On Monday, Cincinnati's Foxy Shazam, one of the Queen City's more successful musical exports in recent years (and one of the city's best ever live bands), announced on its Facebook page that it would be disbanding, effective immediately. The extremely hard-touring band has canceled all forthcoming shows, including a hometown New Year's Eve appearance at Oakley's 20th Century Theater.
The band says the split will be for "an unknown amount of time" as the members spend some time with their families and other artistic endeavors. "We truly believe there is a future for Foxy Shazam, that our best art is yet to come," the message continues. "We don't know how long this will take but we plan on someday returning more powerful than ever."
CityBeat has written many articles about Foxy over the years, including a 2010 cover story (read here). The band first caught our attention in 2005 after the self-released The Flamingo Trigger, which we reviewed and talked about with the group.
Hopefully they'll be back sooner than later. I don't like that one of my favorite Foxy tunes is now "ironic." (This still deserves to be co-opted by a local sports team … or better yet, the city's tourism board.)
(Foxy in 2005 and in 2014:)
Over the Rhine is releasing its third Christmas album, Blood Oranges in the Snow, on Nov. 4, but The New York Times’ website is offering an early listen through its “Press Play” website. Click here to listen.
The album, which follows previous “reality Christmas” efforts Snow Angels and The Darkest Night of the Year, is available now for pre-order here. Pre-orders of the CD will instantly receive a digital version of the album.
OTR’s Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist will do some acoustic dates after Blood Oranges’ release, beginning next week in Washington state. The duo’s “Acoustic Christmas” tour officially begins Dec. 5 in Virginia and culminates with OTR’s annual hometown holiday show at the Taft Theatre on Dec. 20.
Our night in Milan did not have one of those types of promoters. Hell, to even call him a promoter is an insult to the concept of promotion. Let’s dive in a little bit and discuss just what potential promoters should and shouldn’t do when bands come a’callin.
First thing’s first — it’s always helpful to be at the venue by the scheduled get-in time. When bands like us arrive, we’ll generally have some questions for you about our lodging for the night, dinner, load-in and load-out logistics, etc. This is especially pertinent on tours like this due to the fact that we aren’t even from this continent; a little extra handholding is appreciated.
What you shouldn’t do is show up at the venue at 9 p.m. when load-in started at 6 p.m. and not even introduce yourself to anyone.
Second, please follow the agreed upon terms of the contract and make sure that the obligations you have are completed satisfactorily. On this tour, Valley of the Sun has two major requests in their contract: a hot meal every night (or a 15 Euro buyout) and accommodations after the show. These accommodations have varied from a promoter’s floor to nice hotels.
Ian McLagan, who performs at Southgate House Revival on Wednesday, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. And for good reason.
In 1965, he replaced one Jimmy Weston as keyboard player in Small Faces, one of the two great Mod bands (the other was The Who) who captured the youthquake mood and sense of liberation that swept the Swinging London of the mid-1960s.
In Britain, Small Faces had hit after hit featuring vocalist/guitarist Steve Marriott — “Sha-La-La-La-Lee,” “All or Nothing,” “Tin Soldier,” “Lazy Sunday,” “Here Come the Nice,” “The Universal” and more. Their one U.S. hit, the psychedelicized “Itchycoo Park,” has been a Rock-radio staple from the day it hit the charts in 1967.
When Marriott departed, the remaining group members — McLagan, bassist Ronnie Lane and drummer Kenney Jones — decided to carry on by recruiting two members of The Jeff Beck Group, singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood. Called Faces, they became one of Britain’s most successful bands of the early 1970s with their rough-hewn, pub-friendly style of rowdy-yet-tender acoustic-electric Rock. Among their classics are “Stay With Me,” “Cindy Incidentally” and “Ooh La La.”
With all the talent in that band, it didn’t stay together too long. Stewart’s concurrent solo career got too big, while Wood was wanted by The Rolling Stones and Jones by The Who. McLagan, whose vocal duties were limited in Small Faces and Faces (who were simultaneously inducted into the Rock Hall in 2012), became an in-demand session and touring keyboardist for Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and many others.
