When our friends and family ask, “How’s the tour going?” a lot of the time we as a band just try and summarize our experiences as ‘Fun!’ or ‘We’re having a great time!’ as a place holder for lots of challenging, out of control, exciting and sometimes discouraging stories that can’t be captured in a sound bite. Although I can’t speak on behalf of every touring band, I can say that one of the most appealing aspects of the job is that it’s so hands on, touch and go, and unpredictable. It’s hard to summarize more than one day, let alone a whole tour, in one simple answer. There’s just too much that happens daily, so I’ll try to unpack a little more here.
We had set the tour up so that we would alternate weekends between Canada and the United States… mainly to do with the fact that we didn’t really know what to expect south of the border. We’re just a couple of naive Canadian boys looking to play shows in America, our past experience in the states had been too good to be true, (see last blog post about Canada Day 2016) and we’d never done the club circuit before. So we thought spacing them out made more sense. The only thing that didn’t make sense was the number of border crossings we’d be doing, as well as the timing of the first one: January 19th. This was one day before Donald Trump’s inauguration and two days before the Women’s March… making for a tenser atmosphere than we would have cared for.
As a whole I would say we were very impressed by the American shows. Most of them had a hitch or two, but all of the other bands we met were extremely supportive and inviting for our next trip down: ‘Next time we’ll play _____ room and you can stay at our house!”. It was nice to experience such hospitality in these new cities. We were also very impressed by how many live bands there are (I know they have a larger population, so statistically more bands blah blah) and how supportive they are to their music scene. The fact that anyone would come out to specifically check out a Canadian band playing their favourite live music venue is very impressive to me.
Throughout the tour there were some moments were we were awestruck by how the internet can help your music reach people. Our last American show in Philadelphia is my favourite example. We arrived at The Fire (which is located in the trendy Northern Liberties/Fishtown area of Philly) to a rough-around-the-edges bar. The staff was incredible, easy to work with, and just excited about out-of-towners playing their room. Since this was our last American show, we were well rehearsed and the set itself went smoothly. After the set we were talking to people and found out that a couple from Philly that had seen us play last September at the YUL-EAT festival in Montreal and had turned a whole group of their friends on to our EP, and they came to support us that night. Another women had driven in from Washington DC to see our live show with her friend from Philly. It was one of those moments where you realize every show counts and how much you owe the crowd your best performance every night. As an aside: I loved The Fire for a number of reasons, but mostly because dogs were valued customers.
The Canadian run of shows was incredible – each time we come back to towns and see more people singing along it reminds us all that the drives are worth it. For me the standout show was Kingston: we’ve played the Brooklyn a number of times and it’s one of our favourite places to hang when we’re home, but there was something electric about that night. I also love the new table they have in the middle of the bar – I decided to walk out to it in the middle of the set to use it as extra stage, seemed like a good idea at the time. Once I got on it, I realized that the microphone cable was mildly tangled up in the crowd that I had confidently walked through. So after a few twist-and-shout style dance moves I got back to the stage. Maybe wireless mics next round? #itsBritneybitch
On this run we went through: colds (everyone had a cold at one time or another), lung infections, wrists on the brink of collapse, two vans (one of which would only start if you used lens cleaner and a wrench to jam the key into the starter) and two trailers…. But would we do it again?
In a heartbeat.
I’m going to get a little nice/sentimental for a second: Being on the road requires a lot of support and understanding from everyone in the band, and there were countless examples of that on this tour. Maybe it was loading in and setting up someone else’s gear because they’re on the phone with someone back home, or that person is sleeping in the van because they have some plague and the only time they’ll be moving that day is the 11pm-1145pm set, buying coffees for everyone before sound check, or not taking too long in the shower when we’re behind schedule. The list goes on. We were lucky enough to have two incredible non-band members on the road with us that also changed everything. Geoff Chown was our soundperson and general ‘Save-our-ass’ consultant to the band. There were at least two specific times where I said out loud “We’d be dead without you” and 100% meant it. The other helping hand was Luke Ottenoff (AKA Lucky). Lucky originally signed on to sling merch, but soon took on a few other responsibilities: roadie, drinking buddy, accountant and finally merch slinger extraordinaire.
So to summarize - To anyone who came out to a show, bought a CD, tweeted, instagrammed, shared us on facebook, told a friend, sang along, snuck into sound check, let us play at your venue: Thank you a million times over, you have no idea how much these little acts help us move forward.
See you back on the road very soon!
1. Taking a breather from shows and working on new songs
2. Confirming some very cool summer plans....stay tuned
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