Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Philly pictures + Halloween in July video!

The rest of the photos are HERE.

Summer tour 11, Day 5- Mt Pleasant, MI

There's a really annoying thing that happens when you're booking tour. A promoter confirms a show with you, keeps in good touch telling you how awesome the show is going to be and then a few weeks before you hit the road when you try to get details on the show they just stop responding to you. You write to them, and/or call, and/or text, and they never get back to you. Were they a digital apparition? Did you dream them up? Did they die? You may never know, but you do know now that you have next to no time to find yourself another show. Neat!

That's the story of this day. Prepared to eat the day off with Pierce (one of our best friends and old bass player) in Toledo where we'd crashed the night before, I got an email from Rorik from the band Cloud Rat offering us a last minute show at his store in Mt Pleasant, Michigan. Score! Pierce took us out for delicious sesame tofu, our family reunion came to an end, and we hit the road.  Miss you broham!

First stop: Detroit to get Madison, vocalist extraordinaire. Have you heard Cloudrat yet? If not, do so. With Madison in the van, Dave tried not to talk lest he expose himself as a Cloud Rat fanboy (not that it mattered, I outed him as soon as he was out of earshot.)

Ever find yourself wondering what hardcore is all about? I can tell you: this show.

#1. The show happened in a hc kid-owned independent record store called Justice Records.
#2. Rorik (one of the two owners of JR) swooped in to help us and set this show up on 36 hours notice with his band Cloudrat and Brent (the other owner)'s band, Time To Deal, just to help us out.
#3. Despite how last minute the show was, people showed up, supported, and went wild. Couch cushions were moshed with. Walls were worked.
#4. Rorik and Brent hooked us up with food and beverage, put us up, and knowing we needed to practice with Ivan, let us practice in their store DURING BUSINESS HOURS.

Ya see? Dudes grow up and keep hardcore a part of their lives, go out of their way to help kids they don't know, who then mosh and eat together and in less than 24 hours all become friends. That is what it's about.

After the show Rorik spent his night in the kitchen making vegan burritos for everyone while we hung with about half the show in his living room, and when all the tortillas and avocados were gone we did what we do worst: gambled.

Soaring Eagle Casino was a siren in the night, enticing us with its player’s club card ("sign up and get $10 free!"), luring us with its unlimited soda machine, blinding us to rational thought with its brightly colored flashing slots, robbing us with its $5 table minimums.

We awoke the next day (a little broker than the night before) to Rorik making us vegan banana pancakes. He gave us the (ONLY) keys to his store (which was set to open in 15 minutes) and we went off to practice. As we drove through the quaint soda-pop-fountain smiling-elderly-man-with-well-groomed-meticulously-parted-hair milk-shakey downtown of Mt Pleasant feeling vaguely like Michael J Fox in the first back to the future, Dave and I bickered about what time to leave for our next show until we were interrupted... by the van.


The van shook.


The van slowed.

“What the fuck?!”
“What was that?!”


The van crawled...


..aaaaand stopped.

 “...we’re out of gas.”

Ivan and I hopped out of the van to push while a fat middle aged woman with a frizzy bouffant laid on the horn, impressing us with her ability to be either driving blind or be the honest to god center of the universe.

The iPhones among us looked up the closest gas stations and as we stood in various stages of irritation on the street I remembered something terrible: We had the one and only key to Justice Records... AND IT WAS SUPPOSED TO OPEN RIGHT THEN! Rorik had trusted us to open his store! Brent was waiting outside! AHHH!!!

A fan of comedic timing, my phone, the only phone with Rorik’s number in it, died. The guys ran off in search of gas and I hit the streets of Mt Pleasant solo to find a place to charge. A cafe would be perfect. I walked around looking for someone to ask for directions, but the people of Mt. Pleasant steered clear of me. Real clear. My wild fashion choices (grey shorts and black shirt) were freaking out the squares to the point that no one would even talk to me. It was the most punk rock I’ve ever been.

A hippie girl wearing subversively dangly earrings was the only one not to shrink at the sight of me. She smiled and told me where to go.

“There’s a cafĂ© arouned the corner, it’s a little vegan baker-“
“...yes, vegan."

I took off running.

