Hello, friends! Rob here.
Well, it sure is tour. The first leg of the Age of Van Tour is complete (that’s right, this is one of those fancy tours with an official-sounding name and a stylish limited-edition t-shirt), and now we are a week into the second, much longer leg. For some reason I feel like working backwards, so let’s go for a ride. In reverse:
Monday, July 1, 2013. 12:50 PM. Deming, NM: Dave sits in the chair next to mine in the lobby of the Comfort Inn. I take a short break from my elaborate creative process (alternately writing and plinking around on the internet). My conversation with Dave yields two quotes that bear repeating, neither from me:
“There’s a dentist’s office right by the hotel. I have an appointment at 2:30”
“I can’t believe we have to spend $3300 on this fucking van.”
Monday, July 1, 2013. 12:05 AM. Deming, NM: Small desert towns take on an interesting character at night. Despite the warm, granulated winds, it feels still. Almost but not quite unnervingly so. In spite of the circumstances, I kind of like it here. Which is good, because we might be here all day tomorrow.
I guess Andrew was right after all.
Sunday, June 30, 2013. 11:40 PM. I-10W: The van’s transmission is malfunctioning. Dave emptied an entire bottle of transmission fluid into the transmission fluid hole (clearly I am a cars expert), but the vehicle refuses to shift at higher speeds. We, like the unnamed subject of the “Friends” theme song, are stuck in second gear. Time to look for hotels and auto mechanics.
Side note: New Mexico’s highways have bizarrely worded safety notices. Things like “ZERO VISIBILITY POSSIBLE” and “DUST STORMS MAY EXIST”
Sunday, June 30, 2013. 12:30 PM. Kerrville, TX: As we pile into the van to continue the 800,000-mile drive across the vast, featureless expanse of I-10W that connects the part of Texas where people actually live with California (by way of other states), we arrive at a decision made from equal parts boredom and “Wheeeeeee! New(-ish) technology!”: During the course of our journey, we will be posting as many inane things on Vine as humanly possible. You can follow the Vine-a-thon on Vine (duh) or on our Twitter website page if you lack either the means or the inclination to spend any time on Twitter’s spazzy little cousin.
Sunday, June 30, 2013. 1:00 AM. San Antonio, TX: After the show, we bid Mike a temporary farewell. He ducks into the Honda Fit he borrowed from his parents and drives back to Austin to spend a few days with his family. If all goes according to plan we’ll be in San Francisco in time to pick him up from the airport on Tuesday night. We finish loading the trailer, make a quick detour to look at the Alamo, and begin the long drive to the west.
Saturday, June 29, 2013. 7:15 PM. San Antonio, TX: Backstage at Sam’s Burger Joint (an excellent music venue, don’t be fooled by the food name), Mike fishes a bottle of gummy vitamins out of his bag to discover that they have all melted into a single amorphous green mass with the approximate viscosity of rubber cement. For the third day running, the word of the day is “Oh my God, it is so hot. Please let it be less hot than it is. Or kill me. Just kill me.”
Friday, June 28, 2013. 10:30 PM. Austin, TX: Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds rule pretty hard. Great band, nice people, top-notch horn section stuff (which is all I really care about), you name it. Their lead singer Arleigh Kincheloe and harmonica-ist Jackson Kincheloe (they are, in fact, brother and sister) come onstage during our set to rock some “Whipping Post” with us. It is awesome, and I think a video will exist at some point.
Friday, June 28, 2013. 4:00 PM. Austin, TX: We pull up in front of Stubb’s BBQ (an excellent music venue, don’t be fooled by the food name) to load in and we can see those squiggly heat lines coming off the roof of the car in front of us. Once again, the word of the day is “Oh my God, it is so hot. Please let it be less hot than it is. Or kill me. Just kill me.” Three of us go shirtless for load in.
Friday, June 28, 2013. 12:00 AM. Dallas, TX: I didn’t realize we had quite so many friends in Dallas. It really warms my heart to see a packed room at midnight on a school night. Of course, that could just be the heat in Dallas. I think today’s word is “Oh my God, it is so hot. Please let it be less hot than it is. Or kill me. Just kill me.”