He also began occasionally releasing his own mostly small label albums, solo and with The Bump Band, that showcased his ruggedly naturalistic voice and songwriting talents. He has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1994, after moving to the U.S. from Britain and living in L.A. for 16 years.
At the time of his Austin move, Lane was also there. But the latter’s worsening multiple sclerosis soon prompted a move to less-humid Trinidad, Colo. In fact, Lane already was planning that move when McLagan told him he was coming to Austin. So their time together in the same town only lasted for one and a half months. Lane died in 1997.
McLagan’s solo career took a great leap forward with 2009’s Never Say Never, filled with sometimes-rueful, sometimes-redemptive songs, melodic and rhythmic, prompted by the loss of his wife, Kim, in an auto accident. The songs have some of the majesty of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” another high point of early-1970s British Rock.
That album, in turn, inspired the label Yep Roc — home to still-vital veteran singer/songwriters like Nick Lowe, Dave Alvin and Robyn Hitchcock — to distribute his follow-up, this year’s fine United States. It’s been getting rave reviews and is helping McLagan finally emerge as a bandleader.
The album is bringing McLagan (with Bump Band bassist Jon Notarthomas) to Southgate House Revival in Newport Wednesday. As far as he can recall, this is his first show as a headliner in the Cincinnati area since his first solo album, Troublemaker, came out in 1979.
“This year I’ve toured as much as I have in last 10 years,” the affable, sunny-dispositioned McLagan says in a phone interview. “Now I have a record company that wants me to tour and that’s great.”
It’s also a little strange. McLagan, 69, is a member of British Rock & Roll royalty — of the same generation, and often friends with, those who have been arena-filling superstars for six decades and counting. Yet his Cincinnati area date is surprisingly low profile, with little advance publicity. (For a variety of reasons, Southgate House didn’t announce it until just two weeks before the show.)
It’s an odd situation. He’s been making music professionally for 50 years, yet is still establishing himself as a touring attraction.
“The funny thing is, if I’d made several albums in the 1960s and had some success, the people that like my albums now would have grown up liking them,” McLagan says. “I didn’t have that, and I realize I’m stumbling around this wonderful world trying to attract attention now.
“It’s pretty funny, really. But I just love what I do,” he says. “I am so blessed that all I’ve done in my professional life, since I was 17-18, is play music and somehow make a dollar here and there.”
One thing that remains constant in McLagan’s shows — in his psyche — is his love for his late wife. He met her when she was estranged from husband Keith Moon. He always performs several songs from Never Say Never.
“I sing to my wife; it helps me,” he confides. “She was my muse. I’ve written so many songs about her, to her, with references to her, and still do. She’s a big part of my life. We were together for 33 years. It actually does me good — she’s with me all that time in that way.”
Even though McLagan isn’t that famous as an individual, he was in groups whose records sold millions. So shouldn’t his royalties afford him such a cushion he can treat work like a hobby?
“Ha, ha, ha — you’re very funny,” he replies.
He explains Small Faces were on a modest salary that was paid by their manager, Don Arden, with knowledge of their Immediate record label’s head, Andrew Loog Oldham. They never got royalties during the band’s lifetime.
McLagan joined Small Faces in 1965 after original keyboardist Weston left following the group’s first British hit, “Watcha Gonna Do About It.” Although it wasn’t why original Small Faces keyboardist Weston left, he had been the only member of the original lineup who wasn’t actual small, height-wise.
McLagan, who was, had been gigging with more Blues-oriented groups, including one led by Boz Burrell (future King Crimson and Bad Company member).
“They got me because they read a review of a show I was in with another band that said I played Hammond organ and I was really good, and it had a photograph with my name under it," McLagan says. “But it wasn’t a photograph of me, it was of Boz Burrell. So when they saw me, they laughed and Steve picked me up because they hadn’t known I was short. How cool is that? They said, ‘He doesn’t look like his photograph but he looks all right.’ ”
Arden asked McLagan how much he was earning and he said five pounds (the British currency) a week, a very small sum. So he offered McLagan 30 pounds during probation and then an even split with the others.