The Flour Uprising’s two charming owners told me (unprovoked) about every single thing they sold, over-pronouncing the words “VEGAN” and ”ORGANIC” in a small-town we’re-the-only-ones-selling-this-kinda-stuff way which I found absolutely charming.

Tethered to the wall by the phone, I called Rorik from a crouched position and explained. He very calmly drove over to get his key from me. For the second (and not the last time on this tour)…  I burned with shame.

When we got to Justice Records no one was angry with us (thankfully), and we practiced with Ivan for the second time while business was conducted beside us. When our 3 song set had become 5 we hopped into our fully gassed van, nestled in next to our brand new gas can, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and drove off to Grand Rapids.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

WE'RE HOME! (+ Halloween in July photos)

We got back late last night from what I can safely say was our greatest tour ever. Huge thanks to everyone who came out and supported! In the coming weeks I'll post up all the stories (day by day) along with pictures, video (and links to sweet bands!)

These however are way too cool to wait on. Here are some photos from last night's Halloween in July show in Frederick, MD by Radek Matweecha:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer tour 11, Day 4- Ashtabula, OH

"Everyone in this town looks like a Vietnam Vet."

We rolled into town, passing leathery grubby-faced bandana-wearing men driving dinged up vehicles from the '70s. Exclusively. I didn't see a single female or person under 30 until we got to The West End, where as we pulled up we heard, "...Dave?"

Outside, Bust It! from Connecticut sat around their sawed-off pickup truck trailer drinking beers. Dave knew some of them from growing up in MA. We all sat around talking while Ivan, our fairy god mother-created miracle fill in, listened to our songs on his iPod. Barnum, the promoter/venue d00d rolled up with a huge bowl of pasta for us and we descended like locusts. It should be noted that Barnum is an all star. He runs a DIY venue in his town, he plays in Homewrecker, and when I called him the night before in a dead panic asking if we could practice before the show AND borrow a drum set to do it, he was totally accommodating and understanding.

I sat outside watching one of the guys from Bust It! juggle while The Dudes practiced inside. They started "Real Crime", I braced myself to hear it massacred. Ivan was too good to be true, coming to our rescue, being such a good dude... there had to be catch. He definitely sucked at drums.

They played... and played the song almost perfectly. Within about 10 minutes it sounded like a recording.

After an hour it was time for the show to start. Dead Words, who'd only been together for something like 2 months, was awesome. I'd describe them, if asked, as "Brain tickling heaviness". Their music was complex, full of unexpected twists and turns. Watching them felt like doing a brain teaser. Sudokucore. Crosspuzzletry. They're playing Philly shortly after we get home, I will be in attendance, getting my brain musically massaged.

Bust It! totally took me by surprise by being really punk and really catchy (not to mention really tight and really good.) I figured they'd be a Righteous Jams-type slow n' low band that would inspire floor-grazing mosh moves but instead they made me want to ride bikes with my friends on a carefree summer day. So awesome! If their record doesn't melt in the van before we get home it's gonna stay on the old turn table for awhile.

Between bands Ivan sat outside listening to our songs, air drumming, stressing. When it came time to play, he was wild-eyed and smiling. "Fuck it, let's do it!" We played 3 songs and it was awesome. The crowd smiled along with us, forgiving our mistakes.

There's a craziness with Ivan being here, we've become like people after a near-death experience, throwing ourselves full force into what we're doing. Where mistakes used to eat at me (see 3 entries ago- Philly), now I just laugh at them. If ever there was a time I took playing too seriously, it's over. We're here to have fun, play punk rock, and share a few ideas. We're not fucking Pantera. Shit ain't gotta be so serious. Sometimes you can show up, practice before your set, and play 3 songs. At the end there's still basketball outside, hot pasta, and a friend to crash with. Fuck it, you know?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer tour '11, Day 3- Purgatoury

We all knew what was going to happen as soon as he said it. We had pulled out of the rest area onto the dark highway in silence. He was tense, sitting upright, eyes glued to the road instead of his phone. The air in the van was weirdly still. We'd known something was going to happen, with him something always did. It was time. Pames leaned forward and asked if he was alright. "Yeah... I'll just talk to you guys when we get back."

