The Revivalists
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Monday, February 25th, 2013

Journey to the West: An Overly Long Tour Story Unnecessarily Divided Into Several Parts

PART I: Hello, friends! Rob here.

Hello, friends! Rob here.

Part II: Up Is Free, But Down’s Gonna Cost You

Ever seen a movie or a cartoon where a lost sailor finally reaches dry land after spending weeks adrift? What’s always the first thing he does when he gets off the boat? He kisses the ground. It seems a bit too melodramatic for real life, but as a matter of fact we all just saw an actual person do this in the wake of The Great Poop Boat Crisis of 2013. I’ve never truly felt like kissing the ground anywhere, but two Sunday nights ago was about as close as one can get without being in any actual danger (or on a poop boat).

But let’s back up a little bit.

We’re currently in temperate California, a welcome change after spending nearly a week in a bizarre realm of perpetual white. Everything up there is hills and valleys, tall trees, frozen waterfalls, and icicles that reach all the way down to the ground and then back up again. In the same day we drove past both a dogsled race and a line of cars waiting to drive a makeshift racetrack coned off on a frozen lake. It’s hard to believe that the flat, humid, 75-degree home we left in our rearview is still happening only a few hundred miles behind us. The clothes and the people and the outdoors in ice-world are all so different, yet extremely hospitable. Except for the clothes. I don’t know how clothes can be hospitable, and I don’t think I want to find out.

At night, the cold swallows everything up.

And I mean everything. While some of us have experience with snowstorms from our past lives, living in New Orleans has not kept us in shape to cope with the shin-deep snowfalls up in the mountains. My super low-top hipster shoes fare unexpectedly well under these conditions, but our new van (which has so far done nothing to merit an endearing van-pun nickname and has thus been addressed only by varying strings of profanities), does not. On our way to sleep after our last Colorado show in Breckenridge (aptly nicknamed “Breckenfridge” by locals), new van flounders on its way up a hill a few football fields away from our hotel. The back right wheel spins without friction and stubbornly refuses our attempts to push, dig, or maneuver our way out. We shove Andrew’s drum rug under the tire as a last-ditch effort to gain traction, and in a matter of seconds it fires out from beneath the wheel and slams into the trailer behind the van. We are stuck. We take a cue from our curmudgeonly grandparents and trudge a few hundred yards uphill in a blizzard with all of our baggage in tow.

As I said before, I have never been so grateful to be anywhere as to kiss the ground upon arrival.  But when we finally made it panting and windblown to the central-heated hotel lobby, I was pretty damn close.

Part III: Strange Worlds

Fortunately, we were able to get a tow truck to dig us out of the deep snow on Monday, and after much milling about and general relaxation, we wheeled crap-van towards the Pacific. White gave way to red somewhere between Utah and Arizona, and with it highways gave way to winding canyon roads, mountains to mesas, and Earth to Mars.

If Colorado is ice-world, and canyon states are off-world, then California is old-world. In spite of its sleek modernity, Los Angeles assumes the rosy glow of the 1950s at sunset, and the verdant hills and uniform clear skies between cities seem more prehistoric than anything else. It’s not hard to pretend that a 5-story mesh fence to the immediate west of I-5 is some sort of dinosaur pen, even though in reality it’s probably just there to make sure that the wind doesn’t blow trash from a nearby landfill onto the highway.

Part IV: In Which Rob Actually Describes Things The Revivalists Have Been Doing

Hello again, friends! Rob still here.

Sorry about all of those words. This is a strange time of year in America, where on average it’s only about half a day’s drive from a completely different climate, and we went through at least four of them in the first week of this tour. Between that and the combination of altitude and head cold that had me laying low for most of Colorado, the beginning of this tour was weird for me and so I wanted to try to make it weird for you as well.

But anyway.

We’ve actually been doing stuff! Lots of stuff! I was looking at much of it through a confusing layer of phlegm and fog, but I’m pretty sure it has been awesome. It’s been really exciting to see things shaping up so well in Colorado and California over the past year or so. Boulder and Denver are both great cities for us now, and I think we were all a little surprised at last Sunday night’s turnout in Breckenridge. Likewise, it was amazing to see so many people come out on a Wednesday in Los Angeles. Of course, we’ve been playing with lots and lots of awesome bands along the way, so I can’t give us all the credit, but so far everywhere we go we feel the love.

Thursday and Friday things got a little different as we made our way north. Our set at Hopmonk Tavern in Novato ran somewhat in conjunction with a weekly jam session hosted by a local blues band. It was a nice change of pace to do a bit of a quieter set, and afterwards we got to just cut loose and have some fun playing with the local veterans. Friday marked our return to the Crystal Bay Club Resort & Casino in beautiful Lake Tahoe, NV, where we had the distinct pleasure of playing after an awesome all-star group featuring Soulive, The Shady Horns, and New Orleans legends George Porter Jr. and Papa Mali at the official Snowlive afterparty.

And then we had one of the best shows ever, ever. San Francisco is now hands-down one of the best places for us to play music. It’s crazy to think that we’ve only been there four times. Thanks so much to all the old and new friends who came out on Saturday and made everything all special-like.

Speaking of special friends, there have been a lot of girlfriend ride-alongs this tour. Zack’s totally awesome girlfriend Anne rode along with us for the first half of the tour, and quickly and unflinchingly did she adapt to the sights, sounds, and, unfortunately, smells of life on the road. Additionally, my totally awesome girlfriend joined up with us in Tahoe and rode down into San Francisco. But now it’s just dudes in the van again. So many dudes.

Part V: Epilogue

Tonight we’re in Santa Barbara, which is by all accounts a pretty cool place. This tour has gone by pretty quickly, and it’s hard to believe that we’ll already be home a week from right now. Adventures are great and I recommend having them. Goodbye!

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