“He was showing off,” McLagan says. “I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m a millionaire.’ Eventually, I asked Ronnie Lane, ‘What’s going on? Am I still on probation?’ They knew nothing about it. We went up to the office and Ronnie said to Don, ‘Hey, Mac’s in the band, all right?’ My money went down to 20 pounds a week — that’s what they were getting! We never got anything other than 20 pounds a week for two years and then it was 50 pounds a week. Since 1997, we now get our royalties. Of course, Small Faces albums are not selling in the amount they were when we didn’t get paid, but we are at least getting something.
“But you know what? It didn’t fucking matter,” he continues. “I’m earning every day, Don Arden’s dead, Andrew and I have made up and we’re friends. The money’s gone so move on.”
As for the Faces, McLagan says their record label — Warner Bros. — does pay. But it’s been slow to release archival product. The four-disc Warner/Rhino retrospective Five Guys Walk into a Bar came out back in 2004.
“The Faces sell a little bit but Warner Bros. are such a bunch of idiots because they didn’t realize if we haven’t got records out we can’t make any money,” McLagan says. “It’s taken a while, but there should be a Faces live album … out next year.”
The album was recorded in the States during the Faces’ heyday.
“We’ve just discovered this recently,” McLagan says. “We recorded it and completely forgot about it. I heard a couple tracks and it sounds really good.”
McLagan then reveals an enticing possibility.
“Hopefully we’ll tour behind it,” he says. “Rod’s keen, I’m keen, Kenney’s keen and Ronnie Wood is keen, so I don’t see anything in the way of it.”
In the meantime, McLagan’s Wednesday show at Southgate House is a rare chance to see this great Rock & Roll musician in an intimate setting. (Click here for ticket info.)
Progressive Italian Indie/Electronic band JoyCut are continuing their ever-expanding global takeover with an extensive fall tour, which includes a free show tonight at Over-the-Rhine's MOTR Pub. Cincy trio Orchards open the show at 10 p.m.
JoyCut blends elements of Dark Wave, EDM, Post Rock and other adventurous styles to concoct its engaging, often mesmerizing instrumental sound, most recently heard on the full-length PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround. JoyCut has performed with heavyweights like The Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse and only this year began touring the States. The trio's first U.S. visit was very well-received and resulted in tons of glowing press and other accolades (JoyCut was named MTV's Iggy Artist of the Week in April and radio has been embracing the new LP). Not too shabby, especially for an all-instrumental band.
Today, I wanted to write about something that all five of us share on this trip. Something we all cherish, hold close and respect more than anything. I want to talk about something that holds us all together on a daily basis. The love of Rock & Roll.
Ha ha! Just kidding, I’m talking about gaffer’s tape.
Some of you may be asking what gaffer’s tape (aka gaff tape) is. Others of you may be saying that gaff tape is just like duct tape. To the first group, I will say that gaff tape is a wondrous roll of tape with properties that make it perfect for a touring band’s needs. To the second group, I will say, “Shut up, no it isn’t.”
Gaff tape comes in a large roll similar to duct tape, is generally black (shiny or matte) and adheres to just about anything. The non-stick surface and a Sharpie is a match made in heaven. And when you go sticky side to sticky side, nothing short of The Hulk (or a knife) will get that stuff separated.
But there is one attribute that makes it invaluable: it rips off the roll super easily. Anyone who has used duct tape knows what a struggle it is to get that stuff to part with the rest of the roll. OK, it’s not super hard to do, but when you’re half asleep, in some random European city, with 15 minutes till doors open and an entire merch area to set up, convenience is crucial.
To give you an idea of just how versatile gaff tape is, I want to share with you some of the myriad ways we’ve put gaff tape to work.
The first is makeshift signs. When you have to advertise what sizes we have left in stock on a shirt, gaff tape comes to the rescue.
We also use the black gold to hang our merch when no hooks or other devices are present.
Sometimes we use it to keep our expensive tour banners from falling over.