A few hours later we all sat in the living room having a pointless, circular conversation. Aware that no amount of logic or sense could reach him, I went upstairs to eat a grapefruit while Pames and Dave wasted their breath. At 4 am he got in his car and left without an apology, saying goodbye only to Dave.

That's the finger-restrained version of how Dustin left this tour and this band (after joining officially not but a couple weeks before.) Why did he leave? "Family emergency". Did he attend to it? No. Where is he now? At home on the internet. Has he done this before? Yes. Are we stupid for letting someone like that into the band? You bet. Were we freaking the fuck out that we had almost 3 weeks of tour booked ahead of us, a $100 a day rental van outside, over $1,000 of merch in our living room,  no money in our bank accounts,  jobs that we couldn't go back to until the end of July, and no drummer? You can't even imagine.

Luckily, this is hardcore.

Pames and Dave sat downstairs hitting up everyone they knew. I posted on the b9, on facebook, even on craigslist. There had to be a drummer out there who could drop everything, get to Philadelphia, learn our songs in a day, and go on tour for 3 weeks... right?

After a few hours we got some responses. One was on our facebook page. All it said was, "I can do it." I don't know why, but I just had a feeling that "Ivan Saul Caleb Diaz" was our dude. His profile was private, his picture too tiny to make him out in, I had no idea where he lived or who he was or anything about him but going on instinct I sent him a message asking for his number, got a string of digits in response, and called.

"Hi... this is Davin from the band Kingdom. I saw your post. So uh, where are you?"
"Oh hey! I live in Los Angeles, California."
"Dude... uh... you know we live in Philly, right?"
"Yeah! I can just hop on the next flight out."
"Yeah, it's no problem!"

After chatting a bit (played drums his whole life, down for house shows, down for carpet sleeping, down for ramen), then listening to his band (They As In Them) we all nodded in agreement and I picked up my phone.

"You seriously down to come out today?"
"Yeah! I'll drive to the airport now and see if I can get a flight."

 At 11 the next morning we pulled up to the Philadelphia International Airport. Ivan and his hastily packed bag jumped into the van. He was all smiles.

"So, where we goin?"
"Ashtabula, Ohio! We can practice before the show."
"Wait... we're playing TONIGHT?"
"Yep! If that's cool. What do you think?"
"Hell yeah!"

Tour was saved. The road re-stretched itself out ahead of us. The summer sun beat down on the asphalt, Dave squinted against it as he drove, Pames "Snooze Hound" Jollard napped, Ivan listened to our songs our repeat, air drumming along, and I relaxed for the first time in 36 hours.

(Pames, Ivan, me, Dave)

It's worth mentioning how Ivan found out about Kingdom. HE WORKS WITH MY AUNT. She found out he played music and showed him ours. What are the fucking odds that some random dude who works in LA with my AUNT would be not only a core dude, but the kind who'd drop everything to play house shows in the Midwest?! It's fate man.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer tour '11, Day 2- NYC

Our NYC show could have easily been a joke. A screamo band, a European thrash band, an '80s punk band, and a vegan straight edge hardcore band walk into a bar. The joke could have then easily been a dream. I'm at ABC No Rio and my band is playing... but there are these huge punk guys from Basque country wearing their own band's shirt and my DAD is there. The dream could have easily become a dark comedy a la Little Miss Sunshine, when the antihero family featuring the quirky Dad and the punk rock daughter almost get in a fist fight on the street over a stranger's hay fever while her bandmates, unaware, innocently lap vegan ice cream cones a few blocks away.

ABC No Rio is the east coast's Gilman Street. Since 1980 this punk rock relic has stayed relevant, making hc history on the lower east side of Manhattan, an area I can't even hear the name of without moshing in honor of Warzone. Outside the venue street punx and political punx and hc kids of various ages and ethnicities milled around. I met up with my Dad and his girlfriend (who'd gotten up at 5 am to catch a bus to be there in time) and brought them to the club.

(My Dad in the backyard of ABC No Rio! He's the best!!!)

Inside, it was exciting to find a stencil done by one of my favorite artists, NYC native Seth Tobocman. I actually gave my Dad Seth's book You Don't Have To Fuck People Over To Survive for his birthday this year!

