by Nick Grever
43 hours ago
Remember in my first blog when I said I was worried that I had over packed? Guess what? I over packed.
I’ve been on tour for a week now and these are a few things I’ve learned so far, in no particular order. Hopefully they help you the next time a Rock band drags you across Europe. Or on your next trip to Disneyland.
Backpack space is very important. In my backpack, I originally had a jacket, a neck pillow, my laptop, two books, two magazines and a front pocket full of random paperwork. Now, the jacket is always out and the neck pillow has disappeared because I needed the space for dirty clothes. There simply was no other space for them. Nick, who’s an experienced road warrior (he drum techs for Breaking Benjamin), basically lives out of his backpack, only digging into his carry-on when he needs to swap things in and out.
Everything should have a home. When I packed up for the trip, I was very meticulous and I made sure to check off items when they made it into my bags (traveling puts me on edge). Now that I’m over here, I’ve found it easier to keep track of things when I put them back in the same place every time. Lazily throwing my sunglasses into a pocket only causes me to flip my shit when I can’t find them down the line. And scouring a van while it’s moving at 130 kph is not a fun experience, my friends.
Creature comforts are nice, but not totally important. I brought a lot of reading material thinking this trip would have plenty of van time to catch up on my books. So far, I’ve reached for precisely none of them. I read my two magazines, sure. But one was on the plane and the other was only a day ago. While we still have over two weeks, so that might change, I wish I had used that space for something more important, like more clean socks.
Jeans are amazing and should be respected. I only brought one pair of denim for three weeks on the road. The boys brought two: a live-in pair and a show pair (Rock & Roll is a sweaty affair). Jeans take up a lot of space and, as long as you don’t spill goulash on them or something equally as traumatic, they can last you for a long time in between cleanings. So if you’re ever on a long road trip, do yourself a favor and save some space. One pair is all you need, just Febreze them once or twice and you’re good to go.
Cleanliness on the road can be hard, but don’t skimp. Road butt, swamp ass — call it what you will but sitting for hours on end will do harm to anyone’s rear end. And when showers are not always guaranteed — along with the supply of hot water, wash cloths or towels — then it’s important to keep some stop gaps handy. Baby wipes are like touring gold. They let you wipe down your pits and keep that fresh feeling in between shows and showers. Small bottles of hand cleanser are great too. Touring is dirty business, soap isn’t always on hand and when you’ve got five guys crammed into one van, germs could be disastrous. So toss a bottle in your bag and don’t forget to scrub up from time to time.Leave things at home that you don’t need. This was something I sort of already knew, but I didn’t understand the true extent till we got over here. For example, when I arrived I had my house key, my mail, two keys to my parent’s house, my car key, our tour laminate (geek out moment here: we have tour laminates!) and a few key chains. On Day 1, Arnaud added a van key to that pile. Later I learned that I would usually be keeping track of any apartment or hotel keys we got too. This added up to a key ring that was obnoxiously filled. I sounded like a janitor when I walked around. So I ditched all but the few that I actually need here. My states keys are safely stowed in my backpack and my pants aren’t weighed down with useless crap.
Don’t leave home without a towel. South Park’s Towelie and Douglas Adams were right. I didn’t listen and I’m sorry that I didn’t.
by Nick Grever
4 days ago
Let’s take a moment to talk about Rock venues in the States, shall we? In my mind, there are two distinct types: you either have the nice, well-kept venues that often lack a certain spark that make them truly special or the dives that feel like a Punk Rock haven but smell like a dirty sock filled with cheese. You have to choose between fantastic atmosphere or a bathroom that’s actually been cleaned since The Sex Pistols were the next big thing.
Well, my friends, it seems that you can get the best out of both worlds; you just have to hop the pond and check out European venues. On this trip, I’ve been in an underground hall converted into a bar, a warehouse covered in graffiti and stickers, a youth center filled with murals slapped in the middle of a small town (and next to a church) and a venue in Berlin filled with so many weird and wonderful knick-knacks, I can’t wait to get home and start redecorating a little bit. I wanted to share some pictures and highlights of what we’ve seen so far.