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
Losing a key singer/songwriter in any band is a difficult proposition (see: Van Halen, multiple times), but popular Roots act Carolina Chocolate Drops haven’t missed a beat since their amicable split with Dom Flemons (now a solo artist). Singer/multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, the sole original member of the group, continues to drive the Drops, who began as a throwback/tribute to, as Derek Halsey writes in his preview for CityBeat this week, “the African American string-band tradition that flourished in the 1700s and 1800s.” Giddens has also been in the spotlight for her vital contributions to Lost River: The New Basement Tapes, a T Bone Burnett-helmed album featuring songs written around newly discovered “lost” Bob Dylan lyrics. The album, due for release on Nov. 11, also includes some heady company: Elvis Costello, Jim James, Marcus Mumford and Taylor Goldsmith.
Carolina Chocolate Drops perform tonight (Friday) at Parrish Auditorium on the Hamilton campus of Miami University. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25. Click here for details.
Here’s a clip of the Drops performing “Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind” recorded this summer … on a gondola!
• Art Rap giant Busdriver comes to Newport’s Thompson House Saturday night for a 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $15 and Clipping, Milo, Kenny Segal, Counterfeit Money Machine, Eugenius and Evolve are also on the bill.
After the stellar cultural and musical eccentricity of 2012's Beaus$Eros, Busdriver's latest album, Perfect Hair, may be his most ambitious and satisfying record to date. On the new album's "Bliss Point," Busdriver asks the tongue-in-cheek musical questions, "Where exactly is Hip Hop going? Did Hip Hop have breakfast this morning? Does Hip Hop really have the body type to pull off that outfit?" In reverse order, the answers have to be, "Hell yes," "Hell no, it was this afternoon" and "Wherever the Busdriver is taking it."
• Dynamic Jam band The Werks, who work a crafty Electronic vibe into their improvisational mix, play Covington’s Madison Theater Saturday night at 9 p.m. Zoogma and Peridoni also perform. Tickets are $15 in advance; $18 at the door.
Blending genres ranging from fat Funk and Blues to psychedelic Rock and Electronica, their guitar shreds, their keys and organs wail and their bass and drums form a pocket to create what they call “Psychedelic Dance Rock.”
• Cincinnati singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ingrid Woode and her group The Woode Tribe Orchestra celebrate the release of a new CD/DVD package with a concert Saturday at the Fairfield Community Arts Center Theatre. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $12, which includes a copy of the new release, titled Going LiVe In FiVe. Tickets for the show and more details are available here.
Woode is an accomplished musician, having written for artists like Queen Latifah and Lalah Hathaway. She also performed her original composition “When This Life Is Over” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2011. The 11-piece Woode Tribe Orchestra (which includes five backup vocalists) gives the five tracks on Going LiVe In FiVe a full-bodied richness and depth. The music is best categorized as smooth and funky R&B/Soul, but there is an impressive diversity in the arrangements that takes it to another more intriguing level.
• The Burger Records Caravan of Stars pulls into Southgate House Revival in Newport Saturday with a lineup of Burger acts that includes The Coathangers, together PANGEA, Cherry Glazerr, AJ Tavera & Terror Amor and Mozes & the Firstborn. Burger is a cultishly beloved DIY label known for its many cassette release. More recently the notoriously artist-friendly label has been growing and garnering wider attention; the label put out over 300 releases last year, outlets like The New York Times have been doing large feature stories on the label and a new Burger publishing branch was just announced.
In this week’s CityBeat, contributor Reyan Ali chatted with Meredith Franco from Caravan headliners The Coathangers about their evolution from an off-handed joke (something along the lines of, “We should start a band called The Coathangers!”) to international indie success story.
“We didn’t even know what type of music we were going to play. We’re not like, ‘Oh, we’re going to play Punk. We’re going to play Rock & Roll,’ ” Franco says. “Now it’s still the same thing. We just write whatever and that’s what it is. [When people ask] ‘What kind of band are you in?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I guess it’s Rock & Roll.’ ”
Here’s a music video for the band’s “Follow Me,” featuring the members of fellow Atlanta rockers Mastodon filling in for the ’Hangers.
Saturday’s show kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door.
• Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., Cincinnati singer/songwriter Maurice Mattei and his band The Tempers (currently featuring scene vet Jimmy Davidson on guitar, bassist Neil Sharrow, drummer Mike Grimm and Rick Howell on harmonica) will perform at Everybody’s Records in Pleasant Ridge in honor of Maurice’s 21st release, the full-length Celebrity Issue. The event is free.
CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with Mattei about the new release for last week’s CityBeat. Though Mattei generally shies away from “concept albums,” he admits a thread developed in the writing for Celebrity Issue, which features guests like pianist Ricky Nye, pedal steel player Cameron Cochran, multi-instrumentalist/Blessid Union of Souls bassist Dave Ramos, cellist Claire Timmerman, harmonica player Rick Howell and Mattei’s wife Korin on vocals.
“It’s inevitable when you write a group of songs in a finite period that you’re kind of documenting whatever experiences you’re going through at the time,” Mattei says. “A lot of the material talks about loss; loss of someone you knew or a relationship or an era, a time, a place. That’s what I get from it. It’s about how things change and how loss occurs.”
• Progressive Hip Hop/Jazz crew IsWhat?! presents a special multi-media showcase Sunday at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills. Dubbed “A Million Ways to Tell a Story,” the show will spotlight international artists from various disciplines and show how they tell stories within their own mediums. The night includes a screening of the short film Doradus by Italian director Fernando J. Scarpa, who IsWhat?! frontman Napoleon Maddox met while in Hollywood supporting the film Billie’s Blues, which was scored by Maddox. Experimental Japanese percussionist (or, as Maddox calls him, “sonic poet”) Tatsuya Nakatani will also perform, as will IsWhat?! and poet Matt Hart, co-founder/editor of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety and also a musician (you may remember him from such local acts Clifford Nevernew and Travel).
“A Million Ways to Tell a Story” begins at 8 p.m. and admission is $7. Find more info on the show at iswhatonline.blogspot.com.
• Play It Forward, the local non-profit organization set up to assist (typically uninsured) musicians in their times of medical and/or financial need, presents a benefit concert this Sunday in the name of esteemed veteran local guitarist Larry Goshorn (Sacred Mushroom, Pure Prairie League, Goshorn Brothers). Goshorn has had a series of health issues over the past couple of years, including open-heart surgery. Sunday’s all-ages “Play It for Larry Goshorn” benefit concert runs 4-11 p.m. at Covington's Madison Theater.
The show is being hosted by Cincy radio superstars Gary Burbank (Play It Forward’s founder) and Eddie Fingers and will feature performances by Pure Prairie League, The Goshorn Brothers, The Menus, The Bluebirds, Balderdash, Rob Fetters, George Powell and Dave Widow. Advance tickets are $20 (through cincyticket.com) or $25 at the door. All proceeds benefit Play It Forward.
• Earlier this year, Cincinnati Pop Rock band Mixtapes announced they’d be going on indefinite hiatus after their current run of show dates, which wraps up on Halloween at the big Punk Rock festival Fest in Gainesville, Fla. Local fans won’t have to travel to Florida to see Mixtapes before their break (which seems like it could possibly be permanent). On Sunday at 7:30 p.m., the band plays its final hometown show for at least quite some time at a unique venue — Lucy Blue Pizza (1126 Main St., Over-the-Rhine). The show also includes Mixtapes’ current tourmates Direct Hit!, Elway and Lipstick Homicide, plus Cincy’s Boys and Kinder Words.
Sunday’s show is open to fans of all ages and admission is $8 (advance tickets are available through cincyticket.com).
Know of more good live music options going down this weekend in Greater Cincinnati? Let us know about it in the comments.
It’s a double bill of Scottish Indie Rock at Bogart’s tonight as We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad pull into town for a free, all-ages 8 p.m. show. The concert was originally scheduled for Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater, but was moved due to the new venue not quite being ready yet to host events yet (the legendary Ian McLagan’s Oct. 29 show slated for the Woodward has been moved to Southgate House Revival in Newport for the same reasons). The Woodward’s selling tickets to shows beginning Nov. 10, so hopefully it will be all set by then.
CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with WWPJP’s guitarist/singer Adam Thompson for a feature in this week’s paper. Thompson spoke of mixing things up on the band’s most recent album release, Unravelling.