The show began. The opening band took me back to a shoeless Saetia-influenced time. Screamo is back in a big way. This was to be the first of many screamo bands we encountered on this tour (as I write this we're about a week in and have played with at least 1 "emotive hardcore" band a night) A whole new generation of screamsters are pouring their feelings out in venues nationwide, knocking over their equipment in fits of passion, writing deep, heartfelt lyrics. It's not my favorite thing, but it's better than a lot of things... like... recreational butchering... or Nickelback. Despite it not being my thing the guys in the screamo band were very nice dudes, and my Dad (who had never seen a screamo passion-fit before) was very impressed by them.

Humilitate from Basque country was next. It was their first day of tour, their first time in America, and word was they were a bit culture shocked. Shock aside, they thrashed and burned for at least a solid 45 minutes. That is a long time to thrash, especially jet lagged. The singer was a black-clad egg-shaped dude of at least 30 with long, thinning hair and a relentless scream. After their set I complimented him and he laughed, shrugged, and said in fractured English that he'd personally thought they sounded like shit. I found his post-set blues endearing.

I'll post video from our show at some point. After us was the event of the night. Bugout Society's reunion. These guys broke up over a decade ago. On this night they were literally insane. Clinically mental. Known for throwing White Castle burgers at the crowd back in the day, they modernized for 2011 and threw tofu burgers... made special for them by White Castle. WHAT?! The guitarist wore a sailor hat, the singer boogied down while they played, the banter was lunacy and I seriously felt like a total fucking square, struck dumb by 4 old punk dudes who were on a total other level, some old school freak-out shit that I have never been privy to prior to this. On Kingdom Bugout's singer said, "I've had some encounters with vegans before... mostly physical..." (I was later told a story by their bassist about them throwing burgers at Earth Crisis....) then continued on to tell us that it is dumb to name oneself after a restaurant and dumber yet to sing about food (which of course we don't, but you know...) which probably sounds shitty now, but was pretty funny then.

After the show burger-smeared kids hung out in front of the venue and I got talking to Mike (who I'd met at our last NYC show) and a dude named Eric, who back in the 90's did a zine called Rumpshaker that he's now resurrecting. As we talked, I realized I'd gotten an issue of Rumpshaker when I was 15 or 16 (it was amazing- it had an interview with Rick Ta Life and his Mom) aaaaaand 2 records that Mike put out (Ire and Jihad.) Small world!

Dave, Dustin, and Pames went with some kids from the show to a vegan ice cream shop called Lula's which apparently was amazing. I split to get dinner with my Dad and his lady love and on the way back to the venue, through the genetic "flapping gum syndrome" we both suffer from, we created a cherished family memory.

A puffy, clammy faced man walked by us propelled by sneezes so violent and wet that it seemed that his face was the lighting point of ground igniting fireworks. BAM! Mucal explosion. His splotchy mug spewed slime like a hydrant just pried open. Phlegm flew in all directions while his body shook from the aftershock. Goo flung from his nose like doves escaping a magic show. His hands, limp at his sides, flapped back and forth like two old gym socks whipped up in a hurricane. It was the single most vile fucking thing I have ever seen in my life, and my Dad, his girlfriend, and I all stared at the man in stunned disgust. No attempt to cover his mouth! Hands at his sides! People all around! What a fucking peasant!

As he passed us my mouth still hadn't closed from the shock, which in retrospect is pretty gross. As he passed our eyes followed him, all glued in disbelief, waiting for him to say it was a stunt, an act, something for TV. But no. As that germbag passed, my Dad, unable to handle such a breach of civilized behavior and common decency sneered, "COVER YOUR MOUTH!"

Now, If you live in a city (which my Dad does not), you know exactly what kind of words those are. They are not polite suggestions. Thems fightin' words.

"TAKE OFF YOUR BACKPACK." Sneezy spoke to my Dad with a dueler's calm, but before my Dad could react or Sneezy could take a single step I was on him, pushing him backwards and saying shit that I will not post here because it would make me sound like an idiot. He threw a few more fighting words at my Dad, then when it became apparent that there would be no fighting my Dad he shouted in his defense, "I have allergies! I have hay fever!". When that failed to draw sympathy (or loosen my grip) he played the victim. ("Get your hands off me! Don't touch me!") And when that didn't work he tried to punk me out. ("What are you gonna do, huh?!") Then, with some encouragement, he left.