Wednesday, June 26, 2013. 10:00 PM. Houston, TX: Good show tonight. I think we’re going to like Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013. 5:00 PM. Houston, TX: Houston is hot. It’s more than hot. This isn’t just heat; it’s oppression. It’s supernatural. Illogical. Profane. It’s a heavy, solid heat. I can feel it pushing down on my shoulders and I can feel the thickness of it in my chest every time I inhale. It makes loading our gear up a flight of stairs on the outside of the venue super awesome. Fortunately, there’s no way it could possibly stay this hot all week.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013. 10:30 AM. New Orleans, LA: As per tradition, we drive separately to Andrew and Mike’s house, pile in the van, deliberate over whose turn it is to drive, and leave town half an hour later than we had planned. This leg of the tour will be the longest continuous stretch out of town in band history. I tend to have mixed emotions at the beginning of extended tours, but at least we’ll be spending July away from the New Orleans heat.
Thursday, June 20, 2013. 2:30 AM. New Orleans, LA: We made it. We got home bit later than expected, but we didn’t explode. That’s always good. We enjoy a week off. The band starts a Vine account, a few guys have solo shows and sit-ins, and little else happens. As it should be.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013. 12:15 PM. Kansas City, MO: After spending all morning in a shop and being driven from the shop to pick us up, the van won’t start. Again. Dave calls the mechanic, and after a brief conversation he climbs underneath the van and does something very technical to the starter solenoid (I believe the procedure is known as “hitting it with a screwdriver”) while I try the ignition. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the engine turns over. We resolve, perhaps recklessly, to make the fifteen-hour drive to New Orleans without stopping the engine once. We will have to fill our gas tank four times.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013. 11:30 PM. Kansas City, MO: Kansas City is cool, the Crossroads district is cool, and opening for Tedeschi Trucks Band is really cool. But what isn’t cool is that our van won’t start. We call AAA. A very affable tow truck driver named Steve plays along when we ask him to tow us all the way to New Orleans, then hitches up our vehicle and drops it off at a repair shop. So much for knocking a few hours off of the drive tonight. Also, Ed was duped into eating one of what the restaurant adjoining to the venue refers to as its “Ultimate Death Wings,” so he is basically dead. Ultimate dead. It will take him close to twenty-four hours to fully recover.
June 5-16, 2013. Age of Van Tour, Leg One: I have discussed the Tour Time-Compression Phenomenon at length in previous entries (short version: tour really screws with your perception of time), but this tour has been extreme. Between Bonnaroo and Sleepless New York Festival Weekend, there was some serious TTCP going on, and in my head this whole two-week run is pretty much a huge mishmosh. So that’s how it’s going to come out here.
There were a lot of parallels between Bonnaroo Weekend and the Sleepless New York Festival Weekend. Both saw us performing four shows in three days (one indoor show on Friday night and three festival sets over Saturday and Sunday in both cases), neither allowed for much nap time, both were incredibly hot, there wasn’t a single jerk at either, and both were like, the best things ever.
As a huge item to cross off of the band’s collective bucket list, Bonnaroo eclipsed all of our wildest dreams. It was big, wet, hot, and utterly exhausting, but an amazing experience. The shows were all great, the crowds were rabid, and the whole thing was just generally very well put together. There were also a lot of uniquely magical moments, like the Billy Idol and R. Kelly sit-ins at the Saturday night superjam, the entire David Byrne/St. Vincent set, and even just walking around the festival late at night when all the crazies were out.
The Sleepless New York Festival Weekend might have been even more grueling than Bonnaroo. We started out playing a Governor’s Ball afterparty at Bowery Ballroom in New York City, and then we had to get in the van and drive to Hunter Mountain (arriving at about dawn) in order to beat daylight traffic on our way to Mountain Jam. This, of course, was after driving overnight from Philadelphia to beat daylight traffic getting into NYC, and before driving overnight from Mountain Jam to get back to NYC for Governor’s Ball. Also we played two sets at Mountain Jam.
Did you get all that? If not, here’s the simple version: We played a lot of music, we saw some music, we barely slept, it totally ruled. Anyway, back to the reverse chronology:
Monday, June 3, 2013. 8:45 PM. New Orleans, LA: The sun sets late over the levee. Andrew suggests that we change the name of the tour to “Kill the Van,” because we might be on the verge of upgrading our vehicle. At first everyone seems to like it, but then it seems a little bit too punk rock, so, much to Andrew’s frustration, we stick with “Age of Van.” Dave’s surprise early 30th birthday party/picnic/potluck/unofficial Revivalists sendoff party was a roaring success, but now the Junebugs are starting to roll in and it’s time to go.
We’ve got a lot of work to do this Summer.