“It’s still got the same emotional pull as the last two albums, it’s just that the whole sound is a lot more varied,” Thompson notes. “It’s got a bit more groove or something and I think that’s what we were trying to achieve, but it’s still very much a We Were Promised Jetpacks album. If you don’t like the first two, you’re not going to like this one, but I do think it offers something different.”
Click here to read Jason Gargano’s preview of openers The Twilight Sad.
• While it’s true that “Ska Punk” had its mainstream flash-in-the-pan moment in the’90s, it’s a shame that Ska often gets dismissed today as a sort of punchline. (“Ha, remember when Ska and Swing music were popular?”) From its origins in late-’50s Jamaica through today, Ska has endured thanks to new, young bands rediscovering the music and a loyal cult following.
America’s Ska kings are unquestionably The Toasters, who were formed in 1981 (just as the U.K.’s 2 Tone Ska craze was beginning to lose steam) by British ex-pat Robert “Bucket” Hingley. When The Toasters (who eschewed the distorted “Ska Punk” concept for a style more reminiscent of the pioneers and 2 Tone bands) were looking for a label to release their debut EP, Hingley formed Moon Ska Records, which became the top independent Ska label on the planet and was home to practically every America Ska band worth a listen.
• Irish music trio Socks in the Frying Pan, from County Clare in Ireland, is in the midst of its first tour of the U.S. and tonight the group plays Molly Malone’s in Covington. The young band is becoming known for its creative spin on traditional Irish music, which has earned it numerous accolades in its homeland (the Live Ireland Awards and Tradition in Review Awards both have named them New Group of the Year and Irish American News calls them “simply stupendous”).
Tonight’s Covington show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.
• A pair of great, rootsy singer/songwriters perform at Newport’s Southgate Revival tonight — in separate rooms and as part of separate shows.
Tommy Womack, once dubbed “Nashville’s best loved musical eccentric,” headlines the Revival Room at 8:30 p.m. with special guests Wild Ponies. Tickets are $12.
• Meanwhile, the stellar Robbie Fulks plays the club’s Sanctuary room with guests Woody Pines. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15.
Fulks has long recorded for the esteemed label Bloodshot Records and his song “I’ll Trade You Money for Wine” is featured on the label’s awesome, recently-released 20th anniversary compilation, While No One Was Looking, which features a variety of artists performing songs from Bloodshot’s back catalog. Fulks’ tune is covered by Andrew Bird and Nora O’Connor.
The world’s greatest wrestling-masked instrumental musical ensemble Los Straitjackets return to the Cincinnati area tonight for a show at Southgate House Revival. The band is joined by Roots music fave Deke Dickerson, who collaborated with Los Straitjackets on the recently released LP, Los Straitjackets: Deke Dickerson Sings The Instrumental Hits.
As the cheeky title suggests, the album features some famous instrumental tunes which Dickerson fleshes out with “lost or rewritten” lyrics. The track “You Can Count on Me,” for example, is The Ventures’ Hawaii Five-O theme with lyrics from Sammy Davis Jr.’s version.
Other instrumental-turned-vocalized songs on the album include classics like “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run,” “Misirlou” and “Popcorn.”
“If you're a record collector and music geek who’s been around long enough," Dickerson said in an interview with Billboard, "you start to realize that most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals."
Sadly, the Star Wars theme didn’t make the cut.
Showtime tonight is 8 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door. The B-Sides open.
Before I left, I had a lot of people ask me just what I’d be doing while on tour. The best answer I could give them was, “I don’t know, sell shirts I guess.”
So, in an effort to give you a better picture of what a day in the life of Valley of the Sun’s illustrious merch guy/tour bitch, I give you a minute-by-minute breakdown of what will most likely be our busiest day on the tour. What transpires is a day with two shows and 10 combined hours on the road and yes, it’s as tiring as it sounds.
6:30 a.m.: Wake up before dawn in Frankfurt and get ready for a five hour drive to Munich. Take a shower in a hotel shower that has no door or curtain while using a shower head has no holder on the wall. Listen to Black Dahlia Murder to wake up.
7:30 a.m.: Make a to-go sandwich at the hotel’s breakfast bar.
7:35 a.m.: Help navigate the van out of a hotel parking garage that it shouldn’t have logically fit in.