As he backed away from us, my Dad the tourist in his backpack, and me, the loving and devoted daughter, Sneezy started calling us names. Just one name actually. Nazi. He called us nazis and sieg heiled as he backed away, a martyr to his cause (germ spreading and the right to fight my father in case you forgot.) To my Dad he screamed, "Sieg heil you Nazi! Tell me how to live MY life! You NAZI!" Then to me, "You nazi BITCH! Sieg heil. Ohhhhhh sieg heil! You're so typical, fucking nazi, with your fucking TATTOOS! FUCK YOU!!!" My Dad and I stood on the sidewalk, two baffled Jews getting sieg heiled at on the streets of New York by a criminal sneezer.

When Sneezy was at a safe distance, I went over to my Dad and his girlfriend. We all looked at each other, eyebrows wiggling around to express our befuddlement. Nazis? Us? How... inaccurate. Assholes? Yes. Jerks? Sure. But Nazis? Nein! Of all the names in this world to call us... NAZIS?

And then I looked down at my shirt.

We howled with laughter. We laughed all the way back to the van, giggling wildly as we retold the story to each other over and over, reliving each surreal moment to the hilarious punchline where my shirt made us nazis. At the van we relived the story again for the dudes, said our goodbyes, and then me, my swazi-covered (anti-fascist- if you somehow, like Sneezy, missed that part) shirt, Dave, Pames, and Dustin hit the road.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer tour '11, Day 1- Philly

Dave was due any moment with our new van. Our equipment was heaped on the sidewalk in front of my house. Pames and I stood lookout on the stoop like prairie dogs, anxiously squinting against the South Philly sun, waiting. We perked up with every approaching Cambodian/Mexican worker transport van hoping, wishing, praying that it was ours. Dave had been stuck in NYC traffic for hours. He'd left Boston that morning with our rental van (from and now it was well past 6 and he was still not back. Any minute now though... any minute.

Up the street came a multi-colored eye sore on wheels, something covered in advertisements for... wait... guitar strings? And... did it say "ROCK HARDER" on the front? Oh god. Pames and I strained to see the driver.

"Dude... is that him?"
"No way, that can't be..."
"Dude, I think it is..."


Meet I-VAN 2.

We rushed up to North Philly and got to the apartment just in time to catch the end of Wrong Answer. The room was packed. People were tucked in every corner and crevice of the room. One person sat cross legged on top of the fridge like a human fruit basket, some were crammed against the kitchen counters, others stood on couches and spilled down into the hall by the bedrooms where there was nothing to be seen but the tops of arms that were getting thrown around in the sick dinette pitting that was taking place a few feet ahead. I couldn't see Wrong Answer at all from where I stood so I watched the windows instead, which looked as if they were going to be fallen through at any second.

I was nervous to play. We hadn't played Philly in AGES. Every single time we'd try to put together a Philly show on tour (because our members are scattered all over we only play shows when we're touring) something would happen at the last second and it would fall apart. This is Hardcore '08, two shows in '09, earlier this year... we're cursed. So not only were we playing a show that I was convinced something bad would happen to, and the first show of tour (which are notorious for having things go wrong),  but I was also sick and on day 2 of antibiotics aaaaand we were playing in front of friends, which is weird. I'd rather play in front of a thousand strangers than a small room full of people I know.

Familiar faces all around, we started to play. I put the mic to my mouth to sing my first line, a line where there is no music, just my voice... and as the words came out realized that my mic was off. Ughhh. Throughout our entire set my mic turned on and off, and at one point stopped working entirely and had to get switched out. Were it a room full of strangers, I'd have laughed it off, but there in a room full of kids I knew... man. Burning shame.

After our set I slipped around the corner of the apartment and into my usual post-playing bad mood (where for about 5 minutes I'm convinced we've played terribly and dwell on every minute fuckup in our set), and sitting on the curb, threw up. Dave sold shirts and records out of the back of the van to people who didn't think we played terribly and after a few minutes I came around. It was sweet meeting kids who I've seen around and having the usual hours of coretalk and gossip that only hardcore kids can or would ever waste the time having. Eventually we went back to our house to catch a few hours of sleep before our matinee in NYC.