Thunder Child Tour #3

3/14/2009 7:45 PM

Sitting in Labyrinth Press Company, a cool little cafe in Jamestown, NY. We’re playing in a couple hours. So, where I last left off we were getting to Cambridge, MA to play a show. Our old friend Jeremy (former GTG House roommate and member of Head and Toe) had set up the show as he lives in Boston these days. The show was at a place called Cafe Luna and it was with the Flint, MI band Kinetic Stereokids. A funny thing about this tour is that on almost every day of the tour we hung out with people from Michigan, the main exception being in New Jersey. That might be a testament to how shitty the economy is that people from Michigan are everywhere, or maybe we just played in a lot of cool places. The Break-Ups had played a show with KSK last summer, so I was vaguely familiar with them. Cafe Luna pretty much just does acoustic shows, but on this Tuesday night they made an exception for these two touring bands from Michigan. We met this guy Lee who worked there and ran the shows and he was super cool. He fed us and gave us beer and collected donations all night. KSK played first, in the crammed area by the window at the front of the cafe. They sounded really good in the room and structured their set nicely so it began quiet and lulling before building to louder and noisier sounds. They’re touring down to South by Southwest, whereas we’re doing our own east coast tour, so we were heading in opposite directions, but it was really cool that we got to hook up with them for a cool, weird little show. We shared a lot of gear with them due to space and time constraints. We did a set that cut some of the heavier moments but we pulled out a new arrangement of the “Whatevers Forever” song “All That You’ll Be” that we’re pretty psyched about. I love that song, but it’s really hard to pull off live, but I think this new arrangement is working. People seemed really receptive to the music and we sold some stuff. We split the donations with KSK and both bands walked out doing surpisingly well for a free show on a Tuesday night in Boston with no local support. We went down the street to a bar and Jeremy bought a few rounds of High Lifes for us. KSK was hanging out as well with some of their Michign friends in Boston, as well as Jeremy’s friend Rachel (also from Michigan originally). About 12 people from Michigan, meeting up in Cambridge for a drink. We filled Jeremy in on the GTG happenings, and he was pretty psyched about Too Much Too Fast Too Soon joining up as he went with us on a previous tour where we played with The Rape Babies. Back at Cafe Luna, Lee made a plan to have an after party where we would play again, but the idea fell from our minds as we remained in the bar longer and longer. It was great getting to hang out with Jeremy. We settled back into our goofy dynamic of the year that we all lived together, and he treated us to a good time in his current ‘hood. We eventually headed back to Jeremy’s house in Winthrop, on an island north of Boston, after a long ordeal where we were trying to find Rachel’s friend, followed by another ordeal where the exit we needed for Winthrop was closed. I was pretty drunk, so it was all just a confusing haze. I drink a whole lot more on tour than I do at home. I think when I get home I’m going to call off drinking for awhile. I don’t really like drinking. It’s okay sometimes, and on tour it’s a great social lubricant/ time killer, but as I sit here at the end of the tour I’m ready to live sober for awhile. Somehow I got more beer back at Jeremy’s house and passed out with Hattie on an air mattress that slowly deflated through the night putting me in weird contorted positons – I woke up with no feeling in my right arm.