The venue in Freiburg was called The White Rabbit and it was located underground, down several flights of stairs. The entrance was narrow but opened up to a large, cylindrical structure. We guessed that it was used as a bomb shelter or wine storage but the real origin was even more intriguing. It was originally the town’s coal chamber; the building above it had been leveled during the war and had been rebuilt.Hamburg’s venue was the most surprising so far. As a Metal kid through and through, the graffiti and sticker-laden walls of Hafenklang instantly appealed to me. It had an industrial air about it and it felt just dirty enough. The wall adornments actually gave the place an artistic element. Somehow, hundreds — if not thousands — of taggers managed to create a cohesive composition worthy of any modern art museum.Berlin has the honor of housing my favorite club yet. The Bassy Club was full of odd and awesome artifacts. I’m a big fan of weird decorations and this place was absolutely chock full of them. When we walked in, we all went into full tourist mode and started snapping pictures left and right. I now fully intend on finding a cow skull and making him a new light fixture when I make it back to the states.Special kudos goes to Berlin for being an awesome city. We got a few hours to roam around and we ran into some sort of festival and found an awesome “Horror Rock Bar” called Last Cathedral. Sadly, it wasn’t open when we were walking around, so Nick and I had to resort to pulling an Immortal pose in front.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.
by Nick Grever
8 days ago
Saturday night contained a lot of firsts. It was the first time I ran merch, the first time we played in Germany, it marked the first appearance of the hot dog suit and the first time I said “fuck you, asshole” in German.
We got a late start on our trip from Antwerp, Belgium to Oelsnitz, Germany. Alarms weren’t properly set, showers were needed all around and the beds were comfier than they first appeared. Once we got our shit in gear (and loaded up on croissants) we were on our way. Ahead of us was one of our longest drives on the tour, a seven-hour voyage across country lines. The trip was punctuated by two pit stops; during one we saw a new bride run into the bathroom while still in her wedding dress.
A quick note on European bathrooms — they’re fantastic. You often have to pay for entry, but in many ways it’s worth it. We stopped in one gas station that had completed the checklist for being a dive. Porn mags on the racks? Check. Dirt and grime everywhere? Check. Attendants who seem to be hopped up on some sort of … something? You know it! So I wasn’t too hopeful when I dropped my 70 pence into the bathroom machine.
But man, oh man, was I wrong. The toilets are automated and include a self-cleaning system. It’s majestic. You can buy a vast assortment of sexual tools in the vending machine (part of the aforementioned checklist), but the rest of the bathroom was absolutely spotless. And when you’ve been on the road for four hours and nature comes a-callin’, this is a gift from on high.
Our GPS had us snaking through small German towns and we didn’t see anything resembling a venue. As we reached the end of the directions we still didn’t see anything. So we pulled up a little bit further and there it was: a graffitied beacon of Rock & Roll in the midst of beautiful German countryside. We had arrived.We parked, met the promoter, met the support and got to unloading. I start grabbing the merch boxes and dove right in. And by dive right in, I mean that I stared at them blankly until Aaron came over and explained how everything worked and gave some suggestions on how to set up. From there, my retails skills came back and I became a folding, sorting and styling machine. I gave each style of shirt their own home in a box, put out a size run of each, spread out the small stuff and waited. And waited. And waited. And ate some homemade goulash. And waited some more.
Finally, the crowd began to build — and our game of “dibs” began anew — while we waited for our slot. Finally, the boys hit the stage and the crowd started to wake up. But, still, they needed a little push, a little something to get the mood just right. It was time for the hot dog costume. I slipped it on, ran to the front, got a laugh from the boys and the crowd and made my exit.
It seemed to have worked.
As the set wrapped up, the merch sales started to roll in. Thankfully, it wasn’t super busy, so I was able to get a feel for pricing, exchanging Euro change (who buys an EP with a 50€ note!?) and trying to translate thick German accents.
After the show finished, the party started up and it was a fun one. Nick was throwing down peppermint shots, courtesy of a fan. Ryan had to dodge the advances of two older women who had a bit too much to drink (and then drank some more on top of that). I, on the other hand, spent my time with a lovely young lady named Jenny and her friends as she gushed over her love of Barney Stinson and Nirvana. She also taught me all of the major German curse words and phrases when her friends got jealous of the attention I was getting. I wish I could’ve remembered some of the words; they will surely come in handy sometime on this trip.
