and akimbo napping positions (and we’re free from our jobs for 2 weeks) so let’s roll.

By day 2, I’ve already renamed everyone with useless nicknames. David’s shaved head makes for the cruelest remarks. Through these and other elementary strategies, we manage our many hours together in harmony, and learn a few things in the process. For example, Jeremy “Rearranger” Renner, responsible for the delicate and precise Tetris renactment that is the loading in of our gear to the van, apparently knows a band that travels with several half stacks but only uses them for show. This seems BATSHIT insane to me. There are bands out there voluntarily renting extra vehicles to carry amps that they use only for the aesthetic of being a heavy rock band? I’ll stick to my Twin Reverb combo unit thanks!

Local 506 is still one of my favorite places to play, and it’s a great start to the tour. Visit with good friends Corbie Hill (of many a fame) and Andrea (from Birds + Arrows) and through imitation, the band decides the best way to start a show is to throw one’s guitar around your shoulder and yell obscenities before the “1,2,3,4” is even finished. That’s what the headliners did, and it sure was entertaining.

Onwards. Though we stumble through a few unsavory venues gigs and I throw my voice out trying to sing through their childsize PAs, we thunder up the coast with a remarkable consistency of playing. For only a month together with this new band, we sound damn comfortable with each other and these songs. I’m terribly excited to have these guys on board. David and Thomas have never toured before, so having that energy is refreshing, and it does us jaded touring folk good. We listen to new music all over the map. Marnie Stern keeps popping up and wowing us with her finger-tapping prowess, and we keep telling Modest Mouse to cheer up, but not so much that they Float On. If they could just stay somewhere in between.

College gigs are the greatest. Hotel rooms, free meals, and generally a guaranteed crowd. Binghamton, NY reminded us of the comforts that are out there (we are heretofore called Fresh Towelitude). The crowd went crazy:

By the time we hit Jersey (Jeremy’s homeland), we had discovered his inner road rage had reason (“yell once, and then I’m over it,” he says in his defense). David can’t operate the GPS and so every right becomes a left, and meanwhile I jump at the chance to go swimming in the Atlantic. Thomas caved in after some light taunting from the water.

In Philly we see great bands that don’t have records out (Ben Cady, get on it!) and dedicated wives that learn drums in 3 weeks for their husbands in need (wow!). We were truly sorry to go through all of New England with only one show, but Portland, as always, was a terrific latitudinal and energetic peak to the tour. Empire is the best venue I’ve played there and everything was tip top except the weather and the prostitute deals that scared Jeremy and David back into the venue. Boston and other Northeastern destinations, we will definitely see you in 2012, I promise.

NYC for CMJ promised to be a clusterfuck as something like 1200 bands descended upon the boroughs to celebrate…themselves, and occasionally each other. Our showcases had at least one half-interested celebrity figure and the badges that allow you to go to any and every gig certainly make you feel like you’re important, but man, the pedal expo was pretty much my favorite part. Got to try out a bunch of Eventide pedals that will soon be featured on our pedalboards, methinks.

The contrast of our opinions on NYC couldn’t be better demonstrated than the look on my face in Times Square (shown below), and David’s infectious love for the city (he opted to stay another day after we left).

There’s just something about this city that makes me want to…leave it. Every time. Makes me feel like a country boy, but it’s just too much for me. Too many people!!! Must stay focused on the positives: e.g., we actually found a way into NYC with not a single toll. I didn’t think it was possible.

In Manhattan, the boys searched for a Chipotle while I looked for an escape route. And not too long after, we actually escaped; unharmed, with no speeding tickets and a day off on the Hudson River.

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