We woke up around noon on Wednesday, March 11. Jeremy was headed back into Cambridge to meet up with Matt from Frontier Ruckus, who was in town for unrelated reasons, making him yet another Michigan guy who was just sort of around. We were down by the Harvard campus, hanging out in a bookstore, where I picked up a copy of “Get in the Van” by Henry Rollins for some tour reading (I put it on my debit card, not totally sure how much money was in there, and when I checked my balance later I had $2 left after the book purchase… success!!). Hattie and I went to go put more change in the meter but got lost on the way, and at one point I got so mad I threw my new book at a tree. I wanted to get in the van, but by god it was nowhere to be found!! We eventually found it at the same time Nich did, with no ticket, and then Jeremy and Matt showed up, shortly followed by James. We headed into Boston proper, got some food from a Vietnamese sandwich shop, dropped Matt off, then made it back to Winthrop. It was our only off day of the tour, and we got to absorb the Boston area. Nich wrote about his feelings for Boston already. It was cool enough but… when we were leaving Brooklyn, the singer of the band Top Ten Lovers (great band, by the way) told us to be weary of “The Boston Stare” which the bassist dutifully demonstrated. It was amusing, but… we certainly got it. Henry Rollins raves about Boston crowds in “Get in the Van,” so we’ll just have to try again and hopefully find “our” people. Our show was good, the people were cool, but.. .yeah. Whatever. The most exciting moment of the day, for me, was when I got online at Jeremy’s house (right around the time I wrote my previous blog) desperately searching for a show for Friday night as we still didn’t have anything booked, and then I got one in Syracuse! Yes! I love it when things work out at the last minute like that. We got drunk and watched a Sarah Silverman thing on TV.

We got up on Thursday, March 12, dropped Jeremy off at Berklee (where he was about to meet Paul Simon… wonder how that went…) and then met up with James’ cousin Alex at an awesome bar/ restaurant called The Other Side. This seemed like “our” kind of place. Alex was cool, and he was the four thousandth person from Michigan we hung out with. Feeling frisky, James, Nich, and I split a pitcher of PBR (this is at 12:30 or something) causing me to get pretty buzzed as I hadn’t eathen anything. If a day is divided into how many times you get drunk and sober up, this was a three part day. I ordered a vegan BLT, which was absolutely amazing. Alex went his way, and we headed towards Danbury, Connecticut for our next show. On the way from Boston to Danbury we listened to “Water and Solutions” by Far, “Downward is Heavenward” by Hum, and “Here Comes the Zoo” by Local H. This was a show that Portocal, whom we played with in Ewing several days previously, had set up and put us on. I knew nothing about the show, and when I know nothing about a show I prepare myself for it to be terrible – no crowd, the venue hates us, that sort of thing. We got to the venue, Billy Baloney’s as it was awesomely called, about three hours before load-in, so we took to the street of Danbury to kill some time. Danbury, CT is apparently the most ethnically diverse town in Connecticut or something, as many of the establishments had signs entirely in Spanish or Porteugese with little or no English. One of the guys at the show later told me that when Brazil won a soccer game (or “football” for you smarty pants out there) the whole town was one big party. Danbury also is known as “Hat City” for the sheer volume of hats the town once produced, which makes it Hat City Danbury… strangely similar to Hattie Danby. (cricket sound). Hattie and I hung out in a Mexican deli, while Nich and James went to the happy hour at a bar down the street. Hattie and I made our way down there, and thus I got buzzed for the second time. After more than an hour in this bar (which was playing all of “What’s the Story Morning Glory” by Oasis for some reason) we went back out to load in, promptly running in to the singer of Portocal. We met up with those guys and loaded in. At first I was thinking my “worst show ever” preperations were right – there was no local, just us and Portocal, and there was a story going around among the staff about how few people came to the previous nights show that they charged the bands for playing. I found out that two of the guys from Portocal were from Connecticut, and soon enough the place filled up with their friends and family. They were playing first though, so only a handful stuck around to watch us, but I was happy to play for anyone. I think our set was really good actually, even if onlya dozen or so people saw it. We played our new song “Bean” again and I thought it rocked. We sold some stuff, so it was well worth our time. We were soon poised with the problem that we had nowhere to stay. No one at the show seemed interested in taking us in, which is fine, not everyone is cool with turning their house over to strangers, but we still needed somewhere to go. We thought about buying some whiskey and passing out in the van, but liquor stores close at 9 everywhere but Michigan for some reason, so we aimlessly started driving towards Syracuse. At about 10:30, I remembered that our friend Ryan, whom Nich and I went to high school with, was going to college at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. I asked Nich if Ryan was on spring break. He called Ryan, Ryan said if we wanted to come up he could put us up. We pulled off at an exit in Fishkill, NY (for some reason “kill” was in the name of lots of places and rivers in this area of New York) stole some wireless internet from the Holiday Inn, got directions, and started getting the hell towards Ithaca. On the way from Danbury to Ithaca we listened to “(In) Organics” by Calliope, “War of the Worlds” by Jeff Wayne (the origin of the “Thunder Child” term – check it out!), “The Argument” by Fugazi,” and “Bleed American” by Jimmy Eat World.