Finally, the free beer was safely stowed in our bellies and it was time for bed. We found our hotel, made plans for the next day, stripped down and passed out.This morning we’re on our way to Berlin for show number three. We actually left on time today so we should have some time to see the city (and replace Aaron’s broken double bass pedal) before we get down to rocking.
Spinal Tap moments: 4.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.
by Nick Grever
11 days ago
When I first met Valley of the Sun, one of the first things Ryan ever said to me was, “So you’re the enemy,” with a huge grin on his face. He was obviously referencing something and was extremely happy that he was finally able to do so.
I didn’t get it.
For those of you as clueless as I was, it’s from Almost Famous, the story of a young boy who gets to live his dream and follow a band on a nationwide tour while writing a story for Rolling Stone. In it, one of the band members continually calls his newfound follower the enemy because he sees everything — the good, the bad, the ugly, the drunken — and he can report on it all.
As I sit on a plane, 53 minutes away from Brussels, I finally get the reference (it doesn’t hurt that I watched Almost Famous for the first time the night before we left). So far I’ve watched Aaron drink wine straight from the bottle, seen Nick blatantly break the “no smoking” rule on international flights and learned just how cutthroat the game of Dibs can be. Ladies: Yes we are staring at you and yes we are claiming each and every one of you. Also, selfies. So many selfies.It’s been pretty calm so far. Seating has been a breeze, Aaron and I prefer aisle, Ryan and Nick are window guys. Our connections have been effortless, leaving plenty of time for piss breaks and pizza runs. The flights were all smooth and filled with enough dibs-worthy frauleins to keep us busy the whole time. Even our luggage was fairly easy to manage. Only two gear bags needed some re-Tetrising, but it was easily corrected.
The trip out of the airport in Brussels was a bit more stressful. We had a hard time corralling our luggage, we couldn’t find our van and Ryan was stopped by an adorable drug dog and his less than adorable handler. But it was all sorted out and we headed out for Desertfest, our first show in Antwerp, Belgium.
The ride was short and we were the first band to arrive. We used our free time to track down some Belgian waffles; Arnaud’s bilingual skills helped us procure food that we actually recognized and pay for said food. We also sorted out usual tour things like reorganizing the van into less of a clusterfuck, catching up with old friends, making introductions to new members and passing out itineraries. Ryan was kind enough to provide us with a day-by-day breakdown of times and locations, all set inside a classy Lisa Frank folder. Because kittens are metal.Merch is being sold by an outside agency, so I get the night to enjoy some of Stoner Rock’s finest acts, like Witch Rider and Truckfighters. I will be in charge of filming the band with Nick’s Go Pro cameras. No guarantee of quality can be made, but considering our mutual state of exhaustion, I think it’ll be forgiven. Tonight’s sure to be an interesting start to tour. We’ve each been given six drink tickets, we’re running on about 30 minutes of sleep apiece and the boys are playing to a sold-out fest with attendees flying in from as far away as Japan. It’s definitely a trial by fire scenario, but I think they’re up to the challenge. They just might need a caffeine injection between now and then.
I think I’m going to wrap it up for today but I want to start a tally here that will hopefully carry on through the tour. We’re up to two Spinal Tap references/situations today. Check back in to see if we can run into any more locked doors later this week!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.