7:47 a.m.: Begin a five-hour drive to Munich. Naps are taken by most. Breaking the speed limit is performed by others. Who knew a van could go triple digits?
8:50 a.m.: Pit stop number one: water, coffee and baked good acquired. Knifes and soccer hooligans are ogled.
10:43 a.m.: Pit stop number two: water and coffee are released, drivers are switched.
12:00 p.m.: Arrive at venue, take tour of stage and see backstage area. Find WiFi password and begin to use and abuse venue’s internet connection.
12:45 p.m.: Dig merch out of van for festival’s merchandise display. Freak out when an entire box of shirts cannot be found.
12:47 p.m.: Rejoice when the box of shirts are unearthed.
1:20 p.m.: Begin gear load in.
1:30 p.m.: Realize you’ve learned more gear terminology on this tour than in a decade of attending concerts and hanging out with bands.
1:40 p.m.: Rip an expensive tour banner.
1:52 p.m.: Sit around and surf through Facebook and Instagram while band sound checks.
2:45 p.m.: Check to see if ears are bleeding from sound check volume.
3:00 p.m.: Walk around the venue and people-watch to waste time before show starts.
3:25 p.m.: Set up Nick’s Go Pro cameras around the venue to capture the forthcoming insanity.
3:30 p.m.: Showtime. Festival attendees begin to filter into Valley’s show (Valley is the first band of the day).
4:00 p.m.: A circle pit breaks out for the first time in the band’s history. Horns are thrown liberally.
4:10 p.m.: Remember why Valley of the Sun is my favorite Cincinnati band.
4:15 p.m.: Raid the catering table for a sandwich, pretzel, banana and water. Plan to eat pretzel on the road as a snack.
4:30 p.m.: Settle merch sales with organizers, collect money, pile up CDs, LPs and shirts to load into the van.
4:35 p.m.: Eat pretzel before ever reaching the van.
4:40 p.m.: Call dibs on a festival attendee.
4:50 p.m.: Wait for Ryan to settle up event pay with festival organizers.
5:00 p.m.: On the road again for another five-hour ride to Seigen.
5:05 p.m.: Begin typing hourly breakdown in van to save some time on off day tomorrow and to give my phone a chance to regain some charge.
5:50 p.m.: Pit stop one. Beer from festival is released.
8:25 p.m.: Pit stop two. Water is released and drivers are switched.
10:30 p.m.: Arrive at second venue where bands have already started playing.
10:37 p.m.: Order a pizza at stand outside of venue while we wait for support bands to finish.
11:15 p.m.: Continue eating; this time it is chicken curry in the band apartment.
11:30 p.m.: Final support act has finished. Start mad dash to load gear in from the van to the venue.
11:40 p.m.: Set up last minute merch area in a now desolate bar.
11:43 p.m.: Wait for the band to take the stage.
11:55 p.m.: Sell first bits of merch to those still at the venue. Try to explain that pins are one Euro a piece, not one Euro per handful.
12:30 a.m.: Show starts.
12:50 a.m.: Play Tetris while band is performing and, therefore, no one is looking at merch.
12:55 a.m.: Earn new high score in Tetris.
1:10 a.m.: Band finishes after three encores. A fourth is requested but the band has literally no other songs left to play.
1:15 a.m.: Sell 132 Euro worth of merch in 10 minutes.
1:45 a.m.: Pack up merch once sales dry up.
1:55 a.m.: Pack up van and grab overnight bags.
2:20 a.m.: Prepare for bed after a 20-hour day.
2:25 a.m.: Sleep for 10 hours straight.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned about touring it’s that it’s defined by tons of dead time, punctuated by moments of massive amounts of activity. “Hurry up and wait” is the perfect way to describe it. We rush in the morning to squeeze everyone’s morning routine into a short period of time. Then we spend hours in the van to reach a venue, only to rush to get the van unloaded, merch set out and sound check completed, along with other pre-show rituals. Then we wait for the show to start, followed by the post-show rush to sell merch, load up the van and get to our lodging for the night.
It makes for long days and long nights, with little to no rest. It’s tiring, hectic and stressful and I’m having the time of my life. I could really use an actual shower though, that’s for sure.