A young man wakes up on the second floor of a Holiday Inn. He’s not that young. He’s not that old, either. That is, unless you ask his girlfriend, who has taken to chiding him for being “so old” each November, knowing full well she’ll attain the same age the following July. He thinks about her and smiles.
Our debatably-young man is a bit distractable at the moment. He gets distractable when he is excited. He is excited because today he is going home.
…Further complicating the issue of this perhaps-young man’s age is the matter of his lifestyle. His laughable excuse for a job has allowed him to keep roughly the same daily schedule that he has kept since his Junior year of college. And in a few ways, the job is getting easier. That squeaky-clean Holiday Inn in which he is currently taking a few minutes too long to shower? A year or two ago it would have been a mere Days Inn, or Red Roof, or even the dreaded (and so-called) America’s Best Value. Any further back than that, he’d be sleeping on the floor of some college student’s apartment.
So he’s living like a spoiled teenager, but his easy job is also hard. And in a few ways, it’s getting harder. Nowadays, there are so many more obligations. Not that this is-he-or-is-he-not-young man would ever complain about being busy (yes he would). There are so many more opportunities involving radio stations, and websites, and showcases, and promotional this-or-that-or-the-others now. It’s all great, really. But he is convinced that his erratic lifestyle is making him age more quickly. Typically there will be a few days of unreliable sleep, of late hotel arrivals, of early lobby calls, of instant coffee, of clenched fists, recitations of personal mantras and “powering through,” and then he’ll have a day off in Silverlake to eat vegan stir fry and jog around Echo Park. People his age, young people who call themselves old, they go to classes after work and practice muscle confusion in order to stay in shape. Our man of ambiguous youth has to wonder which muscles he’s confusing just living like this.
And all the time he’s loving every minute of it, and all the time he’s just waiting to go home to that girl who thinks eight months makes for a disgraceful age gap. It’s her birthday in a few weeks. He’s actually going to be around for it this year.
. . .
Hello, friends! Rob here.
Forgive the intro. I composed it mostly in my head while going through my hotel checkout routine last Monday, the day we finished a long drive home to begin an unprecedented month off from touring. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post it, since it didn’t feel particularly relevant at the time, but the more I think about it, the more it feels like a state-of-the-union, “Pirate-Looks-At-Forty” type of thing. As we finally manage to punctuate the ambling run-on sentence that has been the last few years of touring, it’s almost impossible not to look back, take stock, and taste pride and gratitude in equal dose.
That’s right: After a long, confusing stretch of shows which I may or may not be able to describe as one cohesive tour, we have some time off from the band and we all feel pretty good about that. But what the heck do you care? Zero is what the heck you care, and rightfully so! You want to hear about shows and stuff!
We got back from California/Blackstock, a run that makes zero sense if you look at a map, and had a few weekdays to recuperate before we skipped town again.
The most recent run of shows started in a repurposed church in Jackson, MS, where it was incredibly hot. Also fun. After that, we got to play a mudpacked Wakarusa, Dave’s hometown, a venue where the green room was teeming with classic arcade cabinets, a cool theater in the part of Kentucky that calls itself “Cincinnati,” and then Chicago, followed by also Chicago (Taste of Randolph afterparty late Saturday night, then ToR itself Sunday at sundown). It was all great, and mostly familiar procedure. When we finished our business in Chicago, we left our van in the suburbs, packed only the bare essentials, and hopped a flight out of Midway for a week of promo gigs on the West Coast.
If the Midwest leg was familiar procedure, the West Coast wasn’t. The first several days consisted entirely of super-short showcase performances, flights, and hors d’oeuvres. Thursday of that week was particularly grueling: we woke up at 6 AM in San Jose, CA to drive to the San Francisco airport in two rented vehicles, flew to Seattle, played three songs, did some elbow-rubbing, and then drove from Seattle to Portland in two other, different rented vehicles. That’s business. Friday in Portland was a bit of a long one, too. In the afternoon, we played a fun, intimate set in the Bing Lounge for a fantastic local radio station called KINK, and then at night it was over to Dante’s, a stylish venue nestled between two strip clubs and a homeless shelter and dripping with punk rock credibility, to play a show that we had booked on less than a week’s notice.
Portland was fun.
Saturday morning we flew home. Thursday evening we flew back to Chicago. We retrieved our vehicle (kind thanks to the Rogers clan for garaging it for us, and double that to Aunt Chrissy for washing all of our van-pillowcases), drove a few hours, got a few hours of sleep, and then it was time for Electric Forest. If you clicked that link, you’ll notice that it wasn’t a link to the festival’s website, but rather to a Google image search. That’s because Electric Forest really needs to be seen to be believed. The tall trees, the costumes, the lights, the art installations… It’s a sensory circus. So often we have to treat festivals like surgical strikes; in, out, and on to the next one. It was a welcome change that we had enough time to (NOTE TO SELF: whatever you do, don’t say “get lost in the forest”) um, lose our bearings . . . in an . . . arboreal . . . region. (Nice.)
The tour ended with a riverside amphitheater set in Peoria, IL. We had never been to Peoria, IL before. We did not know what to expect from Peoria, IL. Peoria, IL was one of the most fresh and frenzied crowds we have ever had the pleasure of entertaining. It was really one of those unexpectedly serendipitous shows where everything just feels great. Overall, the audience was younger than usual, and after the show I got to talk to a lot of early-teenagers who were just picking up the saxophone for school band or what have you, which is something I both enjoy doing and rarely get to do. (Usually I’ll have someone around my age come up to me after a show and tell me how they quit playing the saxophone after high school, which kind of bums me out.) But anyway. The show was a fun, sweaty mess on the banks of a river at sundown. It was a great end to the tour, and it left a good taste in everyone’s mouths heading into the break.
See you in August.