We have to load in. I’m going to do that.
We didn’t have to load in. I’m back.

We ended up getting to Ithaca around 2:30 AM, and after an ordeal of dealing with a closed street on the Cornell campus, we got to the Watermark Co-Op and met up with Ryan. It was great to see Ryan. Since he lives in upstate New York most of the time we only see him occasionally, so it was awesome that we showed up, rather on-the-fly in Ithaca. Ryan also did a bang-up job finding us somewhere to crash at the last minute. We had a whole rec room with three couches, one of which folded out, to ourselves. We met some of his friends who lived at the Co-Op, and drank for a few hours before going to bed.

We woke up at 1:00 or something, and Ryan showed up after his class got out. He used his meal plan to get us some sushi and hummus. Awesome. Our show in Syracuse was a house show and started at 6, so we rolled out of Ithaca around 4:30. The people in Ithaca were awesome. We did a little networking and made plans to come back and play a show. Yes! On the drive from Ithaca to Syracuse we listened to “Braille” by Calliope and “Tiny Music From the Vatican Gift Shop” by Stone Temple Pilots. We pulled up to the house in Syracuse, dubbed “Castle Rockmoore” for its venue purposes, and met Matt, Mike, Chris (aka Adrian Aardvark), and Pinkie. The Syracuse crew was awesome, a bunch of really great, friendly people, who share a true love of music. The show was in a really cool space in the attic of the house. We played first, doing an abbreviated set of “Medic,” “Gaia,” “Sleepy Girl,” “Plastic,” “FTS,” and “Plurality.” People were really into it. Matt of the house, who was the one that put us on the show, did a set as Marco Polio, where he was joined by a girl Meredith on drums. Adrian Aarvark played, and then the girl Meredit (AKA “Mouse”) did a set with Matt on drums. It was a really cool scene. Two more bands played, but I don’t really remember them and they didn’t seem too interested in mingling, so… I’ll stop talking about them. Meredith and Mike started cooking some food, and Nich, Pinkie, and I went to pick up a 30 pack of PBR. The night was an awesome haze. When we got back Meredith had some vegan curry ready and Mike was baking a spinach pizza. At some point the organ in the house got pushed into the bathroom. They had a snake named Tess that came out of her little box in the cage whenever we played music and she moved around. She was surprisingly long; I looked at her for a long time and she kept sticking out her tongue at me. We fell asleep at some point.

We woke up today, after noon as usual, got our stuff around and said our goodbyes. What a great group of people. We’ll definitely be back. It was the best “booked a day and a half before” tour date ever (well, we’ve done some sweet day-of and day-before gigs in New Jersey, but.. y’know). We went to an amazing vegan restaurant that I really wish I could remember the name of. Then it was on to Jamestown, where I write. On the drive from Syracuse to Jamestown we listened to “Throwing Copper” by Live, “Arthur” by The Kinks, some Promo-EP-Thing by Shudder To Think that Nich got at Replay a few years ago, some mix James’ mom made for him (that had Steppenwolf and Edgar Winter on it), a couple Billy Idol songs, and a few songs from “Hard, Fast Ramones” by The Ramones. The first band, a folk duo called Nate and Kate is about to start. People seem really cool in Jamestown. I’m going to go watch. I guess… final blong tomorrow!


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