by Nick Grever
12 days ago
CityBeat contributor heads to Europe with local Rock band, hopes he packed enough underwear
(Editor’s Note: CityBeat contributor Nick Grever leaves today for Europe, where he’ll be on tour with Cincinnati Rock group Valley of the Sun as the band’s “merch guy.” Nick has graciously agreed to blog about his journey for citybeat.com over the next three weeks. Below is his first installment, an introduction written last night when he was [possibly over] packing for the trip.)Hello, my name is Nick and since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve dreamt about living the Rock & Roll lifestyle. There’s just one problem – I can’t play music worth a damn. As a freelancer for this fine publication, I have been able to get a taste of my dream but one element has always eluded me: touring. So imagine my excitement when local rockers Valley of the Sun invited me to work merch for them on their second European tour. I just never expected to be touring the world in a hotdog costume.Maybe a little background is in order. I’ve known the Valley guys (guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier, drummer Aaron Boyer and bassist Ryan McAllister) for several years, culminating in a profile piece in the pages of CityBeat for their first full-length release, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. With that release (and my expertly devised words of praise, no doubt), the band has risen to new heights. Valley of the Sun signed with Fuzzorama Records and has already toured Europe once, in support of Desert Rock titans Truckfighters. Now it’s time for them to return for another three week tour for shows ranging from massive fests to small dives. We’ll be traveling throughout Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, joined by Valley’s sound guy across the pond, Arnaud Merckling. In their infinite wisdom, the band invited me along to run their merch; Mangrenade’s Nick Thieme is also on the trip, playing bass in McAllister’s absence.I’m writing this the night before we leave and I’m still not entirely sure what to expect. But here’s what I do know: I’ll be writing constantly, I probably over packed and Ryan, Nick and Aaron are really excited to see me run around in a venue in my new skeleton onesie (far warmer and more comfortable than it has any right to be) and hotdog ensemble.These blog entries will ultimately be a record of our trip but it’s going to be more than just a recap of the shenanigans we’re sure to get into and the excellent food we’re sure to eat — although expect a few Instragram worthy images of foreign cuisine, too. (I love me some sausage.) It’s going to examine all the parts of tour life that arise over the course of our trip. What is it like to sit in a small van with four other guys for eight hours when none of us have showered for three days? Is German beer really as good as people say? What happens at 4 a.m. when Ryan starts spouting off about the multiverse as we sit around a bar in Switzerland? Seriously, did I pack enough underwear? These hard hitting questions, along with my observations and insights, will fill these digital pages. Hopefully they’ll be interesting enough for you to come back and read some more. Expect updates at least every few days — it all depends on how reliable the wifi is in Europe. Hey, that’s another blog entry topic!
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 22, 2014
This Friday, superb Cincinnati rockers The KillTones host an album release party in honor of their new nine-track effort, Raw. Animals. Dance.
The band will be joined by locals Lemon Sky and Philly-based Soraia for
the free, 9 p.m. event at Over-the-Rhine club The Drinkery
Saturday • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 22, 2014
What if they threw a band party and only the rhythm section showed up?
That’s the oddly conceived question that
has been answered by vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben
Thatcher, doing business as the Garage/Psych/Blues duo Royal Blood.
Valley of the Sun expands its Hard Rock palette on forthcoming LP release
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Cincinnati's Valley of the Sun takes Hard Rock to another level. In their psychedelic practice space, the local retro-Rock three-piece is busy writing its first full-length, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. Rest assured, the new jams are just as heavy, groovy and infectious as the group’s previous material. But it's also more.
by Mike Breen
Dynamic local Metal crews set to celebrate new releases Saturday
Saturday at Downtown club Mainstay, progressive Doom/Drone Metal act Grey Host will celebrate the release of its latest, Dawn for Vultures.
You can pre-order the six-track release (as a CD, download or with a
T-shirt) at greyhost.bandcamp.com and get an automatic download of
lead-off track, “Noble Beast.” The band will also have copies of the
release available at Mainstay.
Grey Host is joined Saturday by Ohio Knife and Valley of the Sun, which
is also working towards a new release. The 9 p.m. show is free.
(facebook.com/greyhost)Here's "Noble Beast":Saturday at Covington’s Madison
Theater, local Death/Hardcore/Thrash Metal crew Gabriel’s Hounds host a
release party for their latest effort, The Struggle Between … EP.
Joining the group for the 8 p.m., all-ages show: Dark Region,
Holesinger, Serpentarius, Souls for the Taking, It’s Either Me or the
Mailman and In Ashes. Admission is $8. You can sample the new album’s
title track right now at reverbnation.com/gabrielshoundsofficial or here:Sell music on Amazon at ReverbNation.com
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Heavy, progressive Hard Rock trio Valley of the Sun celebrates the birth of its new EP, The Sayings of the Seers, at the Southgate House’s Parlour room this Thursday. Cincy Art/Prog/Metal ensemble Atlantic Becoming and Columbus’ heavies Lo-Pan open the 9 p.m. show.